Nuzo Onoh is a British author from Enugu in the Eastern part of Nigeria, in what was formerly known as the Republic of Biafra. Their civil war with Nigeria, which she experienced firsthand, had an enormous impact on her writing style. In her books The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, you get a deep draught of local Nigerian culture and her writing reflects the oral storytelling traditions of the Igbo tribe. Onoh doesn’t shy away from the gritty details when creating trauma to put her characters through.
She states that her goal is to establish African Horror as bona-fide horror subgenre, rather than the general perception of the term as a negative condition of the continent portrayed by the popular media. It is Nuzo’s hope that soon, African Horror will be recognized and enjoyed as other regional horror— Japanese, Korean, and Scandinavian.
Her latest release, The Sleepless is her first novel. Buy it here. (Beware, if you are put off by injury to animals, skip the first few pages.) Her other works, The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, are short story collections steeped in actual practices and chronicle the divergent lifestyles–all dread-inducing–of characters in Nigeria.
Onoh publishes her work on June 28th so her readers will always know when to expect more from her. For more information about Nuzo, please visit her website and follow her on Twitter.
LindaD. Addison is a poet and writer of horror, science fiction, and fantasy currently living in Arizona. In 2001, she became the first African-American to win the HWA Bram Stoker award® for superior achievement in poetry for Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes. She has since won the award three additional times, including one for her poetry and short story collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend (2011).
Addison has also published over 300 poems, stories, and articles for such publications as Essence Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Ms. Addison is a founding member of the writer’s group, Circles in the Hair (1990) and is the poetry editor for Space & Time Magazine.
She is also one of the editors for Sycorax’s Daughters, an anthology of horror fiction and poetry written by black women.
In her collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend, her poetry is moody and melodic; the meter weaves a dimly lit path and you feel compelled to follow. The verse itself is seductive, almost playful—the picture of elegant disturbia. The prose included in the book is a combination of sub-genres, and you get a taste of homespun magic along with science fiction-laced Gothic horror.Buy it here.
For more information about Linda, such as her full bibliography and schedule of events, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter.
Jemiah Jefferson was born in Denver, Colorado. Now living in southeast Portland, Oregon, she works in the editorial department at Dark Horse Comics, Inc. and is a regular contributor to Popshifter.com.
Jefferson started writing fiction at the age of twelve, always with the goal of writing the material she wants to see but that doesn’t yet exist. According to her website, the first draft of the novel that would become Voice of the Bloodwas written in 24 hours in 1990 in a fit of inspiration.
After another six years (and several more novels and short stories) she took her experiences of living in San Francisco and of her contacts with the young, amoral, and beautiful that she had there and applied them to situations and characters already in existence in her imagination, fueling the creation of an extended vampire “family.” This led her to four novels–Voice (originally titled Vox Sanguinus), Wounds, Fiend, and A Drop of Scarlet.
In addition to detailing the fascinations and desires of this “family,” Jefferson’s novels move from 19th Century Europe to modern-day US to reflect the paranoia and possibility surrounding 9/11 and the concept of “art crime.” The books have been compiled into an omnibus edition.
Jefferson has announced on her Facebook page that her novel, Mixtape for the Apocalypse will be pulled from publication shortly. If you can, grab a copy before then. If you already have one, hold on to it.
Sycorax’s Daughters the Horror Anthology of fiction & poetry by African-American women, edited by Kinitra Brooks, PhD, Linda D. Addison & Susana Morris, PhD is coming February 2017 from Cedar Grove Books.
In June 2015, editors Brooks and Addison contacted African-American women authors–including me–and poets based on their creative talents in writing about women, race, sexuality, and/or speculative fictions, asking them to consider the vast possibilities that interweaving black women and horror can express.
Brooks, Addison, and Morris are of the contention that peoples of the African diaspora encounter elements of horror on a weekly or even daily basis. Each week, millions of black folks go to church or religious practice and are possessed by the Holy Ghost or ridden by the orishas and loas—what is this if not an Africanized manifestation of spirit possession, a common horror trope?
Sycorax’s Daughters is an opening salvo of what is hoped to be a burgeoning field of black women’s creative horror fiction. There are also plans for a companion volume of new critical horror scholarship by black feminist scholars.
Thought provoking, powerful, and revealing, this anthology is comprised of 28 dark stories and 14 poems written by African American women writers. Tales of what scares, threatens, and shocks them will enlighten and entertain readers. The works delve into demons and shape shifters from the historical to far future imaginings. These pieces cover vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, as well as the unexpected price paid by women struggling for freedom and validation in the past.
Contributors include: Tiffany Austin, Tracey Baptiste, Regina N. Bradley, Patricia E. Canterbury, Crystal Connor, Joy M. Copeland, Amber Doe, Tish Jackson, Valjeanne Jeffers, Tenea D. Johnson, R. J. Joseph, A. D. Koboah, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Kai Leakes, A. J. Locke, Carole McDonnell, Dana T. McKnight, LH Moore, L. Penelope, Zin E. Rocklyn, Eden Royce, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Andrea Vocab Sanderson, Nicole D. Sconiers, Cherene Sherrard, RaShell R. Smith-Spears, Sheree Renée Thomas, Lori Titus, Tanesha Nicole Tyler, Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, L. Marie Wood, K. Ceres Wright, Deana Zhollis
Sycorax’s Daughters is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Several in person events are planned for this important release, including the book’s debut at Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library on February 25th March 18th from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. I’ll be there, along with I won’t be able to make it, but you can chat with many of the other authors and editors who’ll be there to sign books and speak about the project.
The next installment of my interviews with Black female horror authors includes the multi-genre author Janet Eckford.
Janet is also a successful romance author as well as a horror author. Her collection of dark stories is called “Whispers in the Dark”.
Disclaimer: A few days before this post was to go live, I found out from Janet Eckford, the author of the collection “Whispers in the Dark”, that her contract with her publisher was over and she was removing the book from sale. Since this was after I’d read the collection and interviewed her, I was at first needless to say, surprised, then disheartened. I asked her if she’d found another publisher, but she said she didn’t have immediate plans to re-publish.
She asked if that would pose a problem. Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I wanted this series of posts on women writers in horror to be a way of recognizing what we as women of color are doing in the industry (and possibly making a book sale or two.) Also, me going on and on about a book that the readers of this blog can’t buy is a bit of a bait and switch.
After discussing it with Ashlee Blackwell, the founder of Graveyard Shift Sisters, I decided to move forward with posting this book review and interview. Partially because I want to support Janet’s work as a female writer of dark fiction, but mostly because I’d love for her to re-release this collection for all to enjoy.
While Janet pulled her book for personal reasons, I think this is a great segue into why it’s important to give authors your support. Buy their books, leave reviews, send them a message on social media to say you enjoy what you do.
It’s difficult as a writer sometimes to stay motivated. Few reviews, precious little feedback, sometimes even smaller financial compensation. Some Black women horror writers I’ve spoken with also have to contend with family and societal pressure because we write dark fiction. We come across a lot of: “Girl, what’s wrong with you?” and “You need to go to church more.”
To those people, I say, “Learn to separate the author from their work.” Writers are creators of worlds. We conceptualize, we imagine, we ask the what ifs. If there’s a murder down the road from you, more than likely your friendly neighborhood horror author isn’t the culprit. We’re hard at work with our noses to the screen writing the next big thing. But we’ll probably use it in a story somewhere down the line.
With that I’d like to extend my best wishes to Janet with placing and/or updating her collection of horror short stories. Visit the Graveyard Shift Sisters site to read the full post I wrote for “Whispers in the Dark” by Janet Eckford. I’ll keep you updated for when the book becomes available again.
(According to my mother, since I think I am, I must not be. Cold comfort, but I digress.)
A writer friend of mine, Nicole Kurtz, approached me and asked what I was doing for Women in Horror Month this year. I hadn’t decided anything at the time and she suggested a collaboration. I agreed.
Then came the time to decide on the project. We both wanted to write something horror centered, but different from any other work we’d done. Not thinking it would fly, I suggested doing something in the old school Choose Your Own Adventure style. And Nicole thought it was a great idea.
Not long after that, I came across an article of how difficult these types of books are to write. Then I looked at my list of projects that need to be finished in 2015 and I worried I’d taken on too much. Add on top of that the dreaded second person point of view—it’s frowned upon by publishers now, certainly not popular like it used to be—most of these stories take and I wanted to recant. Run! Run away!
I thought a good idea might be to involve the Twitter-verse with helping Nicole and I with our ideas on where to take the story. During 2015, we’ll be posting flash fiction on our blogs and giving readers a choice of which path they’d take if they were in the main protagonist’s situation.
Graveyard shift Sisters has posted our project idea on their site, along with one of our banners. Here’s the other:
As Black female speculative fiction writers, Nicole and I are in a minority. There is an idea in the field of horror that woman—especially women of color—don’t enjoy horror. In our circles, that isn’t true. We wanted to give a voice to women that enjoy reading horror: What do you want to read? We’re looking to involve you in a storyline to give us an idea of what female readers of horror are looking for in a tale.
To give you an idea of what we mean, here’s a short flash piece I wrote:
You walk down the deserted basement hallway toward the last room on the left, your confident strides from earlier in the day things of memory. B302. Labored, ragged breathing emanates from under the heavy steel door and your hand trembles on the knob as you turn it.
The lamp on the bedside table is covered with a scarf and it colors everything in the dank room with a pale amber hue. With a subtle sniff, you determine the odor of decay emanated from the hospital bed in the far corner.
“Welcome to my humble home, Doctor.” The woman in the bed sneers, her words a seductive hiss. The woman’s papery skin looks moist, her greying hair is lank and greasy, but her eyes are vividly green and wild. You notice she is secured to the bed with wide leather straps across her arms and legs. The way she is bound briefly reminds you of a mummy.
“Good evening, Ms. Costa,” you reply, doing your best to keep your voice steady in spite of the disgust you feel. “I’m Doctor Abrams and I—”
“I know who you are.” Foul-smelling watery discharge seeps from her nose and mouth, but she makes no move.
You check the readings on the beeping monitors along the wall, an unusually long distance from the bed. “I need to check your vitals, Ms. Costa.”
“It’s ‘Miss’ Costa. And call me Marilyn. I’d like for us to be on a first name basis. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
“I’d prefer to keep our relationship professional.”
“Because of my condition?” The woman’s bone-white hands search the bedcovers blindly. Soon a whirring sound severs the quiet and the bed raises her to a sitting position. She watches you closely.
“We’ve run a number of tests and they’ve all come back conclusive,” you tell her.
“I’m pregnant.” Her laughter is hoarse, as though she’s been screaming for hours.
“Miss Costa, this is serious.”
Marilyn laughed without mirth. “Oh, I’d say my case is most definitely serious. I’d go so far as to say it’s a permanent condition, not a terminal one. Terminal means you’ll be released from your suffering at some point.”
“Advances are made every day. There might be—”
“Give me a break, Doctor. We both know that curing me isn’t on the American Medical Association’s list of priorities. Seems they’re more concerned with keeping eighty year-old men with full heads of hair and their willies pointing north.”
Your assignment here is to take a blood sample from Marilyn. Do you:
Treat her as you would any other patient and tell her your intent?
Try to get the sample without warning her beforehand?
Come back when you think she’s asleep?
Try to drug her and get the sample?
What would you choose in this situation? Or would you do something else? Each choice will lead down a different path. (Some will lead you in a circle. Others to a dead end.)
I’m tempted to leave it at that and post a pre-order link to Jayde Brooks’s new release, Daughter of Gods and Shadows.
But I’ll do more than that. I was flattered to have been asked by St. Martin’s press to read an advanced copy of this upcoming release. Daughter is an epic, spanning eons and continents, to bring the heroine, Eden’s–gotta love that name– story to searing life. The characters are placed in real peril, as is the fate of the world. African deities and folklore are brought to the fore, while keeping this story relevant to any reader of dark fiction or fantasy, regardless of color.
Head over to the Graveyard Shift Sisters site to read the full review and interview with Jayde. Daughter of Gods and Shadows will be released February 3 by St Martin’s Press and is available for pre-order on Amazon.