With the Holiday Season just around the corner, I thought I’d share some Popular Holiday Gifts Ideas for that special author on your list!
1. BUY THEIR BOOKS!
It might seem obvious, but just purchasing an author’s book(s) is a gift in and of itself. It helps to compensate them for their hard work. Look for their latest releases and snatch them up. Continuous compensation for their compositions keeps authors composing! And, as an added bonus, give their books out as gifts to others during the holiday season. Books ALWAYS make EXCELLENT stocking stuffers!
2. CHECK THEIR EVENTS!
So, checking an author’s Events Calendar is a good way to see where they’re scheduled to appear, and you can go meet them and get your picture taken with them while giving them gift number one on this list! Visit the author’s website or the publisher’s website and you should find an Events Calendar there. I mean, who wouldn’t like to have a SIGNED COPY of their book, right?
3. GIVE THEM LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Do a Google search or if you’re already on your favorite social media platform, seek them out and give your favorite author a follow/like! It won’t cost you a dime and the more followers/likes an author has, the more traffic they’re likely to get to their social media platforms, which translates into more potential buyers of their books! Plus, following your favorite authors helps you develop a relationship with them and interact on their posts. This could even net you exclusive bonus content that other folks won’t get. So, follow them on Facebook and/or like their author page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest. And while you’re at it, be sure to subscribe to their blog, newsletter and their Amazon Profile. This is the gift that keeps on giving for sure!
4. HYPE THEM UP!
Now that you’re following them on social media, share their tweets, Facebook posts, etc. In fact, why not tweet or post your reaction to their book(s)? If their latest novel was a must read, then SPREAD THE WORD! Encourage your fellow readers to go out and pick up their copy. And, if you’re feeling uber generous, go all out and support their Kickstarter/Go Fund Me, etc.
5. POST REVIEWS!
When you read an author’s book, they really would appreciate it if you let them know what your thoughts on it was. This is helpful for various reasons including: general feedback for improvement, knowing what you liked about their work. Knowing what their readers think of their work can be rewarding. The best places to leave reviews are on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Also, your review doesn’t have to be like the ones written by professionals, and it doesn’t have to contain a great amount of details either. Just be honest and let them know what your genuine thoughts are. Mention what you liked, how those things made you feel and if it triggered any memories or stirred any thoughts. When other visitors to Amazon and/or Goodreads see the reviews an author has, it often helps them to decide on purchasing the author’s work for themselves.
Regardless of what gift you decide to give, just be sure to give from the heart. Every little bit helps and the author on your list will truly appreciate the effort. Spreading a little holiday cheer with a good review and helping to share the love, because SHARING IS CARING!
And always remember, The Best Is Yet To Come!
Next weekend, starting on Friday, September 11th, I’ll be attending the Second Annual Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. Last year’s event was an AWESOME TIME!. With Seventh Star Press as a major organizer and several Speculative Fiction Guild authors well represented, I’m anticipating bigger, better, and more fun than ever.
What is Imaginaruim? If you love movies, film, music and/or books and the people who create them, or you aspire to create your own works, and want an inspiring weekend training seminar, Imaginarium will be the place to be.
First of all, let’s get to a huge change over year one. The change that affects each and every one of you. The dealer’s room, crammed full of authors and vendors, will be FREE and OPEN to the public. To participate in the programming, you need to buy a one-day or weekend pass, but if you just want to shop for yourself or for people on that list that starts to become relevant very soon, you can come and go as you like, FREE OF CHARGE. Click here to see Imaginarium’s website to read all the details about location, passes, hotel, etc.
You’ll find me at a table with good buddies RJ Sullivan and Chris Garrison in the Seventh Star Press section. You’ll find my debut novel, The God Killers and my NEW novella, Codename: Knight Ranger (see below) available for purchase via cash or credit card ALL WEEKEND LONG (while supplies last)!
As always, autographs are FREE and worth every red cent you pay!
Here’s my price list:
The God Killers $15
Codename: Knight Ranger (NEW) $5
I’m on FIVE panels this year, my schedule:
Sat Sept 12, 10 am in the Oldham Room
World Building: A Crash Course: also with Dave Creek, Mysti Parker, and Tara Tyler
Sat Sept 12, 1 pm in the Oldham Room
Race & Speculative Fiction: Also with Janie Franz, S.C. Houff, and Terri-Lynne Smiles
Sat Sept 12, 4 pm in the Oldham Room
Utilizing Local Settings in Urban Fantasy: Also with Chris Garrison, Georgia Jones, Selah Janel, and Tony Acree
Sat Sept 12, 7 pm in the Hancock Room
Comics Through the Ages: Also with Glenn Porzig, and S.C. Houff
Of course, you’re all coming just to see me, but you should know there’s dozens of panels for readers and writers, a movie screening room, a masquerade ball, and two free writer’s workshops. Hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it, follow my updates on Facebook throughout the weekend.
In my writer’s journey I was blessed to have met a very talented author, who also became a good friend. I am honored to present to you here in this guest blog, without further ado…RJ Sullivan!
Hello, and thanks very much to my good friend the incredibly talented, John F. Allen, for having me on today as part of my guest blog in support of Haunting Blue, my latest release from Seventh Star Press.
The following “bonus scenes” were composed specially for this blog, but can be read as occurring before and after the school scenes in Chapter 2 of Haunting Blue. The scenes are self-contained.
Janice Copley, Dean of Girls, stared at the paperwork on her desk, the official record of the new student seated across s from her, a Ms. Fiona Shaefer. She kept her eyes on the paperwork so she wouldn’t gape at the student herself.
When the girl had entered her office, Copley bit her lip to hold back a shocked noise. The new student looked like an extra in a Clash video. Bright blue hair, spiked and unkempt, a jeans jacket and half-T. The head and shoulders of some pop singer glared back from the shirt. Did that style come back when I wasn’t looking? Every day, Copley saw something new in these halls that made her feel older and more out of touch.
Copley reviewed the record. Fiona, a senior, had transferred from Broad Ripple High School, a college town near Indianapolis. Well, that explains that. Fiona’s grades, for the most part, were pretty solid, with remarkable marks in English. She planned to major in poetry. No discipline problems. Well, that’s a pleasant surprise.
Having swallowed back the chuckle, she scanned the tentative schedule and scribbled her initials. She tore off the student copy and handed it to the stone-faced student. “Hello, Fiona. I’m always excited to see new faces here in Perrione. I’m a transplant myself. I grew up in Noblesville and took this job five years ago.”
The girl took the page. Copley waited while Fiona’s eyes scanned the paper. After a moment, her face broke into a grin. If not for the wild hair, Copley might have considered her attractive.
“So there’s no getting around it. You’re going to stand out a bit with your…city look, but—”
“Are there any rules against what I’m wearing?”
Not yet, but only because we never needed them before now, Copley thought. Out loud, she said, “Strictly speaking, no. But if anyone—”
“Listen,” said Fiona. “It’s not my choice to be here. My Mom moved us. I’m not in love with the idea, but I’m not going to start trouble. I just want to get through school and get on with the rest of my life.”
Well…that was something. Copley didn’t know what, but it was something. “I simply meant, if anyone causes you any trouble, you’re free to come to me. I mean that, Fiona.”
Copley waited. Fiona flashed another smile that, she had to admit, Copley found charming. “I won’t snitch—”
“Of course not.”
“— but if I have any problems, I’ll come to you.”
“Deal.” Copley reached out, and Fiona returned her handshake warmly. Maybe she’d been concerned over nothing. It seemed to her that the punk façade hid a gentle soul underneath. “Good luck, and welcome to Perionne High.”
An hour later:
Copley had just settled behind her desk with a fresh steaming mug of coffee. Movement drew her attention to the window. Oh, no, what? She recognized the gym teacher and two math teachers escorting a student in the direction of her office. Even through the slits of blinds, she could see the distinct blue-haired head of the new student.
She also knew the aftermath of a fight when she saw one. Figures.
She threw open the door and met the group halfway. Specks of blood marred the denim jacket. Dots of red also spotted the pop singer’s face on the half-t. A second look confirmed that the blood wasn’t the punk girl’s.
Copley struggled to keep her voice even, “Just an hour ago you told me I wouldn’t have to worry about you, Ms. Shaefer.”
Jeff–Mr. Fenley, she mentally corrected herself–spoke. “It was Clinty.” With his back to the punk girl, his look if sympathy communicated the rest. Go easy on her.
Clinty was a bully a frequent troublemaker. No two ways about it. She didn’t envy the Dean of Boys right now. The fact that this girl had tangled with Clinty and could walk to the office said something about her toughness as well.
But Clinty wasn’t her problem.
Conley pointed. “My office. Now.”
Head bowed, the punk girl walked, her feet dragging.
“You’ll need this,” said Jeff. He held out a leather strap with metal studs, perfect for fitting over knuckles. This, too, was stained with blood.
Conley took they weapon and followed the student. As soon as she shut the door, she let the strap drop between them on the desk.”What’s this for?”
“It’s an air freshener.”
“Funny. You asked me if your clothes were against the rules. This is.”
“I defended myself.”
I motioned to the stains on her clothes. “You look like you did pretty good.”
“He attacked me. I didn’t provoke him. I have witnesses. Those teachers saw it.”
Fiona folded her arms, focusing on a spot like every student Conley had ever seen who tried really hard to look toug while also trying really hard not to cry.
“I don’t doubt your word, Fiona.” She wrapped her fingers around the phone receiver. “I have to call your mother.”
“No!” Fiona sat up straight, and a tear escaped to fall over her cheek. “Please don’t call her.” Her eyes pleaded their case. “Look, can’t I just….do in class suspension?”
“The weapon ties my hands, Fiona. I have to suspend you from school three days.”
“I’m sorry. Your mother will have to come pick you up.”
“But I didn’t start it. I was defending myself. Please, Ms. Conley.”
Conley paused on the verge of dialing. She had no doubt that Clinty had jumped this girl. Maybe this time, the cowardly principal would expel that bully once and for all. Except Clinty’s father is the school security cop, so not likely.
“Listen, I’ll explain to your mother. I’ll tell her what happened. I’ll do whatever I can to make this easy on you.” She wasn’t sure why she said all this. Why did she feel moved to defend a girl she hardly knew? Because I know Clinty. That’s why.
“It won’t matter,” Fiona said, wiping her cheeks. “Why do you think /’m here in the first place? My mom hates me. She brought me here to torture me, and no matter what you say, she’ll assume it’s my fault.”
Conley reached out and patter her hand. “I’m sorry, Fiona. I’ll do all I can. But I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you think.”
GREETINGS! Today we start the next round of $.99 titles offered by SEVENTH STAR PRESS! We have six new books that just went live at reduced prices, THIS OFFER IS FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, SO ACT NOW!
Please be sure to share the links and take advantage of the FANTASTIC SALE!
Angelkiller by HDavid Blalock:
Overkill by Steven Steven L. Shrewsbury:
Vampires Don’t Sparkle – edited by Michael West:
Writer’s Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy – edited by Michael Knost:
Today I have the pleasure of Spotlighting in my blog, “Reclamation” the latest novel from my friend, the wonderful and extremely talented Jackie Gamber!
Jackie is also an author at Seventh Star Press, publisher of my debut novel last summer and various short stories, so if you are a fan of speculative fiction within the fantasy realm, then this novel is bound to be a real treat! Not only am I a friend of the author, but I’m a fan of the series. Jackie Gamber is a proven bestselling author with popular titles such as: Redheart and Sela. Her voice is powerful one, that is sure to entertain and enlighten.
I’m proud to know her and call her my friend, but even more than that, I’m inspired by her creativity and skill as a writer. As a relatively new writer for Seventh Star Press, I’m honored to be in the company of such a fine writer and person.
Don’t wait, go out and pick up a copy of Reclamation by Jackie Gamber, and while you’re at it, pick up Redheart and Sela too, you’ll be glad that you did!
About the Author: As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion.
Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.
Book Synopsis Reclamation: The exciting conclusion of the Leland Dragon Series!
Leland Province remains in danger. The sinister Fordon Blackclaw has returned from the shadows to strike at the heart of neighboring Esra, killing its Venur and making clear his intentions to retake what was once his: Mount Gore, seat of the Leland Dragon Council.
All around, the land grows weaker and weaker. Leland, once thought saved by Kallon Redheart, is without purpose, and within its borders, Murk Forest, a place of mystery and danger, has driven its inhabitants to seek aid. Esra is in flames, and the Rage Desert grows. Dragon and human alike struggle to find their way, and the wizard Orman can sense that there may be more at stake than the affairs of dragons.
Hope remains, yet it is not without obstacles. In Esra, Sela, the daughter of Kallon and Riza, found the well, a source of life, and made herself whole again. But her homecoming is not what she had imagined.
Old wounds buried deep must reopen if life is to continue. Dragons, humans, wizards, and shape shifters are all at risk as the peace between dragon and human has finally been broken.
War is here.
Perhaps the whole world.
Tour Schedule and Activities
2/24 A Book Vacation Tour Wide Contest
2/24 Azure Dwarf Promo/Spotlight
2/24 Come Selahway With Me Guest Post
2/24 Jellowquake Productions Review
2/25 Creating Estelan Promo/Spotlight
2/25 Workaday Reads Review
2/25 Alexx Momcat’s Gateway Book Blog Promo Spotlight
2/25 Jorie Loves a Story Character Post
2/25 I Smell Sheep Character Post
2/26 Kentucky Geek Girl Guest Post
2/26 Deal Sharing Aunt Review
2/26 Book in the Bag Interview
2/27 Sheila Deeth Character Interview
2/27 John F. Allen Writer Promo/Spotlight
2/28 Jorie Love a Story Review
2/28 Azure Dwarf Review
2/28 Vampires, Witches, and Me, Oh My Guest Post
2/28 MichaelSciFan Interview
3/1 Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover & Creator of Worlds~ Post on Art of Reclamation
3/1 Coffintree Hill Guest Post
3/2 Jorie Loves a Story Author Interview/Reader Questions
3/2 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review
3/2 Jess Resides Here Guest Post
3/2 Book and Movie Dimension Blog Review
Amazon Links for Reclamation
Today I have the pleasure of Spotlighting in my blog, “Sinking Down” the latest novel from my friend and writing peer Eric Garrison!
Eric is also an author at Seventh Star Press, publisher of my debut novel last summer and various short stories, so if you are a fan of speculative fiction within the urban fantasy realm, then this novel is bound to be a real treat! Not only am I a friend of the author, but I’m a fan of the series. Eric Garrison is a rising star in the speculative fiction world and a fresh voice for the genre.
I’m proud to know him and call him my friend, but even more than that, I’m inspired by his creativity and skill as a writer. As a relatively new writer for Seventh Star Press, I’m honored to be in the company of such a fine writer and person.
Do yourself a favor and check out the work of Eric Garrison, you’ll be glad that you did!
Eric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and a cabal of cats. He also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape. His stories vary from science fiction to supernatural fantasies and dark fairy tales
Poor Little Ghoul
Paranormal investigators Brett and Liz find themselves
back in over their heads when a forest hunt for a road kill-eating creature offers up a little surprise. Back home with their ghoulish house guest, it
becomes clear there’s more to this investigation than either of them thought. Worse than that, Brett’s own fate is linked to the little ghoul’s.
So it’s back out on the road, with plenty of time for pit stops with a greedy ex, a convention of ghost hunters, partying with fake vampires, and even drinking and
fighting alongside good ole Uncle Gonzo. But as the investigation goes deeper, and unseen connections come to light, Brett finds there’s much more at stake
than getting through a rough patch with Liz.
A rescue mission. A race for a cure. New friends and old adversaries. Unbreakable bonds and supernatural danger. It’s going to be a wild ride. Can the friends save the nearly undead tween? Can she and Brett stop themselves from …Sinking Down?
Sinking Down is the 2nd Book in the Road Ghosts Trilogy!
Also, be sure to check out Book 1 in the Road Ghosts Trilogy, Four ‘Til Late!
In Four ‘Til Late, amateur ghost hunter Brett and his friends Gonzo, Jimbo, and Liz are on a road trip with dangerous detours, dreadful dreams and dire warnings. But that won’t keep them from reaching their goal: New Orleans. Along the way they discover that some spirits leave you with more than a hangover and regrets. Can they get there in one piece, or will they be stopped and rest in peace? The bags are packed, the engine’s running. Turn up the radio and get moving because the road ghosts are waiting, and it’s Four ‘Til Late.
Four ‘Til Late is the first book of the Road Ghosts Trilogy.
Seventh Star Press Links
African American author, Donald Goines was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 15, 1936. He came from a middle-class background, where his parents ran a laundry business. According to stories told to him by his mother—Myrtle Goines—the family was descended from a sexual encounter between Jefferson Davis and a slave. At age 15, Goines lied about his age in order to join the Air Force, where he fought in the Korean War. During his service, Goines developed a heroin addiction which he continued after his being honorably discharged from the military during the mid-1950’s. In order to support his addiction Goines committed multiple crimes, including pimping and theft, and was sent to prison several times. While serving time in Michigan’s Jackson Penitentiary, he began writing. He initially attempted to write westerns, but decided to write urban fiction after reading Iceberg Slim’s autobiography “Pimp: The Story of My Life”.
Goines continued to write novels at a fast-tracked pace to support his drug addictions, with some books taking only a month to complete. His sister Joan Goines Coney later stated that Goines wrote at such an accelerated pace in order to avoid committing more crimes and based many of the characters in his books on people he knew in real life.
In 1974 Goines published Crime Partners, the first book in the Kenyatta series under the pseudonym, “Al C. Clark”. Holloway House’s chief executive Bentley Morriss requested that Goines publish the book under a pseudonym in order to avoid having the sales of Goines’ work suffer due to too many books releasing at once. The book dealt with an anti-hero character named after Jomo Kenyatta that ran a Black Panther-esque organization to clear the ghetto of crime. In his book The Low Road, Eddie B. Allen remarked that the series was a departure from some of Goines’ other works, with the character of Kenyatta symbolizing a sense of liberation for Goines.
“Inner City Hoodlum”, which Goines had finished before his death, was published posthumously in 1975. The story, set in Los Angeles, was about “smack”, money and murder.
On October 21, 1974 Goines and his common-law wife were discovered dead in their Detroit apartment. The police had received an anonymous phone call earlier that evening and responded, discovering Goines in the living room of the apartment and his common-law wife Shirley Sailor’s body in the kitchen. Both Goines and Sailor had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and head. The identity of the killer or killers is unknown, as is the reason behind the murders. Popular theories involve Goines being murdered due to his basing several of his characters on real life criminals as well as the theory that Goines was killed due to his being in debt over drugs.
Goines was later buried with his mother placing several of his books in his coffin.
The highest selling genre among African Americans is Urban Fiction or Urban Lit. As a fan of Goines’ work, he was the first author in this genre I read. His work(s) have helped to shape and influence many of today’s Urban Fiction authors. It is my shared opinion that Donald Goines’ is the quintessential “Father” of Urban Fiction/Urban Lit.
• Crime Partners (1974) [as Al C. Clark]
• Death List (1974) [as Al C. Clark]
• Kenyatta’s Escape (1974) [as Al C. Clark]
• Kenyatta’s Last Hit (1975) [as Al C. Clark]
Black Gangster (1972)
Street Players (1973)
White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief (1973)
Black Girl Lost (1974)
Eldorado Red (1974)
Swamp Man (1974)
Never Die Alone (1974)
Cry Revenge (1974) [as Al C. Clark]
Daddy Cool (1974)
Inner City Hoodlum (1975)
Goines’ writing has had an impact upon several people, with several rappers inserting mentions of Goines and his writing into their lyrics. In his 1996 song “Tradin’ War Stories”, rapper 2Pac writes “Machiavelli was my tutor, Donald Goines my father figure”. Ludacris mentions Goines in his 2006 song “Eyebrows Down”. AZ compares himself to Donald Goines’ work in “Rather Unique,” with the line, “Your mind’s boggled but I’m as deep as Donald Goines’ novels.” Nas also named the song “Black Girl Lost” on his sophomore album It Was Written after the book by Goines. Goines’ books are also utilized in several prison literacy programs and his novel “Dopefiend” has been taught in a Rutgers University class.
Some of Goines’ works have been adapted into film. His book “Crime Partners” was turned into a 2001 film starring Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, and Ja Rule, and in 2004 his book “Never Die Alone” was also released as a film starring DMX.
In 2006, a graphic novel adaptation of the book “Daddy Cool” was released by Holloway House.
Chester Bomar Himes was an African American writer born in Jefferson City, MS, on July 29, 1909. His parents were to Joseph Sandy Himes Sr. and Estelle Bomar Himes; his father was a peripatetic black college professor of industrial trades and his mother was a teacher at Scotia Seminary prior to marriage.
At age twelve, Himes’ father began teaching at Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas). He and his brother Joseph Jr., were made to sit out a gunpowder demonstration by their mother as punishment for bad behavior. The boys decided to conduct the experiment without adult supervision, which resulted in an explosion that blinded Joseph Jr. The aftermath of this tragedy had a profound effect on how Himes viewed race relations later in life. When Joseph Jr. was rushed to the nearest hospital, he was denied treatment due to his race.
“That one moment in my life hurt me as much as all the others put together,” Himes wrote in The Quality of Hurt:
“I loved my brother. I had never been separated from him and that moment was shocking, shattering, and terrifying….We pulled into the emergency entrance of a white people’s hospital. White clad doctors and attendants appeared. I remember sitting in the back seat with Joe watching the pantomime being enacted in the car’s bright lights. A white man was refusing; my father was pleading. Dejectedly my father turned away; he was crying like a baby. My mother was fumbling in her handbag for a handkerchief; I hoped it was for a pistol.”
A short time later, the family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents’ marriage was an unhappy one which eventually ended in divorce.
Himes attended East High School while in Cleveland. Later, during his time as a freshman at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, he was expelled for playing a prank. He was arrested in 1928 for armed robbery and sent to Ohio Penitentiary. He was sentenced to hard labor for 20 to 25 years.
While in prison, Himes wrote a number of short stories, which were eventually published in national magazines. Later, he would state that his prison writings and publications were a means of earning respect from guards and fellow inmates. It also helped him to avoid personal violence.
Himes’ first stories appeared The Bronzeman magazine starting in 1931. His work later appeared in Esquire magazine in 1934. Of particular note was a story titled, “To What Red Hell”. His debut novel “Cast the First Stone”, dealt with the catastrophic 1930 prison fire Himes witnessed while serving time at Ohio Penitentiary. It was published almost ten years after it was written, most likely due to Himes’ unusually candid treatment—for that time period—of a homosexual relationship. Originally written in the third person, it was rewritten in the first person in a more “hard-boiled” style (which Himes would eventually become famous for) and posthumously republished unabridged in 1998 as “Yesterday Will Make You Cry”.
Himes was transferred to London Prison Farm that same year and in April 1936, was released on parole into his mother’s custody. He continued to write following his prison release, while working part-time jobs. It was during this period that he came into contact with author, Langston Hughes. Hughes facilitated Himes’s contacts with the world of literature and publishing.
In 1936 Himes married Jean Johnson (who he later divorced), Four years later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a screenwriter and also produced two novels, “If He Hollers Let Him Go” which contains many autobiographical elements — is about a black shipyard worker in Los Angeles during World War II struggling against racism, as well as his own violent reactions to racism. His next novel, “The Lonely Crusade” that charted the experiences of the wave of blacks who were part of the Great Migration. Himes’s novels encompassed many genres including the crime novel/mystery and political polemics, exploring racism in the United States. His work centered on African Americans in general, especially in two books that are concerned with labor relations and African-American workplace issues. He also provided an analysis of the Zoot Suit Riots for The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP.
Hines screenwriting career came to an abrupt halt Jack Warner of Warner Brothers heard about him and said, “I don’t want no niggers on this lot.”
Himes later wrote in his autobiography:
“Up to the age of thirty-one I had been hurt emotionally, spiritually and physically as much as thirty-one years can bear. I had lived in the South, I had fallen down an elevator shaft, I had been kicked out of college, I had served seven and one half years in prison, I had survived the humiliating last five years of Depression in Cleveland; and still I was entire, complete, functional; my mind was sharp, my reflexes were good, and I was not bitter. But under the mental corrosion of race prejudice in Los Angeles I became bitter and saturated with hate.”
By the 1950s Himes had decided to leave the United States and settled permanently in France. Himes like the country in part due to his popularity in literary circles. While in Paris, Himes’ was the contemporary of the political cartoonist Oliver Harrington and fellow expatriate writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and William Gardner Smith.
Himes was most famous for a series of Harlem Detective novels featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, New York City police detectives in Harlem. The novels feature a mordant emotional timbre and a fatalistic approach to street situations. Funeral homes are often part of the story, and funeral director, H. Exodus Clay is a recurring character in these books.
The titles of the series include “A Rage in Harlem, The Real Cool Killers, The Crazy Kill, All Shot Up, The Big Gold Dream, The Heat’s On, Cotton Comes to Harlem, and Blind Man With A Pistol”; all written between 1957-1969.
“Cotton Comes to Harlem”, was made into a movie in 1970, which was set in that time period, rather than the earlier period of the original book. A sequel, “Come Back, Charleston Blue”, was released in 1972, and “For Love of Imabelle” was made into a film under the title “A Rage in Harlem”, in 1991.
It was in Paris in the late 1950s that Chester met his second wife Lesley Himes, née Packard, when she was assigned to interview him. She worked as a journalist for the Herald Tribune, where she wrote her own fashion column, “Monica”. He described Lesley as “Irish-English with blue-gray eyes and very good looking”. In her, he found someone who didn’t judge him for his race and he also admired her courage and resilience.
In 1958 he won France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and a year later, Himes suffered a stroke, which led to Lesley quitting her job so that she could nurse him back to health. She cared for him for the rest of his life, and worked with him as his informal editor and proofreader. After a long engagement, they were married in 1978.
Lesley and Chester faced adversities as a mixed race couple living in that time period however, they were resilient and prevailed. People close to the author recalled his life with Lesley as one filled with unparalleled passion and great humor. Their circle of political colleagues and creative friends included; Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, Carl Van Vechten, Pablo Picasso, Jean Miotte, Ollie Harrington, Nikki Giovanni and Ishmael Reed. Their Bohemian life in Paris eventually led them to the South of France and finally on to Spain, where they remained until Chester’s death in 1984.
Some within the publishing industry regard Chester Himes as the literary equal of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Ishmael Reed has said, “[Himes] taught me the difference between a black detective and Sherlock Holmes” and it would be more than 30 years until another Black mystery writer, Walter Mosley and his Easy Rawlins and Mouse series, had even a similar effect.
In 1996, his widow Lesley Himes went to New York to work with Ed Margolies on the first biographical treatment of Himes’s life, entitled The Several Lives of Chester Himes, by long-time Himes scholars Edward Margolies and Michel Fabre, published in 1997 by University Press of Mississippi. Later, novelist and Himes scholar James Sallis published a more deeply detailed biography of Himes called “Chester Himes: A Life (2000)”.
A detailed examination of Himes’s writing and writings about him can be found in “Chester Himes: An Annotated Primary and Secondary Bibliography” compiled by Michel Fabre, Robert E. Skinner, and Lester Sullivan (Greenwood Press, 1992).
Himes was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
In May 2011, Penguin Modern Classics in London republished five of Himes’ detective novels from the Harlem Cycle.
On a personal note:
Chester Himes, along with Walter Moseley and Robert B. Parker were HUGE influences on my writing in terms of both content and style. I owe these men a great debt and I honestly don’t think that I’d be a writer today, had I not experienced reading their work(s).
If He Hollers Let Him Go, (1945)
Lonely Crusade, (1947)
Cast the First Stone, (1952)
The Third Generation, (1954)
The End of a Primitive, (1955)
For Love of Imabelle, alternate titles The Five-Cornered Square, A Rage in Harlem, (1957)
The Real Cool Killers, (1959)
The Crazy Kill, (1959)
The Quality of Hurt (1973)
My Life of Absurdity (1976)
WHAT WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION MONTH
Last month, I ran a series of blog posts spotlighting Black Speculative Fiction Month. BSFM was designed to acknowledge and spread the word about black authors and artists within the speculative fiction genre.
In and of itself, speculative fiction is mostly represented by whites and thus doesn’t usually have protagonists of color. That said, the readers of speculative fiction are mostly unaware of black authors in the genre.
One of the intentions of BSFM is to not only celebrate the achievements of black authors—which can be easily overlooked by the mainstream audience—but to also inform and educate the readers and potential reader of speculative fiction that diversity does exist and that various racial and cultural groups are being represented.
Many within the black community don’t read speculative fiction because they see it as either silly—too far removed from reality—or dominated by whites who often exclude any characters of color. So, most of the black community isn’t even aware that black speculative fiction authors exist. This is where BSFM comes into play.
The month long celebration informs those within the community and in the mainstream who don’t know, of the existence of black speculative fiction authors. This is an effort to not only inform readers of black authors, but to also bring new readers to the genre of speculative fiction as a whole.
I was confronted by an individual who felt that having BSFM was divisive and separatist. I attempted to explain that his interpretation of the celebration was not at all its intent. I tried to point out the goals I stated earlier, but unfortunately to no avail.
Sure, as you would expect most black speculative fiction writers have a predominately black cast of characters, whereas most white speculative fiction writers have a predominately white cast of characters. We write within our framework of experience and what comes natural and to me there’s nothing wrong with that. I have white characters, Asian characters, etc… in my work(s), as white authors have black characters within their work(s). But how I approach any character I create—regardless of race—is to make them human, first and foremost. I don’t get caught up in trying to make them conform to typical stereotypes in order to assert authenticity. To do this, creates a caricature of an ethnic group and does almost nothing to develop the character as an entity.
I have enjoyed books where the cast of characters were all white, but I never got particularly angry or disgruntled, nor did I urge those creators to include token blacks to make their work more balanced. I write stories with black protagonists and a predominately black cast, not in answer to my white counterparts, but because that’s what comes naturally to me. It’s not divisive or separatist to write what you know.
It wasn’t too long ago that the mainstream public refused to acknowledge, let alone publish or feature black speculative fiction authors. If we as a group wanted to be seen or heard, we had to do it for ourselves. Now, there is a slow movement to integrate black creators into the mainstream however, much more is yet to be done and celebrations like BSFM only help to foster diversity within the world of genre fiction by spreading the word about those outside of the mainstream’s purview.
A lot of people I know within speculative fiction are coming together to explore our differences and learn something new about other people and to me that’s a good thing. It has always been my idea that when I’m reading speculative fiction, I’m looking for a bold new adventure. What could be more different than to step outside of the box you’re accustomed to and explore a more diverse take on genre fiction? I’m not sure how making people aware of diversity, exploring new cultural takes on genre fiction and authors writing within the scope of their experience is such a bad thing.