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Black Heritage in Horror: Interview with Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki


Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an African speculative fiction writer, editor & publisher from Nigeria. He won the Nebula, Otherwise, Nommo, British & World Fantasy awards and been a finalist in the Hugo, Locus, Sturgeon and British Science Fiction award. His works have appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Tordotcom, Apex, Galaxy’s Edge, Strange Horizons and others. He edited the Bridging Worlds, Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology and co-edited the Dominion and Africa Risen anthology. He was a CanCon goh and will be the ICFA 44 guest of honour. You can see his latest works here: https://odekpeki.com/2022/09/11/destiny-delayed/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penprince_

Website: https://odekpeki.com/2022/09/11/2022-awards-eligibility-post-list/

What inspired you to start writing?

Reading. I read a lot as a child. And I wanted to tell stories of my own. Also, as a way to find my way in a world that didn’t create spaces for me. I wanted and want to have a voice, a way to project my identify and self outward.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

It’s familiarity. The way that it approached all these very real issues we experienced and lived everyday in ways that were innocent and enticing enough to consume when we shied away from the stark reality of it.

Do you make a conscious effort to include African diaspora characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes. It’s a conscious, deliberate decolonization process for me. A reclamation of my identity and these pieces of myself, culture, identity that were eroded with slavery and colonialism.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

That the horrors are never far away from us, in others and in ourselves. And that we must keep confronting them daily, in all the forms they appear in.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?

I’ve seen it come to embrace diversity, slowly, especially in SFF, through the work of doyens like Tananarive Due, Sheree Renee Thomas. And more amazing African writers like Nuzo Onoh, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Tobi Ogundiran, to mention a few, continue to create and lavish it with their amazing talents. Gives me hope that literature will become truly equitable and all embracing someday. Though still with a lot of work to be done.

How do you feel the Black community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

There’s been a good showing of works by Black SFF writers as I mentioned above. I think that Black horror is doing amazingly well in terms of output and quality of work. And writers. And I am confident that that someday it will gain the more expansive foothold in speculative fiction genre that it deserves.

Who are some of your favorite Black characters in horror?

Blade, Louis in The Vampire Lestat tv show, Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned, Afro Samurai, etc.

Who are some African diaspora horror authors you recommend our audience check out?

Nuzo Onoh, Tananarive Due, Sheree Renee Thomas, Eugen Bacon, Alexis Brooks de Vita, etc.

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

Keep up the good work.

And to the Black writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

It’s going to be worth it.

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