Ever felt like your horror bookshelf was too white? Too testosterone filled?
You’re not alone. Most horror lovers have this situation in their homes and on their e-readers.
I’m here to help. Allow me to drag you into a small, but growing corner of the horror author pool: Black Women Who Write Horror. Imagine that phrase in a red, dripping Hammer style font. Cue evil laughter. Thank you.
What these women do best is create atmosphere. In their fiction there’s a distinct and lingering sense of foreboding that lets you know even under the veneer of normality something is horribly wrong. They also weave their varied backgrounds into rich and fresh experiences in horror.
Below are a few of my favorites. You’re welcome.
Tananarive Due, My Soul to Keep
With all of the vampire tales out there, it’s tough to find a new take on the mythos. Due has not only managed it, but has been able to maintain the strong, biblically inspired narrative through a trilogy (The African Immortals series) while ramping up the tension, suspense, and chill factor. And when Stephen King writes the blurb for your book, saying he loved it, what else can I say that would make this book more enticing?
Kenya Moss-Dyme, Daymares
This collection of seven unsettling stories has a gritty, yet atmospheric tone that brings everyday situations into the realm of the horrific. “First of the Month” is a particularly bleak view of the inner city, describing the lengths a desperate woman will go to in order to get that perfect apartment.
Nuzo Onoh, Unhallowed Graves
Onoh is a British author from the Igbo tribe, in what was formerly known as the Republic of Biafra. Their civil war with Nigeria had an enormous impact on her writing style. You get a deep draught of local Nigerian/Igbo culture and practices and Onoh doesn’t shy away from the nasty, gritty details when creating trauma to put her characters through. I dare you to suppress your shudder when you read about corpse water.
Connor Titus, The End is Now
Connor Titus is the pen name for Crystal Connor and Lori Titus, both excellent dark fiction authors in their own right. Put them together and you’ll get Armageddon horror that challenges the staunchest of end-of-the-world fiction readers. Connor’s military training is evident and Titus’ knack for crafting sympathetic characters makes this impactful reading. And the final reveal? It’s garnered the authors a few death threats…
Vicy Cross, Tuesday Apocalypse
Nuns, Nazis, and tentacle sex. Irreverent and unapologetic. This book creates the tone of 1940s Britain, complete with the fear of an untested nun trying to unravel a mystery, while trying to keep her own lusts in check. Why haven’t you already gotten a copy?
Tonya Liburd, “The Ace of Knives” in Postscripts to Darkness 6
Are you familiar with code switching in fiction? It’s when a character moves between two or more language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. Liburd dances between Trini and Canadian dialects so seamlessly in this short story, that it has become a standout example for code switching in Writing the Other® workshops.
Lynn Emery, A Darker Shade of Midnight
Ever wanted to read a voodoo novel by an author who has first-hand knowledge? Try Emery’s LaShaun Rouselle series. No, it probably isn’t the voodoo you’re used to. (So sorry about the rhyme.) Emery is a paranormal romance author, but her work has been getting darker and more enticing as subsequent books show up. While not your traditional view of horror, the authentic voodoo practices described are intriguing and give a realistic view of how practitioners work.
Quanie Miller, The New Mrs. Collins
Miller doesn’t consider herself a horror author, but upon reading her latest release, I knew it was unsettling enough to be called horror. Sorry about it, Quanie, you’re one of us now! A female villain, who can’t even explain what she is to herself, is the catalyst for a fantastic ride through the destruction she leaves in her wake.
Linda D. Addison, How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend
Addison is the only African-American to have won the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award® and it is well deserved. 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.