Monday, June 22, 2015

Looking for Asian American horror writers

So, recently, I've been trying to find Asian American horror writers in the industry. There are numerous Asian American science fiction and fantasy writers, but when we specifically try to narrow it down to horror writers, it seems to narrow considerably. Or at least, they're not household names like King, Straub, Hill or Jackson.

Among those whose names have already come up who are writing at a professional level are Rena Mason, William F. Wu, James Wong, Jennifer Hiller, Shane McKenzie, Sam Sisavath, Aurelio Rico Lopez III, Paul Loh, Wesley Chu, Kristine Ong Muslim, Rissa Cortez Alcantara, Saymoukda Vongsay, Marjorie Lu, Burlee Vang, and Teresa Lo. This is clearly an incomplete list, so who else would you recommend adding for consideration?

I'm particularly looking for writers working in poetry, short stories, novels, and theater over movies and video games at the moment, but any leads there would also be appreciated.

There are folks who ask why this interest, and isn't that pigeonholing people, or any other number of questions. My position is typically that there are days as a reader I don't want to be placed into the default point of views so common in mainstream and even subculture horror at the moment. And while it's not a guarantee with the work of Asian American writers, I am interested in seeing where they take me in a story instead.

It interests me to see how we might take traditional venues common to Little Saigon, Thaitown, or Hmongtown and make them scary. How can we do it in a way that's sensitive yet compelling? What happens if you face a character like Hannibal Lecter who's Chinese? Do we end up with an amazing villain or just another Yellow Peril Fu Manchu?

How might their motivations be changed interestingly? What happens if our protagonists encounter the supernatural and the monstrous when they're steeped in Asian American traditions, such as they are. "Sure, we can address this like the Exorcist and call in the Church, but hey the shamans and Taoists aren't off the table if they get the job done!"

At their best, I think Asian American horror writers will still be able to deliver the scares and thrills of any writer, but they might also think to show those horrors from places in American and world literature that are still largely unmapped. I don't always need to go to a house in the hills to disturb things that should not be disturbed. But this is all part of an ongoing conversation, and the world is large.

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