...Quite by accident. Or quiet design. Viable arguments for the genesis of many things, but tripping through the wires of the internet led me to this Place. A vibrant fantastical place in its own right, the Black Science Fiction Society feels like coming home or a family reunion. Multicolored, multifaceted, multicultural, is how I likes it. So thanks to all y'all for the uncharacteristically warm welcome!
Right, so a little over a year ago, I was slogging through Amazon for something to read that might tickle my fancy. If you're like me, you felt like you've read every fantasy novel brimming with the standard tropes or tropes in disguise. Weened on mythology, teethed on Tolkien, with an adolescence in D&D, heaping helpings of Moorcock and liberal sprinklings of Le Guin, I've dabbled with Delany's Dhalgren and strode the deserts of Herberts Dune, I felt like I had read it all before, twice. At the moment, Neil Gaiman is, for me, like many others, a current champion. So what to read now that you can't pore over the Silmarillion one more time, you've slummed with Jim Butcher and you, a former genre head, find yourself squinting into the not-so-forbidding-anymore-wilds of Literary Fiction writers like Chabon for a ripping good yarn? Chalk it up to maturity, desperation, whatever! This is why I was on Amazon. Felt like the (Amazon) jungle, yeah.
Didn't find jack until i went to the forums. Trolling those wilds I went from jack to jackpot. Most interesting to me was a post concerning a certain literary agency that puts out a monthly wishlist of books/manuscripts that it would like to see cross its desks. A muslim detective, a modern day huck finn, an African American Lord of the Rings. A WHAT?!? What the heck was that? I wondered. And it seemed I wasn't alone in that question... How would that work? Why would you even do it? What does that mean?? What? But it was late and I went to bed and forgot about it......for a while.
In the wintry dead of night. some months later, I woke with a start and grabbed a pen and started scribbling down words in the blank black books I keep nearby the bed when nightborne fits of writing seize me. My subconscious, or WHATEVER had worked out how it WOULD work. Wow, I was on to something. Deeply personal, (YAY!) it consumed and continues to consume my waking (and sometime dreaming) thought. It's my "African American Lord of the Rings"! A world of my own devising this time that I can go to when I need to escape the humdrummery of light conversation, the daily commute or bill paying muzak. My eyes may glaze and I might miss what you said but I assure you worlds are being saved behind my vacant, placating smile. Hopefully when its finished you can share in these effects.
There was/is the research.
There are the many pages written and to come.
There are the maps, the outlines.
The f***ing words!
My first major undertaking as a writer. The hubris! The sheer arrogance! The sheerogance! Might as well put that creative writing degree to use though, huh? So I have. Its a process I'm sure with which many of you dear readers are familiar. Me? I'm lazy, easily distracted, and infrequently dismayed by the task with which I've set before myself. Other than that, things are going swimmingly.
Hey. This summer my own brother said a curious thing: "I don't think there's a market necessarily for African American Fantastic Fiction." My initial response was at least threefold:
1. Anger at his own black ass for thinking the thing.
2. Dismay at that same thought and
3. The immense desire to prove him wrong.
A little about my bro: he's biracial and grew up for all intents and purposes as white among whites (so did I to a certain extent) but I have seen some moments when the ways of society rudely awakened my brown brother from beyond the pale of his reverie. I thought said revelatory moments might have clued in his black ass more in to the diversity of perspective/possibility in the world. For the moment, I've let him off the hook. He's young yet... And wrong yet... Ugh. (There's more here, I know.)
Back to the internet, and how it led me to you to me to you reading these words. Google is a phenomenal tool and googling "African American"+"Lord of the Rings" yields few results but via link after link I located the works of Charles Saunders. Well, what had we here? Devoured entire his webpage and actually reached into the recesses of memory and recalled that I had encountered his recently republished Imaro novel in Barnes & Noble. Cutting to the chase, he is an inspiration and living proof that I have the privilege (should I accept it) to stand on the shoulder of another giant. Mama the other giant.
Through Saunders' webpage, I found THIS Place. With you. Happy Accident? Fate? HTML? I don't care, I do know that I've chanced upon a camaraderie only rarely experienced that speaks the words: "Boy, you fount yo folks!" So yeah, thanks for havin' me! I hope to contribute some as some of you have already contributed to me.