Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Chesya Burke

Tell us a bit about “Please, Momma.” What frame of mind were you in when you wrote it?

I’m a master’s student, so I’ve read a lot of Black Feminist writing and critical analysis on motherhood. But of course, literature has my heart, so I’ve also read a lot of Alice Walker and Audre Lorde and Octavia Butler. While the twins are the focus of my story, motherhood is the central theme for me. Mothers often love too much, and sacrifice their own health and well-being for their children. Mothers will die for their children, but sometimes it’s too much. So for the story, I just thought about the way motherhood can be both the most pure and corrupted form of love.

“Please, Momma” ends on a cliffhanger, which is sure to make it stick in readers’ heads. Do you have an idea of how it all turned out, or is it up in the air to you as well?

I’m a pessimist by heart and I tend to think that human beings as a whole aren’t capable of making the best choices. One obvious counter to this, as I mentioned above, tends to be mothers who are protective of their children, very often to the detriment of themselves and the children. With that, no, I don’t have an answer for what happens. Like everything else, I hope for the best, but fear the worst.

In addition to writing horror and dark fantasy fiction, you’ve widely read in the genre, having written a fair amount of critical and academic nonfiction about it. Can you name some voices in horror and dark fantasy who are doing work that really excites you?

Jennifer Marie Brissett is a great writer and I hear her new novel, Elysium, is amazing. Looking forward to reading it. I also really think people should check out Kiese Laymon. His novel Long Division is a brilliant alternative history/time travel story. Other than that, I recommend Sofia Samatar, Lucy Snyder, Nisi Shawl, Maurice Broaddus, Mikki Kendall, K. Tempest Bradford, Alaya Johnson, and so many more.

What are you working on these days? Any upcoming publications or exciting projects you’d like to tell readers about?

I’m still working on my novel about a Black woman detective in the 1920s’ Harlem Renaissance. Almost finished, so maybe it’ll actually get out in the world one day. But I’m also working on a comic strip for which I got to choose the artist and pretty much write whatever I want. It’s exciting.

Which character archetype in a horror movie would you most like to be? Least?

I’d least like to be a Magical Negro (i.e. a Black woman or man). I’m not sacrificing myself for nobody. I’m also not using any powers I have for the greater good of society because that society doesn’t benefit me anyway.

I’d most like to be the virgin white woman. She’s likely to live, doesn’t have to fuck one of the idiot guys roaming around, and her hair always looks great no matter what evil is pursuing her.

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Lisa Nohealani Morton

Lisa Nohealani Morton

Born and raised in Honolulu, Lisa Nohealani Morton lives in Washington, DC. By day she is a mild-mannered database wrangler, computer programmer, and all-around data geek, and by night she writes science fiction, fantasy, and combinations of the two. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, and the anthology Hellebore and Rue. She can be found on Twitter as @lnmorton.