TIH 556: Tananarive Due on The Reformatory, Black Horror, and Jordan Peele

TIH 556 Tananarive Due on The Reformatory, Black Horror, and Jordan Peele

In this podcast, Tananarive Due talks about The Reformatory, black horror, Jordan Peele, and much more.

About Tananarive Due

Tananarive Due is an award-winning author who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA. She is an executive producer on Shudder’s groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. She and her husband/collaborator, Steven Barnes, wrote “A Small Town” for Season 2 of Jordan Peele’s “The Twilight Zone” on Paramount Plus, and two segments of Shudder’s anthology film Horror Noire. Due and Barnes co-host a podcast, “Lifewriting: Write for Your Life!”

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House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson

From the author of The Girl in the Video comes a darkly comic thriller with an edge-of-your-seat climax.

Denny just wants to be the world’s best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half-sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father’s death.

Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?

House of Bad Memories is Funny Games meets This Is England with a Rosemary’s Baby under-taste.

Buy House of Bad Memories from Cemetery Gates Media

Buy the House of Bad Memories audiobook

Cosmovorous by R.C. Hausen

The debut from R.C. Hausen, available now. Now also available as an audiobook.

[00:00:29] Michael David Wilson: Welcome to This Is Horror, A podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. And every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastor, we chat with the world's best writers about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today we are chatting to Tanana Re Do. She is an award-winning author who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA.

[00:01:07] She is an executive producer on she's groundbreaking documentary horror Noir, a history of black horror, and alongside her husband and collaborator, Steven Barnes. She wrote a small town for season two of Jordan Peel's, the Twilight Zone, and two segments of shudders anthology film horror noir. Now also alongside Steven Barnes.

[00:01:38] She co-hosts a podcast Life Writing Write For Your Life. Tanana Reeve's. Latest book is The Reformatory, which is out now, and we talk about it at some lengthiness conversation. Although there is certainly much more that I would like to talk to Rie about regarding the reformatory and indeed other topics as the hour we had together flew by in the best possible way.

[00:02:07] Tananarive has done so many amazing things, both within horror and outsider horror, and fingers crossed that we will get to talk again in the not so distant future. But before we get to this conversation, a quick advert break.

[00:02:28] RC Hausen: Cosmovorous. The debut cosmic horror novel by RC Hausen is now available as an audio experience featuring an original dark synth wave score.

[00:02:37] This story will take you to the next level of terror. Come hear the story that readers are calling Barker Meets Lovecraft, a fantasm style cosmic horror adventure, and a full bore unflinching nihilistic nightmare. Cosmovorous, the audio book by RC Hausen. Come listen if you dare,

[00:03:02] Bob Pastorella: house of Bad Memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates Media. Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter. But things get messy. When he starts hallucinating his estranged, abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death.

[00:03:25] Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions? Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of bad memories hit so hard, you'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback@cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon.

[00:03:46] Okay,

[00:03:46] Michael David Wilson: without said, here it is. It is Tananarive Due on This is Horror.

[00:03:56] Michael David Wilson: Tananarive, welcome to this is horror.

[00:03:59] Tananarive Due: Thank you. Glad to be here.

[00:04:04] Michael David Wilson: An absolute pleasure to have you here. And to begin with, I want to know what are some early life lessons that you learned growing up? And they don't have to necessarily pertain to story or writing, just anything that you learn in those formative years.

[00:04:25] Tananarive Due: Wow. Coming right out the gate with, tell me your childhood experiences. I love it. Okay, so people who are listening via audio can't see the book cover on a poster behind me called Freedom in the Family, a Mother-Daughter, memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. But why that's pertinent to your question is that I was raised by civil rights activists and that really is the major.

[00:04:49] Thing about childhood that I think stamps me, uh, so many reasons, uh, raised by quasi famous people because they had a lot of influence locally. If my mother called the governor, he would call right back. That kind of thing, although that also had a bad side when, when people might be targeted, they got a call warning them from the FBI once, which I think they shielded us from a lot of that.

[00:05:16] But the undercurrent of not quite feeling safe was probably a drumbeat in my childhood. Very subtle. I mean, we were very comfortable. Two parent home. My father worked, he was a civil rights activist, but he got a job with the county government, so he had a steady paycheck. And my mother had been an activist in the sixties, arrested many times, tear gassed, wore dark glasses her whole life because of a tear gassing, which I think also imprinted on me that that lingering physical remnant of her trauma was always there, just like right in front.

[00:05:49] So no matter how comfortable we felt at any given time, I think there was always the promise that there are some events in your life that, that you don't walk away from unscathed. And that was important. Uh, but probably most important of everything was this notion we really thought they were superheroes.

[00:06:10] Because I am a Generation X, so I never saw a white only sign or a colored water fountain or any of that. They had just gotten rid of that, you know? Although there was a school once that would not admit me, and I thought if I put some baby powder on, they would say, oh, I'm white now. And poor mom had to deal with that heartache.

[00:06:32] But I think the most important thing about. Them and feeling like they were superheroes was this notion that individuals can and enact great change upon society. That like a person can, like really a person can change the world, is how it felt. They were that daily example and they were so revered and the community too, and I wanted to leave a mark in some way.

[00:06:56] I really felt that very deeply. I, I listened to my mother's stories, that's why I ended up writing that memoir with her to try to make those stories, you know, more permanent. But I, I learned very early on, like both of my sisters went to law school and I intended, I intended to follow that civil rights law school track, but I'd always loved writing.

[00:07:18] And when I took my first media law class and I could not stay awake, I was like, oh my gosh, I think I'm gonna have to do something different than what my father did. And, and I'm not quite my mother. I'm not that person to stand in front of a garbage truck. I really, really don't want to be arrested. And in fact, my mother told me in college when I was so embarrassed that I left an anti-apartheid protest early to go to dinner with a friend.

[00:07:45] I was like, I'm so sorry. I left the protest. I, and everybody was arrested, you know? And I was like, oh, I, that should have been me. And my mother said, I went to jail so you wouldn't have to. And I really took that to heart. Like, I have no intention. Uh, if you ever hear that I'm in jail over anything, protest anything, something has gone badly, badly wrong.

[00:08:05] And the plan for my day, that is not in my trajectory the way I see it now, but I, I feel very lucky given all that. That when I started writing, and I was always writing speculation like a boy with his talking cat, and you're on a spaceship flying away, and it veered to horror later. I'm very lucky that my mother was very supportive of that.

[00:08:31] Never tried to denigrate my aspirations to be a writer or to make it seem like, oh, well that's not really a real thing to do in the world. In fact, the O, it was the other direction. She deeply supported it. She got me a book called Writer's Market, about five inches thick every year for my birthday. She told me specifically that in the civil rights era, the NAACP put a lot of resources into their Hollywood branch because they understood the power of representation.

[00:08:58] That's something that's really stuck with me. So there was this notion of wanting to make an impact, but make an impact through the arts. It was a bit of a double-edged sword because I struggled with the part of me that wanted to be a horror writer for a long time. Given all that, given the respect that my parents had, and it wasn't because I didn't respect horror.

[00:09:23] I loved even my mom loved horror. She was the first person showing me all these horror movies. She gave me my first Stephen King novel, the Shining when I was 16. But even so, when I was in college and when I was in grad school, I had pushed myself away from horror. I was writing. Frankly, very boring contemporary realism about characters having small epiphanies, because that was what a short story looked like to me in Canon as I was going through school and I had seen the sort of shock and disdain on my classmates' faces when I even mentioned Stephen King's name in class.

[00:10:01] Like as someone I admired, they were like, oh my God, I can't believe she said that. Um, and I was like, oh, okay. So horror is somehow not okay. Even though it was fine with my mom, I got this message that horror was not okay. And I think that was in conflict with the part of me that wanted to have an impact because I, I, I thought, well, I can't be respected.

[00:10:23] If I'm writing horror, I'd better write something else. And unfortunately, I wasn't writing something else very well. I wasn't writing my bliss, I wasn't writing my heart. I was, uh, sort of hiding behind other people's ideas of what stories were supposed to look like to the degree. In fact, that during the same period, I was only writing white characters too.

[00:10:45] I was writing white male characters on top of that. So I had erased pretty much everything about myself that made me a unique voice that would make my story unique. I had erased all of that, not intentionally, not because I thought I would sell better. That would almost be better if I thought, oh, if I made this sort of cynical commercial decision, well, I'm not gonna write black hair.

[00:11:08] No, it wasn't that. It was literally that's how the stories were coming to me. I had erased myself. I had erased genre. I had erased my gender. It really took a while. I was outta grad school and I'd been working for a couple years before I started my first novel, the Between, which was my first major work with black protagonists who were pretty much just like my family living in the suburbs.

[00:11:35] You know, I had no guideposts. There was no canon of black literature in the suburbs, you know, so, and I didn't know of any examples of black horror writers. The closest would've been Octavia Butler, but I hadn't even read Octavia Butler. I was in the weeds. I just did not know. All I knew was that after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which turned my life upside down, I wanted to write an alternate reality novel about a black family just like mine.

[00:12:02] It wasn't male protagonist. I hadn't quite moved to women yet, but at least it was closer to who I am. It was a story I really wanted to tell, and that was my first publication, was my novel. The Between. What do

[00:12:14] Michael David Wilson: you think was the turning point or the impetus for you to embrace your identity? To embrace your love for horror and to be like, look, I'm, I'm going to do this.

[00:12:27] Tananarive Due: That's a great question. I wish I could remember like, uh, an aha moment in our, like, there was nothing like, like, oh, I'm reading The Shining, and it's like wondering what would this look like from Dick Tolerance's point of view? You know, it wasn't anything like that. It was more, I think the hurricane so uprooted me in so many ways and I'd had a college love kind of give me that I, I love you, but I'm not in love with you.

[00:12:53] Speech around that same time. And it really felt like a part of my life had died and that was what. Stripped away, I guess all artifice and just gave me this notion that I wanted to write a novel about someone like my family, like, like me. And, and there was a screenwriting contest. Now, at the time, I really did not want to be a screenwriter.

[00:13:16] That was like a big fog bank to me. I didn't even know what that meant. But it gave me a deadline and I had nine months to turn it. They were accepting books as well as scripts. So that gave me nine months. And that book just, oh my gosh, I just remembered another, a turning. Yes, I did have an aha moment.

[00:13:34] I'm, I'm completely forgetting. I had, I didn't have an aha moment racially, but I had an aha moment in terms of horror. That is a pretty significant aha moment. So I'm glad I remembered it. Uh, while I was at the Miami Herald, one of my assignments was to interview author Ann Rice. And she was coming to the Mighty Book Fair.

[00:13:55] Now, this was back in the nineties. Ann Rice was huge. She would have these lines around the corner for her books. And I did not get to do the interview in person, but I did have a phone interview with her. And because she was basically the only person I could really talk to who had ever written horror before, I was very struck by an article, uh, in some New York magazine where the premise of the article was that she was wasting her talents writing about vampires.

[00:14:30] So I was researching the article. I came across researching for the interview. I came across this article and it really hit home, not just as a great question to ask her, but as something that spoke to me as someone who was hiding from the idea that I wanted to write horror. And that kind of brought it to consciousness in a weird way.

[00:14:49] So, you know, like a lot of journalists do. When they're talking to authors or screenwriters or people who are doing things they want to be doing, I, I asked her questions that were meant to really speak to me, you know, more so than the audience, right? And I never told her that I was a writer, but I said, how, how do you respond to criticism that you're wasting your talents?

[00:15:12] Writing about vampires? Not my words, but that's what this article said. How do you and I braced for her to get mad at me, but she didn't get mad, she just laughed. And for years, I would tell this story in just very broad terms. Like she told me that when you write about horror and genre, you can talk about lofty themes.

[00:15:32] And that was really what turned on the light bulb. But recently I did, uh, a television shoot for, uh, something around AMC's interview with the Vampire series, where I sat on a panel where we were supposed to talk about Anne Rice and vampires. And I got curious, what did she really say to me? Back in 1992 that struck me so much.

[00:15:53] It has to be more than what I've been saying in this glib story I've been telling all these years. And I, I found the article in the Miami Herald, and, and the quote was so meaningful to me that I made it the, the kicker. I made it the last quote of the story and I pulled it up, wait till you hear what this woman said to me.

[00:16:10] And then you'll say, oh, well, no wonder you had your first novel written. Nine months later, I. She said, everyone knows who Jane Air is. Mary Shelly, everybody knows who she is and everybody knows who Frankenstein's Monster is. These are great, powerful, heroic images that really allow you to go outside of yourself to really talk about questions that change you.

[00:16:34] That's what Homer did for people who went down to the Corner Tavern to listen to him. They didn't know Achilles. They didn't ever see the walls of Troy, but they sat there and listened to him talk about these enormous heroes and these enormous conflicts, and it was not just escape, but it was an escape that improves you.

[00:16:53] You go back feeling different, and that's what literature should do. I mean, what? That's what she said to me. And nine months later, I had finished the, it like set me free. I, I don't know the racial piece that must have come organically, but in terms of literally giving myself internal permission to explore the part of myself that wanted to write horror specifically, that thing I loved, I, I saw every horror movie.

[00:17:23] I, I loved Stephen King. I finally gave myself permission to do the thing I love. And surprise, surprise, when I did that, I was writing my best work. That is just

[00:17:32] Michael David Wilson: a mind blowing answer from Anne Rice. Yeah, right. I imagine from that day forth, it's like you knew what you

[00:17:41] Tananarive Due: were doing, knew Gates were open. I have not looked back since.

[00:17:45] You know, I did have advice, the late Harlan Allison, who was very supportive of my early career. He was at the first Bram Circle Awards I went to, and, and I gave him a signed copy of the, between which he read and called me with corrections because that was Harlan. Uh, but at least he read it, you know, that was the main part.

[00:18:02] But he did warn me at the very beginning, he said, don't, don't classify yourself as a horror writer. Because he was really worried that if I did that, it would limit my reach. And he felt, I think personally, that being considered a science fiction writer had hurt him in terms of how he was accepted, uh, in literary circles.

[00:18:23] So I think it was very well-meaning advice. Honestly, I can't, I can't help it. I mean, even now, I, that's, that hashtag horror family really means something to me. Not just because I've loved it since I was a kid, but because the horror field is filled with so many lovely, lovely people, talented, just great people.

[00:18:48] And, and I've, I've had Victor Laval on my own podcast where he talked about the difference in the horror community and the literary community at large in terms of the support for each other. And, you know, so I, you know, there, I'm sure there are people down the line who might tell me, yeah, you're gonna hurt your sales if you keep calling yourself a horror writer.

[00:19:06] Which is weird because I'll always be writing horror, but it's just what you call it, it's how you package it, right. I, I just don't know that I would be able to distance myself that way. You would always know, like, if you ever see me not calling myself a horror writer, it would be with a wink, because I am definitely a horror writer to my core.

[00:19:24] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, well, cooling yourself, a horror writer doesn't seem to have damaged things thus far. And the reformatory, which we'll talk about shortly, I mean, it, it seems to have really tapped into something in ways that many books haven't. It seems to be everywhere and everyone is praising it. So, I mean, if, if you hadn't done that, if you hadn't identified as a, a horror author, I, I don't know, it would be such a missed opportunity.

[00:19:54] 'cause Wow. That book,

[00:19:56] Tananarive Due: it's, it's been, um, surreal this launch. You know, I've been publishing since 1995, and I did, you know, pretty well in the nineties. I got all the book tours and a lot of interviews, but I've never had a launch quite like the reformatory. I've never had a long New York Times book review with an illustration, for example.

[00:20:18] That's the first time ever, you know, it's like, whoa. Part of that is the New York Times has changed. You know? No doubt they have. They just hired a horror columnist. Gabino Iglesias is a horror columnist for the New York Times, so they're taking it more seriously as a literary category that feeds into it.

[00:20:35] But just the, I would say, one of the biggest differences in this launch. Is that when I first started publishing in the nineties, it was during that time like Terry McMillan had done waiting to Exhale. There was a writer named Ely Harris. Black commercial Fiction was having a real turn in the sun. And that's how I got published.

[00:20:55] I did not get published as a horror writer. I got published as a black author who happened to write horror. They really couldn't care less what the genre was. They were throwing the spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick at that point. If you were a mystery writer, a romance writer, suspense writer, who, it's just like there was a frenzy in the nineties and that kind of, uh, first of all, it burned off a bit, you know, a lot of people who had been getting contracts and, and, and, you know, and I, I didn't like the up and down either.

[00:21:25] I started teaching and it was only in later years I. That more white readers started to recognize that I was writing in the field. There were some early adapters like Paula Durran, who was the editor who brought, um, me to, uh, the Wishing Pool at Prime Books when she was there. But, and the HWA was a, you know, I was there for the between, I was, I was nominated for my soul to keep, so there was institutional support, but my book tours were almost always at black bookstores and that was where the support, core of the support was.

[00:22:02] Like I, when I asked about it, yeah, the publicist would tell me, I mean, we could send you to bars and Noble, but you wanna go places where you know you're gonna fill those seats. And I think they're probably right. Back in the nineties, I would not have been filling those seats if I hadn't been going to that core, core audience of black women readers.

[00:22:23] And my audience grew out from there. Then I would say one of the shifts that happened over time was that horror became more inclusive, that I will, I would cite someone like John Joseph Adams, who started reaching out to me for reprints and Nightmare magazines. So a lot of horror readers who had never heard of me now are reading a story I might have published a decade before, and I was like a new to me author for a lot of white horror readers.

[00:22:54] And that has just continued to grow. I think when you, you add Victor Laval to the mix when you add Jordan Peele and get out to the mix, and then just the way horror is becoming more explosively diverse all the time with Stephen Graham Jones and Sylvia Moreno Garcia. There's just, I think, almost an attraction.

[00:23:16] I. For some horror readers to diverse horror literature. My theory being because it's novel, right? And I think the one thing that makes horror fans unique is that the act of being scared depends, to a degree on novelty. It depends to a degree on, we haven't seen this a hundred times exactly this way before, right?

[00:23:43] Because by definition, that's not going to scare you. What you know doesn't scare you is what you don't know. That scares you is that darkness under the bed. And sure, I could write a generic darkness under the bed story, but the thing about Stephen Graham Jones is the only good Indians, for example, that really crawled deep under my skin, was that I was in completely unknown territory.

[00:24:06] I did not know how to contend with this creature. I did not understand this creature's mythology, what it wanted, how we would fight it by we, 'cause I'm in the book, how do we fight this? And that made it like incredibly scary. Like just incredibly scary. And I think the same thing can work, even if it's just a protagonist, you know, who's someone you've never been before in a book, uh, you've never spent time with in a book, seeing how other people live, people from other cultures, people from other races, how they live, that novelty factor is very attractive to the point where.

[00:24:44] I would say this is the first book tour I've ever had, and it was a small tour. It wasn't yet as big as some of my tours were when I was publishing in the nineties, but it, within the realm of small tours, I had way more white readers there than than I ever had before. Like, it would like mix, like of course my core black readers are there, but also just a whole lot of white women, white men who love horror, many of whom maybe never had heard of me before now, or had only read one book.

[00:25:16] Maybe they'd read The Good House or or My Soul to Keep. But there's this openness and willingness to accept that difference in horror, uh, in a way that I just find very refreshing and exciting as an author. Yeah,

[00:25:32] Michael David Wilson: and I think in terms of like cementing yourself in horror, I mean with the between, I understand that you very deliberately went about getting a blurb from Stephen King.

[00:25:48] Tananarive Due: Oh. What I did was I used the between to get a blurb for my soul to keep, ah, I met him at, uh, the Rock Bottom Remainders concert because I lived in Miami. I was a reporter for the Miami Herald. Dave Berry is also at the Miami Herald. Dave Berry played in the rock bottom remainders with Stephen King and Amy Tan and all these icons.

[00:26:08] So, I mean, here I was like a new writer, just one book out and I saw Dave Barry in the cafeteria. And I said, I'm making my move. I, uh, I mean, what's funny is I don't think he would care if I told this story. I could, I had asked him via an email at work if he would send it to Stephen King, and he responded quite colorfully that that was not going to happen, which I totally get because now that I have met Jordan Peele a couple times and, and have had, you know, monkey P products, I do get a lot of people approaching me saying, Hey, can you get this to Jordan Peele?

[00:26:45] So I totally, I've never said no quite as colorfully as Dave Barry said, no to me. But, but I do say I know almost every single time, so I get that. But when I saw him in the cafeteria, I was like, wait a minute. You know, Stephen King's gonna be in town. I do play music, I play keyboard. So, and this was genuine.

[00:27:05] I really think that you have to be, uh, genuine when you're talking to people. Yeah. I wanted to meet Stephen King, but I also really did wanna play with the rock bottom remainders. I mean, that's still kind of a, you know, a, a dream of mine is to play with a band, like a real band, which they were not, but close enough.

[00:27:24] I mean, the closest I'd ever played with a real band. So I went up to Dave Barry, I said, Hey, so I, I understand the, uh, rock bottom remainders are gonna be playing at the book fair. You know, it's always been a dream of mine to sort of be in like this spring training camp for the rock bottom remainders.

[00:27:38] And he got kind of a thoughtful look on his face. He said, you know, Mitch album is gonna be doing vocals for the Elvis number. Do you know Jailhouse rock? And I was like, yeah, of course I know jailhouse. I did not know Jailhouse Rock. I mean, I knew the song, but I didn't know how to play it. But like every musician, I'm not, I won't even.

[00:27:58] Denigrate musicians by calling myself a musician. But like all people who play music, uh, you know, a lot of music is three chords and, and every musician knows that. So I, I had every confidence that I would learn how to play jailhouse rock. There's no way a simple three chord structure rock song is going to keep me off that stage.

[00:28:20] So I said yes in the way Bill Gates said yes when he was asked if he had an operating system, and he did not, but he got one Microsoft. He found it, you know, and I found it. I found my way to play jailhouse rock, and I was on the stage and it was fantastic. I did play, although I found out later that they were turning my volume way down one of the, because they didn't have any confidence that I would really be able to play it well.

[00:28:44] But in doing that, I did meet Stephen King. I signed a copy of the Between to him and a little while later, really not that much longer later, because his address was. In the Horror Writers Association guidebook back in those days, I just sent him a letter and said, Hey, um, I don't know if you remember me, I was at the Rock Bottom Remainders concert.

[00:29:05] I have a new book coming out called My Soul to Keep. Would you be interested in Blurbing it? And then I waited, you know, I didn't have much faith that anything would come of it. I was sure probably every other writer in America was sending him an identical letter. And yeah, what are the odds? But one day I came home and there was an envelope in my mailbox and you know, like, like any writer awaiting word, I held it up to the light.

[00:29:29] And in the light I could see it was two lines. And that's generally not a good sign. I was like, okay, well here's the form, rejection letter I was expecting. I open it up and it said, dear, if I may, I was like, oh, fancy. If I may, no one had ever addressed me, if I may, due to honoree, if I may. I really enjoyed the between, and I would be happy to blurb my soul to keep Steve King and I screamed, like literally screamed at the mailbox.

[00:30:02] I could not believe it. And he waited until the day it was due. So it was a little bit of a nailbiter, but he faxed a beautiful blurb that was even longer than the one that appeared on the book. And the part that didn't appear on the book was the part that really meant the most to me, which was that he praised my characterization because I do consider Stephen King to be a teacher in terms of how to write effective.

[00:30:27] Of course, I mean, what horror writer probably doesn't, but he's a teacher in terms of how to write compelling characters. And those characters are the carrier tone. For everything else that happens in the story. If your reader believes in those characters, then they're stuck with whatever premise it. It could be an exploding to teddy bear, whatever it is, your readers are stuck experiencing this with those characters and they will not be able to put the book down until they figure out what happens to them.

[00:30:59] And so for him to praise my characters was just like, ah, that that was surreal. Wow. What

[00:31:07] Michael David Wilson: a fascinating moment. And yeah, to go from opening something and thinking it's a form rejection to getting that letter,

[00:31:18] Tananarive Due: what a shock. Yeah. I was sure it was a form rejection, you know? Absolutely.

[00:31:25] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, and I mean, of course you were mentioning Jordan Peele before, and I mean, I understand that he visited one of the courses that you teach at UCLA, so how did that come about, both the course itself and then Jordan Peele visited visiting?

[00:31:45] Well,

[00:31:46] Tananarive Due: both things are really the same story. I, I like so many people, I was struck so much by get out. Uh, so admiring of it, it, it, it scratched an itch I didn't even know I had in terms of cinema and a black protagonist. And I think the moment that caught me in the trailer was the flashback. When you hear her say, now sink, sink into the floor, and it's a child sinking through his bed.

[00:32:12] And that little piece of imagination in the trailer told me, oh my God, I've never seen a movie like this. I cannot wait to see this. And then of course, it did not disappoint. So as a summer wore on, I was still, I was on Twitter all the time, and I decided I wanted to teach a course called The Sunken Place.

[00:32:32] That would be a history of black horror. I saw an opening because so many people knew get out. And before that point, let me just say, not that many people understood that black horror was a thing. It existed that, you know, pitching in Hollywood was hopeless in terms of black horror because the only reference point the executives had maybe was Beloved.

[00:32:56] And because Beloved had not performed at the box office, it's not a good, what they call a comp for whatever you're pitching. So it was like a dead end for years and years and years. I had, uh, people trying to create movies from my books, but they were, I see now before Get Out, that was going to be a heck of a tough job.

[00:33:18] Get out completely. Bus busted Hollywood Open in terms just like Terry McMillan had in the nineties. We were waiting to exhale. That's what Get Out did in cinema. So I was so excited about Get Out. I was on Twitter saying, I'm gonna do a course called The Sunken Place, blah, blah blah. A reporter from I oh nine.

[00:33:35] Said, Hey, I wanna write a story about your course. Send me a syllabus. I had not written the syllabus, so that was like a focused deadline. Like, oh shoot, I really, I'm talking all this crap on social media. I really need to come through. So I did. I sent him the syllabus. He talked to me, and the day that story appeared, monkey Paw Productions followed me on Twitter.

[00:33:57] Now, I was already following them, and I was already following Jordan Peele, but Jordan Peele followed me. I don't think it was that day. Monkey Paw Productions followed me. That was exciting enough by itself. But also, you know, when I was in my twenties, I might not have gone for this, but I'm at the point now where I've learned where all people can say is no.

[00:34:15] Right. Uh, so I, I dmd Jordan Peele, of course, why not? And said, Hey, it would, oh, no, I, dmd Monkey Pa. It was not even Jordan. I, dmd, monkey Pa. And I said, Hey, um, it's me, the one who's doing the course. It would be so great if Jordan Peele could come visit my class again, just. Throwing it out there expecting a, not even any response, really much less a rejection.

[00:34:40] But then within two hours, Jordan Peel's account dmd me back and said, ha ha, I could surprise them. And I, so I kind of hooked that mischievous part of him. Now, he does not do a lot of appearances. I know this because the couple times I have tried to send the invitations his way, even big invitations, he just doesn't do a lot of appearances.

[00:35:05] So it was very, very special. And he showed up in, uh, a baseball cap and a hoodie. My husband, Steven Barnes was there with me in the Green room. Uh, we, we met him beforehand and we kind of came up with what I'll call a bit, yes, I am going to call it a bit with Jordan Peele, because it was a surprise and we would have the advantage of the surprise.

[00:35:26] The idea was that the lights would be low. We'd sneak him into the back of the room while we're showing a clip from the movie. Then I would say as the professor, can anyone tell me what they think the director was saying about, uh, the coveting of black bodies, I think was the question. And it worked like a, a dream?

[00:35:46] No, nobody really saw him come in. The lights were off. They were riveted by the scene in Get Out where Rose is dangling the car keys saying, you know, you're not gonna get these keys, babe. Sorry, spoiler. But y'all should have seen the movie by now. It's the moment in Get Out when Chris realizes he has no allies, that his girlfriend is a liar and she's a part of this whole thing.

[00:36:08] It's a devastating moment in the movie. And my students were very absorbed. They were talking to the screen. They were, they were mad as hornets. And so then I, I turned up the lights. I did the question. We had rehearsed, Jordan Peele raised his hand and said, uh, I have a question. And he started walking down the middle of the class and.

[00:36:28] With students on either side and those heads turning when they realized what was happening. I, that is just a peak, peak moment as a teacher, as a person, as a horror lover, they were stunned. One girl, it was like the Beatles in the sixties. She was shaking her hands and crying and walked out of the room because she was so happy he was there.

[00:36:51] And, and I, people don't understand when I tell the story, um, you almost had to be there at that moment. He hadn't won the Oscar yet. He was almost sort of like a, a secret. I mean, get out had come out, but it, it, it didn't have. The same prominence it has now. And we had spent weeks prepping for Get Out by looking at a story by WEB Du Bois called The Comet, where the last two survivors of a comet hitting New York City or a black man and a white woman, and guess who's coming to dinner to talk about how cinema was trying to finally broach the subject of an interracial couple with a black man and a white woman, and all this background around it.

[00:37:29] So they weren't just excited because he's, oh, he's famous, he's Jordan Peele. He was on Camp Peele. They saw him as the master that a lot more people see him as now, like they, they, he, they saw him as that Oscar winner to be in that moment. And sure enough, uh, he came back a second time as a literal part of Universal's Oscar campaign.

[00:37:53] Like they sent a Vanity Fair reporter to cover the visit. It was a part of the campaign. And, and then he won. So, yeah, social media, baby. That's why it's really, really hard to just do away with an account. Like I have 50,000 followers on Twitter still. Uh, and I did split off and I did go to everywhere else, like literally everywhere else, blue Sky, TikTok, Instagram.

[00:38:19] I'm doing that more threads. I do it ever, all. But there's something about that community still about Twitter, which is what I will always call it. Um, that is hard to walk away from because I'm not walking away from the owner. I'm not walking away from the site itself. I'm walking away from a community that has given me so much over the years, and I've contributed so much via that site over the years.

[00:38:47] It's just hard. It's hard to just walk away.

[00:38:50] Michael David Wilson: His is difficult to walk away as well because we don't know what the future will hold. I mean, yes, it's obviously going through a pretty bleak time at the moment, but you know, particularly with how erratic Elon Musk is, who is to say that he won't sell it in a few years and then it could go back to something kind of akin to what it was or hopefully something even

[00:39:17] Tananarive Due: better.

[00:39:18] I feel even better. Wouldn't that be great? Yeah. Yeah. We're in an

[00:39:21] Michael David Wilson: unknown period.

[00:39:23] Tananarive Due: I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic and I don't wanna jinx it, that the community will outlast whatever this phase is. Yeah. Like, I mean, and there are so many things about this phase that to me, just make my stomach hurt.

[00:39:39] Uh, I've had to completely change who I am in social media because I no longer I. Trust that environment to share my deepest beliefs and thoughts and concerns. I just don't anymore, which is they win, you know, when, when we do that. But it, there are other ways to contribute and, and going back to what my mother told me, I think my primary contribution is through my art.

[00:40:04] And then the other stuff. I write letters, I give money. You know, every once in a while I'll boost a news story because I figure, hey, if you, I wanna argue with the news story, do that. But I, you know, it's not me saying this, this is the news story. Say this.

[00:40:21] Michael David Wilson: Yeah. Well, sometimes, I mean, putting an issue forward through art or fiction or raising awareness of injustice as you do in the reformatory, it can be more powerful than a nonfiction account.

[00:40:38] Or somehow people empathize with

[00:40:42] Tananarive Due: it more. Yeah, I'm really glad we're coming back to their reformatory because that's the kind of work, I think as a younger writer, I was afraid I would be expected to write. I. I, I, I, I might've been afraid that I would be expected to write a rural southern novel when I grew up in the suburbs.

[00:41:03] You know what I mean? Like, I didn't grow up in the rural Florida. But over time, uh, because my mother was from there and I, I knew her stories, and when she returned to her hometown and bought a house there, I got to know that community. That that orange red sort of soil that I talk about in the beginning of the novel was something I became very familiar with.

[00:41:23] And I guess I started to feel more comfortable in that role telling a rural southern story. Especially once I heard, I mean, I wouldn't have probably done it just spontaneously, although I had started years before with little stories in Gracetown, like I decided a lot of people think it's based on sort of castle rock or, or whatever.

[00:41:45] But for me, I wanted to create a fictitious town like William Faulkner's, Yna, Patah County, which I learned about in college, except in my town. Magical things would happen, a lot of them affecting children. And I started doing that probably more than 10 years ago. Started writing. At first, I called it Graceville because I didn't realize there was a real town called Graceville.

[00:42:05] So once I realized it was a real town called Graceville, I changed it to Gracetown. And then in 2013, oh my god, that's so long ago. So when I say 10 years now, I mean 20 years, 15. What is like since Covid? It's like time distortion, like it's between, it doesn't feel like 20, 20 was four years ago at all.

[00:42:28] Yeah, it feels like it was two years ago. You know what I mean? But in any case, in 2013 after my mother passed away and we were very close and she was such a strong voice and such a strong presence, our family was wrecked. Uh, I got a phone call from the Florida Attorney General's office letting me know that I might have a relative who had been buried at the Dozer School for boys in Marianna, Florida.

[00:42:50] I had never heard of the Dozer School for boys in Marianna, Florida. So I did some research and I learned a little bit in that call. It was a very, to say, troubled is an understatement institution, prison really for children, for boys that ran in the state of Florida between 1900 and about 2011, they finally shut that, uh, hellhole down fraught with complaints from the time it opened.

[00:43:14] But I like to say it was just too big to fail. Because it served as such an economic center for this town. It was growing the corn crops. Like there's a letter from the superintendent in the early 19 hundreds saying the crops were coming in too slow. They don't have enough boys. So they, they, it's like became a for-profit kind of system.

[00:43:34] Like they're paid for every boy that's there. It's like, okay, well they're not gonna let that kid go anytime soon. Um, foot, if you're a football player, someone wrote a memoir that he felt like he was kept longer because of his talent as a football player. And that's kind of the weird thing. I mean, it's not a juvenile facility as we know them.

[00:43:52] It called itself a school, I would like to say it masqueraded sort of as a school. So it had a football team that competed with other football teams in town. It had classrooms, but you couldn't leave. And if you tried to run away, you literally might die. Uh, either. Out in the elements as some of the reports claim.

[00:44:16] I've also seen anecdotal stories. I think it was from an old Facebook page of people who used to work there that they were told just shoot if they're running now, I don't know if that's true, but there was something going on at this place because at the very first meeting I attended with my dad, like I said, we are in mourning.

[00:44:35] We're going to Marianna Florida to hear Erin Kimberly, a researcher from the University of South Florida, sort of talk about her plan to to use her forensic equipment that she's used in wartorn sites to find the grave sites because there were dozens of boys buried at what was called boot hill, not buried like with gravestones.

[00:44:57] You might see photographs if you research the dozer school and all these crosses and think, oh, well they put up crosses for these boys. No, they did not put up crosses. These were unmarked graves, often dug by other children. Like, I think one of the memoirs, the guy said he buried his own brother, helped bury his own brother, not inviting family members to these burials.

[00:45:19] You got a letter, oh, by the way, I'm paraphrasing. Your son is dead. You know, and this and it, it just left such pain and it left such pain and such shock waves across so many families and it was a segregated facility. So there was a black side and a white side I think for a lot of the black families, mine included, frankly.

[00:45:39] 'cause I had never heard of Robert Stevens. My mother, I don't think ever knew that she had an uncle named Robert Stevens. I don't think her father ever told her. She had a brother who had died at the dozer school in 1937. It was a, it was like they, they swallowed this, this poisonous bile and it just sis in your family history.

[00:46:00] But the minute I heard it, I was like, well that might explain why my grandfather had such a temper. Or partially explain it because there's impact when a child disappears from a family, there is impact. And I think for some of those black families, especially coming from the Jim Crow era, they were afraid to speak up or they were ashamed to speak up or they didn't have the resources to to push an investigation.

[00:46:24] Whereas some of the white survivors families did have resources and they didn't have the same just sort of expectation. Oh yeah, the system's gonna kill your children. Because like when one of their children died, maybe they were poor, but you're still white and it's like, that's not supposed to happen.

[00:46:43] Right? And, and would not let it go. And one of the men who was really pushing to have this place investigated and to have these, these remains, uh, exhumed was a, a man who by then was a quite older man whose mother never recovered like any mother wouldn't from her other son dying at this place. Like what happened?

[00:47:08] Uh, there are horrific stories about families who demand that the remains be shipped to them, like in the casket. Like, we wanna bury our son and they ship the casket and it's full of wood scraps. There's no body inside what's going on at this place. And that very first time I was there. I had, I heard firsthand accounts from survivors, black and white.

[00:47:33] Many of them had never met each other about this whipping shed. They had, they called it the White House. I called it the Fun House. Um, just to make it even more evil, you know, to take something that's supposed to be fine and name it that. But it honestly, even though the reformatory is a horror novel, I was so gentle with the things, for the most part, with one exception.

[00:47:58] There's one exception in the reformatory that is a devastating loss that to me is homage to what really happened to Robert Stevens. Robert Stevens, the real, Robert Stevens did not survive his stay. He was 15 instead of 12, but he did not survive. And I thought it would not be honest to write this book without engaging with what really happened to him, even if it happens to another character.

[00:48:24] Right. So that is devastating. And there's one scene in the whipping shed. I mean, it was devastating to write up to it. It was devastating to write it. I tried using it. I, I published that chapter as a standalone short story in the Boston Review several years before the reformatory came out. And I tried to read it at a public reading, and I was like, I am never reading that section again.

[00:48:49] It's so hard. But given all that, by making it a horror story and adding ghosts to the story, I actually wanted to soften it from what it really was like. There are stories from my research I don't even repeat at book appearances. I don't even wanna pollute people's ears and people's minds. You know how you're on social media and you come across a story that is just so horrific.

[00:49:16] I. And you're like, oh, why do I have to know that there's nothing that can be done about it. There's no law to be passed about it. It's just a terrible thing that happened. The people you never would've known about, and now you're carrying this with you. That's kind of how I feel about the research for their reformatory.

[00:49:31] Uh, I do invite people to read the memoirs. Erin Kimberly wrote her own book that also came out last year. Kobe Carey, their Bones, I think if you really wanna know the real story, but the reformatory as tough a read as some people think it is, is way lighter than the truth. And I decided that Ra, if I wasn't going to like literally be telling Robert Stevens actual story, I wanted to pay homage to his story.

[00:49:55] I wanted to say his name, and I wanted to create a novel, kind of in a conversation with, to Kill a Mockingbird. Which I know a lot of readers have read about a false accusation and how it can turn a family upside down. To Kill a Mockingbird is from the white family's point of view. I wanted to write a variation of that story from the black family's point of view, uh, because I think that's necessary.

[00:50:22] I think that you really can't understand the horrors of Jim Crow from the outside in. Jim Crow itself is one of the monsters in the story, not just for the black characters, but also for the white characters who are allies. It's like segregation is segregation, and that means you can't go in the black side either.

[00:50:40] Hmm. Um, and a monstrous, uh, warden, warden haddock who would represent the outright evil at this place. Just outright evil and in real life, it's not ever about one person. Like I said, this facility had been fraught with complaints from the time it opened. Uh, chaining children, like literally, I, I mean just, just out, even like the state of Florida had outlawed flogging for adult prisoners when these children were having the skin beaten off their backs.

[00:51:17] So it was almost operating outside of the law that I, they had researchers in there, um, doing like psychological experiments with these kids. I mean, just every nasty thing, honestly, you would have to write like several books to, to really capture how terrible this place was. But given that, that was just one piece of a Jim Crow setting.

[00:51:43] To try to walk readers, readers through how harrowing it would be to be children in a, without your dad there. There's Robert, who's 12, and Gloria, who's barely 17. What do we do to get him out of this place and how can we use our help from sort of an otherworldly source to do it? And the thing that I'm happiest about when I, I read reader responses to this book is that they feel that there's hope in the book that gives me such a sense of joy and relief.

[00:52:17] Because this was a seven year birthing labor to work on this book. I, I had to put, like, I'm trying to listen to research or read a book from a survivor, and I would have to put it down. It's like, oh my gosh, I can't believe they were doing this to children. So I'm wading through all this in the hopes that I can sculpt from all this.

[00:52:38] Literal crap. Something beautiful. You know, something that would inspire people and something that I think gets to the heart of what I love about horror and what I think my mother loved about horror is this idea that you can stand up against something bigger than you. So much bigger than you. Something you didn't even know existed yesterday now is tormenting you to recognize it for what it is, to come up with a plan and to try to defeat it.

[00:53:16] Now, in horror, it doesn't always work out. You know, sometimes the characters don't defeat it, but to me it's not even the point necessarily whether you win or lose. The point is that we fight the point, because that's the metaphor. That's the thing that keeps me reading horror. You know, lifelong fear of mortality since a very young age.

[00:53:39] Fear of loss. Losing my mother, it was exactly as horrible as I thought. Except worse. Way worse. And there's so many losses ahead, you know, it's like, it's like, oh my gosh, how do you, and who knows what happens next? So, so to feel confident that I'm strong enough to face the worst that life throws us.

[00:53:58] Horror novels, horror movies, give me those nutrients over and over again. Like people standing up, people fighting, people bearing it, people keeping their humanity. And what's special about child protagonists, and this is my first novel with a child, like with child protagonist, strictly it, the hope comes from them.

[00:54:18] Right? Because I would've done way worse at the reformatory than Robert, I think. Yeah. I, I would not, if there had been an adult wing, I. I and I had that way. Woo. I, I, I hesitate to even think how I would have come out of that situation. Not that he wouldn't have lasting trauma and not, the kids don't have lasting trauma, but they just have this ability to pivot.

[00:54:43] That's why the kids in horror movies are the first ones to notice and us, it's the kid who's like, there's a family outside our, in our driveway. They're us. You know, the kid, he sees it first, like we're looking at the same thing. Mm-Hmm. But the kid gets it because kids, like, every day you're learning and seeing something new like, oh, okay, now this is happening.

[00:55:03] Oh wow, my body's changing. What the heck? Like every day there's something new. You're not the same height you were six months ago. So you, they, they take the information and they pivot with it. Okay, I guess we're doing this thing now. You know? I guess I'm doing this deep voice thing now. I guess, you know, I guess, I guess there's demons now I.

[00:55:20] You know, at the end, they're way quicker to figure out that something's wrong and that you need to do something about it, that sometimes the adults are, 'cause we're all like, oh no, I'm sure it's just the wind. No, don't worry. It's just, uh, you know, kids are great in that way. Mm-Hmm.

[00:55:39] Bob Pastorella: Uh, reading the book, it, it, it blew my mind that you can have this young protagonist who's being pulled in every single direction and he's like, he's like a, like a rowboat without, without any oars.

[00:55:53] Mm. And I, I have unfortunately, uh, years ago, did spend, uh, some, a, a, a couple weekends in jail. And it is, I felt that with this, the, the overwhelming sense of dread. And, and knowing that hey, you know, and it's like if you, if you had to do weekends, it's like, Hey, I'm supposed to get out around six boy at five 30.

[00:56:22] They better start be calling my name. And I know I don't get out till six, but man, they better start calling my name five 30 'cause I'm so ready to go. I can't stand it. And you're just sitting there trying to be calm, cool, collective. But if you were by yourself, you'd be frantic. You know? And I felt that.

[00:56:36] Mm. And then to have him experience the supernatural and it's pulling on him in another direction. And what, what I loved about it was, is that every single decision that he made was almost a terrible choice for him. He didn't have an any other opportunity to turn because, I mean, you, you gave him choices that no matter where he turned.

[00:57:05] It was gonna be a bad decision. Right? And that kept the pages turning. I just, I could not turn 'em fast enough. I was like, holy shit. This is, that's epic storytelling. That's what I always, uh, I learn it from the guys who made it South Park, but you know, it's the, but, and therefore a lot of stories go and then, and then, and then, but you had the butt and therefore going on perfectly, uh, in tandem and just, it's like, Hey, how, how do I write horror?

[00:57:34] Read this book. This is how you do it. Well, I really, this is not, this is how you freaking do it

[00:57:38] Tananarive Due: right here. I really deeply appreciate that, you know, because I was very close to it for a long time and I'd make progress and then I'd stall. So it's really hard to, for me to grasp like the sense of momentum.

[00:57:53] Or how other people are engaging with it. And I'm still blown away. I when you say things like that, I'm still blown away because I as the author, you don't know. All I knew was that I wanted to tell this story. I felt like I had to tell the story. Mm-Hmm. Uh, there were times I thought I would have to stop writing the story when the Nickel Boys came out, which is set at the same facility, Colson Whitehead's book, and I'm a huge Colson Whitehead fan, and he won a Pulitzer.

[00:58:17] You know, that's intimidating. Mm-Hmm. And I even talked to my agent, should I just stop writing this? Is there any point at this point? And he was like, no, no. Right. Finish it. And I'm so glad for that. But imagine in that moment, you know, I'd already invested maybe three or four years in it and it was like, oh no, I thought it was over.

[00:58:36] So, so for it to then turn around and be like, what feels like my biggest launch. Um, that is hugely gratifying and I, I'm so glad that readers are connecting to the story and so many people are then going beyond the reformatory to learn about the Real Life Dozier school. And one of the favorite things a reviewer said to me was that it felt like a call to action.

[00:59:02] Mm-Hmm. And for me, incarceration and our just incarceration happy system, putting people in cages, that's the thing. I just have a trouble wrapping my mind around. And that hasn't changed that much since 1950. By the way, if your child, I. Gets in a school yard fight, really, they're more likely to go to juvenile detention now than they would've been in 1950 because Mm-Hmm.

[00:59:27] Our system has changed so much. You are just as helpless as Gloria was when they show up at the door and wanna put handcuffs on a kid and put your child in a kid. You're just as helpless now. So juvenile justice is my first, that's the first barrier I really feel I want people to engage with more and realize this is not the answer, this is not the answer.

[00:59:50] Right. And then extend that to adults, you know, I, you know, our Mm-Hmm. Will there always be a need to keep some people separate from the rest of us? I suppose there probably is. I, I, I try to wrap my mind around abolition. I have questions, you know, but I do think we can do a lot better than being like one, like one or two like westernized countries or highest incarceration rates in the world.

[01:00:12] I think there's a lot of room for improvement. Oh yeah. A lot of room for it. No doubt. So, yeah.

[01:00:21] Michael David Wilson: Well we are coming up to the time that we have together and really we've just barely even scratched the surface, both in terms of your career and, uh, I know reformatory, so I mean, if you are willing, we would love to do another one of these in the future '

[01:00:40] Tananarive Due: cause Oh, for sure.

[01:00:41] Absolutely. This has been a great conversation, um, even though I did most of the talking, but that's because the questions were so good, and I've really, really enjoyed talking to you all. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast.

[01:00:54] Michael David Wilson: Yeah, thank you. Do, do you have time for a kind of final question or a final area?

[01:01:01] I don't know how tight time is on your end.

[01:01:06] Tananarive Due: Well, there's a, a meeting I'm supposed to attend with my son and my husband, but maybe if I answer real quick.

[01:01:12] Michael David Wilson: I don't know if this is going to be a quick one, but let, let's see what happens. But one of the most affecting parts for me is a near miss with the police and Miss Lottie's wisdom.

[01:01:27] So I wondered if this was something you could talk on, both in terms of how you tackled it in the story setting, and then even more seriously, you know about this kind of thing within

[01:01:41] Tananarive Due: reality. I. I love that question and I'll, I'll try to answer as briefly as I can. Uh, one of the things I wanted to do with the reformatory was have it in conversation with our modern times in terms of policing, in terms of incarceration.

[01:01:56] Not too obvious or heavy handed, but just so people could see the lines. Oh, I see. Okay. So this is sort of a tradition. Now we're still kind of dealing with the vestiges of these traditions, right? And, and the remnants of these traditions. So there's a scene on the road. I don't think it's too spoily to say when Gloria, my 17-year-old co protagonist is with her only strong ally and 80 some year old woman.

[01:02:22] Modeled in some ways after my grandmother, but in some ways, not mostly her strength is what I modeled. My grandmother was much more educated than Ms. Lottie, but, but my grandmother was named Lottie. And there's a moment where there were pullover by police. Now, one of the promises I had made myself when I started writing this is that even though sexual assault was obviously very prevalent, both at the reformatory and black women, I mean, imagine, you know, it, black women weren't getting rape convictions against white people.

[01:02:51] You know that back in those days. So there was a lot of sexual assault happening, but I was not, I just knew from the beginning I did not want to depict any like. Violent sexual assault. There's some moments that shade there for sure. But this is a vulnerable teenage girl. And a couple of deputies have decided, or one of them has decided that, oh, you know, easy Pickens have our way.

[01:03:14] And Ms. Lottie has other plans and she's got a little, she calls it her peace shooter. My grandmother did have a gun. She called her peace shooter that was in a laundry basket that she brought with her for protection. And we didn't know as the reader, that her protection was going to mean from police. And she never shows it to the officer.

[01:03:33] She's just holding her gun under that blanket in the laundry basket, giving him a very, very significant look. I don't think you wanna do that, sir. I really don't think you wanna do that. And he gets it and he backs away. And some people might think, well, that is gutsy and that is not realistic. But I based it, not exactly on a true incident, but on uh, an anecdote I heard from an indigenous poet.

[01:03:59] Who told me that once she was on a dark road and a police officer pulled her over and she gave him the papers and everything, and he insisted would get outta the car. And she just felt a sense that he was gonna hurt her if she got outta that car. So she just drove away and he let her go, which says to me he was planning to hurt her and he didn't have the nerve to follow through when she defied him.

[01:04:26] Now, one thing about police officers, they do not like defiance. They really, really don't. Um, and for a lot of police officers, just calling them a name is defiance enough to, uh, get you smacked in the face or, or sent to jail. But in this case, Ms. Laie read that situation, right? There were two deputies, one who was very, very violent, one who unfortunately in policing, there's just the ones who go along.

[01:04:49] You know, she sensed that there was just enough room between them that she could pull away with that threat of that gun. That was hidden in her laundry basket and he knew good damn well if he didn't back off, he was about to get shot. I do not recommend, but that is one of my favorite scenes to read in in the book when I, when I do readings.

[01:05:12] Michael David Wilson: Thank you so, so much.

[01:05:16] Tananarive Due: But thank you so much for having me on the podcast and for supporting The Reformatory. Just got nominated for as a finalist for a Bram Stoker award and I just heard yesterday is also a finalist for an LA Times book prize in executive category. So it's having a great week and this is a great way to cap the week.

[01:05:35] So thanks a lot for having me on and thank you.

[01:05:42] Michael David Wilson: Thank you so much for listening to Tananarive Due on This is horror. Join us again next time for our conversation with Adam Godfrey, the author of Narcissist. But if you would like to get that and every other conversation ahead of the crowd, do become our patreon@patreon.com forward slash. This is horror.

[01:06:09] There are a number of perks and benefits, so you can check them out all over there. Over at patreon.com/this is horror and if it is a good fit for you, if it looks like something you would enjoy, then I would love to see you there. Now before I wrap up, a quick advert break, house of

[01:06:30] Bob Pastorella: Bad Memories, the debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates Media.

[01:06:38] Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating. His estranged, abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death. Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?

[01:06:59] Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of bad memories hit so hard. You'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback@cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon.

[01:07:16] Tananarive Due: Cosmos. The debut cosmic horror novel by RC Hausen is now available as an audio experience featuring an original dark synth wave score.

[01:07:24] This story will take you to the next level of terror. Come hear the story that readers are calling Barker Meets Lovecraft, a fantasm style cosmic horror adventure, and a full bore unflinching nihilistic nightmare. Cosmos, the audio book by RC Hausen. Come listen, if you dare.

[01:07:49] Michael David Wilson: Now, the other day on X I said that books have no read by date, and as such, we are going to be talking to a number of people this year for conversations that are not tied into a particular book release. Now to a certain extent, I suppose we have done that with Tanana Reeve and indeed Adam Godfrey, who we're talking to next episode because he released narcissists almost one year ago.

[01:08:21] But we are going to be talking to authors about books that were released years or even decades ago. So with that in mind, if there is a particular book you wanna hear us talk about, if there is a particular author you want to hear us talk to, then get in touch. You can find us on most social media platforms, either at this is Horror or this is horror podcast.

[01:08:47] And you can even email meMichael@thisishorror.co uk. So I'm looking forward to your recommendations and finding out who you want us to talk to on this is Horror. So with that said, until next time with Adam Godfrey, take care of yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.

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