Interview with V.H. Galloway, author of

Author Bio:

Goolge+V.H. Galloway is a novelist of Science Fiction and Fantasy and graduate of the Viable Paradise Workshop. Born in the Ft. Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y., she has become a bit of a rolling stone. A resident of Austin, TX, she has also lived in Ohio, California, and Nevada. She is still in search of a place to call home.
Buy links:
Book 1 – The Un-United States of Z –
Book 2: The Rotting Road –
Book 3: The Refugee Prophet –

Book Description:

zcover-300In a near-future Los Angeles, Dr. Zen Marley is torn between two conflicting realities: his buried southern roots and his preppy west coast professor persona. He must travel home to face the reality of his mother’s failing mental health. But he finds an aberration: a monstrous impostor wearing the rotted shell of his mother’s skin. In a twisted case of self-defense, he kills her, but not before he is also infected.

With his humanity eroding, Zen sets off on a cross-country quest through a racially divided America to rescue his sister, find a cure, and stop the advance of the sentient flesh-eating army led by his highly intelligent, but psychotic former student. This is the first installment of The Un-United States of Z trilogy.


Q. What inspired you to create Dr. Zen Marley as a character.

A. I share just a couple things in common with Zen as a character. I’ve lived on the West Coast and have family in South Carolina – spent quite a bit of time there under the watchful eyes of my grandmother, aunts, uncles and extended family. And over time, it became increasingly difficult to make the long trek back for visits – something I regret. Though that aspect of my life is the bud from which Zen bloomed, that, as they say, is where the similarities end. Disillusionment and his mother’s illness have caused Zen to turn away from home, from his roots.

Q. Dr. Zen Marley has southern roots and travels back home; how much does the Southern Gothic horror genre inform his experience and genre?

A. Zen tries, I mean, tries really hard to cover his southern roots. But as anyone born in the south or who spends significant time there knows, his attempts prove futile. It’s in his blood. And this becomes more evident once he lands in South Carolina and during the ensuing trip through the south. On his own and through periodic tongue lashing reminders from his sister, Zen comes to appreciate and embrace his southern upbringing and that foundation of strength. The zombies (rotters), presented with a significant twist, also stem from Southern Gothic hoodoo tropes.

Q. The Southern Gothic horror convention often touches upon ghosts of the dark legacy of the south, such as Jim Crow, segregation, the Mann Act and slavery. Does your story do so at all?

A. Absolutely. This story poses a question – What would America do if we really turned out to be the monsters they envision? And without giving too much away, Zen learns that America in many ways is as divided as it was during that not-so-distant time in our history. And that it only takes something small to re-ignite those old flames.

Q. I am from Los Angeles – how much is it in the story, and how does Dr. Zen Marley’s experience there differ from the South?

A. The first book of the trilogy begins in the South Carolina. Book 2 – The Rotting Road, takes Zen and his companions on a road trip through much of the southern U.S. The final book of the trilogy – The Refugee Prophet – is centered in Los Angeles. This is where it all goes down. Zen takes on his foe – his former student, Idriss who has a vision that puts Black people at the top of the new food chain. By then, America is largely apocalyptic. Los Angeles is the place where Zen has built his post-southern life and combined with his reaffirmation of the importance of the past, being back helps set him on more firm footing. This bolsters his confidence for the battle that is to come.

Q. A lot of people are up in arms about the current political situation, and I have read that zombie stories become very popular during Republican presidencies because of our fears about conformity – whereas Democrats inspire vampire stories due to the fear of licentious behavior and sexual perversion. Do you think there is any truth to this?

A. Fascinating! While I’d love to dive into the data supporting this, I can say that throughout history, we have examples of how real life impacts art. So, for me, it’s a given that the current socio-political climate can inform art.

Q. If so, do you think any of the tropes or images in your story relate to the current political situation, and how?

A. The Un-United States of Z was actually written prior to the most recent election. Still, it’s a story about zombies – black zombies, at that. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill flesh eaters, they’re sentient, angry, and determined to right some wrongs of the past. If that doesn’t relate to the current political climate, I don’t know what does.

Q. How do you feel about writing horror as a woman? Does it pose any specific challenges?

A. To even debate the challenges that a woman horror writer faces is folly. It’s a given, not something to ponder. There are folks that simply only want stories by and about people who remind them of themselves, luckily, I’m not one of them. A good book goes a long way toward breaking down those barriers. I, in turn, must focus have laser-focus on the things that I can control. That means: improving my craft, reading widely from other authors I admire, and supporting/helping other writers.

Q.  Do you feel you have faced any exceptional challenges as a black horror writer, and how has it informed your views as a writer?

A. Some call it two strikes, I call it two assets. Writing from the perspective of a black woman gives me an opportunity to introduce others to a fairly unfamiliar voice. My job is to write well and to continue to grow. As much as we’d like to, we can’t control the readers.

Q. What do you have on the drawing board that our readers can expect to see from you next?

A. A good writer is always thinking about the next project.  I am currently shopping a fantasy novel with agents. Also on tap are several short stories in various stages of completion and a new novel set in New Orleans, a horror-fantasy mashup.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on July 3, 2018.

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