feature: faye mccray discusses her journey as an african american horror author
By Eye Candy
July 30, 2015
My name is Faye McCray, and I am a writer. I write Horror and New Adult fiction. I majored in English in college and went on to practice law. It took a long time for me to come to terms with my identity as a writer. After personal tragedy and well-needed soul searching, I had the guts to stand firm in who I am as an artist. As an African American female genre author, I am able to explore sides of our humanity in spaces and ways our stories are not typically told.
By Faye McCray, AFROPUNK Contributor
I started writing as a child. I was raised in Queens, New York in the eighties and nineties which was a hodgepodge of languages, foods, music and dialects. I used to love sitting on buses and subways with a notebook describing what I saw and experienced. I loved imagining what and who people went home to and what they did when they thought no one was watching. I guess you can say, curiosity fueled my early love of writing. Though, my older brothers would likely say it was an insatiable noseyness.
My parents were both lifelong government employees, so for a long time, I didn’t see my writing as a means to make a living. It had been engrained in me to seek stability. Writing professionally didn’t equal stability. I went to college and got a BA in English. Although I took every writing class I could, I chose to go on to law school and make a living as a lawyer. After three years of working as an attorney, my older brother passed away unexpectedly. My brother, who was ten years older than me and 38 when he passed, was deeply introspective with an imaginative, childlike love of life. He had so many dreams he wanted to fulfill. I started to feel foolish for wasting so much time suppressing mine.
My first published pieces were essays and thought pieces in response to the changing sociopolitical climate. As an artist, it’s difficult not to reflect the time. I am black. I am female and I am a wife and mother. Needless to say, day-to-day, I run the gamut of emotions. I think art can set you free. Whether it is letting go of a particular feeing that’s weighing you down or giving you a voice when you feel powerless, there is freedom in art. I think artists have always been indispensable arbiters of change in times of strife in society.
In my fiction, I enjoy exploring humanity outside of the confines created by society. My horror short stories, Dani’s Belts, begin at ground zero of the zombie apocalypse and follow a young millennial abandoned by her boyfriend at a highway rest area when shit hits the fan. I’m a big fan of the zombie genre because I love exploring people at their most basic level. Fight or flight? Pass or play? I think there is nothing like standing vulnerable in front of the bloodthirsty, flesh eating undead to show you exactly who you are. Similarly, in my non-horror fiction, I love exploring the contradictions of our humanity. My novel, Boyfriend, takes on the insecure playboy. The narrator is a young man who makes mistake after mistake in an effort to run from who he really is. I think so many people operate under a façade to hide the things that make them most vulnerable.
I think when people say zombie and other dystopian narratives are overdone, I think it’s because they’ve exhausted the possibilities of white heroes and heroines. Until I see my Egyptian friend taking down a zombie in her hijab, I know I haven’t seen all the possibilities of particular narratives in fiction. Until I read the story of the box braid wearing, Tribe Called Quest blasting, Kurt Kobain-mourning, Prince-loving young black girl growing up in NYC, I know I haven’t read my story. My characters are the black, brown and “other” folks I grew up around in Queens. At least who I imagined they were. The worlds I create are the ones I longed to see.
* Faye McCray is the author of Dani’s Belts, a collection of short stories that follow a young college student turned unlikely heroine of the zombie apocalypse. The stories, White Belt, Yellow Belt, Orange Belt and Black Belt are available now on Kindle. She is also the author of Boyfriend, a novel following a young man as he navigates love and fidelity in college. Faye’s work also appears in the horror anthology, Anything But Zombies. You can find Faye’s essays on For Harriet, Black and Married with Kids, Madame Noire, Rachel in the OC, Black Girl Nerds, and Graveyard Shift Sisters. Faye is a native New Yorker and current resident of the Washington, DC metropolitan area where she resides with her husband and young sons.
Faye’s Website: fayemccray.com
Faye’s Work Available for Purchase: amazon.com/author/fayemccray
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