Chilling Chat Special: L. Marie Wood


L. Marie Wood is an award-winning dark fiction author, screenwriter, and poet with novels in the psychological horror, mystery, and dark romance genres. She won the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper. She is a MICO Award nominated screenwriter and has won Best Horror, Best Action, BestL. Marie Wood Afrofuturism/Horror/Sci-Fi, and Best Short Screenplay awards in both national and international film festivals. Wood’s short fiction has been published in groundbreaking works, including the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology, Sycorax’s Daughters and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. Her academic writing has been published by Nightmare Magazine and the cross-curricular text, Conjuring Worlds: An Afrofuturist Textbook. She is the founder of the Speculative Fiction Academy, an English and Creative Writing professor, a horror scholar, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, a full member of the SFWA, and a frequent speaker in the genre convention space. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, L. Marie! Thank you for chatting with us today.

LMW: Happy to be here!

NTK: How did you discover the horror genre?

LMW: Interestingly enough, I was 5 years old! I don’t know how I found horror. I think it found me—I think I have always been attracted to the darker side of things, the side that is just a little bit off. And that’s not to say that I’ve always been attracted to blood and guts—that’s actually not what I write or read for the most part. But the tilt on the landscape—the thing that is just a little wrong even though it is surrounded by what is considered “normal”… that kind of thing has always been my cup of tea even at such a young age!

NTK: You’re a big fan of psychological horror. Is that what inspires your writing?

LMW: That’s what I write and always have. Life inspires my writing. I have always seen things at a slant. That’s not to say that I can’t see them the way that most people do, but if I turn my head just a little, the dark side is always right there. It is interesting for me to look at that side, to study how it works, how it hides itself in reality and sometimes stories come from that.

NTK: You also write screenplays. What is the difference between writing a novel or short story and writing a screenplay?

LMW: Night and day! Novels and short stories give you the room to add exposition and descriptive language. Screenplays are visual—if you can’t see what is supposed to happen, neither can anyone else, so all of those moments of contemplation have to be reworked.

NTK: How do you rework those moments?

LMW: Often it requires trimming, but there can be re-wording to make something passive-active. There is a small section where you can direct an actor to do something specific and there is creatively crafting the story to get the actor to express what you are looking for or get the director to shoot a scene a certain way without saying, “Do it this way!” Good writing is needed—just a different kind of good.

NTK:  Recently, you started an online learning platform called Speculative Fiction Academy. What is this?

LMW: Yes!! SFA is my passion! it is an online academy dedicated to teaching people how to hone their craft. I like to call it the MFA program that didn’t exist when I was in school.

NTK: Is it just for writing and screenwriting?

LMW: We have classes that dive into speculative fiction whereas traditional programs focus on literary fiction. We have classes that talk about monsters and faes and the characters that one would encounter when worldbuilding. We talk podcasting, scriptwriting, worldbuilding, business, social media. We cover it all.

NTK:  And who teaches these courses?

LMW: We have classes that talk about how to properly reflect mental health in fiction, and it is taught by a practicing psychiatrist. We have to handle medical problems properly and it is taught by a general practitioner. We have award winners, publishers, academics, authors from multiple genres, filmmakers, podcasters—you name it. Pros teaching what they know to people who want to know.

NTK: Wow! How do Horror Addicts sign up for this?

LMW: Visit Speculative Fiction Academy and choose how you’d like to learn. We have three tiers to choose from. You can choose from individual courses a la carte, monthly memberships, or annual memberships. A la carte courses (which all of them can be) are individually priced. The best value is to get an annual membership and get a month free.

NTK: Of all your work, which is your favorite?

LMW: So, this may sound like a silly answer, but it is true. My favorite work is the one I am working on now—it is always the one I am working on. Because I am so pumped about it. It is exciting to watch the characters come together, to see them grow. I love every minute of writing a novel—even the moments when I don’t know what the heck I am going to do next!

NTK: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?

LMW: I don’t know that I have a favorite character—just like with the movie question, I really love so many of them.

Angie from The Promise Keeper is so amazing to me—what she endures and how she reacts to what is happening—she floors me.

Patrick from The Realm—I just dig him all the way through the series. He is committed and flawed and so very human—I love it.

James from Crescendo—he’s so tormented and life doesn’t let up for him. I love watching how he reacts to things.

I love each of the mains in The Tryst (Mark, Eric, Nicole). They are so different yet so connected. They are amazing to watch in action and I really enjoy writing them.

Shaun in The Black Hole, Sara Sue in Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue…Chris in Telecommuting—I love this dude for his realness.

Honestly, I love them all (Laughs.)

NTK:  L. Marie, what does the future hold for you? What works and activities do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

LMW: So much! Accursed, Book 3 of The Realm Trilogy will be coming out in October. My first mystery novel, Mars, the Band Man, and Sara Sue, will be out in November.

I have a really neat traditional (well, for the most part) project coming out with Falstaff in 2023. The first two books will come out in Feb.

Book 2 of the Affinity Series (the first of which is The Tryst that I mentioned a second ago) is coming out in February also—it is called Origins and wowza, I loved writing that one.

I have a few short stories and poems that are coming out in 2023—the ink on some of those contracts is still wet!


My first film will be out soooooonnnn!

NTK: Ooh! What is this film?

LMW: it’s a short film and harkens back to the slasher genre and I am pumped about it. It is called 271 Raeburn Avenue. I loved being on set for this. Oh my gosh, it was an amazing experience. On top of all of271 Raeburn Avenue that, I will be speaking at a few conferences. Candyman and the Whole Damn Swarm and International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

NTK: What was it like to be on the set and see your creation come about?

LMW: Being on set was so surreal! Fixing lines mid-taping was flipping awesome—that was a dream come true. Overseeing the makeup, and sitting in on production meetings—just so awesome.

I am so amazed at the creativity that everyone brought to the table and that they were saying my lines…lines I wrote!

NTK:  Thank you for joining us today, L. Marie. By the way, congratulations on having your work archived in the University of Pittsburgh Library System.

LMW: Oh, thank you so much! I’m so excited about the archiving! It’s one of those things that you never think will happen for you. I am excited to be included—truly an honor.

Chilling Chat: Episode #215 – Sumiko Saulson


Sumiko Saulson is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Zhe is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic Women, Scry of Lust, Black Celebration, and WickedlySumiko Saulson Mixy Award Abled. Zhe is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”
Zhe has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco Bay View.

NTK: How old were you when you discovered horror?

SS: Both of my parents were huge horror fans. They played horror movies and television programs in the home when I was a kid. My mom got mad at my dad for taking her to see Rosemary’s Baby when she was eight months pregnant with me. Her favorite TV series was Dark Shadows, and she watched it all the time when she was pregnant with me, and when I was an infant. I remember seeing It’s Alive at the drive-in theater when I was five. My brother and I saw a lot of old seventies horror classics as little children, so it started very early for me.

NTK: Who was the first horror character you felt represented you, the one you could identify with the most?

SS: Without a doubt, Kevin Foree is Peter in the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead movie. That was the first horror film I saw with an African American protagonist. I was very excited and rooted for him. Afterward, my dad tried to show me the original Night of the Living Dead starring Duane Jones as Ben, but I just found it depressing. He fights through all of the zombies only to be more or less racially profiled and killed at the end. I preferred the triumphant, action-hero-like Peter. I imagine that the scene where he contemplates suicide, then decides to go for it and try to escape, is a nod to the first movie.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

SS: When I was 10, I read my first horror novel, which was Peter Straub’s, Ghost Story. This lead to me reading Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman when I was 12, which lead to a more or less lifetime love of Stephen King. However, LA Banks and Christopher Rice have both usurped his title since. I do not currently have a favorite horror author. Over the past four years, I have had a series of deaths of family members and close friends, and my concentration has become too poor for pleasure reading. I have stuck with assigned readings, which, when I was in college a couple of years ago, lead to an increase in my already large collection of owned and read Toni Morrison novels. I still believe that Sula and Beloved both belong in the annals of horror and perhaps The Bluest Eye as well.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

SS: The Stand. Heh. I feel so basic right now.

NTK: What inspired your story, “My Clockwork Valentine?”

SS: In addition to the obvious Alice in Wonderland themes, Clockwork Valentine is very heavily inspired by my adolescent love for Edgar Allen Poe. Blanche Lapin—literally, White Rabbit in French—is being stalked through a gruesome ball that has very obvious nods to Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” There is also a pretty obvious nod to “A Tell-Tale Heart” you will undoubtedly notice. And the names of the characters are all French names inspired by Alice in Wonderland characters. It was really fun mixing the two mythologies together, in order to come up with a wholly original piece. But I think that in terms of tone, it’s very much an homage and a love letter to my early horror influence, Edgar Allen Poe.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience in the horror writing community been?

SS: It’s been a mixed bag, although there have been a lot of good experiences. I find that the African American and African Diaspora speculative fiction communities – that is, Black Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Weird, Horror, etc.. writers are very supportive of one another. Women in Horror are also very supportive of each other. And there are a lot of allies. But there are definitely glass ceilings in mainstream horror, and the old boy’s club gets resentful when people break through them or try to shake things up. There are still far too many people who believe that only a middle-aged white cisgender heterosexual man is qualified to write horror.

NTK: You are the Social Media Manager for the Horror Writers Association. What would you like Horror Addicts to know about this organization? How does it benefit horror writers? 

SS: As you probably have noticed, since I came on board, the Horror Writers Association’s blog and social media are afire with various ways to showcase, highlight, and promote not only our own writers but writers throughout the horror community. But Halloween Haunts, Summer Scares, and other series specifically highlight the works of members. Additionally, you can post to our calendar, to our email bulletin Quickbites (which nonmembers can subscribe to but only members can promote in), our online calendar, and more! There are local chapters where you can get a lot of support. For example, my local chapter, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter, has a booth every year at the Bay Area Book Festival. It’s a professional association for horror writers, best known for the annual StokerCon, where people can receive the prestigious Bram Stoker Award. Being in a room with so many other horror writers from around the country and around the world is truly invigorating, and an awesome opportunity to network.

NTK: You also received the Richard Laymon President’s Award for Service at the 2022 Bram Stoker Awards. What was it like to be presented with this honor?

SS: It was very exciting and also deeply touching to receive the award. It was an open acknowledgment of all of the work I have put in to make sure that the HWA is inviting to people of all cultures, marginalized groups, ethnic and racial identities, and members of the LGBTQ community, by putting together a series of diversity celebrating interviews. Those interviews are now spreading out to other groups, as people are inspired! So we will have a member spotlight coming up soon, as well as a series highlighting Veterans, and we recently had a Mental Health initiative. None of those were done by me, but I feel that by spearheading the Pride interview series—the first of its kind—last year—I got the ball rolling. And this also brings a lot of fresh new content to our social media and our blog. Anyway, it was nice being acknowledged.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

SS: Somnalia: The Metamorphoses of Flynn Keahi will be coming out on Mocha Memoirs Press next year. I have a short story in an anthology called In Trouble, edited by EF Schrader, which is going to raise money for Planned Parenthood, coming out next year, and a story in Blerdrotica 2: Couples Therapy, edited by Penelope Flynn. Both of those stories center on LGBTQ characters, specifically trans people of color. And I have an essay in Joe Vallese’s exciting It Came From The Closet: Queer Reflections on Cinema coming out later this year. I just came out with a book of poetry, The Rat King. Oh! And last year’s collection of poetry and short stories, Within Me Without Me, recently won the Ladies of Horror Reader’s Choice Award!

Addicts, you can find Sumiko on Facebook, Twitter, and Tik-Tok as @sumikoska. Zhe can be found on Instagram as @sumikosaulson.

Chilling Chat: Episode #207 – J. Malcolm Stewart

chillingchatJason Malcolm Stewart
is an author, journalist and media professional who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His short fiction has appeared in the Pulp Empire Series, Grumpy Old Gods, Twisted Tales, TemptationJ. Malcolm Stewart Magazine, the Once Upon a Scream Anthology, the Killens Review of Art and Letters as well as on the Smoke and Mirrors podcast. His non-fiction Quicklets on a variety of topics can be found at He also hosts the YouTube features Seven Minute Takes and Active Voices.

NTK: When did you first become interested in horror? How old were you?

JMS: Horror became a thing for me around age 6-7 with a truly cheesy 60s anti-hippie movie called Equinox about some teens who are being hunted by the devil in the woods. Super silly in the light of adulthood, but scary as hell to a kid too young to be watching it on Bob Wilkins’ SF Bay Area version of “Creature Features” in the 70s.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

JMS: Wow! Hard question…What day of the week is it? The opinion changes from time to time. Today, I’ll say Friedkin’s Bug, but tomorrow it could be The Exorcist. Or the original version of Cat People.

NTK: What is your favorite horror TV show?

JMS: Man, more tough questions! I came up with love for so many of them. My most recent favorite was Ash v. Evil Dead for the obvious reasons of Rami and Campbell. I need to binge Lovecraft Country soon.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?

JMS: Finally, an easy question! I sat down as an 11-year-old to read ‘Salem’s Lot and literally could not put it down. I remember mother asking if I was going to put that book down anytime during daylight hours. The answer was no. Forty years later, I still think it’s King’s best pure horror novel, from start to finish.

NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?

JMS: King is the facile answer, as I read everything he did in the 80s with an eye on trying to crack the code. Along the way Straub, Benchley and Moore entered the consciousness. But I also consider Morrison’s Beloved a horror novel, so she would be the best at the endeavor by default.

NTK: Has King influenced your work? What do you consider your greatest horror influences in writing?

JMS: King as a prose writing source, but to be honest the various screenwriters and directors of the 60s era Hammer films probably had as much influence on my horror fiction as any prose author.

NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you plan their every move?

JMS: No answer to that one. I tend to have story ideas and characters just show up for the party.

NTK: Tell us about your story, “Mr. Shingles.” What inspired you to write it?

JMS: “Mr. Shingles” started as just a weird-sounding name for a character. It was with the announcement that was doing a horror-style fairy tale anthology that he became a troll living under the Carquinez Bridge. That connection to the bridge happened as I used to have a job that would sometimes call for me to go over the bridge at like 4:00am, which, if you’ve done it, was always a surreal experience.

NTK: What are you most afraid of?

JMS: Writer’s Block.

NTK: What would you like to see in the horror field that you have not seen before? What new tropes do you think could be discovered?

JMS: Horror is very flexible and much more diverse than it’s given credit for. I’m optimistic it will always re-invent itself when it becomes cliche as the Vampire/Zombie tropes have.

NTK: You’ve written a story called, “The Duel.” What is it about?  

JMS: “The Duel,” sprang out of the response to my short story, “The Last Words of Robert Johnson,” which was first printed in 2010. After republishing it in my own short story collection, I realized there was more interest in the Johnson legend. So, an idea for a sequel piece (technically a prequel) came about where Johnson, whose story of selling his soul to the Devil made him a figure of folklore even during his lifetime, meets up with the preeminent Gospel blues player of the era, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Drama naturally flowed from the concept, so, “The Duel,” was born. 

NTK: Do you think Robert Johnson really sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads?  

JMS: Ahh, the eternal question. I gave my best guess in, “The Last Words of Robert Johnson,” on the whole Crossroads, soul-selling tale, so I’ll leave any speculation to its pages. As for where in the afterlife Bad Bob is, he opined in his own music that his spirit would find an old Greyhound bus to ride for eternity, so I’d keep an eye out for him next time at the bus station.

NTK: What work do Horror Addicts have to look forward to? What new stories and novels do you have brewing?

JMS: I have another full-length horror novel or two brewing. Also, the curtain will come up soon on “The Bride of Mr. Shingles.” The Monster Demands a Mate!



Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) and Winston Duke (Black Panther) star in Jordan Peele’s (Get Out) 2019 doppelganger chiller Us. Warnings of underground unknowns, VHS, retro boob tubes, and ye olde 1986 commercials for Hands Across America set the scene before Santa Cruz carnivals, Thriller t-shirts, dark beaches, thunderstorms, and funhouse horrors. Her parents’ banter was already strained before the trauma, and the now-adult Addy hasn’t told her husband of the experience, either. They return to her family home, but their daughter’s too busy with her phone, the son’s really too old to be playing with toys, and her oblivious to her discomfort husband wants to keep up with the Joneses with a cool boat. The spooky basement, cabinets big enough to hide in, and mirrors with reflections that seem to look back at you lead to the same eerie funhouse, crazy beach folk, repeated twin moments, elevens, jinx, and double jinx. Peering through dark windows and talking with your back to a person layer visuals and dual suggestions while our husband jokes about what was in the hall of mirrors coming to get Addy and their rich white friends remain out of touch snobs more interested in alcohol and plastic surgery. Our Mr. thinks he can handle trespassers with threats and a baseball bat, but power outages and unresponsive lookalikes banging at the door make for a fearful home invasion. This unarmed, mid-century beach house and its many windows aren’t exactly secure, and the entire break-in happens in real-time without frenetic cameras and zorp boom music. Croaking, unaccustomed to speaking accounts tell tales of the tethered and shadowed receiving pain below while we have light and warmth above, and each of the underground confronts their compatriots with disturbing torments, freaky pursuits, and mimicking pantomime. Ironic Beach Boys cues and sardonic smart home devices are no help at all! Addy starts timid, but this threatened mother turns badass, angry, and desperate to save her son as the bizarre deaths and replacement reveal escalate with distorted reversals, fractured experiences, and not quite right through the looking glass. The timely titular we and the American initialization mirror the united privileged for some but underbelly torment for many. We kind of know what’s going in here and the wither to and why fros aren’t as important as the underlying social statements. However, drawn-out, unnecessary moments, and repeated, uneven showdowns make this a little long. Chases, defeats, and hard violence are easy or contrived depending on if the tethered is conveniently primitive and animalistic or agile and adapt as needed. Elaborate underground talk and random fights don’t explain how big this takeover is. Police are called but never arrive, both a horror trope as well as a commentary on the system, but the supposedly self-aware genre send-ups make characters stupid or erroneously humorous. Homages don’t upend but play into the horror cliches as car keys are forgotten, no one worries about food or weapons bigger than a fireplace poker, and they get out of the car in the middle of the woods. And how did they get so many pristine, matching underground supplies? The final act explanations and intercut dance parallels descend into stereotypical horror with quick editing and that obnoxious Zorp boom music, but with so many great things here, there’s no need for generic horror designs. There are flaws, the audience must take a lot of leaps, and final twists should have been told in the big reveal rather than montaged at the end. Our writer/director/producer needed a tighter edit in the last act, but the excellent foreshadowing, dual visuals, and social commentary make for repeat viewings and scary entertainment.

Chilling Chat: Episode #204 – Comika Hartford


Comika began her career writing and performing at the historic LORRAINE HANSBERRY THEATER in her hometown of San Francisco with Rhodessa Jones’ award-winning company Cultural Odyssey beforeComika Hartford graduating from Emerson College in Boston. She’s a co-producer of the LGBTQ series DYKE CENTRAL *available on Amazon Prime* the horror/sci-fi podcast DOMESTICATED and is co-founder of DOPE SISTA magazine out of Atlanta. As a life-long fan of cutting edge episodic television she went on to win the IndieFEST Award for Excellence, The Independent Shorts Awards Platinum Award, Top Shorts Best Web Series and the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival Best New Media Award for her original web series THE GREY AREA as well as Best Plot Twist from The Horror Bowl Awards and best horror short at the Phoenix Monthly Film Festival for her thriller anthology pilot HINTERLAND ZOO, Episode 1.

 NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Comika! When did you first discover horror and what got you interested in it?

CH: Well, it was actually an accident, I got my mom’s friend to let me watch Jaws when I was five and I was so traumatized that I could only take shallow baths for months! Years later, I was fascinated by the bts shots of the production, once I saw it was all pretend the drama and power of the storytelling had me. Been a horror weirdo ever since!

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie and why? 

CH: I’ll always love Alien and not just because I share a birthday with our queen Sigourney Weaver, but I’m loving the psychological gutting of Squid Game. (I know it’s not a movie…but it kinda is!)

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show and why? 

CH: I’m loving Two Sentence Horror series, Melody Cooper is killing it! 

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why? 

CH: Oooh… Gonna have to go with Le Fanu’s Carmilla, it’s so deliciously bisexual.

NTK: How is acting in horror different from acting in a drama?  

CH: It isn’t. By that I mean it’s still making the unreal feel real. However, the supernatural elements create stakes that are radically different than other genres and that’s why we all love heavy hitters like Toni Colette or Colman Domingo. They bring their bloody guts and soul to the work.

NTK: Which do you enjoy most? Producing, directing, acting, or writing? 

CH: Ah, I’m really just a creepy writer lurking by a shrubbery. In a Michael Myers mask. 

NTK: Love it! As an LGBTQ woman of color, what do you enjoy most about the horror community? 

CH: Elvira. *smiles in fangirl*

NTK: As a fan of The Twilight Zone, what do you think of the new reboot with Jordan Peele? 

CH: Ah-Mazing! I think Serling would be proud, he was all about social commentary. His screenplay Seven Days in May is very timely after the Capitol riot. 

NTK: What is the one question you wish an interviewer to ask you? And what is the answer to that question?

CH: Q: Are you really a witch, or are you just joking?

        A: *quietly strokes the toad in my purse*

NTK: (Laughs.) That’s great. When you’re writing and you create a character, does that character have free will? Or do you control everything they do? 

CH: They literally lead me around. I’m just following their footsteps to the ending.

NTK: What piece of advice do you have for the up-and-coming horror creative?

CH: Write that shit. Edit later. Nothing comes out perfect. So. Write. That. Shit. 

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

CH: My micro episode horror series The Interview will be on the Rizzle App later this year & my award-winning web series The Grey Area is on the Paraflixx platform. I have some larger things coming up in 2022 that I can’t share yet… But soon. Sooooon! *pets toad again witchily*

NTK: Thank you for chatting with us, Comika!

CH: Thank you!

Chilling Chat: Episode #203 – Valjeanne Jeffers

chillingchatValjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers is a speculative fiction writer, a Spelman College graduate, a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Carolina African America Writers’ Collective. She is the author of ten books, including her Immortal and her Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Valjeanne has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk!:The Ringing Ear, Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, Sycorax’s Daughters, Black Magic Women, The Bright Empire, and, most recently, All the Songs We Sing, Bledrotica Volume I, and Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire.

Valjeanne is a talented and fascinating woman. We spoke of werewolves, vampires, and a special reveal for her readers.

NTK: Welcome back to Chilling Chat, Valjeanne! Thank you for joining us.

VJ: Thank you for having me.

NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?

VJ: Oh, wow. Tales from the Hood I.

NTK:  What do you like best about that movie?

VJ: The storyline was fantastic, as was the acting, casting. David Allen Grier for example, who is usually known for comedic work did an excellent job portraying a violent abuser (“Monster.”)

Spike Lee placed a message in each story.

Also, Time After Time. It’s an outstanding portrayal of a battle between HG Wells and Jack the Ripper no less! Another wonderful movie about time travel—I’m kind of partial to it.

NTK: Oh, I love that movie! And Malcolm McDowell was terrific as Wells! What is your favorite horror TV show?

VJ: The Dragon Prince (Netflix). It’s billed as a fantasy show, but it definitely can also be described as horror. The Animation and storyline are excellent, and it has a diverse cast of both human and nonhuman characters.

NTK: What is your favorite horror novel and why?

VJ: I have so many! I’d like to pick two. The Talisman (Stephen King) is one of my early favorites. The way King flips between two timelines, and the journey and mission of the hero just reeled me in. And I know it inspired me to write about time travel. The second is Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul Book I by Dicey Grenor. This book is sexy, supernatural, and filled with creatures of the night—of all varieties.

NTK: The Talisman inspired you to write about Time Travel, where do you usually find inspiration?

VJ: From other authors, movies, TV shows. I don’t try to imitate anyone, but other authors, etc. inspire me. And of course, as writers, we’re always asking what if…

NTK: Tell us about your book Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. How did that book come about?

VJ: I’d been reading SF/Fantasy and horror for years, and werewolves were always one of my favorite supernatural breeds. And of course, watching movies, etc. werewolves were always one of my favorite types of supernatural beings. The idea kind of crept into my head of shifting timelines and a battle between good and evil werewolves who could be revolutionaries.

NTK: As a person of color, how has your experience been in the horror community? Good? Bad? Bit of Both?

VJ: Pretty good actually. Mind you when I first started writing I didn’t think of myself as a horror writer. Then, I met Sumiko Saulson who interviewed me for 100+Black Women in Horror because of my Immortal series! I was blown away…and very honored. That was the beginning of my Mona Livelong series.

NTK: Do you think more could be done in the horror community to embrace people of color?

VJ: I think that thus far the horror community has been very welcoming. The Horror Writers Association is a wonderful group, as is I can only speak from my experience.

NTK: Glad to hear it! You mentioned Mona Livelong, who is a paranormal detective. What kind of research did you do for Mona?

VJ: I did a lot of research on Steampunk/Steamfunk. And actually, one of the authors who inspired me was Brandon Massey. I also did some research on Haitian Creole and the Cajun language and ways of speaking.

NTK: How has the pandemic affected your work? Have you been more productive? Less productive?

VJ: Pretty much the same, except I’ve decided that there won’t be any more in-person events until Covid-19 is behind us. 

NTK: That is a very wise decision. You were one of the writers who contributed to SLAY. What was that experience like?

VJ: I loved it! It was the first time I set out to write a story about a traditional vampire who drinks blood. The vampires I usually write about are time vampires.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What work do HorrorAddicts have to look forward to?

VJ: I just started working on Mona Livelong IV and it will be a crossover novel between Immortal and Mona Livelong! Yes, I let the cat out of the bag!

NTK: Oh, awesome! Thank you for revealing that on Chilling Chat! And thank you for chatting with me today. Valjeanne! As always, you are a terrific guest!

VJ: Thank you! And you’re welcome!

Addicts, you can find Valjeanne’s work on Amazon.

Black Horror Movies

This is our list of Af Am, African, and Black movies from around the world either produced, directed, or main character acting by people of African descent. If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments and we’ll add them to our list.




Attack the Block

Bad Hair



Blacula 1

Blacula 2

Blade movies


Candyman, 1992 (review by Kieran Judge)

Candyman, 2021 (review by Crystal Connor)

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (review by Eden Royce)

Dawn of the Dead

Def by Temptation

Dracula 3000

Eve’s Bayou


Ganja & Hess (review by Eden Royce)

Get Out (review by Kenzie Kordic)


Heks (review by Crystal Connor)

His House (review by Kbatz)

Hood of the Living Dead

House on Haunted Hill

House on Willow Street

I Am Legend

Last Ones Out

Leprechaun 5: In the Hood

Lost Boys: The Thirst


Missing Angel (Nigerian)

Night of the Living Dead (article on Tony Todd by Sumiko Saulson)

Queen of the Damned

Serpent and the Rainbow

Strange Days

Sugar Hill (review by Valjenne Jeffers)

Surviving Evil


Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

Tales from the Hood

Tales from the Hood 2

The First Purge

The Green Mile

The House Next Door

The Mangler

The People under the Stairs

The Scary Movie franchise

The Soul Collector 8

The Tokoloshe (about Tokoloshe by Kieran Judge)

The Unforgiving



Vamp (with Grace Jones)

Vampire in Brooklyn (review by Kbatz)

Vampires in the Bronx (review by Kbatz)

If you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments and we’ll add them to our list.

Chilling Chat: Episode #201 – Crystal Connor

Crystal Connor grew up telling spooky little campfire-style stories at slumber parties. Living on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th,Wordsmith Crystal Connor Hellraiser, The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone; along with writing short stories specializing in the Science Fiction & Horror genres since before Jr. high School, it surprised no one that she ended up writing horror novels! 

Crystal is a fascinating person and a thought-provoking author. We spoke of writing, her influences, and her literary father. 

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Crystal! Thank you for joining me today!

CC: Thank you so much for having me.

NTK: What got you into horror and how old were you?

CC: Gosh, that’s such a good question. I’ve always told really good horror stories. When I was little, I was invited to all the slumber parties because I told her really good horror stories. (Laughs.) It’s something that I’ve always done. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to be a horror author—it just happened by happenstance, so yeah.

NTK: Did you watch horror movies at the slumber parties? What is your favorite horror movie?

CC: I don’t remember watching horror movies at slumber parties, unless I was the one hosting them. Horror is something that’s always been in the peripherals of my life. I grew up watching the black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dark Shadows, Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, Hellraiser, Stephen King, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. You know, horror’s always been a part of my life, and I always like things—you know—darker around the edges.

NTK: What is your favorite horror television show?

CC: I think my favorite TV shows growing up was a tie between The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. I believe science fiction and horror are fraternal twins and there’s a lot of stuff in those two series that are just like downright unsettling. So, growing up—ya there would be a tie.

NTK:  Do you have a favorite horror novel?

CC: Ok, so people actually raise their eyebrows when they hear me say this, but my favorite horror novel of all time is the Book of Revelations in the King James Bible. Now, I grew up in a Christian household and I’m a Godfearing person. I don’t think I’m a Christian because, of course, I’m not living according to the scriptures. But the book of revelations has shaped my writing and me as a person. From a very young age that was the first story that I read from start to finish without stopping, and it’s just so terrifying. I mean, I was just like terrified, right, ‘cause I think I might have been like 10 or 11 years old and I’m super seduced by images and that book is so visually terrifying that it stuck with me. The visuals and the things that were prophesized that are going to come to pass if we don’t change our ways of living—so, yeah, it’s the Book of Revelations that has shaped me as an individual in my personal life and in my writing life as well.

NTK: So, do you have a favorite horror author?

CC: My favorite horror writer, besides myself, hands down has to be Stephen King. I didn’t take any writing classes and when I write, I just kind of dislike writing everything down as it comes to me. But Stephen King is the person who taught me how to write. He is my mentor even though he doesn’t know it. So, when I’m working on a scene and I’m struggling through it, I usually just read a book from Stephen King to see how he did it, and then, I kind of copy that style to get me out of whatever hole I’m in. Whatever I’m like struggling to get by. The very first King novel that I read was Pet Sematary and of course, I’ve read everything that he’s written after that. He’s my favorite horror writer because he’s my literary dad. (Laughs.)

But there are so many amazing horror authors now, that there’s no way that I would be able to name them all. Some women who have been influential in my career would be like Linda Addison, Eden Royce, and Sumiko Saulson. There’re so many of us, and that’s a really good thing.

NTK: That’s great! As a person of color, what has your experience in the horror community been like? Good? Bad? Both?

CC: It’s been a combination of all three. With my first novel, The Darkness, the editor working on it suggested that people would not connect to my two main characters which are both strong black women leads but don’t fit the stereotypical idea of a black woman in the media, you know. So, that was really shocking to hear as a first-time writer coming up. But luckily, I didn’t take her advice and I stayed true to my story. And then, six months after it was published, I was the recipient of two international book awards. It’s been amazing because I’ve had people come up to me saying that they didn’t know that there are black people writing horror.

I think my favorite part of being a black horror writer, is meeting other people of color who are creating horror content. This has just been so incredible. But it’s a double-edged sword, because the assumption is black people are unable to write really good horror, but it is a compliment and because I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit. I’ll take the compliments where I can. (Laughs.)

But it’s incredible to see how people are now recognizing our work and also enjoying our work. Last night, I went to see a private screening of Candyman, and it just brought me to tears to see people of color creating stories of horror that are mainstream. So yeah, this is just incredible.

NTK: You often review movies and books, what did you think of Candyman? Had you seen the original?

CC: Yup. I saw the original and the new movie blew me away. It is not a reboot. It is not a sequel. It is a continuation of the story, and it was so amazing, that I left the theater just numb. My advice to everybody is just to go see the movie, but keep in mind that it’s told from a different point of view. So, the first Candyman was produced by, you know, a white crew, white writers, and predominantly white actors. But this time around, we’re telling our side of this story. So, for me, it was more horrific than the first one. But it is every bit the type of movie we have grown accustomed to and get excited about.

When the movie has Jordan Peele’s name attached to it, it’s just hands down incredible. It was beautiful, and it was frightening, and even the kill scenes were almost elegant. I hope you get to see this movie.

NTK: What inspires your writing? What inspired you to write My First Nightmare?

CC: Oh my God, what inspired me to write My First Nightmare was when my fans would come up to me at conventions and ask me to write a children’s novel. I don’t write for children so for the first two years I absolutely refused to do it. But it did start growing in the back of my mind and when I reached out to an artist, and explained what I wanted to do, the numbers he came back with is what really propelled me to write the book. It could afford the artwork that’s in that book.

The idea for My First Nightmare was to introduce children to the horror genre through the stories of urban legends, myths, and monsters from actual cultures from all the way around the world.

But not from cultures that we are heavily bombarded with. So, there’re no Egyptian monsters, there’re no Norse monsters, I really spent a whole entire year researching the monsters that I wanted to be presented in this book so that it’s truly a diverse horror novel for children and even adults who want to, like, put their toe into the waters of horror.

NTK: So, when you write your characters, do they have free will? Or do you direct their every move?

CC: I think this might be true for all writers but there comes a time in the story where the characters take over. I usually just start writing with an idea and about a third of the way through, I’m just hanging on for the ride. With my Spectrum Trilogy, I was not expecting that to be a trilogy. That was just gonna be a medical thriller/science fiction/ horror book about a child that was created in the lab. But because I didn’t let myself stay in a box, I ended up with a complete trilogy with the genres of time traveling, sorcery, and military thriller. It’s just people who read that series are blown away that I wrote it in the first place, and then the second thing they always ask is how I kept everything straight. And the answer is—I have no idea. (Laughs.)

NTK: (Laughs.) That is cool! What advice do you have for other authors?

CC: My advice would be to always have fun and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel like writing that day, or if you have writer’s block. And I’m also gonna share a cheat code: watching movies counts as research!

NTK: (Laughs.) That’s great! What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?

CC: I’m currently working on two books. They’re both standalone. One is YA. The other book I’m working on is a straight adult horror novel called The Family.

And, as far as HorrorAddicts is concerned, whatever they throw my way. I have been able to prescreen and review some of the most amazing horror movies that are out there, and that’s one of the things that I love so much about working for HorrorAddicts. It’s my tribe. That’s my tribe.

NTK: That’s wonderful! Thank you for joining me today!

CC: This was really fun. Thanks for interviewing me.