A Point of Pride: Interview with Nikki Woolfolk
Proud Blerd, Nikki Woolfolk sculpts decadent desserts and fantastical fiction with equal skill and flair. When they’re not playing a never-ending game of “what if” in a writing space that’s part DieselPunk, part Willy Wonka, they are drawing on their former STEM career and collection of quirky experiences to work up new recipes in the kitchen (tasting encouraged), designing a Goth-inspired garden (tasting decidedly DISCOURAGED), and mashing up real and fictional worlds on social media (virtual kitchen table is always open). Join their cogged-and-geared world at NikkiWoolfolk.com
What inspired you to start writing?
Culturally I grew up in a household that used storytelling, specifically tall-tales to convey aspects of my culture. As a long-time lover of television and speculative fiction movies I began writing stories that went beyond what I saw on the screen. I wrote fanfic as a way of training wheels in studying the authors I loved to read.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I am scared to watch and read horror. Yet, I grew up with watching serial horror shows like , Twilight Zone , Outer Limits, Friday the 13th series and other horror films. The speculative fiction aspect of horror are what coax me back to read or watch. Love for certain authors allowed me to dip into the genre without as much fear. In my childhood, my favorite book, Cabal from Clive Barker, came out and made into a film (Nightbreed) I got to watch my crush character, Shuna Sassi, on the screen.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LGBTQ material in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
In the past I made a conscious effort to not have LGBTQ characters in my fiction and those times were filled with so much writer’s block. It wasn’t until I came out as Queer and later identifying as Non-Binary (NB) that my characters became full and I found so many stories to tell. When I came out so did my main characters.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Speculative fiction and horror are my go-to regarding explaining the world and reflect current events from a differing perspective. I wrote a short story that was painful and cathartic regarding a beloved cousin who was murdered. The story “L’Chaim” is my way of giving her a chance to live. My editor read the story and informed me that I had written psychological horror.
I had no idea that what I wrote could be seen as horror since I’m kinda a wimp when it comes to consistently watching or reading horror. Looking back I’ve noticed my Urban Fantasy stories have more of a horror slant and it’s surprising to me.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
There is a heavier focus on psychological horrors of daily life coming to streaming services, but I’m noting a lot more LGBTQ folx writing in the genre and paving their own way whether as a self-published author, traditional, or a hybrid.
How do you feel the LGBTQ community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I only knew if certain authors weren’t straight if they were very out and that was not common in my younger years. Barker gave me perspective of LGBTQ can write in any genre and sometimes they writing about the struggles of our orientation in this world.
Who are some of your favorite LGBTQ characters in horror?
I have no idea who was a queer character. Whichever character I enjoyed on the screen I would assume that they weren’t straight. As you can guess my formative years were filled with wishful thinking and time before the internet.
Who are some horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Zin E. Rocklyn’s debut novel Flowers for the Sea comes out this September, Nicole Smith and her Mocha Memoirs Press publishing imprint put out wonderful anthologies, including Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire, about what goes bump in the night. Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi came into my focus recently and I’m looking forward to reading her novels. Oh and last, but not least is Stephen Graham Jones.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Continue to create characters readers are worried about and write horrors we least expect, but are universal problems too.
And to the LGBTQ writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
As you write and even when you do not, reach out and join queer friendly and/or LGBTQ focused author groups. Yes, for business support, but to have others like you in your corner cheering you on. Your characters don’t have to give a speech nor do you dear author as why a character or several aren’t straight. There’s a time to explain oneself, but we don’t have to when it comes to our character(s) orientation.