1). Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a born and bred Yorkshireman, a hardy breed from the bleak coast of the North of England, and I’m a writer and editor. I started late in life, but I’ve had sixty plus stories published in the last four or five years, plus a novel and novella or two – a range of dark contemporary horror, weird fiction, and period supernatural tales. I also edit Occult Detective Magazine, and a number of anthologies. Far more importantly, I live with rescue dogs, my greatest delight. And I have my own beard.
2). Who is your favorite vampire author?
Ironically, I’m not a great vampire fan. If I write about them myself, I usually try to deconstruct the ideas, to get away from the world of ‘draculas’. Maybe I’ll have to say Stoker, simply because like it or not, his concept has had such an impact on the market for eerie stories. Good for writers, at least.
3). If you had the choice, would you be a vampire?
If you’d asked me in my thirties or forties, I might have been interested. Nowadays, the idea of being undying but with back-ache and bad knees is somehow less appealing. And how would I trim that beard with no mirrors?
4). Who is your favorite vampire?
Have to be Blade – and although the show was badly flawed, I did like Peter Mensah as Lemuel, the Black vampire in the TV series ‘Midnight Texas’. In terms of nostalgia, and despite what I said above, I suppose I still have fond memories of Christopher Lee’s Dracula.
5). What do you like the most about Slay?
The fact that’s it’s a whole anthology full of Black major characters. We all know that for a long time there was a tedious habit of Black characters playing supernumerary roles – either as the tragic victim, the ‘mysterious’ source of deep wisdom, the loyal secondary friend, and so on. So to go all out on Black vampires like this is great – and to be allowed to play here is a genuine thrill for me.
6). What inspired you to write Snake Hill Blues?
I often write about the 1920s, so the thought of a vampiric threat in the bustle and contradictions of Twenties Harlem, such a complex blend of new ideas, inequalities, and progress. Bright lights, clubs and dark tenements, dollars aplenty, and poverty next door. A good feeding ground for a vampire, especially if one hadn’t been hunting there before. Snake Hill, or Slang Berg, is real, by the way – the area’s now called Marcus Garvey Park.
7). Tell us a bit about your story.
In short – a blood-walker gets lazy and stops bothering to cover up his kills properly. And he might have gotten away with it, but he has the singular misfortune that Mamma Lucy, a particularly ornery hoodoo-woman, is in town. When one of his victims is linked to where she’s staying, it’s time for her to step up...
8). What do you hope to accomplish with Snake Hill Blues?
It’s meant to be slightly different, and maybe interesting. It matters to me that all of the significant characters, including the protagonist and antagonist, are Black, and they’re living out normal lives – they’re not there to make a ‘point’. It’s a further exploration of my interest in folk magic in the UK and the States – that aspect (and yeah, being stubborn and old) is what connects me to Mamma Lucy. She relies on the imaginative use of conjure and root-work, plus her natural canny mind – psychology – rather than grand, showy sorcery. Just folk magic, as I say.
9). Will there be more stories of Mamma Lucy?
There are a few published already, and more to come. They’ve been very popular, but there’s always that awareness that they have to be written with care and respect. The Twenties are a period of huge achievements and dreadful, wicked inequity. Mamma Lucy doesn’t – and can’t – put that society right, but she focuses on people’s problems as she meets them, especially the problems of people of the Black Diaspora.
10). How do we keep up with all things Linwood Grant?
I’m fairly lively on Facebook, though useless on Twitter. My website greydogtales.com is fairly busy, and my Amazon Author page probably has most details of my published writing on it.
11). What advice would you give to Slay readers about this anthology?
I could say just enjoy the stories. But on a larger scale – promote it on social media; recommend it to friends and people you meet. Review it. Create a demand for such books, and in the process, increase the market for Black writers, and for Black characters with real agency. Even have a go at writing such things yourselves, if you fancy it!
To read Snake Hill Blues by John Linwood Grant and the other amazing stories in this fantastic anthology, preorder your e-book today!