As a young girl in her new American school, Wayétu Moore often wondered why none of the characters in her teacher’s stories flew, changed form or cast a spell.
After all, they did in the stories her mother would share from their native home of Liberia, a country her family fled when Moore was only 5 to escape its first civil war.
“I realized early on what I understood as the shape of a fictional story always included those elements,” said Moore, a faculty member of Randolph College’s low-residency MFA program in creative writing.
“I think in our context and the American context I was raised in, that genre is really relegated. Even in literary fiction, it’s othered and seen as genre fiction. It isn’t always accepted.”
Even after publishing executives were much more interested in printing her coming to America story than with her desire to delve into speculative fiction, Moore, who graduated from Howard University and the University of Southern California, resisted.
“I do think that those stories deserve an audience and need to be told … but it was important to me that it came out when I was ready and on my terms,” she said. “I didn’t want to be introduced as a story. I wanted to be introduced for my writing.”