I first heard of Maurice Broaddus back in 2005 and had read a couple of his stories. I had always planned on interviewing him for SpecMusicMuse back in the day when it was its own blog, even before it had its temporary stint as a column for the Double-Edged Publishing family of webzines. But I had always found myself busy: busy interviewing someone else, busy writing reviews, busy writing short stories, busy editing Fear & Trembling (in which a story of his appeared in), or just plain busy….
Screw that. The truth is I have a bad habit of putting things off until the last minute. That, and I’m shy.
Also, I wanted to make sure that when I did interview him, I did it right, that I didn’t end up asking stupid questions like “What’s it like being a black author” and other similarly pointless questions (seriously, that’d be like asking me “What’s it like being a writer who’s a quarter Cherokee?” How the hell do you really answer a question like that?).
So I lolligagged, and I lolligagged, until finally I approached him at Fandom Fest, while drunker than a hobo party crasher, and popped the question. And no, it wasn’t “Will you marry me?” 1) He’s already married (sorry girls), and 2) I’m not gay, but if I were, Johnny Depp would be the only man for me.
But then again, I was drunk, so who knows what the hell I said that night.
Nobody tell me. I’d rather not know.
So, without further ado, here’s the interview:
What intrigues you the most about dark fiction?
Dark fiction is the most honest of genres. In a lot of ways it speaks to what people feel is most true about humanity and about our experience in life. After all, pain is the most common human denominator.
How has faith affected your writing, personally, spiritually, and genre-wise? And vise versa?
That’s a big question requiring the space of an article. I can give you one example so that I don’t end up taking up all the space of this column. One way that faith has impacted my writing is that it affects some of the things I choose to write about. A lot of my stories begin with issues of faith. The Knights of Breton Court series sprang from my volunteer work I did with the ministry Outreach Inc which works with homeless teens. All of my projects with my co-conspirator Wrath James White, including the novel project we’re currently working on, begin with some argument we have about the nature of faith or God.
The flip side to that is that it’s through my writing that I wrestle with some of the deeper issues of faith, the questions that don’t really have answers. Sometimes story is the only way to meditate on those issues. Also, I have found that the exercise of getting into other people’s heads, writing from perspectives that differ from mine, helps me to empathize with people all the more.
Considering how rapid technological advances have gotten, how much has the publishing industry changed since you first started? What parts have remained the same?
Oh man, don’t paint me into old man corner. “You kids and your new-fangled reading devices. In my day all I needed was a book … and a stick. That was all the entertainment that we needed!”
Just about everything about the industry has changed in the little over a decade that I’ve been writing. From how I submit stories (I haven’t had to go to the post office in a while to mail a story in a while, unless I’m submitting to the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy); to where I send them (there are a lot of great online magazines now). Publishers are re-thinking their models as they try to figure out how to stay in business and readers decide how they want to read their stories.
With the advent of social media and all the focus on writer’s platforms and the like, not to mention the ease of self-publishing, it gets easy to lose sight of the process. Because what hasn’t changed is that you still have to write a good story first.
You’ve edited as well as written. How has being an editor helped you as a writer?
Every writer should have to do duty behind a slush pile at least once. Seriously. You learn the process from the other side of the desk. What an editor sees all the time, in terms of stories and (lack of) professionalism. You develop a more critical editorial eye when you look at your own work, too.
Where do you see the publishing industry going in the next ten years?
If I could predict that, I’d be rich.
Is there any kind of music that you find helpful when it comes to writing?
It depends on what I’m writing. A lot of the time I’m used to tuning out all sound. I have two very rambunctious boys and I’ve had to train myself to ignore their constant arguing.
When I’m brainstorming, I typically listen to something wordless. My go to album is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Different projects require different music, however. When I was writing the Knights of Breton Court, I listened to a lot of gospel and hip hop to keep me in the mindset I wanted. When I’m working on my steampunk projects, because of the nature of the world I’ve built, I listen to a lot of Parliament Funkadelic and Bob Marley.
Anything coming out soon? And what other demented morsels might be simmering inside the mind of Mr. Sinister, er uh, Mr. Minister, uh, Maurice Broaddus?
The second volume in our dark speculative fiction meets issues of faith series, Dark Faith: Invocations (Apex Books), is about to be released. Also, Angry Robot books is about to release the omnibus edition of the Knights of Breton Court. I have a science fiction novella, I Can Transform You (Apex Books) due around the beginning of the year.
I’m currently working on a middle grade detective novel, a post apocalyptic novel (with Wrath James White) plus that steampunk novel and novella. And be looking for a lot of new stories coming out from me in the next few months.
Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.
When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries.
The way he sees is, as a fiction writer, he’s a professional liar. His dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, most recently including Dark Dreams II&III, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales Magazine. He has two novellas, Orgy of Souls (co-written with Wrath James White, Apex Books) and Devil’s Marionette (Shroud Books), and edited the anthology Dark Faith (with Jerry L. Gordon, Apex Books). His novel series, The Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot/HarperCollins UK) debuts in 2010. Visit his site so he can bore you with details of all things him at www.MauriceBroaddus.com.
In the usual weird-things-always-happen-on-my-way-to-a-convention fashion I spent the bus ride from Columbus to Cincinnati on a bus that smelled like an outhouse due to maintenance not cleaning the crapper tank, possibly because a massive wind came out of nowhere followed by a torrential downpour as soon as my bus arrived to the station. My Bus Ride from Hell continued through a tornado zone that left the bus delayed due to a traffic jam. But at least I got to see a semi truck laying several feet from the road with its front cabin crumpled like a wadded up piece of paper—an interesting image and one likely to end up in a story some day.
The Cinci to Louis bus ended up three hours late, this on top of a two hour lay-over. Not too bad since I got to spend the time with a couple Iraq vets. We avoided boredom by performing a Three Stooges routine followed up by a game of bloody knuckles. They also described to me an interesting new game they learned in Iraq: I believe it involved an auto grenade launcher and a crate of bean bags….
And all these years I thought Bottle Rocket War could get painful. Silly me.
By the time I arrived at the Galt House (I’ll let other folk blog about the problems with that hotel) it was around 3 am Saturday morning. Since I didn’t have the money for a room, I did what I normally do in that situation; I did the catnaps-in-bathroom-stall-while-avoiding-the-security-guards shuffle.
Got my badge, etc., around 9 or so. At which point I was locked, cocked, and ready to rock.
There were quite a few crickets on the literary panels I was on, and it seems that was pretty much standard for the whole entire literary program track. The plus side was that 10,000 people came to see Bruce Campbell. The downside was that apparently 9,990 of them came only to see Bruce Campbell.
Ah well. Shit happens.
I still managed to sell and sign a couple anthos there, so I’m not complaining. Especially since I can say that H. David Blalock got my autograph.
The major plus was all the cool writers I got to meet and hang out with, like Selah Janel and D.A. Adams, the Zimmster, Shrews, Charlie Kenmore, Gary Wedlund, Maurice Broaddus, Michael West, Alexx Miller, Marian Allen, TammyJo Eckhart, and many many more (If I forgot your name, drop me a comment and I’ll add it—yes, I’m still that hung over). I also got to party with Paul West and Taylor Kent, and Taylor let me crash in his room and even fed me, and bought my drinks.
You rock, Snarky!
There wasn’t a con suite with free food like at the other conventions I attend, so I didn’t exactly come prepared. If it weren’t for Snarky and Zimmster I probably would’ve starved to death.
You rock, Zimmster!
And a whole lot of interesting discussions went on, ranging from spec-fic stuff to political stuff and other intellectual stuff and…stuff….
Yeah, it’s been two days since I got home and I still feel hung over.
Overall, I had a blast, despite the hotel preventing simple basic things that could’ve made the convention more successful marketing-wise. Oh, and the hotel upping the parking price on everyone at the last minute. :/
Good thing I didn’t come by car.
Embers is a story about Anya Kalinczyk, an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, a rare psychic medium known as a lantern (e.g. she basically can “eat” ghosts), who helps out a paranormal investigating team, and has a salamander familiar named Sparky. She and her friends must track down and stop a supernatural arsonist who is setting fires all over Detroit as part of an ancient ritual (which will be completed by Devil’s Night) to summon Sirrush, an ancient and extremely powerful fire elemental, to leave all of Detroit in ashes.
This book has it all: action, mystery, romance, tragedy—all wrapped up in an urban fantasy package with a meaningful plot twist. Characterization is deep and powerful. But as hot as Anya is (in more ways than one), I have to admit that Sparky’s little antics stole the show. He’s one of the most independent, headstrong, and entertaining sidekicks I’ve ever read.
All-in-all, Embers is a well written tale.
Best to read while listening to: anything from Midnight Syndicate, or underground rap, punk, and metal. Not the popular stuff, the underground stuff.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…but overall it was fun, fun, fun.
Day 1 – Fun in the Rain
2:30 P.M. – 4: P.M.: During my bus ride there, I get rained on…twice. Worse, all my pretty display books I had in my makeshift backpack ended up waterlogged. Fortunately, my books for the autograph signing were protected by the cardboard boxes I kept them in. While the boxes got a little wet around the edges, those books remained nice and dry.
7 P.M-11 P.M..: Opening ceremonies were cool. Clemmons is always a blast. Soon after eating some grub, I went immediately to my first of many panels for the weekend—Writing Fantasy, with Sandy Lender, Cinda Williams Chima, Tina Morgan, and Timothy Mulcahy. And yes, I’m using the booklet thingy to remember all the names again (for the most part). That panel went quite well, and yes, I brought along my Ancient Pagan Symbols by Elisabeth Goldsmith book (which didn’t get as wet as the others did) to make my usual points with, and pimped out The Silverblade Prophecy podcast novel.
After that, I went to listen to the Trusting Your Reader panel with Jason Sanford, Holly Sullivan McClure, Tina Morgan, Ty Schwamberger, and Michael D’Ambrosio. I’ve interviewed Ty before, but this is the first time we got to meet face-to-face. He’s even cooler a dude in person than he is online. I ran into Holly when I had first arrived, and we got to chat a bit before the convention started. We have three things in common: we’re both Christian, we both tend toward Gnosticism (just not the commonly known whacked out version of it), and we both know all about the NAU and Amero plans (Heh, and some people still say that’s “just a conspiracy theory”).
I also met Lucy Snyder before the convention and chatted a bit with Nick Winks and a couple other people.
Then I had my second panel for the night—What’s a Monster? with McClure, Lender, and um somebody with the last name of Arceneaux (the full name’s not in the booklet, and there’s a whole lotta’ Arceneaux’s on Google—ay, yi, yi, me and my poor little brain…). Naturally, during the panel, I gave out the definition of “Human” in Black’s Law Dictionary: “See ‘Monster’. Yeah, people got a kick out of it.
Then to the Apex Party….
I don’t remember a whole lot, but I do remember a couple things: I met a bunch of folk whose names completely escape me (you know who you are, so feel free to give a shout out in the comments section to help jog my shoddy memory) as well as hung out with Maurice Broaddus, Ty, and a few others. The party got broken up by security, so of course a few of us continued the party in other parts of the hotel. Ty’s girlfriend was nice enough to give me cigarettes.
And I don’t recall passing out three times. I only remember passing out once…and waking up on a floor in a hotel room with a hangover. Two guys who I also met at last year’s Context were nice enough to let me crash in their room. I’m trying to remember their names—WARNING, WARNING, BRAIN CELL OVERLOAD!!!—ugh, I hate my brain. Give a shout out, guys, you know who you are, and I do too…well, everything except the names. Man, I suck at names.
Day 2 – The Panel Marathon
A word to the wise: never ever do 6+ hours of back-to-back panels, readings, and autograph sessions with a hangover. It no feel good. Especially with eggs and bacon for breakfast.
I did my Best Books panel at 10 A.M. with Nick Winks, Mark Evans, and Dave Creek. I think I did well. I think…. After that was my reading. Alas, nobody showed. It might be a good thing, though, considering how reading with a hangover feels like.
Then came the two-hour autograph session. Alas, I didn’t sell one single book. However, later, Nick bought a copy off me and officially became my first autographee. And after he read my story, he started telling people how cool my story was.
Next came the 1 1/2 hour Education of a Writer panel. And no, I can’t remember who all I was with. There was, like, over twenty of us on it. Clemmons and the writer GOH’s were obviously there, as was Creek (I think), Lender, and Jackie Gamber. Way too many names for my poor wee brain to remember, even with a booklet thingy.
At 4 P.M. I went and got some grub at the Chinese restaurant across the street. Alas, poor airhead me was unable to find the Consuite with all the free grub until the third day. I then went and checked out the Editors, Publishers, and Agents… panel with Jason Sizemore, Lucy A. Snyder, Lawrence C. Connolly, Michael Knost, Dave Creek, and Mike Resnick. Resnick was his usual curmudgeony self, but dang, that guy knows his stuff!
At 5, I was on the Why Write About Freedom? panel with, Marian Allen, Sara Deuerell, Dennise Verrico, and Dan Gamber. Um, actually, Tobias Buckell was supposed to be on the panel, too, but he got sick and had to leave. The only name that’s familiar to me is Gamber, I thought the female was actually Lender, and there was this older guy (a Libertarian, like me) whose name currently escapes me. Overall, it was a cool panel, and I got to coin the phrase “Freedom is spelled G.U.N.S. Ampersand A.M.M.O”.
Sigh. Now, if only I could have that on a coin—preferably a gold or silver one.
Immediately after that panel, I managed to crawl over and participate on Putting the Science in Science Fiction with Santora, Catherine Asaro, Creek, D’Ambrosio, and Mulcahy. What with all those degrees around me and me being a high school dropout, I was bursting brain cells just to try not to sound stupid. I think I managed. Asaro, being both a hotty and a Quantum Physicist pretty much rocked that panel.
Of course, someone just had to ask us what education and degrees we had. Figures….
After that panel, I went and got some grub at the Mexican restaraunt. Oh boy, their hot sauce is HOT! Worse, it’s even hotter coming out than it was going in.
Ugh! Certain parts of my body still burn just from the memory.
Then I did my 8 PM panel, The Prose of Gaming, with James Daniel Ross. What with the combination of a hangover, queasy stomach, super-paneling brain drain, bursted brain cells, and hot sauce trauma, I was more than happy to let Ross do most of the talking to our one guest. Besides, he’s a good orator.
I skipped the 9 P.M. panels and went straight to the Meadowhawk Press and Shroud parties. And no, I did not get drunk this time! I ingeniously figured out the perfect caffeine-to-alchohol ratio in order to consume mass quantities of both caffeine and alchohol while remaining completely sober.
And, no, I did not fall on my arse trying to break dance; my Evil Twin tripped me.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
Day 3 – A Sun, Sunny Day
I managed to wake up in time to do my 10 A. M. panel, Keeping The Faith, with Jason Sanford, Aceneaux, Creek, Asaro (a.k.a. Hottie Quantum Physicist), Wyatt, and S. A. Swann. I was definitely in my element on that panel and also flashed the handy-dandy Ancient Pagan Symbols book. What can I say? I love that book. It’s a major eye-opener when it comes to symbolic literacy.
Then I was on to Since When Can I Understand the Troll Speaking? with Stephen Zimmer and Sandy Lender. That panel was small enough to turn into a round-table discussion, and Linda Winks was there with one or two others. It’s also officially the first panel I ever moderated (Yay!). Naturally, since a troll appears in The Silverblade Prophecy, I got to plug the podcast novel yet again (Yippee!).
At Noon I got to listen in on Gender Issues in Writing and Publishing and did my last panel at 1 P.M.: Translations, with Maura Heaphy and Stephen Zimmer, which was all about translating books into movies, music into stories, etc. Eventually, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen popped up in the discussion which allowed me the opportunity to coin yet another new phrase: “Jesus Christ Has Chrome!!!”
Erm, in order to understand that, you’ll have to see the movie. I’ll give you three hints, though: Optimus Prime, the “Three Kings”, and a certain “star” in the east.
Seriously, all that is in the movie.
Tended the closing ceremonies, got applauded for doing the most number of panels at this year’s Context, met new folks, made new friends (even if I can’t remember all their names), and ate out at a bar & grill with the fine folks at Meadowhawk Press and Shroud Publishing.
All-in-all, it was fun—despite the water-logged books.