Sumiko Saulson is the author of Solitude, Warmth, The Moon Cried Blood, and Happiness and Other Diseases. Her blog, “Things That Go Bump in my Head,” focuses on horror writing, women in horror writing, African-Americans in horror writing, and other topics. Last year, we reposted her “20 Black Women in Horror Fiction,” which originally appeared on her blog on Feburary 12, 2013. Her initial post was so successful that it spawned two follow ups, and her series focusing on Black women horror authors has been collected into an e-book, 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction. Her list, “21 More Black Women in Horror Writing” is reposted with permission.
Recently I published an article in honor of Black History Month and Women in Horror Month called “20 Black Women in Horror Fiction.” While the first list consisted almost entirely of women whose works have published solo book length collections such as novels, and single author short story and poetry anthologies (with the exception of Angela C. Allen), this list consists primarily of women whose works of horror were published in multiple-author black writer horror showcases, including Dark Thirst, Dark Matter, and Dark Dreams. Many of the women on this second list are women who are frequent contributors to a variety of short story compilations, and women who write primarily in another genre, but have also contributed short horror to the anthologies.
You can find the first article HERE: 20 Black Women in Horror Fiction
This list has expanded to include two other lists for a total of 60 women.
20 Black Women in Horror Fiction (List 1)
I am working on an eBook alphabetically listing all 60 women. If you can think of anyone who should be on this list but is not, please leave it in the comments for either article or send me a tweet @sumikoska or – email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
1. Zora Neale Hurston
Best known for her critically acclaimed “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a book that is so much in the canons of literary history that it is assigned reading for many classes on the topic, she was frequently involved in anthropological research into oral lore of African diaspora cultures. Her collection of African American folklore Every Tongue Gotta Confess includes stories about witches and ghosts (or “haunts”). In 1937 she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct anthropological studies of Jamaica and Haiti. She came back and wrote the non-fiction work Tell My Horse. The book gives a personal account of her dealings with voodoo and zombies. Yes, zombies. Not the George Romero kind — the West Craven kind. In fact, here is an audio recording of Zora Neal Hurston discussing zombies.
2. Sheree R. Thomas
Ledig House/LEF Foundation award winning writer, editor and small publisher Sheree R. Thomas is the reason many of the women on this list are here: her innovative and game-changing and multiple award winning Dark Matter series is one of the most influential anthologies of African American speculative fiction to date. In addition to her work on this powerful collection, she stands as a horror writer in her own right. Her work, “Black River Ritual,” also received Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Sixteen Annual Collection (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003).
3. Nisi Shawl
James Tiptree, Jr. Award winner and World Fantasy award nominee Nisi Shawl most often writes science-fiction, with frequent excursions in the related genres of horror, fantasy, and dark fantasy. Her short story “Deep End,” a terrifying vision of dystopic future colonialism, is as frightening as any episode of The Twilight Zone ever was. Her collection Filter House has more than a horror stories in it, including “Wallamelon,” and 2005 Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror award winner, “Cruel Sista.”
“Maggies” was her contribution to Dark Matter.
4. Jewelle Gomez
Activist Jewelle Gomez won the Lambda Award for her stories about a black lesbian vampire named Gilda, “The Gilda Stories.” Gilda makes a reappearance in the traditional and fantasy short story collection “Don’t Explain.” Well known as a writer of lesbian erotica and poetry, she also contributed a story about the independent woman vampire, “Chicago 1927,″ to the anthology of African Diaspora speculative fiction Dark Matters. Vampires are the supernatural creature most likely to dance across the line horror and paranormal erotica meet due to the sexually charged nature of the creature. Jewelle Gomez’ “Gilda” is certainly no exception.
5. Kiini Ibura Salaam
This speculative fiction, erotica, creative nonfiction, and poetry writer prefers to work outside of the confines of genre, however her inclusion in publications like Dark Matter and the critically acclaimed Nalo Hopkinson voodoo tale anthology Mojo: Conjure Stories are for her work in the realm of dark fantasy and horror. She effortlessly moves from genre to genre without stopping to concern herself with how others choose to label her speculative fiction, which certainly contains many aspects of science-fiction as well. Certainly this can be said of “At Life’s Limits,” her contribution to the Dark Matter anthology. “Wings, Nectar, & Ancestors” is another story available on her website, from her own anthology Ancient, Ancient, which includes otherworldly stories rooted in science-fiction, dark fantasy, magic and yes, horror. It was named one of the Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Books of 2012 by Jeff VanderMeer.
6. Ibi Zoboi
Haitian-American Speculative Fiction writer Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and her short stories have been anthologized in Dark Matter: “Reading the Bones,” “Haiti Noir,” and “The Caribbean Writer,” among others. Her blog, “Tell My Horse,” is named after the Zora Neale Hurston book mentioned above. “The Fire In Your Sky” is a delightful example of the writer’s skill at mixing realism with horrific mythological dark fantasy — it is the true-to-life situations that the characters reside in before suddenly finding themselves in the middle of the terrifyingly surreal that gives her fiction the jolting quality of traditional horror.
7. Lexi Davis
Paranormal romance novelist Lexi Davis’ cautionary tale “Are You My Daddy?” graced the pages of Dark Dreams III. Her debut novel, Pretty Evil, is about three guys who get on the wrong size of a female demon and was nominated for the “Best First Novel” African American, Romantic Times Book Club Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Her second novel, The After Wife, is about Nia Youngblood, the daughter of a witch who has some serious problems. For one thing, when she was born, her mother promised her hand in marriage to a demon named Rephaim. For another, she’s not dying to marry him, which is a big problem for him, because she’d have to die to marry him. He wants to marry her in the after life.
8. Leone Ross
Award-winning speculative fiction and erotica writer Leone Ross is of Jamaican and Scottish heritage and has written short stories for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (14th Edition) and Dark Matter. “Orange Laughter” is a gripping psychological drama about Tony Pellar, a man sinking into madness and desperately trying to escape a ghostly figure he calls the “soul snatcher.” This novel and several of her short stories contain the kind of dark journeys into the realm of human perception as to qualify as psychological horror, where neither the protagonist nor the reader is at various points sure if the man is haunted by spirits or his own tortured mind. Her entry to Dark Matter was called “Tasting Songs.”
9. Monica Jackson
Contemporary fiction and romance novelist’s Monica Jackson’s entry into the Dark Thirst collection also included something else that belongs in horror — humor. “The Ultimate Diet” is the story of a chubby computer programmer who is longing to be thin when a strange woman moves in across the street— a strange, blood-sucking woman. This skewering bit of satirical humor parodies the American woman’s obsession with getting thin by any means necessary. She also writes paranormal romance titles. “A Magical Moment” and “Heart’s Desire” feature a protagonist with psychic gifts and a compelling back story. This is the story of a battered woman who is hiding from her abuser in a shelter when a serial killer threatens her and her new love interest— a grade A suspense story line. “A Magic Moment” is definitely intrigues as a paranormal bodice ripper,
10. Donna Hill
The incredibly prolific Donna Hill is a pioneer of the African American romance genre, with more than fifty tiles to her name over the past thirty years — now, just let that sink in for a minute. At a rate of a novel and a half per year, she writes books faster than some of us can read them, and does something some of us only dream of: she works full time as a writer. Three of her books were made into movies. Somehow, on top of that, she’s found the time to write short stories for the horror anthologies: Dark Thirst and Creepin.
11. Akua Lezli Hope
Poet, writer, and hand papermaker Akua Lezli Hope is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild. She is one of the writers in the short story anthology Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. Her surrealistic near-future tale, “The Becoming,” got Honorable Mention for The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Award. The third generation New Yorker received two visual arts grants before receiving a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment For The Arts in 1990. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant (2003) from The Arts of the Southern FingerLakes for her project “Words on Motion,” which placed poetry on buses in New York.
12. Lawana Holland-Moore
American short story writer Lawana Holland-Moore contributed stories to all three of the Dark Dreams paranormal horror and suspense anthologies. Her contributions were “Empty Vessel” (Dark Dreams), “Breath of Life” (Dark Dreams II), and “Flight” (Dark Dreams III). She is also a visual artist – into the craft of quilting. Her blog, “Ghosthunter L” is a about real-life haunted houses and paranormal activity. She is considered a national expert on ghosts and hauntings of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and has been featured in the Washington Post, Times, and USA Today. Her Dark Dreams II entry, “Breath of Life” was mentioned by “Beyond Victoriana (A Multicultural Perspective on Steampunk)” in it’s article on the Weird Wild West, “Pale Ghosts and Broader Frontiers”.
13. Patricia E. Canterbury
Award-winning poet,short story writer, novelist, philanthropist and political scientist Patricia E. Canterbury contributed the story “Wild Chocolate” to the Dark Dreams anthologies of paranormal horror and suspense. It is the story of a visit to a remote village in the Brazilian jungle and what happens to a married couple, and of the power of pure love. Her primary genre is mystery, with one murder mystery title, Every Thursday, two young adult titles, and two children’s mysteries. Carlotta’s Secret the first of her children’s eight chapter book contemporary fantasy mystery series, The Delta Mysteries. A small independent motion picture studio has optioned Carlotta’s Secret. She won the First Annual Georgia State Chapbook contest in 1987 for her poetry chapbook, Shadowdrifters…Images of China.
14. Tenea Johnson
Dark futures dominate the landscape of Tenea D. Johnson’s speculative fiction: apocalyptic futures, dystopic futures, and dark fantasies… all of that good stuff horror is made of. “The Taken” was her contribution to Dark Dreams III. Publisher’s Weekly dubbed the short story a “provocative meditation on revenge.” R/evolution is her novel-length entry into the creepier aspects of science-fiction, taking place in a future USA marred by increasingly stark class divisions exasperated by the economic and racial divide when it comes to access to advanced new biogenics.
15. Pam Noles
Horror and science-fiction writer Pam Noles contributed “Whipping Boy” to the collection Dark Matter: Reading the Bones. She is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles these days, and writes a lot of non-fiction. She is also a blogger, and her blog “And We Shall March On… (Black, Geek, and Fine With That)” frequently discusses horror and popular culture, in addition to politics, community, and the Occupy Movement. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies from Warner Books, Dark Horse Comics, Terra Major, and Pulphouse. You can read her science fiction story “Shame” online in Infinite Matrix.
16. Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson contributed “The Quality of Sand” to the horror anthology Dark Matter: Reading the Bones. She is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies and feminist theory. While horror is not her usual genre, she is an accomplished author. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Mistress, Reclining (Winner of the New Woman’ s Voices Award Finishing Line Press, 2010), Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (Rutgers UP, 2007) and Dorothy West’ s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (Rutgers UP 2012): a biography of Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West.
New York Times and Essence bestselling author Zane achieved what many independent publishing writers only dream of: she self-published The Sex Chronicles before landing a deal with Simon & Schuster. She is primarily a writer of erotica, but she contributed “Resident Evil”, a tale of vampirism, to the Dark Dreams : A Collection of Horror and Suspense by Black Writers. The rest of her writing consist entirely of erotic fiction, which also figures heavily into her vampire story. She also has a sex advice column in her blog, which you can find at her website Erotica Noir.
18. Ama Patterson
Ama Patterson contributed “Hussy Strutt” to the Dark Matter collection. She attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 1999. Her short fiction is included in 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin (Karen Joy Fowler and Debbie Notkin, editors, Aqueduct Press). She is the author of Zen and the Art of Haiku: Journal and three other how to and inspirational books, The Lost Art of I Ching, The Essential Guide to Astrology, and Finding Your Inner Goddess: A Journal of Self-Empowerment.
19. Jill Robinson
She contributed the story “BLACKout” to Dark Matter: Reading the Bones. It is about reparations becoming a reality and the issues that might arise if it should. She has also contributed short fiction to Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, and ANANSI: Fiction of the African Diaspora.
20. Joy M. Copeland
Short horror fiction author Joy M. Copeland has been included in a the horror anthologies, Dark Dreams and To Hell In a Fast Car. She also wrote a series of books on histories of select members of the Teamsters Union.
21. Tish Jackson
Tish Jackson wrote “The Love of a Zombie Is Everlasting” for Whispers in the Night (A Dark Dreams Anthology #3).