TOD 005 Black Women in Spec-Lit and Horror: Two Panels from the 1st State of Black Science Fiction Convention


In this podcast The Outer Dark presents the panels “Black Women in Speculative Fiction” and “Black Women in Horror” from the State of Black Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta, Ga. The moderator for both was Nicole Givens Kurtz, and the panelists were Penelope Flynn, Valjeanne Jeffers, Kyoko M, Alicia McCalla, and Cerece Rennie-Murphy. It was recorded live on Saturday June 11, 2016. The broadcast also includes an introductory interview with Nicole Givens Kurtz and an all-new News from the Weird with special guest Gabino Iglesias (Zero Saints) and the return of Justin Steele.


(00:00:17) Nicole Givens Kurtz (Cozened) previews these groundbreaking panels, including the fallacy that women—and particularly black women—don’t write horror well, her own work to dispel that misconception through her Mocha Memoirs Press, a brief history of State of Black Science Fiction collective and the inaugural SOBSFC as a “homecoming,” today’s African-American spec-lit Renaissance and its affinity with the Harlem Renaissance, and more.

Show Notes

(00:23:13) “Black Women in Speculative Fiction” moderator Nicole Givens Kurtz and panelists Penelope Flynn, Valjeanne Jeffers, Kyoko M, Alicia McCalla, and Cerece Rennie-Murphy discuss what it means to be a black woman writing spec-lit in America today. The conversation includes the authors’ shared roots in being “weird kids” and their earliest author influences including especially Octavia Butler, but also Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Frank Yerby, Richard Wright, James Baldwin and others. They explore expectations and challenges of being an outsider in both the SF/F/H community and their own communities, their first con experiences, the growth of the State of Black Science Fiction as a movement, getting the word out about how many black women write spec-lit, book reviews as “social activism,” the depiction of “sexuality” in fiction, the importance of nonprofits such as the Carl Brandon Society and Con or Bust which seek to increase racial and ethnic diversity in spec-lit, religion in African-American spec-lit and horror, and how to find their fiction.

(01:20:54) “Women in Horror” moderator Nicole Givens Kurtz introduces this trope-defying panel which also featured Penelope Flynn and Valjeanne Jeffers. The conversation includes  their inspirations and how they got started writing horror, growing up with the comfort of monsters versus the real unpredictable horror in their own lives, black horror as being about loss of control, Flannery O’Connor and Southern Gothic, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, the need for horror to be logical, religious responses to horror within their communities, how major social issues contribute to their work in the horror field, the high and thick protective walls of black women, sacrifice and confronting the caregiver stereotype to which black women seem to be tethered, the horror of Peter Pan and Wendy, self-publishing and magazine/anthology markets, and a nurturing approach to self-promotion.

News from the Weird

(02:25:24) Special guest Gabino Iglesias joins Scott and Justin Steele to discuss his latest novel Zero Saints (Broken River Books), the rise of barrio noir, and the glory of 1-star reviews, plus the latest publishing news including BizarroCon’s Wonderland Book Awards, Undertow Publications, Dim Shores, Lazy Fascist Press and more.

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Additional Links

Milton Davis

Balogun Ojetade

Chesya Burke

Craig Laurance Gidney

The Rape of the Lock, by Alexander Pope

Renfields by Penelope Flynn

Carl Brandon Society (Awards)

Eden Royce

Women in Horror Month

Sumiko Saulson & 60 Black Women in Horror Writing

Mantid Magazine

Open Call: Horror Markets Facebook group

7 Magpies

Jeremy Robert Johnson

TODA27 Rios de la Luz: Magical Surrealism, Martian Gemstones and Guardian Abuelas

The Fictions of Stephen Graham Jones: A Critical Companion

TODA31 Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward: Midwifing the Other: Nurturing Diversity in Weird and Spec-Lit

Show Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Scott Nicolay

Co-Host, News From the Weird: Justin Steele

Associate Producer/Show Notes: Anya Martin

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin

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  1. […] Listen to her chat with other Black women in horror and dark fantasy (at the first annual State of Black Science Fiction Convention on episode five of The Outer Dark podcast, featured on the This is Horror website. […]

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