“It’s about my own roots,” an interview with NIGHTLIGHT podcast’s Tonia Ransom

Tonia Ransom, creator of the NIGHTLIGHT podcast and Afflicted: A Horror Thriller Audio Drama, talks about the importance of showcasing Black horror authors and their work, and explains her own personal connection to her passion projects.

Q: How did you get started in podcasting, and what led to NIGHTLIGHT?

A: I’ve known since the early 2000s that I wanted to bring back old-time radio, but that was before podcasting so I knew I’d have an uphill battle to climb to make that happen. When podcasts were first introduced, I realized I could create shows just like old-time radio without having to convince studio or radio execs to give me a chance. It still took another 15 years or so for me to actually do it, but I finally started podcasting in 2018. NIGHTLIGHT was a compromise between my original vision of old time radio, and something that could be produced for less money, hence the sound effects and music over a narrated story. I always knew I wanted to start a horror podcast, so that was never a question. I wasn’t quite sure what shape that would take, but after a report came out detailing the demographics of short story authors and I saw how underrepresented Black folks were, I knew I wanted to create a space that gave Black writers opportunities, and for readers/listeners (and Hollywood!) to find more Black writers.

Q: Afflicted, your forthcoming audio drama, has been getting a lot of attention. What is most exciting about this project? What can fans look forward to?

A: The most exciting thing about Afflicted is that it’s the show I’ve wanted to make since before I started NIGHTLIGHT. Not just because it’s a full-cast audio drama, but because it’s about my own roots—the superstitions I grew up with and living in a rural town in East Texas. For me, it’s a love letter to the family I’ve lost over the years, and many characters are named after or modeled after loved ones that have passed. It’s me sharing my heritage with the world, and honoring those I’ve loved and grieved. As for what fans can look forward to—we’re premiering on Halloween, so if they’re missing Lovecraft Country or True Blood, Afflicted is a great way to scratch that itch.

Q: Your projects have brought together Black authors, voice actors, and production team members, and given them an important platform in the horror community. How can friends and fans continue to support you in that?

A: The biggest thing that supports this work is the NIGHTLIGHT Legion—that’s what I call our patrons. They fund this whole operation, and if not for them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Secondary to that, sharing the podcast with friends and on social media is huge. Podcasts need listeners to get more patrons, and to better monetize their shows. Without people writing reviews, telling folks about the podcast, and sharing it on social media, NIGHTLIGHT doesn’t grow, and our platform is limited. So basically, money and word of mouth—both ideally, but either helps immensely and is always deeply appreciated.

Q: You are busy with NIGHTLIGHT and Afflicted, but your brain never stops. What are some other project ideas you’re considering? And how can people stay up to date on your latest news?

A: Oh boy! I’ve got tons of other ideas for podcasts that’ll just have to wait a bit because producing a podcast is lot of work! Aside from that, I’m working on a book about the biology of mythical creatures, and how they could exist in the real world. I’m also working on adapting a short story of mine to a short screenplay. During October, I’m usually all over the place, so folks can attend online events, or in-person events to connect with me and learn about writing, podcasting, and more. The best way to keep up with what I’m doing is to follow me on Twitter @missdefying. One day, I’ll update my website (tonia ransom.com) with a list of appearances and such, but I’m so busy doing things that I don’t have time to document the things I’m doing 😉 It’s a good predicament to have, though.

Support Afflicted through IndieGoGo here.

Are you a Black horror author? Are you interested in submitting your work to Tonia and NIGHTLIGHT? Visit nightlightpod.com/submissions for details.

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