Black Heritage in Horror Month 2024: An Interview with Chanel Harry
What inspired you to start writing?
I have drawn inspiration from many facets of my life. I have always been reading horror novels and watching horror movies since I was about four years old thanks to my mom. She used to read a lot of Stephen King and Anne Rice books which, of course, I picked up and read. So, I would say that my mother was the main inspiration, and I thank her every day for instilling literature in my life.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
One thing that drew me to the horror genre is the overall thrill of fear—that constant thought of what could be lurking in the shadows.
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, I make a conscious effort to put African diaspora characters in front of my writing because often, many of us are not the one that survives in the horror genre. We aren’t the final girl who gets away from the ax-wielding killer, nor are we the ones who save everyone from the mutated monsters in the desert hills. I want to portray that my characters can, in fact, have scary stories, and they can survive them.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
It has taught me that the world can be a scary place and we sometimes can be those monsters that we write about—if we are not careful. When it comes to myself, it has taught me to keep writing no matter who doesn’t read it or not because someone out there is willing to read my work no matter how horrifying it is.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
I’m a 90s kid and a 2000’s teen and I’ve seen horror change from to being authentic and original to now in the present being plagued by remakes. There’s not a lot of originality in the horror movie sector—besides Jordan Peele. When it comes to books, they are thriving and better than before. I think horror will continue to evolve with more atmospheric horror than anything.
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?
I feel that the genre is representing us slowly but surely. I still feel that we have a long way to go with being seen in horror besides those of us who actually make horror for ourselves.
Who are some of your favorite Black characters in horror?
Besides my own, Chris Washington from Get Out, Blade, Dana from Kindred by Octavia Butler, Daisy and Brittany from Delicious Monster by Liselle Sambury, Maddy from The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson, Blacula, Candyman, and so many more.
Who are some African diaspora horror authors you recommend to our audience check out?
I would highly recommend Liselle Sambury, Tiffany D. Jackson, Miracle Austin, Kenya Moss-Dyme, Sentu Taylor, Sumiko Saulson, Sylvester Barzey, Mya Lairis, and myself of course.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
One piece of advice that I would give horror authors today is to keep writing even if no one reads it. It will pay off in the end.
And to the Black writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Black writers, don’t be afraid to write horror no matter what anyone says. Hone your craft and remain you in the process. Scare ‘em good!
Bio: Chanel Harry always had a love for horror and fantasy ever since she started reading Stephen King and Anne Rice novels at the age of ten. She has since written eight horror novels for adults and young adults and doesn’t plan on stopping until her fingers fall off. When she isn’t writing terrifying novels to scare you, she is playing video games, playing with her three-year-old son, and watching true crime channels on YouTube.
You can follow her on Instagram: @authorbaeee.