Biomythography in "A Spectral Hue"

The poet Audre Lorde created the word “biomythography,” and the book that bears this subtitle, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, freely mixes the memoir with the mythic in new and inventive ways. I love how the word honors the fact that we’re all made of fact and fiction, and mythic tropes sometimes intrude on our more mundane, prosaic existence.

A Spectral Hue isn’t an (auto)biography, but I see bits and pieces of my personal mythology woven throughout the text. Subconsciously, I’ve drawn from stories that my family told, and fused them with fiction. The novel is a ghost story in more than one way.

Echoes of my mother’s life in Philadelphia show up in Iris’s story; I modeled the house Iris grew up in on my grandparents’ Ridge Avenue home. My aunt, Mom’s sister, told me about her visions, which were adjacent to, if not exactly, psychic. (She could guess people’s astrological signs, and was correct all of the time without knowing their birth dates). The “gay gang” Violet Rage is a thinly veiled version of the true DC ‘gang’ of gay black kids called ‘Check It.’ Family vacations were frequently held on the Eastern Shore—we went to Ocean City as kids. The whole area influenced and inspired the fictional town of Shimmer. The botanica in one of the chapters is in my neighborhood. 

In my author talk on February 29 at the Petworth Library, I will discuss some of the other influences of the novel, focusing on the artistic parts. The DC Colorfield movement and the DC outsider artist James Hampton were all inspirations. To me, visual art is magic itself. Gazing upon it takes me to another world. It changes my mood, deranges my senses. The play of color, light and shape has an almost synesthetic affect on me. Outsider Artists, at least the ones I researched, believed that their art was a message or a portal to elsewhere. Spirits spoke to them through their chosen medium, and within their elaborate worlds they imbedded pieces of themselves. Henry Darger’s collages are filled with clues about his troubled childhood. Shards of his life are embedded in the stories of the Vivian Girls.  Hampton’s private “angelic” language is deeply informed by his Baptist upbringing.

I hope to see some of you there!

Scenes a from quasi-book tour

Here are some pictures from the whirlwind quasi-tour promoting A SPECTRAL HUE. 3 cites (DC, Baltimore, New York), a variety of venues (from the Library of Congress to a DIY performance space plus a Skyped book club visit in Dallas) and a whole lot of meeting readers and other writers. I’m open to talk to classes, book clubs and readings. Thanks to everyone who set up the events, and those who attended!

Nnedi Okorafor and me at the Baltimore Book Festival
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Reading at Club Cumming in NYC
Bureau of General Service-Queer Division Bookstore

Enclave Reading Poster; A Spectral Hue appears on another list!

In addition to the reading on Oct 18 at the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division reading with Trebor Healey, I will also be reading for the Enclave series held at the actor Alan Cumming’s cabaret spot on Oct 20. The event now has an official poster.


Fellow Word Horde author and noted monster expert Orrin Grey included A SPECTRAL HUE in an article called 11 Creepy Books for the Witching Season!

Necronomicon 2019/ Wikipedia Page

I had a great time at Necronomicon in Providence, Rhode Island this past weekend. I caught up with old friends, and met new ones and did my best not to break the bank with all of the various artwork in the dealer’s room. While I am not particularly a Lovecraft fan, I am huge fan for Weird Fiction itself–both contemporary and historic.

I was on two panels this year. Both of them were recorded for the Outer Dark podcast, and should be up in the near future.

The Tanith Lee panel explored Lee’s criminally underrated idiosyncratic fiction, its eroticism, humor, and lush decadence. I learned more facts about Lee the person from Allison Rich, who runs the online bibliography Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography.

Paul Di Fillipo, Thomas Broadbent, Allison Rich, me, Sonya Taafe, Daniel Braum

The Weird Fiction in the African Diaspora was equally illuminating–my fellow panelists offered a plethora of passionate viewpoints. We talked about how the various tropes of Cosmic Horror are transformed through a black/African-descended lens.

Hysop Mulero, Victor LaValle, me, Chesya Burke, Errick Nunnally, teri zin

Both panels were well-attended.

I managed to sell out of the books that I brought with me, and signed a shipment that arrived at the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences store.


I came home to find that now have a Wikipedia entry, thanks to friends who are editors.

Upcoming Appearances and Forthcoming Works

OutWrite 2019

Washington DC

August 2, 2-3pm

Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/631330400609166/

Reading: A Crooked Looking Glass

Nino Cipri, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig L. Gidney, Margaret Killjoy. Moderated by Marianne Kirby

NecronomiCon 2019

Providence, RI

August 22 – 25

Link: http://necronomicon-providence.com/core-schedule/

Friday Aug 23 1:30pm

HER OWN DARK MYTHOS: TANITH LEE – Capital Ballroom, Graduate 2nd Floor
Tanith Lee (1947–2015) wrote broadly, including work for children and adults, poetry, and television. With her lush, dark, and often deeply psychosexual prose, she created bizarre fantasy worlds and turned familiar horror tropes upon their heads. Join our panelists as they explore the work of this grand master of the decadently weird and impossibly strange.

Panelists: Paul Di Filippo, Craig Gidney, Paul Tremblay (M), Sonya Taaffe, Allison Rich, Daniel Braum

Saturday Aug 24 10:30am

DARK MATTERS: WEIRD FICTION FROM THE AFRICAN DIASPORA – Biltmore Ballroom, Graduate 17th Floor
Writers of African descent around the world have been contributing to speculative fiction since the days of Charles W. Chesnutt, W. E. B. Dubois, and George S. Schuyler, but their contributions have not always been acknowledged. Our panelists discuss the history and importance of this literary movement and how the Diaspora experience has shaped and informed it.


Panelists: Victor LaValle, teri zin, Errick Nunnally (M), Craig Gidney, Hysop Loreal Mulero, Chesya Burke

I also wrote the introduction to Love in a Time of Dragons a new Tanith Lee collection of her short fiction put out by Immanion Press which will be released in August!