I haven’t yet met Angela Yuriko Smith in person, but we keep intersecting online. I interviewed her for this blog four years ago, after her book The Bitter Suites came out. She published my story “The Arms Dealer’s Daughter” in her Space & Time magazine. Both of us write for the Horror Writers Association’s monthly newsletter. Last year we swapped columns for April Fools Day: I wrote about author newsletters and she wrote about Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence, Missouri.
That essay expanded into the lovely, fierce essay “Wedding Vailes” for Death’s Garden Revisited. It’s about the marriage she solemnized for two friends during the pandemic.
Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Uchinanchu-American and an award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), a three-time Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, she offers resources for writers at angelaysmith.com.
What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?
Eat cake, especially if I’m feeling down. Enjoying a treat with those that have passed away reminds me that no matter how big my problems seem at the moment, it’s not the end. I can recover from it. I can still eat cake.
Tell me about your favorite cemetery.
So many cemeteries I love… but my current favorite is Woodlawn Cemetery from my essay. It’s within walking distance from my house, so convenient. It’s a nice mix of history and mystery: there are some tombs with no identifying names. There are a few that glow in the dark—that was a surprise during my first midnight trip! There is a chicken that wanders the edges sometimes and gates that lead nowhere… we assume. But mostly I hope to one day catch a glimpse of lonely Mrs. Vaile, the Grey Lady, looking for friendship.
Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?
I would love to visit the turtle back tombs of Okinawa. I have family in some of them. Called kameko-baka, they are shaped like a woman’s womb because it’s believed in death we return to where we came from. Once a year, the blood relatives gather at the family tomb to honor the those that have gone before. They eat, drink awamori, and celebrate. Maybe eating cake by a grave is something I inherited with my genetics.
If you have any say in the matter, what would your epitaph be?
Be right back.
Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?
FAVORITE: grandson – Bury Me Face Down. I also like The Wytches – Gravedweller and Dead Moon – Walking on My Grave.