If you don’t know who Maurice Broaddus is, you haven’t been paying attention. An award-winning writer and Afrofuturist, he is as prolific as he is acclaimed. Equally adept at horror, fantasy and science fiction, he is the author of the upcoming Sweep of Stars. And now, it is my pleasure to give you Five For Writing with Maurice Broaddus:
1-How exactly does one pimp an airship?
I got one word for you: spinners.
It’s all about massive spinners.
2-What role do you see yourself playing in the Afrofuturism movement going forward?
I’m just happy to be a part of the conversation. Right now, I’m all about the intersection of the art being the vision casting and the community putting those visions into practice. And then that practice creating new art and vision.
3-You started in horror as “The Sinister Minister” and have gradually transitioned to science fiction. What led to the change, and are you ever going back to horror?
I realized that I was using horror to process my anger. Anger at all the evil in the world, the history of brutality against my people, all of the oppressive systems. Science fiction became me giving myself permission and room to dream about possibilities. So I was writing from a different mental and spiritual place (future hope).
4-Religion is a strong theme in your life. How do you see it affecting your fiction?
Basically, I believe we’re in a Story, written by an Author, who is wooing us to connect with Him. It’s a tale of people, who were created (in God’s image), meant for great things (to join in with that Author in a mission to redeem the world), who sometimes encounter things which interfere with their journey: sometimes themselves, sometimes others, and sometimes An Other.
Faith is never easy and I tend to have more questions than answers. I think that’s the most critical part of anyone’s spiritual journey, walking that line of tension between holding on during times of doubt and questioning. I think one of the best ways to explore that tension is in story. (The Bible does it too: the Book of Job was probably the first book written and it’s all about faith, doubt, and frustrated questions. And the first postapocalyptic story I encountered.)
I like to think that I write from a place of faith in practice. I was volunteering at a homeless teen ministry called Outreach Inc. That became the inspiration for my first novel trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court, a retelling of the King Arthur mythos through the eyes of homeless teens in Indianapolis. I guess you could say that in some ways, I’m working out my own spiritual journey in front of my readers. And sharing my nightmares.
5-You do a lot of community outreach. How is your writing bound up in that?
For a long time I struggled with the notion that “I’m only a writer, what can I do?” and, if I’m completely honest, used it as an excuse to do nothing. Art lifts community. Story creates identity. If we don’t control our own narratives, others certainly will. Our communities are more self-sufficient, more capable, than the dominant narrative wants to portray. Through art, through writing, we can catalog the positive things happening in our neighborhoods, we can make the invisible visible, and be the change we want to see. Through art, we resist.
These days, I am the Kheprw Institute’s resident Afrofuturist. Basically, think of it as strategic foresight planning through an Afrofuturist lens; visioning rooted in black history and culture to create a vivid picture of what the world could look like. Afrofuturism is the marriage of my faith, my social practice, and my writing. To me it looks like dreaming alongside community, highlighting my neighbors and their work (through a magical lens, for example, Ache of Home. The dreaming impacts the work, the work impacts the writing, the writing impacts the dreaming, and so it goes. I can’t wait to see what folks think of my next novel, Sweep of Stars, because these days, I’m dreaming of the stars.
Huge thanks to Maurice for taking the time to answer the questions! You can find him online at his website.
Wishing a very happy holiday season to all and sundry, whatever you celebrate. I’ll be back next week with another interview, and things will keep rolling into the new year!