From her roots in Brooklyn, New York to Austin, Texas, I.T. veteran and author V.H. Galloway has had a fruitful existence with plenty of tales to share. Her work crosses oceans and time in settings, demonstrating her interest in multiple cultures as well as the fantastic. Her latest horror/sci-fi hybrid, The Un-United States Of Z is a trilogy series that even for non-zombie fans has been described as “tasteful insanity” in a most delightful manner:
In a near-future Los Angeles, Dr. Zen Marley is torn between two conflicting realities: his buried southern roots and his preppy west coast professor persona. He must travel home to face the reality of his mother’s failing mental health. But he finds an aberration: a monstrous imposter wearing the rotted shell of his mother’s skin. In a twisted case of self-defense, he kills her, but not before he is also infected.
With his humanity eroding, Zen sets off on cross-country quest through a racially divided America to rescue his sister, find a cure, and stop the advance of the sentient flesh-eating army led by his highly intelligent, but psychotic former student.
Continuing our 5 Questions series below, Galloway talks horror favorites, why race plays a significant factor in The Un-United States Of Z and important steps to becoming a successful writer.
You describe a lot of things you love to be considered “geeky”. What are some of your geeky horror favorites?
I’m embarrassed to admit exactly how many vampire movies I’ve watched. Some better than others, of course. But it wasn’t until recently that I read Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula. Though the book was written at a time that yielded some definitive politically incorrect notions, I still very much enjoyed the book, from the journal style of the narrative to the language. And I think it was important to understand where it all began.
Another geeky favorite is John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing. So what if there were no Oscar worthy performances. It was good old-fashioned scary. If I flick on the TV today and see it on, I’d be totally in. Just add the popcorn.
How much did you know, then learn along the way about genre fiction before writing your own work?
I’m a life-long reader and lover of the written word. Though I read widely, genre fiction has always been my favorite. My genre roots are steeped in science fiction and fantasy, horror coming into focus later. Like many, I’m a Stephen King fan, both of his novels and films based on his work.
More recently, I discovered Tananarive Due and Linda Addison’s work. I’m also becoming a huge fan of writer of color, Usman Malik‘s short stories.
In The Un-United States of Z, even amidst the nationwide turmoil, the country remains “racially divided”. Why was it important for you to implement the significance of how the issue of race affects people in your story?
As much as I would wish otherwise, race matters. Social media is bringing light to just how deep the racial rabbit hole goes – for those outside the black community. For those of us who are a part of that group, it has always been an ugly part of our daily existence – whether it touched us directly, our friends, or relations.
Reflecting this reality in my work is important because I think that its is only through ongoing dialogue that we can effect change. Now getting people to actually listen, well that’s another story all together.
Additionally, your characters are very transient in their goal to reach Los Angeles for a cure. As a transient person yourself having the experience of living in various states, did you view this narrative practice as another way to demonstrate a culturally diverse world?
I’ve lived many places and travelled a good deal. It was through these travels that I developed a sense of my own personal lens. We all have a lens through which we see the world, shaped by our experiences.
Coverage bias in the American news media became even more apparent when I visited, read, and watched the news in other countries. Cultural and societal norms often differ as much from one neighborhood to the next in the same city, as it does from state to state and country to country.
And I’m not saying that being unable to travel should restrict that lens. Reading has taken me many places (on-world and off) that I may never get a chance to visit. One need only avail themselves of your local library to experience the same. It is . . . illuminating.
What advice would you give to a Black teen-aged girl who loves and wants to make a career out of speculative storytelling?
The most important thing that I could tell anyone would be that if you desire it, and I mean really want something with all your heart, anything is possible. I think far too many children grow up hearing more about what their limitations are versus the infinite possibilities that arise with a little hard work.
As to writing specifically, it’s simple. Read widely (novels, essays, non-fiction), write, rewrite, study the craft, and repeat.
Buy The Un-United States Of Z now!
Book 3 – Coming Soon!
originally posted on Graveyardshiftsisters.com