This year, you released Danger Word, a short film based on one of your short stories. What was the biggest challenge for you in translating words to film?
No doubt, raising the money is the hardest part of filmmaking. Even a short film can cost tens of thousands of dollars. But after watching projects sit unproduced in Hollywood for lack of funding for so many years, we decided that we would follow the example of people crowdfunding and raise our own funds.
“Danger Word” is a zombie story and, of course, The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on television right now. What unique dimensions do you think the film, the story, along with the two novels The Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls, add to the zombie motif?
First, I like to set the record straight: We were shopping a version of Devil’s Wake as a TV series long before “The Walking Dead” came to TV, so in some ways we were ahead of our time. (Our premise back then, we were told, was too close to a new show called “Jericho,” which I actually loved.) But that aside, the focus on young people and their individual acts of courage to survive are the backbone of Devil’ Wake–and a woman of color as the lead, of course.
You are perhaps one of the premiere Black speculative fiction writers of our time. What drew you to this genre and what are your thoughts on Black participation in the genre as writers and readers? Put another way, does speculative fiction provide a creative space that is absent in other genres?
For someone like me, somewhat preoccupied with death and loss, speculative fiction enables me to create “What if?” scenarios that help me feel like I’m contributing to these universal experiences in a healing way. Sometimes I write just to say, “Hey, well it could be worse!” and sometimes I write to say “We are all brave enough and strong enough to endure anything.”
You have been a voice to bring attention to some of the atrocities committed against Black communities via institutions like reformatory schools and your family has a storied history of civil rights activism. Do these political and social concerns find their way into your horror?
Sometimes the horror is a metaphor for the real-life atrocities. In The Good House, for example, this curse is ultimately unleashed because of a character’s reaction to racism and violence–and the emphasis on the Fourth of July is a not-so-subtle reminder that some aspects of our national history were/are very unpleasant, and we need to collectively acknowledge this in a meaningful way so we can heal.
This is my new favorite question to ask authors. What is the strangest thing that you’ve had to do or research in order to write your novels?
Oh, Lord–well, hands down it would be the time I went to a nude truck stop in rural Florida with my mother. I was writing a character who would go to a nude truck stop, an actor on hiatus, and my mom said, “Well, I’ll go with you!” That was how supportive she was. The waitresses were all nude and looked like college students. But what I remember most is how great the pancakes were!
Any final advance for all of the NaNoWriMos or other final words?
The writer’s fight for time to right is a constant fight. The writer’s fight to feel like a good enough writer to keep writing is a constant fight. As long as writers remember that, they can win.
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So, was that a great round of interviews or what? Remember, for each author I interviewed, there is a chance to win an eBook of their most recent work. Just read my interviews with E. C. Myers, Troy Wiggins, and Beth Revis, and leave a comment for a chance to win. Make sure to check out their fantastic teasers too.
Good luck NaNoWriMos as you finish up the month! I know I will be plugging away on my last few pages before Monday