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Home > Interview With Vaughn A. Jackson, Touched By Shadows

Interview With Vaughn A. Jackson, Touched By Shadows

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Jackson peaks interest with heavier subject matter in upcoming horror novel

Vaughn A. Jackson just wants to give people stories they can love. 

Jackson, an aspiring speculative fiction novelist and self-proclaimed geek from Baltimore, has been writing since he was a kid and hasn’t stopped. 

“I just want to write,” Vaughn said. “I want to continue writing, as I am with my passion and just keep giving people stories that they can love and enjoy.”

Touched by Shadows is his upcoming horror novel, coming out in September 2021, promises darker and heavier subject matter compared to his previous novel, Up From the Deep (2021), which is a homage to his love for old science fiction. 

The novel tells the story of Oumou, a young Black girl who escapes from a psionic testing facility and finds herself in a small, backwater, southern town. While in this town, she encounters both the reverend, who is trying to turn the town against her because he is a member of the KKK and a demon, who is stalking her because it wants to possess her body and take her power.

“The idea for the story actually came to me in a dream, or a nightmare probably to be more accurate, but sort of how it took shape and sort of the emotions that I put into it actually came about because of the 2015 Baltimore uprisings and other sort of events of that nature, where just the feelings of kind of loneliness, fear and anger sort of populated those characters,” Jackson said. 

“The story wasn’t originally supposed to be a horror novel,” Jackson discloses. However, over the course of multiple edits and feedback from those around him, he decided to change it from the science fiction novel he was intending.

“I ended up adding in more elements of horror and focusing on kind of the fear and the loneliness and the scared aspects of my character and it worked better,” Vaughn A. Jackson said. “And, so I kind of ran with it. And, so the last two or three edits for the story ended up turning it fully into a horror story, and it worked for me.”

With stereotypes such as the Black person always dying first or just being there for comic relief, portraying the Black community accurately was important for Jackson. Jackson said these stereotypes have a “detrimental effect on the overall psyche of the Black community.”

“We only ever see ourselves in these roles, and we start to kind of feel like that’s all that people see us as, and so to see ourselves represented as the heroes of stories or the villains of stories or the survivor at the end of a horror story, it kind of brings back our humanization,” Vaughn said. “It shows that we are people, we are multifaceted, and I think that is more important now than ever in a world where we are all so conscientiously aware of the fact that the world is trying to put us down.”

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Jackson said he has always been a writer, taking inspiration from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and S.A. Cosby. He said it did take him a bit to get over Imposter syndrome and take compliments about his work. 

“It took me a while to get the understanding that I am my own writer, and people can enjoy my stuff while these other people exist and while their writing exists as well,” Vaughn A. Jackson said “So, it definitely kind of spurred that fire in me to keep creating stories for people to enjoy.”

When it comes to first time writers trying their hand at speculative fiction, Jackson’s advice is easy: Go wild and speculate. 

“Nothing’s too weird, nothing’s too cliche,” Vaughn said. “As long as you don’t limit yourself, you will create something unique by the end, just by inherently being the person who is writing it. What you write will not ever be exactly the same as what someone else writes.”

If there is anything Jackson wants a reader to know prior to reading Touched by Shadows, it would be that every story at its core is a horror story, and that “every interaction that people have with each other, and with the world, has an element of suspense to it… and that every person has something they are afraid of.”

“For certain people, all of these things, these three aspects, the horror of their story, the suspense in their interactions, and the fear that they have, is magnified simply by who they are… and that the world would be a much better place if you just had more empathy for people and tried to be kind,” Jackson said.

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