Women in Horror Interview: Linda Addison

March 24, 2023

Linda D. Addison is a groundbreaking American poet and writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. She is the first African-American winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, which she has won 5 times. Her poetry collections Consume, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes and Being Full of Light all won awards, as well as her poetry and fiction collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend. She also received the honor for collaborative collections The Four Elements and The Place of Broken Things. She chats with Weird Little Worlds about her inspirations and what it’s like to take risks in writing horror poetry. 


WLW: What inspires you?

LA: I’m inspired by everything around me: in my personal space (yard, friends/family, books/movies/art/music in my home), in the world (good and bad news). I meditate each day and often find emotions, ideas, concepts come to me out of that quiet time. I have been journaling forever, so everything goes into my daily journals…which I return to for “seeds” to grow into poetry/fiction.


WLW: What genre/topic couldn’t they pay you enough to write?

LA: I’m very curious about all genres, many that I haven’t tried, so I can’t off the top of my head think of a genre I wouldn’t try, if I had the time, but I’ll never write explicit violence/sex for reasons of arousal only.


WLW: Tell us about the best poem you’ve ever written that you haven’t published. Why haven’t you shared that with the world?

LA: Maybe “Crushing Deadlines” which was inspired by deadlines from my day job, and is not relevant to me emotionally now that I’ve retired and I’m writing full-time. I wouldn’t say its the best, because I have published so many poems that I love. Another poem I’m in love with is “Living Above the Tap Dance School” but haven’t published, perhaps I will one day.


WLW: Which piece of work seems to bring in the most criticism and how do you feel about that?

LA: I can’t think of a piece that bought negative criticism. One poem that I’ve performed a lot in the past that invoked reactions from listeners, “Mourning Meal,” which inspired a short film of the same name by award-winning producer Jamal Hodge. The concept of the poem is a mother who lost their child and eats her way through his memories left behind.


WLW: How did you celebrate your first Bram Stoker Award?

LA: The award ceremony was in NYC (where I lived) and my mother and writer’s group, Circle in the Hair (CITH) were at the banquet. It was all quite surreal afterwards because I didn’t think that I was going to win—it was astounding to be on the final ballot. I celebrated with everyone else afterwards, but I had to keep reminding myself that it had happened. For days at home I put the award in the bedroom at night so I could see it first thing in the morning. To this day the photo of my Mom and me with the Stoker from the banquet makes my heart sing.


WLW: What is the weirdest place/time where the muse has struck you with an idea you just had to write?

LA: I had think long and hard about this since ideas come to me constantly. The first thought was when I worked in corporate offices, when I was in meetings and would grab technical words from speakers at the meetings and write poetry (which looked like I was taking notes).


WLW: What risks have you taken with your writing that you are most proud of?

LA: In a way my whole career is a risk. In the late 1960’s I was a Black teenager in high school with speculative stories and poetry growing in my imagination and feeling like I shouldn’t be writing in that area because it was the time of growing writing in the area of Black Power movement.

I had to follow the ideas that came to me even though for many years there were few Blacks writing speculative. Discovering Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and Steven Barnes helped me feel like there was hope for me.

Since then I’ve built my career on speculative poetry and short fiction, so my current move of writing novels could be seen as risky. It’s a very different form, time will tell how that works out for readers, but I’m deeply proud of the first novel that I finished, hard SF, part of a trilogy.


WLW: Future generations of poets and authors have formed a summoning circle to get you to talk to them from the other side. What items would they need to put in the circle to call you?

LA: Dark chocolate, glass of Chardonnay, Pilot G2 Black pen/fine, hand-made paper is a good start.

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