Maurice Broaddus has written hundreds of short stories, essays, novellas, and articles. His dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, including Cemetery Dance, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales magazine. He is the co-editor of the Dark Faith anthology series (Apex Books) and the author of the urban fantasy trilogy, Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot Books). He has been a teaching artist for over five years, teaching creative writing to elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as adults. Visit his site at www.MauriceBroaddus.com.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS has a fantastic lineup of authors. Mike Resnick, Jeffrey Ford, Laird Barron, Jay Lake, Tim Pratt, and Lavie Tidhar, just to name a few, all deliver compelling (and sick) stories. I was also impressed by the quality — and diversity, both in setting and theme — of other contributors who were less familiar to me. You received over 700 submissions for this anthology, didn’t you? What was the selection process like, and how did you divvy up the work with your partner in editorial crime, Jerry Gordon?
Maurice Broaddus: Everyone should have a Jerry Gordon in their lives. Not only does he keep me organized and on task (and often bars me from the most egregious submissions from the slush pile), but he brings a bottle of Riesling to every editorial meeting. Which caused me to demand weekly, sometimes twice weekly meetings.
AZA: Some readers have commented that DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS may have a slightly lighter touch to it than DARK FAITH. Agree/disagree? Did you and Jerry consciously set out to make it different from its predecessor in any way?
MB: I definitely agree that the tone is lighter, though some might say that’s like saying Venus is cooler than Mercury. Invocations definitely has a different vibe and when it goes dark, it goes way dark. I think the stories tend to skew more fantasy and magical realism this time as opposed to horror.
AZA: Stories in this anthology engage everything from Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion that “God is dead” to Gottfried Leibniz’s idea that “this is the best of all possible worlds,” often with unexpected and wicked takes. And in several instances angels comment on how humans have free will while they themselves don’t. Do you have a favorite philosopher? How about a favorite angel?
MB: I’ve been playing Magic: the Gathering all evening with my son and now I feel like I need to have a set of philosopher trading cards. If I did, I’d say the ones I’d seek out to collect would be the Reinhold Niebuhr, the Soren Kierkegaard, and the Karl Barth. (Though I’m probably most in line with G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis).
As for favorite angels, Azrael, because I think he has the coolest name.
AZA: One story features a character whose idea of heaven includes, among other things, having sex with Kurt Cobain. That strikes me as both funny … and sad (and I mean that in a non-condescending way). Are there any scenes or moments in these stories that have stayed with you for being similarly rich in affect?
MB: Probably the most haunting story for me is Jay Lake’s “The Cancer Catechism”. That story was so brutally honest and real, I dare any reader to come away from it unaffected.
AZA: Back in October of 2010 Lee Thomas interviewed you for SF Signal, and at that time you wrote of horror that “For such a ‘dangerous’ genre, it plays it safe, sticks to its formulas, and has been choking on its own mediocrity.” Do you feel the situation has changed at all between now and then? Either way, care to speculate why?
MB: There is so much re-tread of trying to re-create what drew us to horror in the first place. So many stories I see want to do a spin on King or Barker or Lovecraft that they fail to take us to new places (or confuse a gross out with edgy or disturbing). And, frankly, I’m over the “white, middle class family has their precious little world disrupted by [insert boogeyman of choice]” story. I’m starting to suspect that the problem isn’t with the genre, but with the stories that have found themselves on my desk.
AZA: Your KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT trilogy was recently reissued by Angry Robot in a handsome omnibus edition. What are you most proud about regarding this series of books, and what was your biggest learning as a writer?
MB: I am most proud that I got to tell the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to mix as much of the Arthurian legend through the matrix of the lives of kids I knew pretty well. I wanted to tell a fantasy story through the conventions of a crime novel. On a practical level, one of the reason King’s Justice was my favorite of the trilogy was because I wrote that one in about three months. I didn’t have time to over think it. I just jumped in and wrote (to deadline). Knowing that I can do that helped me grow as a writer.
AZA: You mentioned in a previous interview that writers such as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Toni Morrison and Amy Hempel all made you want to be a better writer. Have you also had inspirational influences as an editor?
MB: Ellen Datlow, hands down. The way she has a vision for what she wants to do, selects her writers, and shapes the stories. I want to grow up and be her one day.
AZA: Future projects?
MB: I’m working on a middle grade detective novel (I just can’t get away from weaving crime stories into whatever I’m doing). I have a dozen stories coming out over the next year and a novella coming out from Apex books next summer.
AZA: Two words: Zombie ants.
MB: Would explain the summer I had this year.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro is the co-author, with Robert Silverberg, of When the Blue Shift Comes, a new novel in the Stellar Guild series of author team-ups, edited by Mike Resnick and published by Phoenix Pick (forthcoming Nov 2012). Alvaro grew up in Europe and has a BS in Theoretical Physics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). Alvaro is a Finalist of the Writers of the Future contest and his short fiction has appeared in various online venues. Alvaro has also published numerous reviews and critical essays in The New York Review of Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, Foundation, and elsewhere.