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My guest this month is author Craig Laurance Gidney, whose new short story collection, Skin Deep Magic, is out this week from Rebel Satori Press.

Craig on Skin Deep Magic:
Kara Walker’s artwork inspired me to gather the stories in this collection, Skin Deep Magic. Walker uses obscure art forms, such as paper silhouettes and sugar sculptures, to examine issues of race and gender. Her shadowy paper art displays disturbing tableaus that reference the darker aspects of American history—a history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation where the black body was monetized and accessorized. The recent Sphinx she made of sugar was a visual representation of how the sugar industry depended on the subjugation and labor of African-descended women. Even the techniques she employs, such as the Victorian “shadow portrait” and the Medieval ‘subtleties’ are rich with historical resonance. Walker plays with stereotypical images that  that provoke and discomfort and reveal. The kerchiefed woman’s head who sits atop a Sphinx, and a multi-braided female child are recast, and given agency. Their hidden tales are revealed.

“Psychometry, or Gone With The Dust,” the opening story in Skin Deep Magic, is directly in conversation with Walker’s work. It imagines the secret lives of a Golliwog, a Mammy-shaped cookie jar, and a lawn jockey. What she does with her visual artwork, I have tried to do in prose. The other reason I pulled together this work is a direct response to the issues of diversity in speculative fiction that are currently being discussed in the field.  Through the years, I realized that I had amassed a body of work that embraces diversity without even setting out to do so! All of the protagonists in this collection are POC and/or LGBT, so in a sense, it is loosely themed.  Otherwise, I explore different sub genres of fantastic and weird fiction. Skin Deep Magic includes ghost stories, a horror piece, historical fiction and a twist on Green Man mythology. The closing “Coalrose,”  is a novella that explores the effect an African American muse-like figure(loosely modeled on Nina Simone) has on people through the ages.

Author of Sea, Swallow Me & Other Stories (2008), Bereft (2013) and Skin Deep Magic (2014)
Author Website:
Twitter: @ethereallad
Purchase: Skin Deep Magic


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