Yesterday I talked about Nisi Shawl and her increased popularity. She is just 1 example of how the own voices movement is taking over Horror. There are more diverse options within the genre than ever before, and quite honestly, they are some of the best voices. [For proof, see Nisi Shawl]
We’ve come a long way from the racism and misogyny of Lovecraft. Speaking of, I did an entire book talk on the fact that there is a reemergence of Lovecraft in today’s genre fiction and much of it tackles his bigotry head on. You can click here to listen to that.
Before we get into own voices horror fiction, I also want to mention that in the world of horror, diversity still means including women. For many years, men controlled horror both as authors and readers. Well, that’s not exactly true. There were women writing horror. I mean, a woman-- Mary Shelly-- invented the genre and many others wrote horror, but the overwhelming culture of horror, it’s fan boys, the conventions, and lifestyle were dominated by white men. While there are now many female horror writers and readers, many men still think women don’t like horror.
I would like to clarify here that today’s horror authors are almost all supportive of the female writers in their ranks. It is mostly still the bro-readers who have a problem with women. I am not imagining this bias either. Earlier this month SYFY Wire had an article entitled, “Women Love Horror: Why Does This Still Surprise So Many Dudes?"
Okay now on to my suggestions for own voices horror.
Let’s start with my series of posts last year on the emerging trend of African Horror. Click here to read my post about the trend, a post by Nuzo Ohno, an African horror scholar and author, and a review of one of her books.
Another popular subgenre that is not new at all, but is moving into the mainstream thanks to horror legend, Tananarive Due, is Afrofuturism. Here is an overview of Due’s course on the topic. I highly recommend Due’s work for any fan of dark literature. You can find more info about her here by me, and here on her site. Due has been talking about the importance and influence of Afrofuturism for a long time, but one of the reasons it is being talked about now is the emergence of Nnedi Okorafor. You can read this profile of her and her work from the NYT here.
One of the best places to find suggestions of books and authors is from other authors. A few year ago, the Horror Writers Association was appalled at how white and male their slate of Stoker nominees were. Instead of just paying lip service to the problem, they immediately set up a task force of women and POC authors to start regularly suggesting own voices authors from the horror genre. They called this features-- The Seers Table. Now a few years in, these monthly suggestions are piling up and you can see an archive of all the columns by clicking here. You must click on each title to open the entire column.
One of the members of the HWA who worked hard on the Seers Table initiative is Linda Addison an award winning author and poet. Anything by her is excellent, but specifically I want to point out an amazing collection for which she was an editor, Sycorax’s Daughters. It is an anthology of dark fiction and poetry by black women writers. Click through for details and a list of 28 more authors you should know about.
Stephen Graham Jones is another author you need to know about. Not only do I think he is the leader of the next wave of “the best” horror authors, he also brings a Native American perspective to the genre. I really like this recent interview he gave where he talks at length about his work, “representation,” and why own voices matter. The first time I encountered Jones was hearing someone else read his work out loud and it held me spell bound. I have never looked back.
Finally, don’t forget the voices of those around the world. There is a wonderful resource, Speculative Fiction in Translation to help you.