Loretta H. Campbell, a Senior Planet Supporter and writer based in Queens, NY, doesn’t write horror simply for horror’s sake. While her stories may seem like they’re about ghosts, vampires and werewolves on the surface, she is really writing about racism, ageism and sexism. In the long tradition of classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, Loretta writes horror stories that warn her readers of the dangers of injustice.
We spoke to Loretta about her writing and how Senior Planet helped her keep one of her many gigs outside of writing as it transitioned online.
Tell us about your writing.
I love to write speculative fiction and reviews of books and movies, but my major genre is horror, so this is a big season for me.
“Horror can be really amazing. The genre asks big questions.”
It seems like horror is having a renaissance with a social justice spin! What attracts you to the genre?
When we look at how we understand what horror is – look at the metaphors. If you begin to think about vampirism as capitalism, or imperialism, or sexism or name an “-ism” you begin to see these themes writ large in every horror piece you read.
If you look at something as classic as Dracula, for example, you’re thinking about the whole classism piece. Bram Stoker is writing about people who believe that it is their right to keep their money and power for forever, no matter the cost to everybody else. Or look at Frankenstein. Mary Shelley shows us that when people take too much power into their own hands, they create monsters or they become monsters themselves. So, horror usually addresses these issues in ways that scare people initially and then they think, “oh, that’s not real” but THEN then think “hmm, what is the price of capitalism?”
Horror can be really amazing. The genre asks big questions.
What issues do you address in your writing?
I write about issues facing women, black women, older women. In my piece “Doughnuts” (Read her story “Doughnuts” here!) and the story I’m working on right now there are a lot of things that speak to racial inequality.
The writing that interests me speaks to issues I’ve always cared about and social justice has always been important to me. I use to tell my friends my way of losing weight was going to protest marches.
How has Senior Planet helped you over the pandemic?
One of my jobs outside of writing is that I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and the company I work for was one of the first to announce that we were going to have to go home and teach from there. I was gagging! I did not relish the idea of sitting in my house, in front my computer trying to do my work, let alone did I even know HOW to work remotely! I was desperate. But I realized this was an opportunity to make some serious changes in my life.
Then I saw Senior Planet was offering classes about Zoom! Those classes literally saved my job.
What does aging with attitude mean to you?
I have been looking to improve the quality of my life as I get older. I am learning a lot more things. And I feel more empowered. Instead of asking “can you do this for me?” I ask “can you show me how to do this?”