Nuzo Onoh is a British writer of African-Igbo heritage. Popularly known as “The Queen of African Horror,” Nuzo was born in Enugu, in the Eastern part of Nigeria (formerly, The Republic of Biafra). She experienced the Nigerian-Biafran war as a child refugee, an experience that has influenced some of her works. She first came to England as a teenager and attended The Mount School, York, (a Quaker boarding school) and St Andrew’s Tutorial College, Cambridge, from where she obtained her A-levels. She holds a Law Degree and a Masters Degree in Writing, both from The University of Warwick, Warwickshire.
Nuzo has been championing the alternative horror genre, African Horror, and has featured on multiple media platforms both online and offline, promoting this unique horror genre. She is included in the reference book, 80 Black Women in Horror and her writing has also featured in multiple anthologies. She has written several blogs for Female First Magazine and has also given talks at several events about African Horror, including the prestigious Warwick University Law Society.
A keen musician, Nuzo plays both the piano and guitar and enjoys writing songs when not haunting church graveyards and the beautiful Coventry War Memorial Park. Her book, The Reluctant Dead (2014), introduced modern African Horror into the mainstream Horror genre. Her other books include Unhallowed Graves (2015) The Sleepless (2016) and Dead Corpse (2017). Nuzo has two daughters and a cat, Tinkerbell, and lives in Coventry
What is the title of your most recent book? Dead Corpse (published 31st October 2017). Dead Corpse is an occultic story of supernatural possession and vengeance. It follows the lives of three generations of medicine-women. Ọwa is a diminutive, albino woman, who suffers years of abuse and ostracism from her community because of the pale colour of her skin. She comes from a long line of medicine-women, high priestesses to the earth deity, Aná. Her mother is the late Xikora of the Leloole curse, a powerful medicine-woman whose name, even in death, still strikes awe and terror in the twelve villages and beyond.
Ọwa lacks the ruthlessness of her late mother, Xikora, and is treated with contempt by the villagers, who confuse her gentle nature for weakness. Until the day her only daughter, Aku, is kidnapped and murdered for ritual purposes by “The Fat Man”, a corrupt politician protected by the village chieftain, the police and the witch doctor. Ọwa turns to the Earth Goddess for justice. Suddenly, an entire village awakens to the deadly fury of a powerful medicine-woman, as the dreaded Xikora returns to wreak her special brand of justice on the people responsible for her grand-daughter’s death.
Based on the true plight of African Albinos, Dead Corpse is a ghost story of betrayal, vengeance and redemption.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding? I think any writer’s greatest challenge is to keep writing despite everything – sickness, divorce, loss, depression, bankruptcy or whatever else that life throws at one. Ours is a solitary work that requires the strongest of discipline to keep plodding on regardless. In my case, the most rewarding part of writing is when I finally type “The End” after completing a book, in spite of my personal challenges. Nothing tastes better than that celebratory glass of wine.
What does it feel like to be a pioneer writer of African horror? How did you get started? When I started writing African Horror, there was nothing like my work in mainstream horror. We had some South African horror writers who didn’t necessarily write African Horror or classify their work as such. As mine was an unknown work, I realised it was vital to create a brand before thinking of approaching publishers or agents. So, I set up a publishing company and started publishing my books. I also started promoting the genre with aggressive media publicity campaigns, using various professional book publicists at significant personal expense to get the word out. Thankfully, now, all that work has paid off and I find myself referred to by numerous reviewers as “The Queen of African Horror.” Better still, there are now a few writers who use the term, African Horror, to classify their work. I am proud to be the first African Horror writer to feature on Starburst Magazine, the world’s longest-running magazine of cult entertainment, as well as the first African Horror writer to feature as a guest speaker at the upcoming Birmingham Horror Con in October 2018. My works have also featured in numerous horror anthologies and podcasts and I’m in the process of pitching to traditional publishers, now that I’ve successfully built the brand.
And can you tell us a bit about your publishing company? My publishing company is Canaan-Star Publishing. It’s a paid self-publishing company of Print-on-Demand (PoD) paperbacks/ebooks. We undertake every aspect of the publishing process from personalised book-cover design using licensed images, to formatting, ISBN assignment, worldwide distribution and registration with the British Library. We don’t offer unpaid editing work and expect manuscripts to be publish-ready. We offer authors two separate book-covers to choose from and the entire process from the signing of the contract to their books getting published is approximately 6 weeks. I started out initially publishing my own books but have since branched out to publishing writers from all over the world, including authors who were previously traditionally published but trying the self-published process.
Please Visit www.canaan-star.co.uk for more information.
What is your top tip for an aspiring writer? Always repeat the mantra: “It’s only a matter of time.” If you have a story to tell, tell it, regardless of who likes it or hates it. Your characters want their stories told, that’s why they came to you as their mouth-piece. Don’t let them down because you’re upset nobody’s buying your book or believing in you. Persevere, believe and trust that one day, the world will wake up to your words. It takes a split second for your destiny to change. Don’t sabotage your success by giving up too soon. It’s only a matter of time.
What are you working on at the moment? I’ve just completed my next book, A Dance for the Dead, a 92,000-word novel of betrayals and ghostly vengeance. I am now polishing it off with a professional coach with a view to getting it traditionally published. I’m also writing some short stories to pitch to various online publications.
What do you like to read? Anything that grabs my attention, which isn’t always horror works, although I have a partiality for Japanese ghost stories and writers (Yoko Ogawa, Murakami, Koji Suzuki, Otsuichi, Ishiguru etc). That said, my all-time fav books are Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield and The Godfather by Mario Puzo.
Where can readers find you?