Horror Writers Association
Email us.
Slasher TV
HWA on Instagram
Visit Us
Follow Me

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage in Horror Month: An Interview with Victory Witherkeigh




What inspired you to start writing?

I had multiple ideas of what I wanted to be as a child. I said I wanted to be a doctor, an author, and a fashion designer, and sometimes a scientist or witch. But writing and journaling were always my safe place. So, when I could have enough financial cushion to attempt it, I allowed myself to take that risk.

What draws you to the horror genre?

The first book I remember being so proud to finish was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I enjoyed Mr. Willy Wonka because of the incredible power he seems to have to punish these terrible children AND adults. The darker parts of stories or fairy tales didn’t scare me in the same way, I’d heard from other children or didn’t seem unbelievable to me. I thought as a kid that the real fairytale or made-up story was this “American dream of white picket fences and Hallmark family faces.”

Do you include Asian and/or Pacific Islander characters and themes in your writing with purpose, and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes! I make it a point to always try and incorporate a Pacific Islander character or theme in my writing if it makes sense. The one thing about the rest of Polynesia that people forget in today’s census groupings is that the “nations” we know today were never actually united before the European colonizers came along. You’ll still find some dialects still carry words or art forms across the path of the Austronesian migration, connecting the Philippine Islands closer to some of the indigenous Polynesian chain of oral traditions. When I hear the terms “dark fantasy” or “horror,” my mind immediately jumps to the aesthetics and imagery of the stories I’d hear from my relatives during a typhoon or power outage. For “stories centered with fantastical and horror elements,” the Pacific islands, while beautiful, are also filled with so many things that cause death and pain: the volcanic ring of fire, typhoons, mosquitoes carrying yellow or dengue fever.

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

Writing dark fantasy and horror has left a mark on me. If there was any doubt as to which of the literary writing advice tropes I listened to, it was “write what you know.” Writing in horror allowed me to write a book for young brown girls like me who felt that they couldn’t identify with most of the female characters in the novels, especially if they were of the fantasy or dark fantasy genre. I wanted a heroine to add another layer to the stories of “coming of age as a young woman” that was messy and really pushed against the whole “likeability equals goodness” trope.

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

The horror genre to me, seems to be evolving past just the action-filled plots and gore and gaining an interest in the character studies of our heroes and villains. The books and stories I read now feel much grander with character development and background, compared to some of the stories in my younger years that were all about just the next scare scene. I hope it always continues to evolve – especially with mixing into other genres.

How do you feel the Asian and/or Pacific Islander communities have been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

To be honest, I think our representation in the genre has been new in terms of the worldwide community. For many years, I think the Pacific Islands have only been thought of as island paradises and romantic locations. Often, the complexity and dimensionality in the genre is reserved for other women from European backgrounds while the tropes of Miss Saigon, the Dragon Lady, or Kung Fu masters reigned supreme as the “Asian/Pacific Islander” standard. The diversity of the continent and diaspora that make up “Asia” and the Pacific Islands today and the variety from north to south alone should indicate how broad types of stories and legends could have existed in the pre-colonial era.

Who are some of your favorite Asian and/or Pacific Islander characters in horror?

The first dark fantasy/horror series I fell in love with was Garth Nix’s Abhorsen Series and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics.

Can you recommend some Asian and/or Pacific Islander horror authors for our readers to check out?

Lizz Huerta and Nghi Vo are two amazing AAPI authors to check out.

What is your best advice for horror authors today?

Just keep writing.

And to the Asian and/or Pacific Islander writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

I’m going to steal a quote from the movie, We Bought a Zoo. “All you need is twenty seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.”

Victory Witherkeigh is an award-winning female Filipino/PI author from Los Angeles, CA. Her debut novel, The Girl, was published in December 2022 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing. The Girl has been a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award and was long-listed in the 2022 CIBA OZMA Fantasy Book Awards. The Girl won Third Place for YA Thriller in the 2023 Spring The Bookfest Awards. Her creative content creation for her Author TikTok also won First Place in the 2023 Spring The Bookfest Awards for Creative Content. She has short story print publications in horror anthologies such as Supernatural Drabbles of Dread through Macabre Ladies Publishing, Bodies Full of Burning through Sliced Up Press, In Filth It Shall Be Found through OutCast Press, and Nightmare Fuel’s 2022 Edition: Objects of Horror, etc.

Comments are closed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial