Horror & Dark Fantasy


Oct. 2016 (Issue 49): People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror!

It’s a double-sized special issue: People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror!, the latest installment in our Destroy series (for more information, be sure to check out destroysf.com). For this issue, we’ve brought on a team of amazingly talented creators of color to explore the horror genre and to smash inequality in our field. World Fantasy award-nominated editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia is serving as our Guest Editor and has wrangled original fiction from Nadia Bulkin (“Wish You Were Here”), Valerie Valdes (“A Diet of Worms”), Gabriela Santiago (“None of This Ever Happened”) and Russell Nichols (“The Taming of the Tongue”).
The legendary Tananarive Due is our Reprint Editor, and she’s sourced us classic fiction by Nisi Shawl (“Cruel Sistah”), Priya Sharma (“The Show”), and Terence Taylor (“Wet Pain”). We also have a host of nonfiction features edited by the talented Maurice Broaddus. He’s lined up new essays and articles by Alyssa Wong, Chinelo Onwualu, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and Chesya Burke.

In This Issue: Oct. 2016 (Issue 49): People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror!


On the Destruction of Horror: Notes from Your People of Colo(u)r Editors

The editors of People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! — Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Tananarive Due, and Maurice Broaddus — talk about their vision for this special double-issue, and share thoughts about working in the genre as creators of color.


A Diet of Worms

You’re not the kind of person who shows up late to work, but today was a piece of shit, so it’s seven thirty and your mom is finally dropping you off at the movie theater. It’s a weeknight, only one person in the box office selling tickets, so you shame-walk past a line of your fellow high school grads enjoying their last summer break before college. You hope you can sneak in without anyone noticing and grab some popcorn, because you missed dinner and you’re starving. Nope.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Valerie Valdes

It felt right to tell a story about a service-industry worker in the second person because such people are frequently ignored or dehumanized in their daily lives. When I worked in a movie theater, customers would walk up to the concession stand and start barking orders at me like I was a kiosk instead of a human being. So I wanted the reader to, as you say, inhabit the character more fully than first or third person would allow. There’s an immediacy and intensity that comes from second person when it’s done well.


Cruel Sistah

“You and Neville goin out again?” “I think so. He asked could he call me Thursday after class.” Calliope looked down at her sister’s long, straight, silky hair. It fanned out over Calliope’s knees and fell almost to the floor, a black river drying up just short of its destined end. “Why don’t you let me wash this for you?” “It takes too long to dry. Just braid it up like you said, okay?” “Your head all fulla dandruff,” Calliope lied. “And ain’t you ever heard of a hair dryer? Mary Lockett lent me her portable.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nisi Shawl

The entire story, not just the song, is inspired by “Cruel Sister.” There are many, many songs on the same theme, by many different titles. What attracted me was the plain, unalloyed, chilling hatefulness of the crime and the equally chilling retribution—though I carried that part a bit further in my story. The song “Cruel Sister” ends with the ghostly accusation, as does most of its ilk, but I wanted to show the aftereffects of the murderer’s horrific action. The song in “Cruel Sistah,” by the way, is loosely based on W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.”


The H Word: The Darkest, Truest Mirrors

I am eleven years old when my mother asks me, Why do you have to write such dark stories? Why can’t you write something edifying? At the time, I have no answer for her, and I mistake the tight line of her mouth for disapproval. I miss the concern in her eyes, the distress in the set of her shoulders. I think about her question for many years. But at the time, I remember wondering, What is edifying about stories that don’t reflect the real world?


Wish You Were Here

“Tell us a ghost story,” said one of the women, the pouty one, the one named Melissa. She was the nice, friendly one for now, the one asking questions, the one who wanted to stop at every little roadside fruit stall and pose next to every possibly rabid monkey, but Dimas knew this kind of tourist. Eventually, she was going to exhaust herself, and then—fueled by a high metabolism and the vengeance of unmet expectations—she was going to become his worst enemy.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nadia Bulkin

I’m all about the interplay between the “natural” horror of current events and the “supernatural” horror of ghosts and demons. I think the combination makes for a richer, truer story. I also think that, frankly, it’s important to remember that large swaths of the human population have been subjected to real horrors—genocide, ecological disaster, systemic discrimination—and their horror stories are going to look a little bit different from, you know, Poltergeist.


Interview: Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, three novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, and The Devil in Silver, and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Whiting Writers’ Award, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shirley Jackson Award, an American Book Award, and the key to Southeast Queens.


The Show

The camera crew struggled with the twisting, narrow stairs. Their kit was portable, Steadicams being all the rage. They were lucky that the nature of their work did not require more light. Shadows added atmosphere. Dark corners added depth. It was cold down in the cellar. It turned their breath to mist, which gathered in the stark white pools shed by the bare bulbs overhead. Martha smiled. It was sublime. Television gold. Tonight there’d been a crowd. Word had got out.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Priya Sharma

There are a lot of shows about filming in allegedly haunted sites. My influence was the UK show Most Haunted, where buildings were visited by the regular presenter, a historian, a parapsychologist, and a medium. I always found watching the mediums especially interesting. The controversies around the show are well-documented, and Martha grew from those. I liked the idea that she’d suppressed a lot of herself to survive, and I wanted to write about that.


Horror Is . . . Not What You Think or Probably Wish It Is

Too often, when it comes to Black and minority writers, this definition of horror is often twisted and contorted until it is no longer acceptable. Or more bluntly, Black and other minority writers are not allowed to simply create a “horrific emotion” within their (white horror) readers and be welcomed into the fold, instead there are always more and higher hoops that these writers must jump through (hoops dictated and controlled by the mainly white male readers and writers) seemingly with the sole purpose of excluding them.