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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

03/25/2024 Women in Horror Spotlight: Nicole D. Sconiers




Nicole D. Sconiers is a new connection for me and one I was delighted to make. Nicole has a long-standing reputation in the writing world, is wonderful to talk to and highly inspirational.


Her short story “A Bird Sings by the Etching Tree” appeared in the New York Times bestselling book Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, edited by Jordan Peele and John Joseph Adams.


Read on for more!


 

NICOLE D. SCONIERS


What defines “horror” for you?  

I like to define horror as something unsettling and unexpected–whether it’s an illness, a pandemic, or finding out the person across the street is a serial killer.

I remember watching Salem’s Lot as a kid and how disturbing it was to see an entire town swallowed up by darkness. The unsettling part is thinking it could really happen. I’m not talking about Barlow and vampires descending on a small town, but how quickly people can turn on each other and lose their humanity.



What is your personal favorite horror movie or story and why?

Wake, the short film by activist/filmmaker Bree Newsome, is a favorite of mine. It’s the story of a woman Charmaine who uses folk magic to create the perfect husband, but she gets more than she bargained for. I love movies and stories that incorporate root work and African spirituality as a means of empowerment. In Wake, Charmaine conjures up a demon to escape her domineering father and also to silence those wagging tongues in town who view her as lacking because she’s unmarried. I think it’s a great commentary on women not knowing our own power and worth.



What is your favorite thing about being a female author in the horror industry?

I think my favorite thing is being able to tell the stories I want to tell, centering complex Black women characters in bizarre worlds, and not feeling like I’m imposing on this genre but knowing that I’m meant to take up space here. What I love about Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, Ntozake Shange and other writers in that canon is that they were unapologetically Black but also unapologetically woman. They viewed the Black experience as something beautiful, significant, and worthy of exploration.



What differences do you believe women bring to the table within the horror industry, and why are those differences impactful and important, in your opinion?

The personal is political. Women are impacted by sexism, misogynoir, the gender pay gap, disparities in healthcare and violence and can discuss those experiences because we’ve lived them. In Jackal, Erin E. Adams highlights the lack of media coverage and concern when Black girls go missing. In River Woman, River Demon, Jennifer Givhan uses the supernatural to call out systemic racism and examines how practicing brujeria isn’t about entertainment but self-empowerment. Representation matters.  


 

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the mostly male-dominated world of horror? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them? 

A white male editor once rejected a story I wrote about vampires who thirsted for Black women’s hair. He said it just didn’t “grip” him. But that story “Here Come the Janes” resonated with a lot of Black women who feel othered when white women touch their hair. I overcame that rejection by continuing to write the stories that are gripping to me. On the flip side, a male editor, John Joseph Adams, gave me a big break by republishing my short story “Kim” in Nightmare magazine. Years later, John invited me to submit to the horror anthology Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror that he co-edited with Jordan Peele. Despite various barriers to entry, despite people not understanding your voice, you have to believe in your work and believe it will find a home.



What advice do you have for the next generation of female horror authors?

Keep making people uncomfortable and keep disrupting the status quo. This whole anti-woke movement is retaliation for marginalized groups having the audacity to fight for equal rights. Just the act of writing horror as a woman is transgressive. Believing in our unique voice and vision will empower the next generation to tell their unique stories and take up space in the horror industry.



 

NICOLE'S BIO


Nicole D. Sconiers is an author and screenwriter who blends horror, speculative fiction and humor in stories centering complex Black heroines. She is the author of Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage, a speculative fiction short-story collection that has been taught at colleges and universities around the country.


Her work has appeared in Nightmare magazine, Lightspeed magazine, Speculative City, NIGHTLIGHT: A Horror Fiction Podcast and other publications. Her short stories were published in the anthologies Black from the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing, December Tales and Sycorax’s Daughters, which was a Bram Stoker Award finalist.


Her short story “A Bird Sings by the Etching Tree” appeared in the New York Times bestselling book Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, edited by Jordan Peele and John Joseph Adams.


She cowrote the thriller A Mother’s Intuition, which aired on TV One and Lifetime.


 


 

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