I will be teaching The Basics of Writing Speculative Fiction Class on Thursday, July 21st online via Zoom, for Indiana Writers Center (see info below).
- Instructor: John F. Allen
- Date: Thursday, July 21, 2022
- Time: 6:00 pm-9:00 pm
- Location: Zoom
- Nonmember Price: $75.00 (login to see your membership price)
Are you interested in adding some fantastical elements to your writing? Ready to explore and entertain aspects of futurism, slip-stream, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, or horror stories? Check out this class!
The Basics of Writing Speculative Fiction is a basic guide on what speculative fiction consists of and how to create a Speculative Fiction Short Story from beginning to end.
In this 3-hour course, you will learn the basic mechanics of writing a Speculative Fiction Short Story including: plot, setting, characters and world building.
Not sure if you are interested in the genre – check out What is Speculative Fiction?
Click here to register!
I’m honored and privileged to be teaching Journaling Workshops through Indiana Writers Center for my Fall Semester!
Here are the links to my Fall Semester classes beginning in October and continuing through November.
*NOTE* Please note that the in-person class on 10/6 starts at 7pm EST, the online classes start at 6pm EST.
10/6 Journaling (In-Person Only)
FB link – https://fb.me/e/2xtKy7Xb3
11/3 Journaling (ZOOM)
FB link – https://fb.me/e/1VtYsdTdh
10/20 Journaling (ZOOM)
FB link – https://fb.me/e/1HiHvmlER
Copyright © 2022 by John F. Allen Author
Hey Indy Residents!
Are you interested in learning more about Speculative Fiction and supporting your local libraries? If so, IMCPL & Indiana Writers Center have collaborated to present IMCPL’s 2021 Summer Reading Program!
I will be teaching a Basics of Writing Speculative Fiction course at various library branches throughout the month of July!
Discover an Imaginary World through Speculative Fiction
Instructor: John F. Allen
Get ready to explore the fantastical in your writing. This introduction to writing speculative fiction will cover aspects of futurism, slip-stream, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and horror stories. Learn how to plot, create settings and characters, and build an imaginary world.
See the schedule below:
Monday, July 19, 6:30-8:00 PM, Spades Park Branch
Saturday, July 24, 2:00-3:30 PM, Wayne Branch
Monday, July 26, 5:30-7:00 PM, East 38th Street Branch
Saturday, July 31, 1:00-2:30 PM, Southport Branch
Click the link below for other classes being offered!
Remember, The Best is Yet to Come!
John F. Allen Author Copyright ©2021
It’s NOT that I have anything at all against Shuri. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I think the Shuri character as portrayed by Leitia Wright was one of the MANY highlights of the Black Panther film.
However, regarding the question the title of this blog post poses, I’d have to say NOT YET & YES.
There is a rumor going around that Disney plans to kill the character of T’Challa offscreen and pass the mantle to Shuri in the MCU, due to the recent passing of Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman.
While that’s a scenario which keeps the mantle within the family and utilizes an established character from the previous film and others where the character was presented, I don’t think that it’s the best move for Disney to make and here’s why.
The character of T’Challa is much too important to be killed offscreen, simply because Chadwick Boseman died. Let me say that Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa was superb and an extremely difficult act to follow, the exploration of T’Challa’s 50+ year history wasn’t even scratched, and It’s extremely disrespectful to the character’s legacy to simply kill him offscreen and pass the mantle to Shuri, in my opinion.
We have seen nearly every main white, male character fully explored with 3 solo films at least. Yet when we get a fully realized black, male character, on par with his white counterparts, it seems the studio may be ready to write the character off?
How is it that Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, etc… have been recast for far less? Just to be clear, it’s not that I have a problem with Shuri being passed the mantle, per se, it’s how this rumor states Disney would handle it, that I have a huge problem with. So, before anyone gets the idea that my perspective is anti-Shuri or misogynistic in ANY way, know that that’s NOT the case.
I feel passing the mantle to Shuri in the manner suggested in this rumor, will kill the franchise for some, myself included, as surely as an immediate recasting would. I’d rather they recast for two additional films before passing the baton, or…
In the comics Shuri takes over the mantle because T’Challa is in a coma after a battle with Doctor Doom, a character which Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige is planning to introduce into the MCU in the near future. Why not have a scene filmed where it’s believed that Doctor Doom has killed T’Challa in battle, and in the wake of his death, Shuri assumes the mantle. This provides time which allows fans to adjust from Boseman’s death, then eventually recast the character and reintegrate the re-casted T’Challa into the MCU? This also gives the character of Doctor Doom an introduction to the franchise as well and establishes an antagonism between T’Challa and Doom. They could also produce a Black Panther Disney + show which could explore that T’Challa may not be dead and is recovering in secret. Then, debut the NEW T’Challa, (I vote for John David Washington), and after some time has passed, reintegrate the character back into the MCU so that it wouldn’t be such a shock to fans.
It also allows for a Shuri spin-off franchise to be established, as in the comics she has a different power set than T’Challa which deserves to be explored outside of T’Challa’s shadow.
To this long-time fan of the character, it’s a compromise which honors the T’Challa character, Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal and is at least worth a shot.
I’m pleased and excited to officially announce that my current catalog of novels, novellas and short stories will be relaunched at Hydra Publications! This speculative fiction publisher is owned and operated by long-time associate Tony Acree. My original ebooks and paperbacks will soon be available through the usual online retail outlets, with new work to be released in the near future.
This move will also debut my publishing imprint, affectionately dubbed
Although my catalog is temporarily unavailable, those who want to purchase copies of my out-of-print softcover editions can purchase them directly from me by clicking here.
Be sure to keep an eye out here at this space for upcoming announcements of pre-order and release dates, as well as links when they become available. Thank you for your support and continued patience during this transition period and remember, The Best is Yet to Come!
|Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?|
|Yes. I’m a full-time writer. Until recently, I worked full-time as a School Media Specialist or School Librarian. I have a Master’s Degree in Library Service from Clark Atlanta University.|
|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 Science Fiction and Fantasy stories with black women protagonists. My goal is to continue to write my diverse stories and encourage readers to expand their scope and horizon. These stories offer the opportunity to dream, fosters creativity, and the ability to “see” oneself in a futuristic world. It’s imperative that African Americans take up this challenge and dream broader and bigger. In fact, it’s equally important for all others to see us in expanded roles, as well.|
|Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?|
|My favorites are Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Patricia Briggs, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Sarah J Maas.|
|Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?|
|Yes. My music is very boring. Lots of brain-based sounds that keep me in the creative zone.|
|How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?|
|Lately, a lot longer. For many years, I was a discovery writer or a “pantser.” This allowed me to write a novel in a month but it took 6-months to iron it all out. As a full-time writer, I’m taking workshops and classes to teach me how to plot. So About a month to plot and 2-months to write. I’m sure as I get better at plotting, I can get back to writing my novels in 1-2 months.|
|What does your writing schedule look like and how many hours a day do you write?|
|I work on current WIP for 5-6 hours per day. I use Pomodoro method (40 minutes work and 15 minutes break). Very helpful.|
|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?|
|Books, TV, Movies have changed substantially over the years. In some cases, there is no longer a positive message to the audience. It’s quite disconcerting and frustrating. Just looking at recent TV series where audiences were “let down” because it was all about “entertaining” and not about “uplifting” or even answer the basic questions of “why is this important” and “what message do you have to share with me about life” is critical. All creatives have a responsibility to not only entertain but to share a message of survival, especially in the Black community. I do feel a personal responsibility. Hopefully, others will come around and return to good storytelling.|
|What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?|
|There are so many different types of ways to research when writing a book. I generally like to get an idea of what the market is about by reading 10-40 novels in the niche that I’d like to write. Then, I go to Amazon and read the reviews of the top selling books to see what readers want in the niche. This is very enlightening and eye-opening. I usually take notes on the tropes/conventions to get an idea of what this niche is all about. After I have that scaffold, then I start to think about my theme/armature for the type of story, I have in mind. That’s where the research tends to get more detailed and specific to my protagonist and supporting characters.|
|What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?|
|In 2012, I released my first novel, Breaking Free. I sold many copies but I could never quite figure out how to finish the series. Recently, when I decided to write full-time, I knew I had to go back and finish that series. It’s the project that I’m currently working on. I’m reworking it into a Post-Apocalyptic Superhero series. I’m very exciting about this project and can’t wait for readers to see the changes in the world-building and main character, XJ Patterson.|
|How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?|
|If readers want to learn more about my work and get an idea, if they would like it, they can visit my website www.aliciamccalla.com and read several flash fiction stories that I have available on my blog. They can even listen to me read them on my podcast. And, of course, signing up for my newsletter will get them even more free reads and bargain books.|
It took thirty years for Alicia to accept her calling as a writer of “unusual stories.” Always writing edgy tales that pushed the envelope. She learned to hide her violent, controversial, heart-pumping, and tragically romantic stories from family and friends.
Alicia writes for both new adults and adults with her brand of multicultural superheroes, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror. Her stories always include strong women heroines who fight back, sometimes to the death.
Alicia’s influences include Octavia Butler, LA Banks, Faith Hunter, Patricia Briggs and Laurell K Hamilton.
Alicia is an activist in the movement towards diversifying Science fiction and Fantasy (#diversityinSFF). She created the first “State of Black Science Fiction 2012″ blog tour, is an active member in the State of Black Science Fiction FaceBook group and has a ScoopIt page where she actively curates topics related to Afrofuturism, Black Science Fiction, Black Speculative fiction and Multicultural Science Fiction.
Alicia is a native Detroiter who currently resides in metro Atlanta. Alicia recently lost her beloved son who served as a NAVY Officer. His memory keeps her pushing forward. She currently works as a full-time writer and enjoys spending time with her husband.
She’s working on a new superhero series and looks forward to releasing the series soon. Her adult series mixes African-American women’s fiction with dark fantasy. Check out the African Elemental series. Sign-up on www.aliciamccalla.com for free downloads, e-updates, sneak peeks, and coupons.
I started making music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For various reasons, I drifted away from music and started to write Science Fiction and Fantasy. I have written two novels. My novels can be found on amazon.com and are called “What Burns Below,” and “Journey Through The Earths.”
Recently, I started to make music again. My musical influences are many and include Prince, George Clinton/P-Funk/Bootsy Collins, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles, Madonna, James Brown, Kiss, Aerosmith, Public Enemy, Sly Stone, Teddy Pendergrass, Isaac Hayes, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis and others.
For more information go to peterokeafor.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|At what point in your life did you discover that you were destined to be a comic book artist?|
|I believe the entire concept of “destiny” to be questionable and open to debate. No one can tell what it is they were put on this earth for. We basically discover something we like, or at least mediocre to pro efficient and let our wanderings take us where it may. When I was a child, I knew that I liked to draw. I grew up under the rule of a very strict father (who did not see a Black kid doing a career as a cartoonist to be viable at all), so I was rather quiet and to myself and I picked up drawing in my room as a form of escapism. If there was truly destiny then we wouldn’t have to do anything. It would unfold as it’s supposed to. As I literally grew up in the industry I was wildly creative. When, at age 12, I discovered that others would pay money for my art I just kept at it. But as I drew, I studied writing, and panel construction and how to create strong well-developed characters with distinct personalities. It was when I signed the contract for my first syndicated strip, Lookin’ Fine, that I began to think I’d be doing this all my life. I was 21 and had been in the industry professionally for almost ten years.As a kid I actually thought I would do something in science, as it fascinates me and to this day still study it.|
|What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a comic book artist, and even more specifically a black comic book artist?|
|I find the most rewarding aspect of doing a Black comic is that it is revolutionary. There will never be an even-ground aspect to it and to make it survive in an almost lily-white profession, you have to be extra good. As a Black cartoonist there are a lot of topics that you may want to do or like to do but it is not accepted or appreciated. A lot of flights of fantasy are just not accepted, and a lot of expectations are not your expectation. I like to believe that my voice is unique and singular-apart from the others, At this point of my career it’s my mission to be the best I can and hopefully inspire some others to pick up the struggle where one day I will leave behind. It’s nice to have some look up to you or read you daily. You become a fond part of that person or that family. Just to find out sometimes just who has been reading your stuff is amazing. I am very lucky.|
|Who are some of your biggest comic book artist influences?|
|My art influences are vast. Most of them came as I was just growing into the industry. Some were mainstream, as the usual pick of Charles Schulz, Mort Walker, Hank Ketcham but also those whose began in “alternative political papers like Jules Feiffer and Matt Groening. I also liked some cartoonists that were definitely off the grid, and working with no restrictions whatsoever and didn’t have to worry about offending or appeasing everyone. Most of my biggest influences were incredible artists with unique styles, others were at least very clever in their punchlines.|
|What inspires you to create and how do you strive to reach your readers within the black community by reflecting themselves in your work?|
|I’m not inspired to reach out to only the Black community. I want my work to be embraced by people of all races, ages and nationalities. What I offer is a glimpse into my world. If you like it, fine, if you don’t, that’s fine too. I only hope that other Black creators feel that if I could be successful and break some barriers that they could too. For the Black community any excursion into any visual art is a hard daunting one full of rejection by non-creatives or those who just can’t grasp the bigger picture, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.|
|What does your creative schedule look like and how many hours a day do you create?|
|My creative schedule is loose and strict at the same time. I never say that I’m going to create at a certain time or place. Ideas can hit me anywhere that I’m at, and I either write them done for future editing, or if I have no paper handy, to just remember key words or sentences, There are times when I’m definitely a Night-Owl, working in solitude way into the night when It’s very quiet. Or I may wake up in the early am, before the sun is up, because I cannot shut my brain off. it takes work and dedication because there are some days, say a nice summer day, when I’d rather be outside and hanging at a friends, but I know I must meet my deadline. I have been on a deadline for the better part of my life so I have learned how to juggle everything and have the readers not know what I may be going through.|
|What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?|
|There are a few difficult parts to my process. As life goes sometimes there are bad things that happen, like a death of a close family member. An accident that leaves someone close hospitalized. Maybe even I get hospitalized. The fact that I still have to create and not have time off at times pisses me off. But then I remember this is just a business and they are not my true friends. True friendships in this industry are slim to none. And when I’m told “no” to a project I worked my ass off on. I can work on a script for animation then work up storyboards, taking several months of extra work just to have one person say no and the whole project goes down the drain. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.|
|What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?|
|There are many ways I choose to recharge. Lying back and just doing nothing. Checking out classic Noir films or the rare movie at the theatre. I calm myself with cooking, which people tell me I’m good at. Reading science journals and nature, Music is a very big part of me and I never go a day without listening to music. But real music, not auto-tune or image-oriented and most people I like can actually play an instrument. So that gives you an idea of who I don’t listen to.|
|What have you found to be the most challenging thing about breaking into the comic book industry, especially as a black creator?|
|As a Black creator the most challenging aspect to this business is that there aren’t any Blacks in high positions like President, Vice-president or even Editors. You can’t expect anyone else to actually understand what it is you’re trying to do. Which is why there aren’t a slew of animated programs with diversity. I guess these things shouldn’t be exactly aimed at a certain group without leaving the other in a secondary role. But when you really look, that’s what is being done anyway. There are programs that go for several seasons with token diversity or none at all. It’s a challenge to even get others to even take your ideas seriously. They don’t come from where you do and have not lived the same experiences so I guess it cannot be expected for them to understand.|
|How and why is it important that black people are represented in this medium and how important is it that black creators work together to encourage, empower and educate the black community through their work?|
|As a Black creator I feel it’s very important to represent others that look like me and also a large part of the population. We don’t all look the same and I believe that should reflect in our works. Hopefully it does encourage those to work on their own visions, their own take on life, aside from what has always been slated as the norm. It empowers others to believe that they have a stake in the industry and their own vision to share. And in terms of education, that should come along with the work.|
|What upcoming project(s) are you working on, which you can share with the readers?|
|My upcoming projects are still the ones I’ve been trying to get for many years. I’m still working an animation scripts. Hopefully some producer out there with vision and an open mind will open a door. There are CURTIS miniatures figures in the works. And I’m to be in talks about a new series of books. And if haven’t learned anything about me from reading this article, you know it will have to be an original take. Fingers crossed!|
|Where can the readers continue to follow your career? Do you have a website or blog?|
|Readers can continue to follow CURTIS in papers, on the web, and on the King Features site called The Comics Kingdom. If you want to look up some personal things, you can always go my site http://www.billingsleyart.com. And yes, it needs a new design. I’ll get to it one day. And of course, there is always Facebook and Instagram.|
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?
When I was five years old, my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, an artist, a writer or a veterinarian. My dad explained how long it would take to become a veterinarian and how much time was involved with sick animals. I ended up giving that dream and going into technology, like my father. So I became a computer repair technician, an author and an artist. Two out of three ain’t bad, though.
Being a Black writer means you are faced with choices on an almost daily basis as to whether you are going to market yourself to mainstream or Black audiences. And mainstream authors like Stephen King will criticize people for making race more important than mainstream notions of talent. But mainstream notions of talent are geared towards people like Stephen King as a genre trope. Toni Morrison refused to write for white audiences, and I don’t think Stephen King is nearly as talented.
Yet, he’s won a dozen Stoker Awards while Toni Morrison was never recognized in the genre for works like Beloved and Sula. Octavia Butler had to win posthumously, with the Kindred graphic novel. Blind submission calls in the horror genre reward people for sounding as much as possible like Stephen King. They aren’t really blind, because people are going to favor those who sound like whoever they read. If they never read Octavia Butler and other Black authors, and their favorites are all white men they will be subconsciously biased towards white male voices.
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 fic, tion in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I write Horror, Sci-Fi, Erotica/Paranormal and Afrosurrealism. Afrosurrealism has a profound impact on the Black community because it is the dark fantasy analogous Afrocentric genre and Toni Morrison is the most famous author associated with it. However, I think my horror essays and non-fiction horror works like 60 Black Women in Horror, 100+ Black Women in Horror, and Black Celebration have a more profound impact on the Black Community. I also write a column called Writing While Black about the challenges I have faced on the convention circuit as a black author.
I think the essays, in particular, contribute, as they have challenged the mainstream culture. I am not the only author demanding an answer to the question, “Why would Candyman be considered horror and Beloved not?” but I am one of the voices that is forcing the question in the genre of horror. And there are changes. The idea that Octavia Bulter is valid as a horror author is a change.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Three to five months to write a novel, and another three to five months in editing.
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?
To some extent, I do. I write a lot of political and psychological horror, like Jordan Peele does with Get Out and Us. But I also write sheer trash urban fiction soap operas. I mean, The Moon Cried Blood, my young adult urban fantasy, is like LA Bank’s The Vampire Huntress Legend Series meets Steven King’s The Firestarter. It’s all about this precocious thirteen year African and Mexican America old witch in 1976. There are many educational things in the book but most of it is action, gore, and visceral horror. And there are a lot of urban genre tropes about drug addiction, orphans, foster care, and all that which aren’t exactly uplifting. Urban fiction is pretty much all about the Jerry Springer show tropes that set it in the gritty city.
How can you educate and enlighten while including all of that? Well, honestly, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker did it. Domestic violence, child abuse, incest, and all of that showed up in their novels. In that light, I suppose that The Moon Cried Blood is potentially uplifting.
How long have you been producing artwork professionally?
I have been a professional commercial graphic artist and designer since I was 19, and I have been getting paid for artwork since I was 15, so some 30 to 35 years now.
What medium(s) do you create with and is there a favorite?
I am a cartoonist who uses pencils, inks, and computer graphic programs such as Photoshop, and Gimp. I am also a painter, and I prefer acrylics on wood, canvas or paper. I do SecondLife digital photography which is post-processed in Photoshop and Gimp.
At what point in your life did you discover that you were destined to be a comic book artist?
I always wanted to be, but I didn’t have the patience to finish enough cels for a comic book until 2012, when I started to illustrate Agrippa. It is a short story about a dystopic 1984 style future where student loans can lead to debtor’s prison. In Trump’s America it seems strangely prophetic. My father was dying in 2012 and I got writer’s block. Unable to write, I drew.
I have since illustrated my mother’s tragic mulatto/reversal of fortunes tale “Living A Lie,” and have put out some additional titles of my own. Dreamworlds is a dark fantasy about my mental health struggles and how my characters slip in and out of reality during a nervous breakdown. Mauskaveli is a kinky comic with anthromorphic, polyamorous, multiethnic queer mice in it.
How many pieces have you created and how long does it usually take you to complete work on a piece/project?
I can’t count how many paintings I have done, but approximately 100. I have done more commissioned illustratrions than I can count. It takes me about four hours to complete a panel for a comic strip or a painting for sale. Obviously, it takes a lot longer to do a comic given that a single cel takes two to four hours. I charge a hundred dollars for an illustration for a book or album cover or a flyer, so it comes out to around $25 an hour. I do a lot less work than I did when I was in my 20s and 30s and did graphic design as a full time occupation.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Collection – Black Celebration: Amazing Articles on African American Horror
Performance – with my band Stagefright. February 8, 2020
African American Multimedia Conference