Kidnapped! Horror Blackademic is a Real Thing by Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Horror Blackademic is a Real Thing

It seems surreal that I have the best job ever, writing, teaching, and speaking about horror as a creative, a fan, and an academic. I have a confession, though: I’m an accidental horror blackacademic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known I was a writer. I couldn’t not write. Ever. Stories haunted me day, night, and whatever falls in between. So that was a definite career goal. I’ve also always had the gift of gab. As a child, I wasn’t too sure that folks would pay me to talk, so I didn’t factor it into life planning. And I’d always been told I’m good at teaching people stuff. A stint in banking confirmed this, and for years, I was paid to be a corporate trainer. All other facets of my life included some type of teaching, so I embraced it on a small scale.

But then I met Dr. Kinitra Brooks. I’ll never forget that moment at World Horror Convention 2013 that had me moving through the halls of the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans and running into another black woman, not a common sight at horror events I’ve attended. A thrill coursed through me as I saw that she was talking to someone at the time. I decided to just linger in the area until she was done. And then I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned around to face a brilliant gaze and beautiful face. I was hooked.

If it sounds like a cheesy “love at first sight” kind of thing, that’s because it was exactly that for me. Over the course of the conference, we spent some time together. She did my make-up for the awards show…my face was BEAT! We had lunch together a couple of times during the conference and I was enamored of her. One of those lunches was with the ever fabulous Linda Addison and I struggled with that meal to not go all creepy fan girl on both of those amazing writers.

This chance meeting had an invaluable impact on my life. I was looking forward to receiving my graduate degree later that month. I came out of the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University a much better writer. I also literally came out as a horror writer during my stint there. Having met Dr. Brooks gave me a focus for my academic career I hadn’t originally considered.

She and Linda Addison later contacted me about a project they were working on, an anthology of horror written by black, female writers. I was super excited to talk with them. One of the best edit suggestions I’ve ever received was when I expressed concern over the length of my short story and Ms. Addison basically told me, ”The story is as long as it needs to be.”

I now find Dr. Brooks’ research and writings to be the main anchor on which I base my own research work on the horror genre and black femininity. I’m now, proudly, an accidental horror blackademic.

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R.J. Josephisa Texas based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has recently discovered the joys of writing in the academic arena about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or five of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry babies.

R.J. can be found lurking (and occasionally even peeking out) on social media:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph

 

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Kidnapped! Excerpt and Story Notes II: “Mama’s Babies” by R. J. Joseph

Blog Post 6

Excerpt and Story Notes II: “Mama’s Babies” by R. J. Joseph

Excerpt:

I smelled expensive cologne on him and knew he was probably lying. If he left, I couldn’t even load up the kids and go to the pharmacy myself. “The café doesn’t open until nine. It’s only four now.”

I got stuff to do, Zenobia. Get off my back about it.” He left out, slamming the screen door behind him.

I turned to my babies, lined up in the kitchen behind me, Evaline moaning more incessantly than usual. “Okay, Mama’s babies, let’s go put in a movie. Ray, Jr., it’s your turn to pick.” My sweet-faced baby boy smiled at me with uncharacteristically tired eyes and ran into the living room. I unlocked her wheelchair and followed Janey to the couch.

Two movies later, Evaline and Janey were burning with fever. I thought Ray Jr. felt warm, too, so I gave them all fever reducer before putting them to bed a little earlier than usual. After my shower, I sat in bed with a book, too preoccupied to really read it. Instead, I stood and went to the bedroom window. The room overlooked the backyard, which bordered the Brazos River.

I hated that old stinky river, hated the river critters even more. I was glad to only have to chase two kids out to the fence. Janey and Ray Jr. always wanted to take Evaline with them on adventures, and I was glad her wheelchair made them move too slowly to get completely away from me. They loved their sissy and I knew they’d take care of her when I passed on. We really couldn’t count on their daddy to do much of anything.

After I finally fell asleep, Evaline cried out loudly. I stumbled into the girls’ room. Her bed was full of diluted blood, still leaking from her eyes. The fever seemed to be breaking, but she thrashed around like she had severe gas pains. Janey tossed in her little bed, too, but she seemed to stay asleep. I changed Evaline’s sheets and rocked her until she calmed. Then I lay her back down and pulled up the bed guard. Ray Jr. slept peacefully in his room.

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Mama’s Babies” found a home in the anthology Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Volume II after haunting me for years as a nightmare that needed to be exorcised. One of the most horrific aspects of navigating life for me is through the various terrors of parenthood. Those fears rode me like the demons they are in this story.

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph

 

Kidnapped! Excerpt and Story Notes: A Woman’s Work by R.J. Joseph

Excerpt and Story Notes: A Woman’s Work by R. J. Joseph

Excerpt:

Jamarcus was on that crazy tip before he hit the door. I could smell it on him, underneath the sweat that drenched his dingy wife beater tee.

He clumped into the kitchen, sucking his teeth. “Hamburger again?” He slammed a plastic grocery bag of empty, stinking food containers into the sink, ignoring the clean dishes already there, waiting to be rinsed.

Ten years of marriage had taught me that the conversation could go badly, whether I answered or not. I remained silent.

You don’t hear me?”

I waited a couple of beats while my own anger leaped inside my chest. My neck prickled from the fire bubbling inside my skin.

The whole block hears you.” I turned from the sink and faced him. He needed to back off. He didn’t always. Jamarcus was a handsome man, with chocolate colored skin that stretched over tight muscles and gleaned from his long day at work. I had loved him dearly once, warts and all. But I was getting tired of his shit.

He stared at me a moment and threw himself into a chair like a petulant child. “I work hard, you know. I’m sick of eating the same old thing every night.”

It’s the best I can do, Jamarcus, when you spend money we don’t have on that bike of yours.” I placed a plate with the hamburger meat and macaroni in front of him.

Oh, I’m gonna get my bike tricked out. And you nagging won’t stop me from going to Bike Week next month, either.”

Do I ever nag you, Jamarcus? You do whatever you want all the time and I don’t say a word.” He wouldn’t meet my eyes and mumbled under his breath instead.

I held myself in check long enough to gently set a glass of ice on the table next to him, along with a pitcher of fruit punch. A roach scurried underneath my feet as I walked down the hall towards the children’s room.

The furious tears I’d held at bay slipped down my face as I ran my hand along our oldest son’s cheek. He’d been running a fever earlier, and I was thankful he felt cooler. I didn’t know where the money would have come from if I’d have had to take him to the urgent care clinic. Jamarcus would have told me the boy was alright, and to not baby them so much. But I knew when they were really sick, and Jr. was fighting some kind of kid cooties.

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A Woman’s Work” appears in the anthology Transitions and Awakenings and has a pretty dark history. Borrowed heavily from a kernel of an idea, I wanted to play around with the idea that feminine agency often looks monstrous in our society. What evolved from that was the story of a harried housewife who struggles with fitting into the boxes society would have defined her existence.

 

Kidnapped! Love Letter to My Boo, the Horror Genre by Rhonda Jackson Joseph

 

Love Letter to My Boo, the Horror Genre

Horror, I love you. I’m down for you, for life. I can’t breathe without you. Your weird darkness has comforted me through childhood, whispering decadent terror to my drowning soul. You encouraged me to die in your faith that there were worse things than eternal blackness, that I’d live blissfully forever with the monstrosities borne from your roots.

I live and die in you. Nevertheless, I need more from you. I need you to do better.

You could love me more deeply by embracing horror shown through a feminine lens as true horror, and not simply as women’s fiction gone wrong. I would exist in delicious ecstasy if you welcomed race-centered terror as a natural part of your canon, acknowledging that it is horrific and sits squarely in the definition of horror.

Let’s ride together to fight those who wish to divide you into warring factions that proclaim some of your spawn as “smart”, immediately deeming the others “not smart”. There is room within our forever squad for all your babies. I will help you nurture and protect them all.

I long for you to genuinely seek and welcome diversity, to actively invest in writers from varying states of existence. Allowing the majority of stories to be stolen from original voices and told in the same voice over and over again induces more fright than anything in your repertoire does. It’s not the delicious kind of fear I crave from your influence. Let’s agree to simply swallow gatekeeping and sensitivity readers into your endless void, for them to never again see the light of day.

I’m your chick, your ride or die. I live in you and I will die in you. I will help you be better. Because I love you more than you love me right now.

For a copy of a free ebook, please leave a comment.

 

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R.J. Josephisa Texas based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has recently discovered the joys of writing in the academic arena about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or five of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry babies.

R.J. can be found lurking (and occasionally even peeking out) on social media:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph

 

Kidnapped! From Whence the Ideas Flow by Rhonda Jackson Joseph

From Whence the Ideas Flow

One of the questions I am asked the most is, “Where do your ideas for horror come from?” The answer seems easy and complicated, all at once. I get my ideas from everywhere. Any little, innocuous thing can trigger a story inside my head. Discussion with other writers unveils the discovery that our brains really do work differently than other folks’: we literally see the world in varying shades of possibilities that aren’t explored by everyone.

However, after further examination, I realized the answer could be narrowed down to four main sources for me:

  1. Nightmares. This is by far the main source of my horror stories. I’ve been immersed in horror stuff for most of my life and yet a scary dream can make me break out into a sweat and worry all day about something my imagination conjured up. If the nightmare is bad enough, it can become a recurring torture until I exorcise it and put it into a story.
  2. Submission calls. I’m notorious for missing submission calls. I see an idea that editors put out for a collection of stories and I think, “Yes! I want to write THAT story!” But then I play around with the words until the deadline has passed and it’s too late to submit to that call. I don’t know why regular, formal writing prompts don’t elicit this same excitement from me. At any rate, even though I miss the calls, I always get a good story out of the ones that get my attention.
  3. Other stories. Sometimes I read the work of other writers, in various genres, and I find inspiration in the stories they did not tell. For instance, I can read a story about two characters in a place and the things that I want to know are along the lines of: “Why are they at THAT house?”, “How does the tree feel about them carving initials into it?”, or “What if they had gone down the road the OTHER way?” These musings often turn into stories that have nothing at all to do with the original inspiration.
  4. Real life. Real life offers story ideas that can be overwhelming sometimes. Literally, any event has an element of the unknown, in my mind, and I’m often struck by stories in unsuspecting places. Many a creative writing workshop hinges on the question “What if…?” and this is how I view the world. Every occurrence has something that did not happen, and it’s those things that interest me most.

Surrounded by all this inspiration, I’ll never run out of ideas to write. This is a great problem to have because I know my creative well will never run dry.

Have more story inspiration you want to talk about? Hit me up in the comments section if you’d like the chance to win a free ebook.

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R.J. Josephisa Texas-based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has recently discovered the joys of writing in the academic arena about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or five of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry babies.

R.J. can be found lurking (and occasionally even peeking out) on social media:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph

 

Kidnapped! 5 Facts about Rhonda

It’s My Birthday!

When Stacy and I talked about the week I’d kidnap her blog, I told her this week was pre-destined because it’s my birthday week. Super excited was an understatement! So, here we are, on my born day, visiting an awesome Horror blog. How much better can a weekday birthday get?

In honor of my born day, I thought I’d fill this post with five things all about me. Not just random things…well, maybe some randomness…but mostly things about me that inform who I am as a Horror Writer. Here we go:

  1. The first novel I read all the way through was Carrie by Stephen King. I was about six or seven years old and although my parents thought it appropriate to hide all of Mama’s romance magazines and novels, they apparently didn’t think they should hide all Daddy’s horror and sci-fi novels. So there we have it.
  1. I didn’t fully come out as a horror writer until I was almost forty. Although I’ve written horror since I was a child, I never felt comfortable embracing that part of my writing persona. Writing horror was just not an acceptable endeavor for a little black, Southern Baptist girl.
  1. I always wanted to be the monster. Part of my fascination with the horror genre is totally rooted in my always wanting to be the monster. The monster was the most powerful person in the movie or the story and I wanted to get inside the monster’s head. I wanted to know what made them tick and what motivated them. I also wanted that power for myself.
  1. I’m deathly afraid of rabbits. Crazy, I know. But nothing can reduce me to quivering mass of hysteria quicker than a horde of rabbits. One spring, our subdivision was infested with the creatures and I spent many long minutes locked in my van until someone else ran them away so I could get into the house. There’s something about the way they move that freaks me all the way out. Might have something to do with Mama craving and eating rabbit throughout her pregnancy with me. Maybe some type of furry, “you’re really on of us” revenge…?
  1. I love the darkness. I’m more comfortable in the dark than in bright light. Darkness is a more natural state for me. I’ve always been a night owl, preferring to live and be more creative at night. Everything is quieter in the dark when many other beings choose not to move so much. The ones that are moving around then are doing so in stealth. I find that infinitely beautiful. And the light shone on some things reveal so many cracks or can be changed to show only what the light wants to be shown. I find it somewhat depressing to face a world illuminated in what can be manipulated so easily.

Even though it’s my birthday, I want to give away a gift. For the chance to win a free ebook, please comment.

 

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J. Josephisa Texas-based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has recently discovered the joys of writing in the academic arena about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or five of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry babies.

  1. J. can be found lurking (and occasionally even peeking out) on social media:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph

 

 

Kidnapped! Introduction to Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Hello, I’m The Friendly Kidnapper

You do not have to adjust your screen. My name is Rhonda Jackson Joseph and I’m kidnapping your regularly scheduled blog this week. Many thanks to Stacy for being a willing cyber captive and for welcoming me into this space.

First, let me introduce myself. I’m a lifelong horror fan, longish time horror writer, and recent horror Blackademic. I’m also an assistant professor of English at Lone Star College, so I get to immerse myself in all things writing, all the time. My life is golden.

Some of my recent publications include a story in Sycorax’s Daughters, which is the first anthology of black, female horror writers. I also have a story in Transitions and Awakenings and Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Volume 2. My solo venture into short horror anthologies is Monstrous Domesticity. I also presented an academic paper in Transylvania this past May, at the international Vampire Film and Arts Festival (yes, there is such a glorious thing as this!), on the absence of black femininity in vampire culture.

I hope we can talk about these stories and the horror genre in general. Thank you for lending me your eyes and ears and let’s get the party started!

To be entered into a drawing for a free ebook, please leave a comment.

 

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R.J. Josephisa Texas based writer and professor who must exorcise the demons of her imagination so they don’t haunt her being. A life-long horror fan and writer of many things, she has recently discovered the joys of writing in the academic arena about two important aspects of her life: horror and black femininity.

When R. J. isn’t writing, teaching, or reading voraciously, she can usually be found wrangling one or five of various sprouts and sproutlings from her blended family of 11…which also includes one husband and two furry babies.

RJ. can be found lurking (and occasionally even peeking out) on social media:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/rjjoseph