Monday, February 18, 2019

Women in Horror Month #9: Tlotlo Tsamaase, Author of "Murders Fell From Our Wombs"

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  In case you don't know, February is Women in Horror Month, and 2019 is the tenth year of this redoubtable celebration.  I'm celebrating all month long over on my personal blog, but I wanted to let you Across the Board fans get in on the excitement as well, so today I'm very proud to bring you an exciting and talented poet and author of the macabre, Tlotlo Tsamaase.  Let's meet her briefly and then jump into the interview.

About Tlotlo Tsamaase:

Tlotlo Tsamaase lives and and works in Gaborone, Botswana. She is a Motswana writer of fiction, poetry, and articles on architecture. Her work has appeared in "Terraform," "Apex Magazine," "Wasafiri Magazine," and at "Strange Horizons." Her poem “I Will Be Your Grave” is a Rhysling Award nominee. For a longer list of her works check her website.

You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, and her website.


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

TT:  I started out in the film genre, watching scary movies when I was a kid. "Ginger Snaps" was my all-time favorite. I read any suspense novel I could get my hands on. During my childhood, my cousin who was a couple of years older than I used to tell me frightening local tales of gods, demons, ghosts, and mischievous creatures that caused havoc through the night, through villages, through generations of families as bedtime stories; so, I suppose that also shaped my imaginative mind and paranoia. I believe 
Gabriel García Márquez’s quote, “…surrealism runs through the streets,” regarding Mexico is quite relatable and befitting for this. I also grew up on a diet of R.L Stine books. Way back when, there was a South African drama called "Lesilo Rula," about a man who blew into a whistle to awaken a zombie-like figure that carried out his revenge—I loved it as a kid, but it frightened the hell out of me!

SK: Who or what terrifies you?

TT:  Answering that is more terrifying than the real answer! But strangely enough, being in a dark room with dolls and teddy bears and their somehow shiny beady eyes is claustrophobic for me. As a kid, I had a nightmare of them pretending to be inanimate objects, but, when humans were out of range, they moved and talked like people. Funny enough, I can still fearlessly watch "Chucky"…I think.

SK: Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?

TT:  Gender and race should be irrelevant, but they are relevant especially in our time; unfortunately, race issues are oftentimes attached to gender. So, in most cases you have two things working against you, but it’s also an opportunity because you’re offering another perspective. Women are generally seen as delicate and fragile and only serve trope-filled roles. So if they are depicted in such a way then they are perceived as fairly incapable to write horror. In most works or roles, they are perceived as mistresses in distress, silly, naïve, weak—incapable of complexity or horror. They are seen as soft bodies for seduction for comfort for rescue. I’m normally intrigued by works that make women deeply complex villains who are capable of love and horror. And I especially love works of art that show complex black women and other ethnicities existing in a wider genre of work whether it be in a psychologically intense sci-fi or fantasy or contemporary stories.

SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

TT:  I’m an avid foreign-film viewer, so I’m going to bunch in my literary favorites with a few film faves: "Raw" by Julia Ducournau looks at sisterhood and cannibalism in the weirdest sense; our local horror TV show "Thokolosi"  was chilling and scary; I loved the symbolism and religious motifs as well as the revenge itself in "Revenge" directed by Coralie Fargeat; Seo Young-hee’s acting in "Bedevilled" is gripping and deeply saddening. Regarding literary, I’m addicted to Helen Oyeyemi’s dark and chilling prose in WHITE IS FOR WITCHING and THE ICARUS GIRL. One of my favorite local authors is Cheryl Ntumy who’s published a myriad of amazing works; she wrote a very startling and subtle-but-chilling novella, CROSSING, which was my first introduction to her writing. The other horror icons are also within my circle of friends and family telling of local myths.

SK: What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?

TT:  I’m currently working on a strange magical realism and sci-fi story, as well as editing a novella and another story. I’m deeply in love with this quote by Anaïs Nin,“Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.” In some instance, you find it difficult to exist in certain spaces, as if those spaces want to purge you from existence, so you attempt to bend and deform yourself to fit to a trend, stereotype, discrimination or bias. In other words you die in other people’s worlds. I can’t say how many times a written work has provided me with a different perspective that allowed me some freedom to nurture my identity according to me. The power of prose can be both therapeutic and damaging, in a sense that it can be a refuge for a person, a culture, or a killer. I really love it when I find a work I can strongly relate to, so that is what I hope people will find in my writing, something to relate to, something that will enlighten them, and something to question or something that allows them to question the world and the universe. Currently, folks can check my recent work: an audio version of my story “Eco-Humans” over at Nipe Story which is curated by the amazing and talented Kevin Mwachiro, and “Murders Fell From Our Wombs” in "Apex Magazine" which looks at the dangerous tropes that bind women. My novelette, “District to Cervix: The Time Before We Were Born,” is a tale of a young pre-born character’s journey or battle towards birth and the gender they desire, and it is forthcoming from Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle’s PRISMS anthology. “They Don’t Believe God Grows in Our Hearts” appeared in "Wasafiri Magazine" and tells of poverty, unemployment, starving artists and the imprisonment of societal pressures. My short story, “Who Will Clean Our Spirits When We’re Gone?” is forthcoming from "The Dark Magazine" and it's about a young woman contacting her dead girlfriend from a telephone booth. More to reveal this year! Also, find out more on my website.

About "Murders Fell From Our Wombs":

The complete novelette "Murders Fell From Our Wombs" is free to read in its entirety here and is included in Apex Magazine Issue 108, available for purchase here.

1 comment:

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Awesome interview Steve! Thanks for introducing us to Tlotlo Tsamaase. I look forward to exploring her work.

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