1. What inspired the story “Sundown Town”?
When I was approached about a story for an anthology on rural vampires, I didn’t want to focus on gimmickry. “My vampires sparkle,” or “My vampires are a million mosquitoes in a bat suit.” I wanted all the horror to come from so-called “good” people, horrific examples of which we have no shortage of. What would life have been like for monsters when humans did their best to out-do them? Sundown towns were a particularly evil part of American history, so much so that I don’t even want to elaborate on them here. Look ‘em up. Then devote yourself to love. Before, as for the people in the story, it’s too late.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
Lots and lots of reading. And building things out of bits of other things. Then learning I could combine those two distinct loves using words. I wrote my first short story in 4th grade about an android. Fifth grade, graduated up to aliens using people as hunting dogs against other people. Very Hollywood high-concept, right? In college it hit me that the things I liked to read most weren’t spectacle-driven, but powerful, intimate stories that stayed with me long past “the end”. I decided those were the stories I wanted to tell (but with digressions for stories about barbarian Smurfs too; variety is the spice).
3. Tell us where you are in your writing career now and where you hope to be in the next few years.
Even though I’ve been doing this for a while, I look at every project as though my career is just starting. I hate writing the same book or story twice. Right now the major publishers are scrambling to produce what indie authors have been doing for years; I plan to keep them in my dust. In the next few years, expect to see the name “Zig Zag Claybourne” in a lot of unexpected places.
4. What are your favorite works of Black horror? Film, books, podcasts, etc?
I have a big soft spot for “Blacula”. I grew up on that stuff. I wonder how I’d feel watching it today? My main leanings horror-wise fall toward the psychological, so Jordan Peele is right up there. “Us” had one of the few trailers that ever unsettled me enough that I had to suddenly find an important reason to leave the room! Books, I bow to Tananarive Due, Linda Addison, and Eden Royce. Black women get inside horror from the gristle to the DNA like nobody else. My favorite black horror movie is actually a zombie short Tananarive wrote a few years ago called “Danger Word”. It took a hoary topic (zombies) and made it not only fresh but relevant to the wider world in ways 30 seasons of “The Walking Dead” hasn’t managed.
5. Where can we learn more about you and your work? Do you have any work coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?
My website, WriteonRighton.com, is an informal place for creative people to chill their brains and check out not just my stuff but posts from other writers/artists/creators about whatever part of the creative life happens to be on their mind. I’m developing a book of tiny horror stories (I love flash fiction), plus drafting a novel sequel. I never put my sci fi roots aside. A few years ago I did a fun sci fi adventure called The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan about a couple brothas always saving the world one last damn time; the sequel Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe, is entirely the ladies of the crew, and should be out late this year.
6. Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Read, read, read! Please and thank you to your heart’s content! Everything. Horror, sci fi, fantasy, satire, romance, all the punks, from steam to cyber to solar—black authors are out there and waiting for you! EVERYBODY’S out there. I guarantee you’ll find something for your taste.