Horror Fiction Podcast Nightlight — known for their captivatingly creepy audio dramas written by Black authors and performed by Black actors — recently produced and aired two episodes featuring stories from Black Magic Women by Valjeanne Jeffers and Sumiko Saulson.

Episode 301 Features The Lost Ones: a chilling account of werewolves, sorcerers, and demons by Valjeanne Jeffers.

Episode 302 Features Sumiko Saulson’s Tango of a Telltale Heart: a terrifying tale of hellhounds and conflicting ancestry.

If you enjoy reading spine-tingling stories, you can find both of these and more in our best-selling anthology, Black Magic Women.

May 1, 2020—Rock Hill, South Carolina   

Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is pleased to announce the release of the second book in The Windshine Chronicles, an ongoing fantasy series. There Will Be One is the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Todd Sullivan’s exciting novel, Hollow Men.  Both titles are available in ebook and paperback.

Readers are praising the Windshine Chronicles, calling book one “exquisite and and intrepid.”

“There is a quiet authenticity to the book which meshes well with the concise but thrilling prose.” – Adam Bezecny

Desmond White calls Hollow Men a “snappy Korean-infused fantasy that examines what makes a hero and what makes a legend.”

The Windshine Chronicles follow the journeys of the men from South Hanguk as they undertake epic quests to prove themselves heroes. 

For generations, Windshine has chronicled the exploits of young men on quests to become heroes. Most suffered brutal deaths, and distrust of the Dark Elf grew until rogue officials offer sixteen-year-old archer, Woo Jin, the chance to eliminate her. If he succeeds, they will name him hero. If he fails, he can never return home.

There Will Be One: Book Two of the Windshine Chronicles is available at the Mocha Memoirs Press website, Amazon, and other fine online retailers. You can also order the paperback from brick and mortar bookstores.

Contact:

Publisher

Nicole Givens Kurtz

mochamemoirspress@gmail.com

www.mochamemoirspress.com

Press Release

March 16, 2020 — Rock Hill, SC.

From the publishers of Black Magic Women, An Improbable Truth, and The Grotesquerie comes yet another groundbreaking anthology. Committed to amplifying marginalized voices in speculative fiction, Mocha Memoirs Press is on a mission to publish diverse and inclusive stories featuring protagonists not often found in mainstream publishing. In that vein, Mocha Memoirs Press is proud to present SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire — a revolutionary anthology celebrating vampires of the African Diaspora. Featuring anchor stories by award winning authors Sheree Renee Thomas, Craig L. Gidney, Teri Clark, Jessica Cage, Michele Tracy Berger, and Steven Van Patten, SLAY aims to be the first anthology of its kind.

To provide professional Horror Writers of America rates, Mocha Memoirs has launched a crowdfunding campaign. The Indiegogo campaign will run until March 31, 2020. Interested parties can pledge at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/slay-stories-of-the-vampire-noire#/

Contact:

Publisher

Nicole Givens Kurtz

mochamemoirspress@gmail.com

www.mochamemoirspress.com

Consent matters. We all know consent matters – at least we think we do. But how often do we actually practice consent? As an aunt to several rapidly maturing children (who range in age from pre-school to high-school) and the adult most likely to be asked awkward questions, I have grown especially sensitive to seeking consent. Every time I want to hug or kiss them, I ask. We talk about how important that is, why it matters, and how to respond if someone doesn’t respect your right to consent.

We watch movies together, and this is where it gets hard. They ask me why Sleeping Beauty would marry a man who assaulted her, and I say it’s because she doesn’t know any better, that she was taught to think rape is love. I say this because it was what I was taught, quite literally; I am a survivor of childhood abuse and Sleeping Beauty was always my princess as a child. Honestly, she is not alone in being a problematic princess. Many poignant satire videos which point out the copious lack of consent present in media have been posted on YouTube and other sites.

Media is a cultural expression of who we are as a society. We grow up thinking the things we see in it are normal; we internalize the books we read and the characters we love as a part of ourselves. When we consistently consume media which portrays love as something easily mistaken for abuse, it’s no accident that we find ourselves in a society where bodily autonomy is rarely recognized and good people fall in love with abusers. We were taught that’s what love looked like.

When I sat down to craft a romantic relationship, I made very deliberate choices in how it would be portrayed. I knew that I – as a writer, as an aunt, as a survivor of sexual assault – needed to see for myself and show to others what consent looked like. Raven consistently asks Kara’s permission every time he kisses her, even before their first kiss as a married couple. It was especially important to me that he ask before this specific kiss. Why?

I live in a country where there are lighter punishments for spousal rape. In some cases, these acts are not even considered rape unless the husband issues a direct threat of violence. Spousal rape wasn’t even prosecutable as rape in the US until the 1970’s, thanks to a 17th century English Common Law which states a “husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind to her husband which she cannot retract.” This country spent two hundred plus years believing women give up consent in marriage. I don’t think the last fifty years has changed this outlook much.

When I wrote The Laws of Entanglement: A True Love Story, I wanted Raven to be the sort of man who never takes his partner’s consent for granted, not even when they are married. Kara’s feelings matter to Raven, so he always asks for permission because he acknowledges her autonomy as a separate person and values her feelings above his own desires. This insistence upon consent turns out to be the very thing that Kara loves most about Raven. She knows that he will always consider her thoughts and feelings.

I recognize this may be radical and uncomfortable at first for most readers, and that’s the point. As writers, we possess a singular power to sway people’s minds and hearts simply by showing them a new perspective. I wanted to use my power to talk about consent, especially after marriage. I want to write the sort of stories that can be made into movies my kiddos watch one day and say, “Yes, this is what love looks like. Love asks, every single time.” 

The Laws of Entanglement:
A True Love Story
by Maya Preisler

Paranormal romance is a genre full of human and supernatural pairings: vampires, shifters (of every type), witches, elves, angels (and demons)… but very few ghosts. Horror stories have their fair share of all the supes, but love stories seem to be limited to a select few types.

From a Freudian perspective, there’s probably a reason for that. Romance stories represent our subconscious desires. More specifically, they have traditionally represented the subconscious desires of women. As diversity, gender inclusivity and awareness come into our collective social consciousness, our love stories should change as well.

Traditional supernatural pairings often reflect gender roles and stereotypes of their era: Vampires became sexy in Victorian times because they symbolized penetration without being crude or immoral, and their victims were innocent — and therefore free to indulge in passion because the vampire mythos absolved them of any responsibility. Werewolves reflect a desire for strong dominant “alpha male” types, promising an escape from the drudgery of modernity by reconnecting with our animal natures.

Ghosts are a different class of supernatural characters altogether. Aside from witches, they are the only supernatural creatures whose existence is studied by credible research institutions and are most likely to exist. They represent an inevitable truth many find terrifying — one day we will all die.

Ghost romance then represents our longing for our loved ones who have passed on, a desire to connect with something beyond the physical, a need fo believe in life after death. Ghost romance is about longing and loss, but also faith and hope — the promise of a chance to see our most beloved ones again. And really, don’t we all want that?

Since 2010, Mocha Memoirs Press’s mission is to amplify marginalized voices in the areas of speculative fiction (science fiction, horror, and fantasy).

SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire will follow the steps of our previously published bestseller anthologies: An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Black Magic Women: Terrifying Tales by Scary Sisters.

What we are looking for: Vampires have been around in the horror genre for centuries. We are looking to tell a different vampire story. Ones where they may sparkle, but it is a dark one. This call is seeking unpublished short stories that tell stories of the vampire noire, the black vampire. We want stories of vampire hunters, of anti-vampiric heroes/heroines, and more. If you can take the story out of westernized culture, we’d love to see those, too! We want stories that speak of inclusivity. So, if your vampire is disabled or suffers from an alignment, send those stories too. LGBTQ+ stories are also encouraged. To point, we want stories from the African diaspora.

If you do not follow the guidelines, your submission will be deleted unread. Read the guidelines. Follow them.

Upon results of a successful crowdfunding campaign, we will pay HWA pro-rate of .05 per word for publication for First World Rights.

GUIDELINES:
• Stories for this anthology must be original (no reprints or previously published material), no more than 5,000 words in length, and must satisfy the theme of the anthology, meaning the protagonist must from the African Diaspora. Remember, this entire anthology is dedicated to stories of the black vampire. They can be in space, superheroes, but they must be from the African Diaspora.
• Manuscripts should be in Shunn manuscript format, meaning double-spaced, 12pt font, standard margins on the top, bottom and sides, and pages numbered. Please use Times New Roman font. The first page should include the Title of the story, Author’s name, address, and email, and Pseudonym if different from the author’s real name. Italics and bold should be in italics and bold.
• Attach the story in either .docx, .doc, and send it to mochamemoirspress AT gmail.com
• Subject: SLAY Submission: Title of Short story-Author Name
• Save your File as STORY TITLE-AUTHOR NAME

DON’Ts:
• No revenge stories.
• No erotica.
• No bestiality.
• No underage sex with minors.
• No racist rants/racist storylines.

DEADLINE and TIMELINE:
• The deadline for submissions is March 31st, 2020.
• Decisions on stories should be completed by the end of July 2020.

PRESS RELEASE: MOCHA MEMOIRS PRESS RELEASES SHORT STORY COLLECTION COLLABORATION WITH ARTIST JULIA LACQUEMENT

Collected: A Cybil Lewis SF Mystery Collection

November 14, 2019—Rock Hill, South Carolina    Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC released a short story collection of Nicole Givens Kurtz’s popular Cybil Lewis private inspector futuristic noir series. This collection of stories contain illustrations from former DC Comics’ illustrator and renowned artist, Julia Lacquement. The title is available in ebook and paperback. A hardcover limited edition will be available later this month.

Early reviews are buzzing with Cybil Lewis’s voice and character as being engaging and one to follow.

Julie Dismukes writes in her 5-Star Amazon review, “I’m nominating Cybil Lewis as a new favorite detective to keep up with. The world of Cybil Lewis is mysterious: there has been some extreme disaster, humanity has had to pull itself together and remake society. Cybil works in a futuristic Washington, DC that is falling apart even as it is being rebuilt. Cybil is a war veteran, as are most of her surviving cohorts…The stories get more interesting as they go along. Each novella is worth buying by itself—this collection of novellas is a wonderful deal. I could not put the book down as soon as I picked it up.”

Here’s the blurb from the collection: Before the Change, before Jane, and before she became a PI badass, Cybil Lewis cut her teeth in the District as a solo, brand new private inspector. At last, those stories of her early years are collected into this volume of short stories and novellas. Offering beautiful illustrations by comic book and brilliant artist, Julia Lacquement (DC Comics), Collected: A Cybil Lewis SF Mystery Collection provides action-packed, mystery stories set in the futuristic territory of D.C. (the District).

Whether this is your first time meeting Cybil or are a long-time fan, this collection should be a part of yours.


You won’t be disappointed.

COLLECTED: A CYBIL LEWIS SF MYSTERY COLLECTION is available at the Mocha Memoirs Press website, Amazon, and other fine online retailers. You can also order the paperback from brick and mortar bookstores.

Contact:

Publisher

Nicole Givens Kurtz

mochamemoirspress@gmail.com

www.mochamemoirspress.com

By Sumiko Saulson

My first exposure to the versatile and prolific Tony Todd was in 1990 when he starred as Ben Jones in the remake of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic “Night of the Living Dead.” Too young to have seen the original performance by Duane Jones, Todd’s take on the role was indelibly etched in my mind moving forward. My budding infatuation with Tony Todd became a full-fledged love affair two years later when he acted in what many consider his career-defining film, “Candyman.”

Not having seen the original “Night of the Living Dead” until well after I watched the reboot, my first exposure to black representation in horror films had instead been the second in the Romero series of zombie films, “Dawn of the Dead.” In it, Ken Foree starred as the musclebound action hero type character Peter Washington. I was only ten years old, but I loved and rooted for its hero. Like many African Americans, I was proud to see such a positive portrayal of a black man in horror.

Watching Tony Todd in the 1990 remake of “Night of the Living Dead” was a much different experience. By then, I was a twenty-two-year-old woman and immune to neither an actor nor a character’s sex appeal. Ben Jones as portrayed by the unusually tall and thin Tony Todd, who is 6’5, was not a powerful man of action, but a soft-spoken, thoughtful character that remained poised and dignified in the most unusual and dire of circumstances.

Although both films are about humans trying to survive a zombie outbreak, unlike the action-packed “Dawn of the Dead,” “Night of the Living Dead” spends a lot of time with its main characters in hiding or isolation. Ben Jones and Barbara Hamilton, a young white woman portrayed Patricia Tallman who is attacked by a horde of zombies at her parents’ gravesite at the start of the film, first discover and then gradually begin to rely on each other. Ben is a sensitive, soft-spoken character whose demeanor goes against stereotypical portrayals of black men. He rarely loses his temper, even when faced with racism on top of adversity. Along with other characters, the two struggle to survive against unfavorable odds by keeping their wits. Brains and calm and collected mind become more important than brawn and weaponry. Ben’s upbeat attitude in the face of tragedy gives the film heart. Because the Barbara character has more agency in this version than in the original, the Ben character is less the clear-cut protagonist of this film and Barbara’s role is more active and central.

After Candyman came out, I wasn’t the only one swooning over Tony Todd. His portrayal of the story’s iconic urban legend inspired title character was both nuanced and provocative. The movie was written by British horror master Clive Barker and directed by fellow Englishman Bernard Rose. Its subject matter, however, was distinctly American. Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Public Housing Projects, it tells the tale of Helen Lyle, a white graduate student portrayed by Virginia Madsen who is investigating the true histories behind urban legends.

Despite the presence of a central white or white-passing character (the character is allegedly a distant descendant of Candyman), the backstory’s premise is steeped in the history of slavery and the restoration. Most of the supporting cast is African American, including Helen’s bestie, Vanessa Williams, played by Anne-Marie McCoy, and Helen’s Cabrini information source Bernadette “Bernie” Walsh, played by Kasi Lemmons. There are several other key African American characters and a wealth of lesser or background characters.

None of the characters, including the protagonist, steal the show in quite the way Tony Todd’s charismatic and frequently sympathetic villain Candyman does. The brooding bad man approaches Helen in a provocative and often flirtatious manner, imploring her to understand the dark history of injustice and terror that lead to his monstrous afterlife. His deeply resonant voice is seductive and haunting. His character evokes such pity and empathy in the viewer that even as a villain, he could be considered a Byronic hero. When pleading fails, Candyman resorts to threats and bargaining. Helen is the hero and the catalyst for the story, but Candyman is clearly its star. In spite of this, and his stand out performance, Todd didn’t win any awards (he was nominated for one, “Fangoria”), while Virginia Madsen won three.

From the start of his acting career, Tony Todd seemed poised for the world of speculative fiction. Although “Night of the Living Dead” was his first starring role, his motion picture debut was as Barrington in the 1986 fantasy “Sleepwalk,” about a Chinese manuscript with mystical powers. Fantasy and horror weren’t his only speculative acting roles. Some of you will remember his appearances on the sci-fi television program “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as Worf’s younger brother, Kurn. 

Todd is often cast in villain roles, and horror is the genre he is most solidly associated with. He played the villain Grange in 1994’s classic dark fantasy film, “The Crow,” starring the ill-fated Brandon Lee, who died during production. The movie, based on a dark superhero comic book, contained many elements of horror. Grange, a gangster, is merely a henchman of the main villain Top Dollar. However, in classic Tony Todd character style, Grange is the one who discovers that the crow is the source of hero Eric Draven’s powers.

His characters often have dark mystical knowledge, even when they are neutral, or on the side of good. William Bludworth, his character in the “Final Destination” series, is a coroner who has some special magical knowledge of how death (the entity, not the action) operations. Like Grange, William Bludworth can be considered somewhat problematic as a cinematic trope known as the “magical black character.” These are token black mystics who use their special magical knowledge to aid the story’s white protagonists (or in the case of Grange, villain). However, he is a notable character in the series by virtue of being the only repeating character besides Clear Rivers, the original protagonist (played by Ali Larter) to appear in more than one film. Since death never appears in the flesh in the movies, the Bludworth character acts as an anchor for its personification, performing as a medium or mystic of sorts. He appears in more than half of the movies.

The movie “Candyman” spawned two sequels, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995) and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999).  While “Farewell to the Flesh” was well-received and succeeded as a sequel, it lost much of the Afrocentrism of the original 1992 Candyman film. Fay Hauser as Pam Carver plays a significant enough role to prevent Todd from being the token black actor, but the significant decrease in black actors in both speaking and background roles makes certain elements of the backstory a bit more problematic.

In the story, Candyman originally existed as a free black man Daniel Robitaille.  He was an artist and the son of a slave. His eternal torment is the result of having been tortured, maimed, and murdered by a white mob for sleeping with a white plantation owner’s daughter whose portrait he had been commissioned to paint and getting her pregnant. Candyman’s central targets as victims are women who are descended from his bloodline.

The story becomes increasingly problematic with each sequel as the viewer begins to wonder why these descendants of Candyman’s biracial daughter are predominately white. By the third film, one begins to wonder why the blonde starlet (Donna D’Errico) is the descendant instead of her black girlfriend Tamara (played by Alexia Robinson). In a seeming effort to relieve the second movie’s lack of color, the third film takes on a Day of the Dead theme, a series of Latino secondary characters, and a new Los Angeles location. None of this saves the movie, which is by far the worse of the three. Some of the other acting performances were so bad that not even Tony Todd could save it, and it ultimately killed the franchise.

Although these are his best-known horror series, Tony Todd’s notoriety as a horror actor has landed him a number of parts both large and small over the years. He played a parody of himself as an obnoxious, entitled actor in two episodes of the television show “Holliston” entitled “Candyman.” Some of this other movie roles include Ruber in “Dead of the Nite,” a story of ghosts, ghost hunting, and murder; Reverend Zombie in “Hatchet II,” and Reverend Abraham Stockton in “The Graves.”

Tony Todd remains very active in acting and other pursuits and at 61 years of age, is still widely regarded as a sex symbol. He was a voice actor in a 2015 animated treatment of “Night of the Living Dead” subtitled “Darkest Dawn.” Other 2015 forays into horror for the busy actor included Eddie in “Frankenstein,” Detective Johnson in “Scream At The Devil,” Dr. Murphy in  “Agoraphobia,” and the pastor in “Live/Evil.” “Frankenstein” was written and directed by Bernard Rose, co-wrote and directed “Candyman.” Tony Todd also keeps up his creepy bad guy image with a recurring role in the television series “The Flash” as Zoom, an arch-villain who is kind of the anti-Flash. He stars as Detective Sommers in the horror film “Zombie,” currently in post-production.

 In addition to his successful movie career, Todd has a substantial history in both Broadway and off-Broadway theater. His onstage credits include Donkeyman in Athol Fugard’s “The Captain’s Tiger,” the title role in August Wilson’s “King Hedley II,” and Reuben Tate in “Zooman and the Sign.” He continues to be active in theater, and is currently starring in Jack Megna’s “Ghost in the House,” a historical piece about Jack Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion. A victim of Jim Crow laws, the boxer convicted of violating the Mann act in 1913 for traveling with a white woman across state lines for “immoral purposes,” despite a lack of evidence. One of Tony Todd’s personal causes is working with other celebrities to ask President Obama to issue a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson for his unjust imprisonment.

By Sumiko Saulson

Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931, eight-four year old Toni Morrison is one of the most prominent voices in African American literature. The bestselling author has won the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize, and earned such an enduring place in American hearts and minds that she’s already a staple of many college English literature course curriculum in her own lifetime. Although her works often defy genre classification, the vagaries of genre politics have her firmly associated with the high-classed literary fiction genre. Literary fiction is the darling of critics and the academia alike.

Speculative fiction, and especially horror and the supernatural, are considered low-classed, tawdry genres. We sit in a dirty little niche corner, along with romance and erotica, as those genres that are just not prestigious enough for the so-called serious writers. Genre prejudice is so deeply ingrained that many do not recognize a horror story for what it is even when its nature is vastly apparent.

In essence, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a gothic horror story. It is a ghost story set against a backdrop of slavery and the post-Civil War restoration. It takes on the tone of gothic horror immediately at the outset of the story with the line “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom,” referring to 124 Bluestone Road, the address of the protagonist Sethe’s home. The use of a building, most commonly a house, is a trope commonly associated with the gothic fiction genre.

The story also utilizes many elements of the subgenre American Gothic. English gothic horror took place in the Victorian era, the same period of time that the Civil War and the post-war Restoration took place in the United States. The dark histories involving the African slave trade and the genocide of New World’s indigenous peoples were primary features of a guilt-ridden American conscience. Wronged native peoples and oppressed African slaves were some of the ghosts and bogeymen of American gothic. That is clearly the case in Beloved, which is about the petulant spirit of Sethe’s murdered two-year-old daughter, Beloved. Sethe killed her own child to protect her from slavery and has been haunted ever since.

While Toni Morrison’s overall literary genre is American or African American literary fiction, Beloved is widely categorized as Magical Realism. Magical realism is a genre that involves the insertion of folklore and supernatural elements into otherwise realistic narratives. Beloved is not Toni Morrison’s only venture into magical realism. Song of Solomon, Sula, Jazz, and The Bluest Eye all use elements of the genre.

If it weren’t for the fact that Sula won a Nobel Prize for American literature, we might think of it as magical realism, as it certainly utilizes many elements of the genre. Many supernatural elements are used to illustrate the town of Bottom’s discomfort with and rejection of the unconventional protagonist Sula Peace. These magical elements are illustrations of the town’s scapegoating behavior. They clearly symbolize the tendency to demonize women for liberal and sexually unrepressed behavior. However, there is a more than superficial resemblance between Sula’s connection to the paranormal occurrences and witchcraft. Sula seems like a witch, and the town seems to be on a witch hunt.

In magical realism, these things are seen as symbolic, not necessarily to be taken literally, as in horror. There is an additional layer of psychological complexity in magical realism, as it is often unclear whether the supernatural is at play, or characters are just superstitious. That mystery is part of what keeps magical realism psychologically terrifying.

The strange appearance of a swarm of agitated birds in Sula is a great example of this. They arrive when she returns to town, and they occur in such unmanageable numbers that some townspeople are driven to sadism in an effort to get rid of them. They are so populous that the birds create a danger to themselves and others. However, the book never explains their mysterious arrival and disappearance. That is where magical realism differs from traditional horror: in horror, a cause, usually a diabolical one is assigned. In Sula, people superstitiously connect the appearance to the protagonist and her sexually loose moral behavior, which includes interracial relationships and sleeping with married men.

Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon opens up with some of the most horrifying scenes I’ve ever read. One involves the hunting of a runaway slave by a pack of dogs, and the other involves an extended analogy about leaping to suicide while attempting to fly away from enslavement. Song of Solomon uses several elements of magical realism. Many of these are directly or indirectly connected with a character named Pilate, a woman who was born without a belly button.  She is a guardian angel/earth mother figure in the life of the protagonist, Milkman.

Her lack of a navel suggests a supernatural origin because bellybuttons are a sign of earthly birth. Created creatures, like angels or golem, wouldn’t need navels. Pilate shows other signs of supernatural knowledge or power, as does the ancient former slave Circe. Circe tells the protagonist Milkman of his great grandfather Solomon, who is the title character. Solomon was said to have literally flown to escape slavery. However, throughout the story, various attempts at flight are ambiguous and often seem more like suicide and less like an escape.

There is the further complication of determining whether or not supernatural occurrences are real in magical realism. In Toni Morrison’s controversial debut novel The Bluest Eye, Pecola Breedlove, a sexually molested young black girl, retreats into a fantasy world where she feels beautiful because she imagines she has blue eyes. The book has been banned multiple times because it deals with tough subjects like incest and child molestation. However, at the core of it is a deeper truth: our most terrifying monsters are the ones that are real.

Horror as a genre allows its readers to confront subjects that are too hard to look at directly. Like a filter that allows us to look at the sun without going blind, horror softens the impact of unimaginable subjects by replacing horrific human monsters with supernatural creatures. They are less upsetting than the idea that the real monsters are us.

There is a close synergy between magical realism and gothic horror. They are flip sides of the same coin. Magical realism is a genre label usually ascribed to people of color talking about ourselves and integrating our own folklore, history, legends and mythology into stories that contain both realistic and fantastic elements. Gothic horror, especially American gothic, is written from a white person’s point of view and has to do with outsider fear and suspicion of the same folklore, history, legends and myths.

 A novel like Beloved might have been considered gothic horror if it had been written from a white person’s perspective by a white author. A story like Bernard Rose and Clive Barker’s Candyman might have been mystical realism if it were written by a black author and from Candyman’s point of view. Both stories are about a tragic character that died unnecessarily as a result of racism and slavery who returns as an avenging spirit. The change in the point of view character is also key to the genre categorization here: Candyman is about how slavery impacted white people. Beloved is about how it impacted African Americans.

Toni Morrison’s forays into magical realism may not be universally considered horror for the same reason that not everyone considers Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein horror: the monster is so sympathetic that from time to time, human beings seem the real monsters. The monster is the one who has been wronged here. If we feel more sympathy for the monster than it persecutors, then we lose a lot of the fear we associate with the horror genre.

In Part I of our interview with Author Ronald T. Jones, we asked him some generalized questions about space and science fiction. In Part II, he shared some insight into the stories in Blood, Sweat, and Blaster Bolts. Here’s what he had to say:

MP: What is your favorite story in this collection and why?

Ronald: It’s hard to say. I had a great time writing each story. I will say that some of the stories were strongly inspired to the point where I had to put aside existing projects to work on them. Others were intended for past anthologies. Tyler’s Goddess, for example, came from a call by a sword and sorcery website for short stories featuring tales centered around a warrior woman and her big cat. I decided to do an Edgar Rice Burroughs take on the story, the Earthman-transported-to-another-world-by-mysterious means-trope. I’ve always liked fish out of water tales.

In Safeguard, I tackle competing strains of thought: pacifism and violence. How do you protect a society that eschews violence from existential threats? And would the means of protection be acceptable to one deeply indoctrinated in pacifism? I address extremism as well, mining today’s headlines to envision an ISIS-like organization returning to an Earth recovering from centuries of environmental blight to stake their claim through force.

Mist Lord was inspired by a book I read on Pablo Escobar, the notorious Columbian drug trafficker. I simply moved the setting to a far future place in another part of the galaxy.

Approaching a Day of Reckoning offered a not so optimistic look at where humans could end up centuries down the road should they make first contact with rigidly hierarchal species. How would humans respond to a status quo that stunts their development? I enjoyed exploring that theme.

I like a good mystery. Mission to Gined is a mystery cloaked in science fiction. The story also provided an opportunity for me to introduce creatures that have become a staple of horror tales. I won’t reveal who those creatures are. You’ll have to read the book! 

Freebooter is another version (a science fiction version) of a story written by Robert E. Howard, featuring Solomon Kane. Now, here’s my challenge for any Robert K. Howard fan reading Freebooter. See if you can discover the Solomon Kane story that inspired Freebooter. If you do, respond to this blog with the name of the story. That should be a fun challenge!

MP: Oh, that does sound like a fun challenge! You heard him, book baristas! If you’re a Robert K. Howard fan, comment and let us know your answer to Ronald’s challenge!

Ronald: So, I don’t have a favorite story per se. But each story was inspired by an idea that slithered into my mind and coiled around my brain like a snake. They are all unique tales which I enthusiastically embraced at the time I was cranking them out.

MP: Thank you for sharing so much insight into each story, Ronald. This makes me want to read them all, right now!