Horror Writers Association

Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders Heritage in Horror: Interview with Naching T. Kassa


Naching T. Kassa is a wife, mother, and horror writer. She serves as an assistant at Crystal Lake Publishing, as an interviewer at HorrorAddicts.net, and is a proud member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. You can find her work on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Naching-T-Kassa/e/B005ZGHTI0

What inspired you to start writing?

When I was in second grade, I realized I could write stories for my classmates. I wrote and illustrated stories about monsters and all kinds of fun, scary things. My friends really liked them, and this inspired me to write more.

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

I love being scared. For me, horror is fun, like riding a rollercoaster. I also love the more mysterious side of horror. I enjoy discovering what the monster is and what it really means.

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

I do. Outside of a few Disney movies, I haven’t seen a lot of attention paid to the mythology of Pacific Islanders. We have so many scary things that no one talks about or has heard of. I want to change that.

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

It’s taught me that art can make a difference. That what I write might be meaningful to others. And, though I can’t go out and stop some of the horrors and atrocities that are happening to my fellow humans every day, perhaps I can offer them a catharsis or a sense that evil can be contained and even overcome.

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

I’ve been a big fan of horror since I was a teenager in the 80s, and I’ve seen it go through many incarnations. I’m pleased to see the level of diversity which is reflected in the genre now and I think that inclusivity will increase as the years go on. It’s a really exciting time to be part of the horror genre.

How do you feel Pacific Islanders have been represented thus far in the genre? Do you feel there has been adequate representation? What hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?

As a woman of Samoan, Tongan, Filipino and Polynesian heritage (and that’s just on my mom’s side. My dad’s side is a different story), I’d love to see more Pacific Islanders involved in horror writing. I hope that more people of my heritage will become interested in writing and will take advantage of the opportunities out there, especially those offered by the HWA.

Who are some of your favorite Pacific Islander characters in horror, and in fiction in general?

My most favorite character is Makani Hisoka-O’Brien from the Dean Koontz novellas, Last Light and Final Hour. I’m a huge Koontz fan, and I loved the fact that he wrote two stories about someone of P.I. heritage.

I also adore any character played by Dwayne Johnson.

Who are some Pacific Islander horror authors (or authors in general) you recommend our audience check out?

Aside from the wonderful Tori Eldridge, I can’t think of any other P.I. writers off the top of my head. However, I would like to recommend the works of Kathy Ptacek (our wonderful HWA newsletter editor, who was married to the legendary Charles L. Grant and studied under Tony Hillerman at college.) I’d also like to recommend John Linwood Grant and Jay Wilburn, two very underrated writers. I have tons more, but I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out.

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

When it comes to rejections, persevere. In the words of Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up! Never surrender!”

And to writers of Pacific Islander heritage out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

Learn all you can. If you have access to a mentor or veteran writer, ask questions. Older writers have much to share, and their advice can only make you better.

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