When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
I dabbled in writing for a long time, since I was in the fifth grade. I didn’t decide to get serious about it until I turned 45. I feel it’s very important for us to have a voice in all aspects of this society. We have to tell our own stories in order for there to be some semblance of truth in this society, culture and world.
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I write part-time. My full time job is as a technical director for a small chemical company. I have a Bachelors in Chemistry.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
I block off at least one hour a day for writing and another hour for editing and other writing related work. My children are grown and gone, so I have a good amount of time to spend with the art. And I make sure I give my wife priority when it comes to my schedule and events.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I write in a variety of genres; sword and soul, Steamfunk, Cyberfunk and space opera. Of all of them, Sword and Soul is my favorite. I think they all have an effect, but I feel science fiction has the most impact on black readers because it puts us in the future under our own terms. As far as the mainstream, times are changing. Readers are demanding diversity, and the powers that be must conform.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
My biggest writing influences are Charles R. Saunders, James Baldwin, Frank Herbert and Phillip Jose Farmer.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Music is an essential part of my writing. I listen to jazz mostly, but I’ll throw a little reggae in every now and then.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
It usually takes me about three months to finish a book.
What does your writing schedule look like and how many hours a day do you write?
I write probably an hour a day, two hours on weekends. I write in the morning; that’s when I’m the most creative and focused.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate outlines.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written 21 books.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
Yes and No. I write for myself first and foremost. However, I do make sure that what I write is of the highest quality I can produce. I do want my books to leave people with a positive sense of self, and I want them to be a temporary escape from this world.
What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The level of research depends on the subject matter. I’ve done extensive research into African/African Diaspora history in order to write Sword and Soul and Steamfunk. The time I spend researching for a particular book will vary based on the subject matter.
What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?
The internet is your friend. I also have an extensive history book collection I’ve built over the years that is very helpful.
How important is it that black creators work together to encourage, empower and educate the black community through their work?
I think its vitally important that Black creators work together. We operate under this notion that there’s only so much our there for us, and even less for Black creators. I don’t believe that. I think there’s plenty for all of us, especially if we work together. We might not get rich, but we can be comfortable and provide the content our people want and need.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is two-fold. I want readers to like my work, and I want to be able to pay my bills. Awards and all the other stuff isn’t significant to me. If it happens I’ll happily accept it, but it’s not something I crave.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I’m not concerned about a legacy. If anyone says anything about my work, I hope it’s that they enjoyed it and that it made them happy.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Amber and The Hidden City, Amber and the Enchanted Sword. I also plan on completing my From Here To Timbuktu series, as well as a few anthologies.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
I’m a Black Speculative fiction writer and owner of MVmedia, LLC, a small publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner. I’ve written seventeen novels; my most recent is the Sword and Soul adventure Son of Mfumu. I’m the editor and co-editor of seven anthologies; The City, Dark Universe with Gene Peterson; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griot: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology, the Steamfunk! Anthology, and the Dieselfunk anthology with Balogun Ojetade. MVmedia has also published Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade and Abegoni: First Calling and Nyumbani Tales by Sword and Soul creator and icon Charles R. Saunders. My work has also been featured in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology; Skelos 2: The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy Volume 2, Steampunk Writes Around the World published by Luna Press and Bass Reeves Frontier Marshal Volume Two.