Interview with Nuzo Onoh, author of “The Reluctant Dead”

•July 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Author

Nuzo Onoh

Nuzo Onoh

Nuzo Cambridge Onoh is a British writer of African heritage. Born in Enugu, in the Eastern part of Nigeria (formerly known as The Republic Biafra), she lived through the civil war between Biafra and Nigeria (1967 – 1970), an experience that left a strong impact on her and continues to influence her writing to date. She attended Queen’s school, Enugu, Nigeria, before proceeding to the Quaker boarding school, The Mount School, York, (England) and finally, St Andrew’s Tutorial college, Cambridge, (England) from where she obtained her A’ levels. Nuzo holds both a Law degree and a Masters Degree in Writing from Warwick University, (England). A keen piano player, Nuzo also has an NVQ in Digital Music Production from City College, Coventry. She sometimes writes under the pseudonym, Alex Stranger-Onoh. She has two daughters, Candice and Jija and lives in Coventry, England. When not writing or haunting the Coventry War Memorial Park, Nuzo runs her own independent self-publishing house, Canaan-star Publishing, UK and is a regular guest on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio. Nuzo is a strong believer in re-incarnation and The Law of Attraction.

The Book

Covers.inddIn writing The Reluctant Dead, Nuzo pulled from her childhood experiences, growing up amidst the death and carnage that was the Biafran/Nigerian civil war, where the boundaries of life and death merged into a blurred line for her. She lost several family members in the war and her family house in Old Biafra is littered with the graves of her dead ancestors as well as the more recent graves of her sister, brother, niece, father, uncle, and grandmother. In fact, the stone-brick family house perched above the notorious Milliken’s Hill, Ngwo, Enugu State, is believed to be a haunted mansion. So, death and the afterlife have always played a big part in Nuzo’s life, hence her fascination with ghost stories and the mysteries of reincarnation. She hopes to bring the rich and unique culture of the Igbo race to a wider audience, using the medium of horror and mystery. Lovers of the Japanese Kaidan Horror tradition will love The Reluctant Dead, which adopts the same thematic approach as Japanese horror.

Her next book, Our Bones Shall Rise Again will be published in April 2015.

The Interview

Q. Women, and especially black women in horror have been unrepresented. Do you think that’s beginning to change?

A. Definitely!! Anyone that reads the book, 60 Black Women in Horror Writing will realise how far Black women have come in that hitherto, White male-dominated world. However, as the book shows, there are few non African-American women writers and writers like Akua Lezli Hopes and Nnedi Okorafor who are of African descent write more on Fantasy than pure African horror with our mish-mash of cultures, superstitions and dark practices. I’m hoping to see more Black British and African female writers in future.

Q. What is African Horror, and how does it differ from the mainstream horror genre?

A. African Horror is a cesspool of terrifying supernatural entities and superstitions, which very few cultures can rival in their sheer volume and malevolence. Africa is a culture that accepts the supernatural as a normal part of everyday living. So for instance, here in the West, if a person dies, there can be only two main causes of death, natural causes or unnatural /unexplained causes, usually murder or manslaughter. But rarely are the deaths attributed to supernatural causes unless one lives in the era of the Blair witch trial or Bram Stoker’s Transylvania. But in African culture, in particular the Igbo culture about which I write, no death is simply natural unless it is an old person who has fulfilled all social and cultural obligations of marriage, children, productivity and a high moral compass. Otherwise, every death is viewed as suspicious, an act of the ancestors, gods, bad karma, ghosts, witchcraft, night-flyers, mamiwater, juju and a host of other supernatural causes. The type of death will generally determine the type of ghost that manifests, the level of malevolence exhibited and the degree of intervention required by powerful witchdoctors or Pentecostal prayer warriors. So, one can see that African ghosts always have some unfathomable agenda and that’s what I think makes the horror more unsettling and chilling than mainstream horror.

Q. What can you tell us about your recently released horror anthology, The Reluctant Dead? How does it fit into the African Horror genre?

A. The Reluctant Dead is a collection of six ghost stories, set in Old Biafra, part of modern day Nigeria. The stories depict core Igbo traditions, superstitions, practices and beliefs within the supernatural context. Most of the stories are themed around revenge and unfinished business, since unlike Western ghosts, African ghosts never just manifest for the sole purpose of scaring the wits out of lily-livered humans. They always have an agenda, good or bad and the six stories in my book explores Igbo myths and superstitions amidst hauntings, possessions and manifestations. I hope to create a narrative that is unsettling enough to satisfy horror fans and show that true horror does indeed transcend all cultural barriers.

Q. What are the underlying themes that join together the six stories in the book?

A. Restless spirits and hauntings, revenge, unfinished business and Igbo superstitions and beliefs within a supernatural context.

Q. You lived through the Biafran/Nigerian civil war. How did the experience impact you as a writer?

A. As some people may recall since it happened a long while ago, the Igbo race fought a bitter civil war with Nigeria commonly known as the Biafran War. It lasted for 3 years and saw over one million Biafrans killed, including several members of my extended family. I witnessed first-hand the horrors of death, sickness, abuse and violence and can say unequivocally that the war moulded my perception of life, death and the afterlife. While other children went to bed on innocent bedtime stories, we Biafran kids slept on moonlight stories of ghosts, witches and a host of other evil supernatural entities, made more believable to us by our daily interaction with violence and death. When you’ve carefully stepped over a few bloated, fly-infested putrid corpses on your way to the local stream, you learn to prepare yourself for the nightmares that will invade your dream at dusk. Yet, there was a perverse kind of comfort in those terrifying ghost stories, as they made the inexplicable normal and reassured us that if for some reason we became one of the bloated corpse by the wayside, all was not lost and we could still exist within our families as ghosts or with our loving ancestors in another realm. So, by the time, the war ended, I was already hooked on ghost stories and everything horror. A lot of my stories are from dreams I have which I then build upon. Others might call them nightmares, but to me, my dreams are part of my general make-up and I actively look forward to them as a vital source of writing material.

Q. How did your childhood experiences and the civil war influence your stories in The Reluctant Dead? What stories do they play a part in?

A. As I said, the Biafran war left me with vivid dreams that persist to date. While Haley Joel Osment sees dead people in The Sixth Sense, I dream of dead people almost every night…unfailingly. One of my stories, Night Flyer, is straight out of one of my dreams, with a bit more added to build the narrative. The tension between the Moslem North in Nigeria and the Igbo race till date, is integral to another one of my stories, Hadiza, even though it is still a story of revenge and unfinished business, where a scorned wife returns to wreak havoc on her faithless husband and mistress. Mention is also made to the war in A Good Student, set in the immediate aftermath of the Biafran war.

 Q. Is there anything you would like our readers to know that we haven’t already covered?

A. Except to look out for my next book due out next year, with the working title, Our Bones Shall Rise Again. In the book, I narrate an African ending to the famous Igbo Landing tragedy of 1803 at St Simon’s Island, Georgia, USA, where a group of enslaved Igbos opted for mass suicide by drowning together in their chains rather than be taken into slavery. Their ghosts are said to still haunt the beaches till date. I am setting them free in my next book and returning their restless spirits back to Igbo-land, giving them their long-sought revenge in the process. In the meantime, The Reluctant Dead is available as both paperback and ebook on Amazon and can be ordered from most good book retailers. Reviews on Amazon will be highly appreciated. Thank you so much for this opportunity to showcase African Horror.

 Where To Find Nuzo Online

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NuzoOnoh

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuzo-Onoh/1513133992243780

Marketing 101: How NOT to Promote Your Novel

•July 23, 2014 • 1 Comment

Sumiko Saulson:

Things that every self-promoting writer – myself included – will do well to remember.

Originally posted on Lit Chic:

So, you’ve completed your first novel. Now what? Publish it, duh. Did you really spend three years and countless hours creating this thing just to keep it to yourself. No. You want to share it and hopefully make a little money as well.

So, how do you promote a new novel? Do you spam your followers on social media? Pay for expensive ads? Write the title of your novel in the sky?

Not unless you want to turn off readers. Of course you don’t.

Here is a list of things NOT to do when promoting your book:

1. Tweet ads and links to your novel incessantly (on the hour every hour). Author platforms are for building communities and for sharing content, not for spamming.

2. Redirect every conversation (on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, ect.) to your novel. Interaction with other bloggers and writers should be genuine, otherwise you will lose credibility…

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Cheap Reads

•July 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Sumiko Saulson:

So many tales of the dead, and so little time…

Originally posted on horroraddicts.net:

22436002The first book I want to talk about is a little different. Dead Aware by Terry M. West is a horror story told in screenplay format. This book is about a private investigator that can talk to the dead. He sees what awaits in the afterlife and it’s not pretty, you could say its driving him insane.

The P.I. named Dunlavey was messing with occult magic he didn’t understand and now his third eye is open and can’t be closed. In special cases the police use him to solve crimes and now a killer is exterminating victims and stuffing them with straw. Dunlavey may be the only one that can stop him.  The killer also has his sights set on Dunlavey and has his own powers that may end Dunlavey’s nightmarish existence and bring death to everyone he loves.

This was a chilling book with great imagery and would work…

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Deadlier Than The Male…Female Horror Icons Of Our Time

•July 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Originally posted on horroraddicts.net:

DEADLIER THAN THE MALE…FEMALE HORROR ICONS OF OUR TIME.

BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PITT-obit-popupThe time? July, 2014. The place? Dublin, Ireland. The brief? Write a short- well, shortish- piece on female horror icons. Mission? Impossible. I can’t do it, I thought in a panic. In the whole history of cinema, there are too many to choose from. There would have been female horror icons as far back as the silent movie era, wouldn’t there? How can I narrow it down to just a few actresses whose contribution to horror cinema sets them apart from their peers and guarantees them a place for life in the horror hall of fame? It’s just not do-able. I tore my hair out and blubbered like a baby.

Pull yourself together, woman, I told myself then. I gave myself a mental shake and a severe talking-to, put on a pot of coffee and…

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Support Indie Authors – Get Free Stuff

•July 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am happy to be a pat of the Smashwords Summer Promotion.

July Summer/Winter Sale
Specials for July 1–31

Legend of the LunaUse the code SW100 at checkout to get Legend of the Luna  for free during the site-wide promotion!

(Offer good through July 31, 2014)

Use the code SSW50 at checkout for 50% off Things That Go Bump In My Head during the site-wide promotion! That’s just 99 Cents!

(Offer good through July 31, 2014)

Use the code SSW50 at checkout for 50% off Solitude during the site-wide promotion! That’s just $1.50!

(Offer good through July 31, 2014)

Support other indie authors. Pick up free or discounted eBooks during Smashword’s Summer/Winter promotion – check out their page, which is https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

Interview with Char Hardin, author of “Ogres of the Hickory Cottage”

•July 4, 2014 • 2 Comments

The Author

Char July 2014Char has been a indie horror film reviewer for the last three and half years. She has conducted over a 100 interview/podcasts with the men and women of indie horror films and with horror authors too. Most recently, she invited 15 horror authors to her online radio show Charred Remains for a Night of Storytellers. The show was a hit and has started a summer series. Each author was given an allotment of time to perform a reading from their current/upcoming novel.
Char’s love for writing began the moment her kindergarten teacher put a pencil in her hand and taught her to write her name, by the first grade, she was writing tall tales. All through school she wrote stories and enjoyed writing poetry. Char was first published in the 2012 anthology Dark Light published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterflies. She was also featured in the follow-up anthology Dark Light 2.
Go to www.blogtalkradio.com/charred_remains for more information.

The Book

Cover6 copyOgres of the Hickory Cottage is a serialized story she created was based on her experiences managing her family’s used bookstore. She had created a tale involving ogres living in the attic to scare children whose sole intent was to trash her bookstore. The end result has become a serial story, Ogres of the Hickory Cottage.

Synopsis:

The Hickory Cottage Book Exchange has begun revising their policy in the hiring of Ogres Boris and Lon. Since the two Ogres started working at the Ponchatoula used bookstore, three children and ten cats have been reported missing.

Book seller Charley is caught in a maze of books, murder and betrayal. To stay one step ahead of the law, she must betray two friends in order to protect her employees Boris and Lon, which happen to be two ogres who have a magical connection to Charley are at the center of a maelstrom involving murder and magic.

The Interview

Q. Your new story “Ogres of Hickory Cottage” features a family bookstore, Hickory Cottage Book Exchange. How do you think local family stores like that are doing in the age of the eBook? Do modern challenges to the local bookstore work their way into your story?

A: Very good question. The reason the original Hickory Cottage Book Exchange (yes it is based on a real store that I ran for 12 years) closed October 2013 because we could not compete with Amazon, Kindles and Nooks. My customer base took in all ages with a whopping higher percentage of retirees. The ease of downloading their books won out over getting in their cars or depending on family/friends to bring them to our bookstore. Basically the convenience of downloading killed my business.

 

It is a very sad day when the local bookstore closes. I still see former customers who did belong to the “Downloading Books” Club and they always say the same thing, “So sorry to see that you closed” or “Since have closed, I have to go to the library and I am forever on a waiting list for the new books” and so on.

 

It broke my heart to have to close a business that was over 30 years old. My father bought in 2001 one week after 9-11 and to see it close just 12 years later was rough. That downloading killed it is a tough pill to swallow seeing how my first book is only available in e-book form. This will surprise many of my customers, especially those who do not download, but the way of publishing and books is going…no, I take that back, it has gone the way of e-books and I can either adapt or forget it. I want to share my stories for years to come, so I have adapted. I hope that my former customers do not see this as a sell-out but a way to share 12 years of fun times and crazy times that I spent serving them at the Hickory Cottage Book Exchange.

Q. How did your personal experience working in your family bookstore help inspire your writing?

A: Oh boy, working for the public inspired all sorts of ideas and storylines. The customer is always right and even when you know they are wrong, they are right and some left a lasting impression so much that they are featured in my stories. Some characters are obvious if that person is reading them and others share certain characteristics of customers who came to my store.

I am a people watcher and I pick up things that others would overlook. I may have looked like at times, I was shelving books and just blending in with the maze of books, but I was listening and absorbing so many stories that gave birth to notebooks full of ideas to incorporate into my stories. I have my customers to thank for many things one is sharing their stories with me.

Q. Your book is about children, but do you think it is appropriate for children? What age group is it targeted at?

A. Oh, I wouldn’t say my story was all about children. There are many things going on at once: missing children, decrease in the city’s cat population, magic, ogres working at the local used bookstore, love, profiling, and self image issues to name just a few. Children are a part of the story yes in a horrific way. I would say age 16 to adult. This is a fairy tale of sorts but it is an adult fairy tale and not one I would want a child to read. If I could stress one thing to readers, the cover is cute, but it is not a fluffy children’s fairy tale. It is a dark fantasy.

 

I used the category of urban fantasy because the characters are coexisting with Ogres. They are not imaginary, they are real. And as the story moves along, other entities will pop up: ghosts, witches and in the next book a tree spirit. The story is based on my experiences working in the Hickory Cottage Book Exchange aside from tree spirits and ogres which are fiction some things like witches and ghosts actually happened in my store. So no, I would not say this is a children’s serial, but more for the mature minded.

Q. Do you think kids love scary stories as much as adults? What were some of your favorite scary kid’s stories growing up?

A. I can’t speak for all kids, but I loved scary stories. I was a voracious reader as a child and still am. I discovered Bruce Colville in elementary school and loved his stories. By junior high I was reading Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, John Saul, V.C. Andrews, and Dan Simmons, which could not be found in the children’s section. I read what I could get my eyes on and if it happened to be adult horror, and I could get a copy, I read it. Horror was my favorite. I loved the Flowers in the Attic series by V.C. Andrews.

Q.  You have a lot of fiction and non-fiction podcasting experience – what can you tell us about that?

A. Podcasting I started in 2011 when I was writing for a horror site, http://www.horrorphilia.com. It was a means to meet the filmmakers of Indie horror films and I seemed to have a knack for setting folks at ease during an interview. I was schooled by several people in the indie horror community and once I was finally able to record and edit my own shows; I was off and talking.

 

I like meeting people and talking about their careers, goals, and inspirations. Podcasting gives entertainers, authors, musicians a platform to get their messages out to those fans who love their particular line of work. I have done over a 100 podcasts and loved each and every experience.

 

I know once a film, novel, music CD is made that the easy part is over now the artist has to market and drum up interest and through the use of social media is not enough. I firmly believe that bloggers and podcasters are the way to go in getting an artist’s name out there. It’s not enough to build a brand/image/persona, one has to break out of their comfort zone and do whatever they can to draw attention to their product.

 

I have been told that my promotions helped many filmmakers get their name and film’s name out there by my writing reviews and just talking about them on my shows. I think that is just peachy keen. I love promoting and do it every time I log onto the Internet. Pay it forward for the next person. Someone did it for me and I try to every day to pass that on by paying it forward to someone else.

Q. Is there anything you would like to tell our readers that we haven’t covered yet?

A. For the last four years, I have devoted many hours to watching indie horror films and reading horror novels to write reviews on them. I have launched several podcast series that have all be successful. Through blogging and podcasting, I have helped many people get their names and films noticed by other blogger reviewers and fans that otherwise may not have ever heard of them. I can look back on all that I have accomplished and smile.

 

Now, that my bookstore is closed and I am not working, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands. I look at my file cabinet full of notebooks with ideas and stories and smile. I have countless stories to tell and the hardest part is deciding on which story I want to write. I am retiring from writing reviews and look forward to going into July knowing for the first time in a long time, I am writing something that I created. I will write a few reviews here and there, but from this day forward I have Ogres to write about and coming behind them are more mystery-suspense, erotica, and a teen serial dealing with TP House Rolling. I look forward to meeting new authors and connecting with readers and yes, I will continue podcasting for as long as anyone wants to listen.

 

Thank you, Sumiko for giving me this time, to share a little about myself and my writing. Shout out to the Facebook group “Ladies of Horror”, I have met some wonderful ladies in there and just want to say thank you for being welcoming and helpful. I appreciate your guidance and friendship.

 

Where to Find Char Online

The book link on Amazon: Ogres of the Hickory Cottage

The podcast: Charred Remains for a Night of Storytellers

Facebook page: Charred Remains

 

Listen to me read zombie haiku on the [internet] radio

•June 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

You can listen to the episode here:

http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/2014/06/ep-79-youre-the-guest-mono/

bumpheadcover

Zombie Haiku

This is what bestselling novelists Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn said the show was about:

Zombie haiku! Crazy pick up lines. A MOMMY DEAREST reboot? A pill that might prevent new HIV infections. It’s all on the table on this edition of YOU’RE THE GUEST. Christopher and Eric field a deluge of voicemails from the show’s Party Line (323-PEZ-TDPS), and the resulting topics are far-reaching, wide-ranging and insanity-inducing. (Also, Christopher spends most of the show making every topic about him.)

This is what I said about it:

Thank you, thank you…. everyone needs to listen to this show and hear my on the air reading of zombie haiku from “Things That Go Bump In My Head” – if you click on the affiliate store before you buy my book, then TDPS will get their 2 cents or whatever from Amazon, I think. I’m not sure. “Science”. I should probably ask Jordan Ampersand.

If that isn’t enough Sumiko Saulson for you, they answered my question about writing (which has to do with how to get your characters’ voices out of your head between writing projects, and Taletha Wagoner recommend the book I’m writing (which she describes as alien porn – it’s not, but there is at least one freaky qualifying sex scene, I suppose). And Amy Bellino is on the show asking about Eric and starting cat fights too.

This is the link for the aforementioned affiliate store.

http://thedinnerpartyshow.com/store/

Although my books aren’t there, if you click on another book and just kind of toss mine in the shopping cart, they’ll totally get the commission. The paperbacks are like $10 or $12 bucks and the eBook is $1.99.

 

 
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