Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of A Dance for the Dead! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise?
Nuzo Onoh: First of all, a big “THANK YOU” to Fanbase Press for shining their light on African Horror. I also thank your readers in advance for taking time to read about my book and hope we both connect with you.
A Dance for the Dead is a supernatural fiction of sibling betrayal, vengeance, dark rituals, malevolent ghosts, and redemption. Diké, a once powerful warrior-prince, is betrayed by the people closest to him. Overnight, he becomes an outcast and a reviled slave to the gods. To regain his freedom and his status, Diké must make a deadly journey to the realm of the ancestors and exact vengeance on the people that orchestrated his downfall. Trapped within The Forbidden Shrine with the raging ghost of a slave-girl unjustly sacrificed to the gods, Diké must battle the fury of The Hanging Skulls and The Witch-Sisters before embarking on his quest to the ancestors’ realm. Readers new to African horror and seeking something excitingly different for their horror-fix will discover a new type of horror in A Dance for the Dead.
BD: With past books including The Reluctant Dead and Unhallowed Graves, you have been a pioneer of the African Horror literary subgenre. What do you feel best encapsulates this subgenre, and where do you find inspiration when crafting new fictional tales?
NO: Like every regional horror genre such as Korean/Japanese/Scandinavian, etc., African horror stories are geographically targeted, depicting the core traditions, beliefs, folklore, and superstitions of a particular community within a horror context. African Horror follows the same trajectory, delivering chilling horror fiction set primarily in the continent and featuring mainly African characters. Contrary to popular beliefs, they are not merely folktales, and now enjoy wide readership from around the globe.
Sometimes, I’m inspired by stories I heard growing up in Old Biafra during the Nigerian/Biafran civil war. Other times, I draw inspiration from the social ills in the African continent such as the abhorrent harvesting of Albino body-parts for money-ritual (Dead Corpse 2017) or the equally vile practice of Osu, where people are condemned to generational slavery by their own kin and community. A Dance for the Dead was inspired by the Osu slave-caste practice. Other times, my dreams, or rather, my nightmares inspire my stories. I’m known to be a dreamer of foul things and entities, and have since learnt how to harness these unwanted dreamtime visitors for my stories.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Diké’s story will connect with and impact readers?
NO: It is my fervent hope that Diké’s story will encourage us all to confront our prejudices. As Michael Jackson sang, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror.” No matter how much we try to self-deceive, every human is a victim of pride, ego, and prejudices. But we also have the blessing of choice and an ability for inner reflection and change. I hope Diké’s story will help my readers rethink their negative and prejudicial views on various issues and make them realise that we’re all one. As my late grandma used to say, “King or pauper, we all have the same red blood and stinky fart.”
BD: What makes Stygian Sky Media the perfect home for this project?
NO: Stygian Sky Media lives and breathes horror. They are leaders in discovering and publishing cult and diverse fiction—check out their authors and publications. Their founders, Jarod Barbee and Jeremy Wagner, are amazing creatives and fellow horror writers, who bring their creativity and passion to every work they publish. To me, these two guys are the coolest publishers in the horror publishing world, and their readership is an exciting and unexplored terrain I’m looking forward to breaking into. Some publishers merely publish and market an author with commercial detachment. Others wrap their authors in a warm blanket of never-ending support and make them feel a part of a literary family. I found my literary family in Stygian Sky Media.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
NO: My agents tell me two manuscripts, a novel and a novella collection, may soon be finding homes with publishers. An African horror short story collection has recently been acquired by Interstellar Flight Press with a 2023-2024 publishing date. I’m also working on an African Horror/Wild Wild West horror novella…I know it sounds wacky, but trust me, it works. I’ll [definitely] make it work. I’m also working on another anthology in collaboration with some top horror writers and can’t wait to share the details at the appropriate time. So, readers, please watch out for more African Horror chills coming your way in 2023.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about A Dance for the Dead?
NO: I cut ties with most social media sites, save Twitter (@Nuzoonoh). So, readers can either sign up to my Substack for my monthly newsletters or visit Stygian Sky Media website or follow me on Twitter.