Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse Review – Dark Faith: Invocations

Back when I was the managing editor for Fear & Trembling I was contacted for an interview by Lea Lawrynowicz who was writing an article for Rue Morgue titled “Divinity in Darkiness: The Rise of Christian Horror.” That article appeared in Issue 87 (March 2009). One of my quotes that made it into the article was “Regardless, it’s here to stay and other subgenres may branch out because of it. Who knows? We may be reading Buddhist horror one day.”

Three years later (an interesting number there) my prediction comes true with Dark Faith: Invocations, edited by Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon. Both in the general sense in that this anthology of short stories can be more broadly defined as Spiritual horror or Religious horror than just Christian horror, and also in the specific sense with Elizabeth Twist’s story, “Kill the Buddha.”

The writers in the anthology are practically a who’s who list of short speculative fiction authors—like Jay Lake, Lavie Tidhar, Mike Resnik, Nisi Shawl, Tim Waggoner, and Lucy A. Snyder—as well as up and comers like Michael Ehart and Lashawn M. Wanak. The writers, both new and seasoned and in between, are among the best of the best. And the stories in the anthology show it, too.

While all the stories are spiritually themed and revolve around faith this isn’t your kiderized horror, whether it borrows from Christianity, Paganism, or Buddhism. And a lot of literary and slipstream elements can be found among the stories as well, like Jay Lake’s “The Cancer Catechism” or Tom Piccirilli’s “Subletting God’s Head.” Every story keeps you reading, makes you feel for the characters, and a few throw some excellent plot twists your way. As anthologies go, this one is far above average.

Not only do I highly recommend this anthology, I also think it should be required reading in theology and religion classes the world over. But, then again, I’m crazy that way.

Best read while listening to: there’s so much diversity here that there’s no way that mentioning one or two song artists could do the whole antho justice. So go with your gut instinct and listen to what feels right for each story. Just don’t let it be the Veggie Tales theme song.

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October 8, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Interview: Maurice Broaddus

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.

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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.

October 7, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments