Maurice Broaddus has a dream, and that dream is about to come true. Chances are, you’ve heard of the man. He’s hard to miss. Maurice is one of those rising stars one hears so much about… a writer with great literary promise and mass market appeal. His big break landed recently when he signed a three book deal with the HarperCollins’ imprint Angry Robot. But Mr. Broaddus is more than the words he writes on a page. A family man and man of God, he is all but human. He’ll be the first to admit to his mistakes and shortcomings. Maurice draws you in with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye that belies the deep reflection that comes from a man who knows that there is more to life than the day to day drudgery. Maurice Broaddus is a man who knows all too well that what truly matters are the affairs of the heart and the weight of the soul.
In this edition of the Author Spotlight I sit down with “The Sinister Minister” and we lift the veil and take a peek behind the curtain.
The themes of faith and spirituality clearly resonate with you. One of the things that drew me to you, as both a friend and a writer I admire, was that you were on a spiritual journey not unlike my own. Tell me about how that journey is reflected in the themes addressed in your work.
You know, I was toying with the idea of pitching a short story collection to a publisher. I had my stories scattered around me and it occurred to me that they were like a tarot card reading of my faith journey. 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 flawed people, who were created (in God’s image), 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.
How much of your writing is a reflection of your own doubts and insecurities? Is there a bit of redemption sought in the stories you tell?
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 quite the horror story when you think about it.)
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.
You’ve been able to turn these esoteric ruminations into an entire convention designed to delve into and explore the meatier realities of faith, spirituality, race, and gender issues and their effect on genre writing. You have to be very proud of the growth that you’ve seen in Mo*Con.
I am. I must say, I’ve been surprised, too. I didn’t know how much interest there would be in something like this. Turns out, there are a lot of people who want a safe place to discuss and explore deeper issues within the genre. I think the key words are “safe place”. Yes, we hold the convention in a church, but I think if the church is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, it should be a place where people of all spiritual persuasions can come, doubt, ask questions, and learn.
Let’s take a deeper look at your forthcoming trilogy from Angry Robot, The Knights of Breton Court. A ‘re-imagining’ of the Arthurian Mythos in an urban setting, complete with street gangs and drug dealers. I’ve heard it described as Excalibur meets The Wire. Tell me a bit out your protagonist, King, and what your readers can expect from book one in the series, King Maker.
King is a man who has always felt the weight of responsibility in his life. And he’s run from those responsibilities for most of his life. He slowly begins to realize that he’s a hero reborn, inheritor of the Pendragon spirit. After watching the community he loved continue to deteriorate, he decides to take a stand against the forces invading his neighborhood.
Like myself, you’re a prolific blogger. What do you think makes for a good blog?
There are a couple different ways a person could go with their blog: personal or expert. By that I mean you can do blogs based on who you are and the life you lead or blogs based on what area(s) you are an “expert” in. Either way, you are writing what you know. In addition to that, I think a good blog is “true”. It has to come from an honest place and that resonates with readers.
Fewer people are reading, bookstores and publishers are dropping like flies, and new technologies are threatening the very existence of physical books… where do you see the industry in five years time?
I think a lot more people are reading, but where they are reading and how they are reading are changing in unpredictable ways. The internet is a largely reading experience. My kids are desperate to read better so they can have e-mail, text, and be able to IM folks. I think the only thing keeping the reading experience from being a nearly completely electronic one is lack of a good/universal platform. Everyone seems to be waiting for a Kindle type device to come along (and down in price), but I wouldn’t be surprised for cell phone technology to leap frog it in terms of delivery and readability. And for that matter, being tied to video games. It’s an exciting time, which means, as writers, we have to be diligent about our digital rights.
Let’s end on a lighter note. Answer the following:
Favorite author: Michael Chabon
Favorite novel: Confederacy of Dunces
Favorite television show: The Wire
Favorite movie: Do the Right Thing
And finally, if you could have dinner with any five people no longer with us, who would they be?
Jesus, Malcolm X, Alexander the Great, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Thanks, Maurice, for taking the time to chat with us here at The Occult Detective. Best of luck, my friend.