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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Women in Horror Spotlight: Rhonda Jackson Joseph

Today's spotlight is on Rhonda Jackson Joseph. Rhonda is an author, professor, and editor. She is truly a force in the industry and one to watch.

Read on for her thoughts on being a woman in the horror industry and how she deals with those challenges.



What defines “horror” for you?  

Horror is those stories and circumstances that cause unease. That unsettlement can be subtle or overt, but as long as it causes the reader/viewer to feel uncomfortable, I think it counts as horror.

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

My all-time favorite horror story is Beloved by Toni Morrison. I can't say enough about how this novel encapsulates the particular horror of slavery as it pertains to a Black woman's experience of motherhood. Mothers in the margins--which include Black mothers and their various intersecting personas--are totally my jam.

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

I love that I can tell the stories my characters want me to in the way that only I can. My experiences as a Black woman color everything I am and do, so my stories carry those particular aspects. There is joy in being a woman. There's also horror. I like that we're now writing those horrors.

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?

Including stories through various lenses is critical for any medium. When everything is from the same perspective, the genre starts to cannibalize itself. Stories told from a feminine perspective offer something the horror genre hasn't always embraced, so our stories bring a freshness and other avenues through which the genre can flourish rather than stagnate.

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? 

One of the challenges I face is the same "We can't relate to these characters" and "We don't have an audience for this" that many horror writers from marginalized groups experience from industry gatekeepers. The way I work through that is by staying out there and continuing to write. I also push back by supporting horror by creatives from marginalized groups that makes it to publication/production--buying it, engaging with it, talking about it--because I am the audience for these stories, and I want the market to reflect that.

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

The biggest advice I would offer is to play the long game and don't expect instant blowout success, however you define that. Publishing moves really slow. Nothing happens tomorrow. If you expect your work to catch on and blow up in a few weeks, or even a few months, that will likely not happen. Yes, it happens to some new writers who happen to tap into that streak. For the rest of us, we have to stay and practice perseverance and improve our craft constantly so that when we do "arrive" we do so with the talent and discipline to stay on top.

Rhonda's Bio:

Rhonda Jackson Garcia, AKA RJ Joseph, is an award winning, Stoker Award™

and Shirley Jackson Award nominated, Texas based academic and 

creative writer/professor/editor who's writing regularly focuses on the intersections of 

gender and race in the horror and romance genres and popular culture. She occasionally peeks out online through social media from @rjacksonjoseph 


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