SLASH-HER Celebration – it’s R. J. Joseph Day!

Tell us a little about your story.

“The Collector” is loosely—very loosely–based on an experience I had with a guy who flirted with me most of my last semester in undergrad. He would propose us doing certain things in very graphic ways, trying to elicit a gross-out response in me. I remained cool, no matter what he said, mostly because I was married and wasn’t going to go on any of these “dates” with him, and I told him so. But I secretly relished in delight over the fact he couldn’t possibly know what was inside my head was much darker and infinitely more horrifying than anything he ever presented to me, or could ever even fathom. Tanita, The Collector, represents all that darkness—in spades.

Why did you want to write a slasher story and do you feel you brought something different to the table?

Slasher stories offer the perfect opportunity for gore and an unleashing of violence women don’t have the chance to participate in often. Our world is still very uncomfortable with the idea of women perpetuating physical harm and behaving in ways deemed evil. Also, the prevailing notion of women as life nurturers rather than life takers is also an unfortunate norm. I wanted to write a slasher story that allowed a Black woman to not only unleash the anger she feels on a regular basis but to also gain power through this purge. Many Black women, the real-world counterparts to my main character, Tanita, are often equated with monstrosity, whether through our physical appearance or our perceived anger. The fictitious Tanita leans fully into that label and embraces it, to her advantage.

Do you have a favourite slasher story/movie?

Candyman is my absolute favorite slasher. His backstory, his motivations, the way he comes to life and lives through his legend and people believing in him and talking about him really speaks to the Black tradition of storytelling and the remembrance of the ancestors.

Why is it important to you to have a woman led press like Kandisha?

A woman led press like Kandisha is critical in allowing female horror writers to tell our stories. Although there has been progress in the horror genre towards making it more inclusive, we still have a long way to go. Many gatekeepers don’t believe female centered horror is valuable or even a thing we should include in the genre. They then extrapolate that belief onto the horror market, by way of not publishing/producing these stories to at least expose the audience to these different experiences. Having women as decision makers means a greater connection to the stories and the platform to amplify them.

What’s next for you?

My first horror collection, Hell Hath No Fury like a Woman Haunted, is coming in August 2022 from The Seventh Terrace. I’m super excited about this—there’s never another first and this one, in partnership with this fabulous publisher, will be amazing. In March 2022, I have a poem included in the anthology, The Dead Inside, from Dark Dispatch. April 2022 will bring two of my poems in the women in horror poetry collection, Under Her Skin, from Black Spot Books, and the anthology, Into the ForestTales of the Baba Yaga (Black Spot Books) makes its appearance in November 2022, with one of my short stories included.

Where can people find you?

I haunt Twitter. All the time, from behind @rjacksonjoseph. I also have a perpetually in progress website at www.rhondajacksonjoseph.com. But I’ll also be going to a few cons and festivals this year. I’m tabling at The Ghoulish Book Festival in San Antonio (April 30-May 1, 2022). Then, on to StokerCon in Denver (May 12-May 15). October 14-16, 2022, is the Multiverse Fandom Convention in Atlanta. Then, October 20-22, 2022, brings the National Black Book Festival, here in Houston, and Multiverse. Lots of fun ahead!

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