The Shelf Stuff – “Meet the Author” Visual Diary

Over on theshelfstuff

This week in our #ElevateBIPOCAuthors q&a series we’re featuring @MauriceBroaddus, author of #TheUsualSuspects—a honest examination about systemic profiling and what it means to break labels 📚

Okay, I have two working spaces: my indoors office (if you squint you can see my active reading pile, some of my boxes of comics (over 20,000 total!), and the active novels I’m working on) and my outdoors office (which I call my “coffeeshop” with my neighbors being the regulars).

This is one of the four bookshelves around here (not including all of my TBR stacks). Speaking of …

I typically read two books at a time, one fiction and one non-fiction (very excited to dig into N.K. Jemisin’s collection since I just wrapped up her The City We Became).

I don’t have a photo of a book from when I was a child, but here are a couple cover images. One is of the first Danny Dunn novel I ever read. I loved this book. Ended up reading most of the Danny Dunn mystery series. I loved him more than Encyclopedia Brown because he was a SCIENCE detective! Second through fourth grade, I read them. In middle school, my first love was The Wolf King. Only looking back do I see its impact on me as a writer. But it’s the first fantasy novel I remember reading.

“Behind the Book” (THE USUAL SUSPECTS) Q&A

Describe your book in one sentence!

When something goes wrong, the principal gathers The Usual Suspects and they have to clear their not-quite-good name.

What inspired you to write this story?

From the teacher’s perspective, it came from my experiences working in the Special Ed rooms when I was a substitute teacher. From the student side, it came from watching my sons navigating their way through the school system. And I wanted to see if I could write Walter Mosley for kids.

Who’s your favorite character and why?

I love most of my characters, but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Nehemiah. He’s just so … pure. He is who he is, makes no apologies, and makes life take him on his terms.

When and where do you write?

I typically write in the mornings and if my day is pretty free, in the early afternoon after lunch. During the summer, you can catch me sitting on my porch putting pen to paper. Otherwise, I’m squirreled away in my office (home or school).

Who is this book for?

This book is for middle schoolers and anyone who’s ever been in middle school. It’s all about navigating your way through life, dealing with the challenge of the labels people try to put on you.

EXCLUSIVE: AMC has optioned the rights to Sorcerers, a novella by co-writers Maurice Broaddus and Otis Whitaker and featuring illustrations by internationally renowned artist Jim Mahfood, with plans to adapt it into a series.

The short story is a psychedelic urban fantasy about a 30-year-old man from Harlem who comes into his own as a hip hop-inspired sorcerer. It follows Malik Hutchins, the black sheep to one of the most successful families in Harlem. Malik couch-surfs with relatives, parties with his girlfriend, and ghostwrites rhymes for local rappers for a few bucks to finance his lifestyle—but when cocky Malik sells two warring rappers the same verse, he paints a target on his own back. Then on his deathbed, Malik’s beloved grandfather Pop-Pop reveals that Malik is a sorcerer, in the great tradition of African sorcery born on the plains of the rift valley before the beginning of time. Malik is thrown headlong into a quest that winds through the streets of Harlem, to the rural South, and places much farther beyond, places he’s only visited in dreams… Now it’s Malik’s turn to step up and take his place as wielder and guardian of an ancient magic passed down through generations in order to protect the family, the people of Harlem, and the world from the forces of dark magic connected to the worst aspects of American history and the fearful creatures it has unleashed.

Continue reading on Deadline

Panels, Panels, Panels (Virtual Me!)

This is the page home of my virtual appearances this year. At least those appearances that have a permanent home. Guest of Honor interviews, for example, were live-streamed but not archived.

All In: The Best of 2020 Indiana Genre

Apex Magazine Editor Q&A #1

The Spec Griot Garage: episode 12: “Speak the Truth to the People” by Mari Evans with Maurice Broaddus


Deathbuilding with Darin Kennedy, Jen Guberman, Maurice Broaddus, and Michael G. Williams

Building A Professional Community In Speculative Fiction with Quincy Allen, Emily Leverett, Emily Kaplan, and Maurice Broaddus

Toucan Tuesdays with Maurice Broaddus!


[Heightened in times of crisis, it is key for our community’s mutual survival to sustain and build authentic relationships. This conversation features local artists and creatives as they share perspectives on using art and storytelling as tools for building the future.]

Moderator: Maurice Broaddus

Panelists: Diop Adisa, Mariah Ivey, Keenan Rhodes


4th Street Fantasy

This is Fine: Making Art While the World Burns

The internet makes information and disinformation equally accessible, and media strategies make it impossible to effectively filter the deluge of horrifying news and terrible takes. After 2016, many people were walloped with the growing awareness that fascism is on the rise around the world, inundated with stories that are endlessly awful and calls to act on all of them. Here we are at another US election year occurring during an actual pandemic, and we’ve had to continually learn new strategies to cope with Our Trashfire of 2020. This is a panel to discuss how we continue to create art—and why it’s as or more important than ever—without burning ourselves out or failing to engage in the world at all.

Moderator: John Wiswell

Panelists: Maurice Broaddus, John Chu, C.L. Polk, Fran Wilde

Episode 39 – The Usual Suspect: Maurice Broaddus Just Keep Writing

WFYI Interview with Jill Ditmire

Science Fiction, Fantasy Author Maurice Broaddus On The Lessons Learned During The Pandemic

My Introductory Remarks to Bridge to Racial Unity Discussions

The Oaks Academy launched a discussion series based on “Be the Bridge.”  This is a 12-week course with the first 4-week segment focusing on the history of racism/white supremacy in the US. They wanted me to give some opening remarks to set the tone for the discussion. Here’s what I had to say:

My first day of working as a sub for the Oaks, Mrs. Dierlam introduced me to her first-grade class. She asked me about the spelling of my last name, fascinated that it had two D’s. I kinda froze and asked “do you really want to know?”

She said yes, so I explained that in tracing my family tree, I only had to go back three generations before I had to sift through receipts. It turned out that there was a spelling error on a transfer of property order and just like that, our one D family became a two D family.

I get done explaining this and I’m standing in front of this class like “Hi kids, welcome to the realities of chattel slavery … I’ll just see my way out.” But Mrs. Dierlam doesn’t miss a beat and puts my story immediately into historical context. Unafraid to have difficult conversations in the moment. That willingness is what first impressed me about the Oaks.

I’ve been having these sorts of conversation with a couple of friends of mine, one whom I went to elementary school and the other I grew up in church with. They reached out due to all of the uprising and racial strife. I thought it was telling that they had to reach out to someone who they knew thirty years ago.

You should probably know, I don’t always engage in these conversations. They require me to open up old wounds in the hope that the listener will hear my story, see my humanity, and perhaps learn. I’m not always up for that.

But I made the exception because I am in relationship with them. It became the familiar conversation. With my “friends” wanting to start from the place that they weren’t even sure that systematic racism is a thing. So, I took the opportunity to set a couple of parameters:

One, we may not be ready to have a conversation about this. If you’re at the stage where you are essentially questioning whether gravity is real to a scientist, I probably don’t have the emotional bandwidth to get you there.

Two, in the entirety of us knowing each other, you never understood that we live in the same country experiencing its systems completely differently.

What do I mean by that?

The only reason either of them knew me is because:

-First, my mother essentially tricked the bank into loaning us money. Redlining was still a thing. We were buying a house in a neighborhood on the westside where black people didn’t live. But my mom did all her business through a white male lawyer. When she went into sign the papers, with her lawyer in tow and toting my newborn baby sister with her, the banker assumed her to be the nanny. She still delights in remembering his face when her lawyer looked over the paperwork, nodded with approval, and then slid the paperwork over to her.

-Secondly, the school system I was enrolled in wanted to default me to their remedial program. My mom fought and argued with them to have me tested. They didn’t want to. Good luck arguing with my mom. When they relented and got the results back, they quite reluctantly admitted me into their Accelerated Program. The only black male in the class.

-Third, my mother insisted that me and my brother go to church. So, we went to the one within walking distance of our new house. One of only two black families attending there.

I grew up in that conservative Evangelical church from when I was in fourth grade until about halfway through college. One of the big reasons why I left was over issues of race.

While I really liked our pastor because he was such a student of the Bible, there was some questionable theology among the congregation. Besides the blue-eyed, blond Jesus iconography, there was an undercurrent of “the curse of Ham” brand of theology when it came to black people.

Your teenage years is a time for trying to figure out your identity. Who you are. Who you want to be. Church was supposed to be the place where you could ask those kind of questions. But the answers very much felt like “you are a son of God … but don’t date our daughters” because we weren’t meant to be “unequally yoked.” When I started studying the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. there was immediate pushback because “you know he was a womanizer and a Communist.”

Which was when I first started studying Malcolm X. Malcolm X had a profound impact on my growing worldview. My youngest son is even named for him. But at this point I was labeled as “angry” by my church and left alone. Eventually I had enough and quit the church. And white people. And joined the Nation of Islam.

And I did eventually find my way back to Jesus. But it took many years.

This part of my story stunned my church friend (btw, turns out he’s the uncle of a former staff member here. She loves the fact that I’ve been having these conversations with him). But I reminded him that he was only shocked because race was a conversation no one wanted to have. While we were studying the Israelites great exodus, he spent more time trying to identify with Israel than wrestling with the idea that his culture might be Egypt. Or how the story of Israel’s exile might have special resonance with me: a people being transported to a new land, forced to learn a new culture, and a new language in order to navigate the dominant culture. When my friend asked me about what I meant by that, my next words hurt him.

In the thirty plus years we’ve known each other, you’ve never heard my authentic voice.

From the time I started in the new school and new church, that was when the lessons of navigating white spaces were driven home. I had to act a certain way, speak a certain way, if I wanted to get ahead. Get ahead meaning allowed entry and the possibility to thrive in those spaces. The lessons so acutely learned, if a white person is in the room, I automatically code-switch.

Redlining. Code-switching. The public school system. He didn’t have to think about navigating any of this. That’s the reality of the system for him. I’ve simply learned to survive in it. The status quo serves him. It has never served me.

My work at the Oaks is one of my three full time jobs. I’m also an Afrofuturist by training (as a scientist and as a science fiction writer) and practice (as a community organizer at the Kheprw Institute). I see these times brought about by the twin pandemics of racial injustice and Covid-19 as an opportunity. To see torn down all the institutions and practices that keep us in states of inequality. This country was built on the backs of the free labor of black people and reinforced those same people not having equal say and rights from the beginning. Woven into the fabric of its systems, laws, and practices. Now is an opportunity revealing where the cracks in the system are. Where it’s not serving its citizens.

And, most importantly, as an opportunity to have the kind of conversations that have been decades in the making. Long overdue conversations. working with folks to create something new and better.

Because that’s literally my hope.

There’s this quote that I love from the book God of the Oppressed (by James Cone): “To hope in Jesus is to see the vision of his coming presence, and thus one is required by hope itself to live as if the vision is already realized in the present.” My work here at the Oaks, in the community, and in my writing all springs from a place of future hope. I live in light of who I was meant to be, who I will become, and join with God in reconciling the world back to Him by living with intentionality toward the world we want to see.

That’s my story. I can only speak for me and to my experiences. But thank you for listening.

AFROFUTURE FRIDAY: Black Futurists and Community Work

Today we’re at the intersection of technology and community work as we look at how futurity/technological concepts can be developed to specifically benefit our communities. In the age of intrusive surveillance and Big Data, how can we use technology to create the future we want to see?

We’ll be in conversation with a couple of black futurists:

Rasul Palmer stepping out from his role as co-facilitator for KI’s Afrofuture Fridays, has been working with the Kheprw Institute for 12 years. He’s the lead for their Democratizing Data initiative: an initiative to train and develop inter-generational grassroots capacity in the public data field.

Madebo Fatunde is a foresight strategist and a writer, building a practice at the intersection of arts, technology, and culture. His passion is using storytelling about the future to empower better decisions today. Some current projects of his include “The Blackchain”, a speculative future which imagines a world around a Pan-African blockchain network, and “Unmanned Ode”, a poetry collection exploring the codes of masculinity composed alongside and against a neural network. He is a member of the Foresight Practice Group at Autodesk and a founding member of The Guild of Future Architects (

AFROFUTURE FRIDAY: Black Futurists and Community Work

AFROFUTURE FRIDAY: Black Futurists and Community Work

Posted by Kheprw Institute on Friday, 10 July 2020

Futurism work creates blueprints to find new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us. And, with its Afrofuture promise, it uses technology to help paint a vivid portrait of what the world could look like.

Leave you with this quote from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower: “All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God Is Change.”

Go forth and be the change.

Books mentioned:

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Emergent Strategies by adrienne maree brown
The Chaos Point: The world at the crossroads by Ervin Laszlo
Teaching about the Future by Peter C. Bishop and Andy Hines
Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin
Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows

Afrofuture Fridays brought to you by a partnership with folks we’d like to thank:

Protests And The Value Of Disruption

We must fight oppressive systems, but, as an Afrofuturist, I’m still dreaming of better days.

Look, my thoughts are a jumbled mess after the events of the last few weeks. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, I’m doing the best I can. I suspect we all are, but let me start with this:

I’m tired.

Tired because I keep having to prove my humanity every day. I’m worn out because I keep seeing the same thing over and over again. The injustice. The brutalization of black bodies. The illusory gesticulations of concern from civic leaders. The inaction. The return to silence. The false tranquility. The injustice—again. The history of Indianapolis, its police, and the black community continues to be a repeating, tragic story.

And I’m tired.

[continue reading on The Indianapolis Monthly site]

Concarolinas SF/F Convention 2020 (Virtual)

Deathbuilding with Darin Kennedy, Jen Guberman, Maurice Broaddus, and Michael G. Williams

Building A Professional Community In Speculative Fiction with Quincy Allen, Emily Leverett, Emily Kaplan, and Maurice Broaddus

The theme of Afrofuture Fridays generally examines the questions: Where do we want to be? Where are we now? How do we get there? All through the lends of some aspect of black art.

Now today is a special Afrofuture Friday. We were due to have a two-day event of Afrofuture Friday and Afrofuturism 2.0, but then Covid-19 happened. While that has been delayed, we did want to have a bit of a taste of some of the folks who were going to participate in that.

So, gathered here today are some of the preeminent voices in Afrofuturism, Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Andrew Rollins. We’ll be discussing:

Afrofuturism BC (Before Covid-19) and AC (After Covid-19): From 1619 to Covid19, we’ll be discussing the role of Afrofuturism in navigating our current situation and moving forward.

#Afrocentricty  #Afropessimism  #Antiblackness #Afrofuturism 2.0

Live: Curating the End of the World & Creating New Futures: A Conversation with Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Andrew Rollins

We are excited to announce that we are helping to organize an online conference featuring keynote speakers and our friend Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard who is the author of Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practice, which chronicles the long history of economic cooperation in African-American communities.

Posted by Kheprw Institute on Saturday, 16 May 2020

Dr. Reynaldo Anderson currently serves as an Associate Professor of Communication at Harris-Stowe State University in Saint Louis Missouri. Reynaldo is currently the executive director and co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) a network of artists, curators, intellectuals and activists.  Finally, he is the co-editor of the book Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness published by Lexington books, co-editor of Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent published by Cedar Grove Publishing, co-editor of The Black Speculative Art Movement: Black Futurity, Art+Design by Lexington books, the co-editor of Black Lives, Black Politics, Black Futures, special issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, and co-editor of When is Wakanda: Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurity Journal of Futures Studies.

Sheree Renée Thomas creates art inspired by myth and folklore, natural science and conjure, and the genius culture created in the Mississippi Delta. She is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future(Third Man Books, May 26, 2020), her first fiction collection. She is also the author of two multigenre/hybrid collections, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, longlisted for the 2016 Otherwise Award and Shotgun Lullabies (Aqueduct Press), described as a “revelatory work like Jean Toomer’s Cane.” She edited the two-time World Fantasy Award-winning volumes, Dark Matter, that first introduced W.E.B. Du Bois’s work as science fictionand was the first black author to be honored with the World Fantasy Award since its inception in 1975. She serves as the Associate Editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora (Illinois State University, Normal). She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Connect: IG/FB: @shereereneethomas  or Twitter:@blackpotmojo 

Andrew Rollins is a writer and lecturer on Afrofuturism. His chapter “Our Old Ship of Zion: The Black Church in Post Modernity” appears in the anthology, AFROFUTURISM 2.0: THE RISE OF ASTRO BLACKNESS.  He has two chapters in the anthology, COSMIC UNDERGROUND: A GRIMOIRE OF BLACK SPECULATIVE DISCONTENT: “The Oddities of Nature” (about the life, theology and ministry of Bishop Charles Mason, the founder of the Church of God in Christ) and “The Harmonics and Modalities of Metaphysical Blackness” (an interpretation of Modern Jazz as an expression of Afro-Orientalism). Rollins has spoken on futurism and speculative art at conferences on topics including Transhumanism and the Prophetic Voice of the Black Church; Dark Politics and the Occult; The Ethics of Survival and Black Slave Religion the Roots of Afrofuturism.


Books by/with Dr. Reynaldo Anderson
Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness
Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent
The Black Speculative Art Movement: Black Futurity, Art+Design
RECOMMENDATIONS: Capital is Dead: Is This Something Worse? (McKenzie Wark)
Tendai Huchu short story: “The Sale”

Books by/with Sheree Renée Thomas
Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (her latest collection!)
Sleeping Under the Tree of Life (collection)
Shotgun Lullabies (collection)
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (anthology)
Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora (journal)
RECOMMENDATIONS: The City We Became: A Novel (N.K. Jemisin)
Cosmic Slop (George Clinton anthology series)
Tendai Huchu short story: “Space Traders” (in Dark Matter)

Books by/with Andrew Rollins
Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness
Cosmic Underground: A Grimoire of Black Speculative Discontent
RECOMMENDATIONS: Edward W. Blyden’s Intellectual Transformations: Afropublicanism, Pan-Africanism, Islam, and the Indigenous West African Church (Harry N. K. Odamtten)

Books by/with Maurice Broaddus
Pimp My Airship
The Usual Suspects
Buffalo Soldier
The Voices of Martyrs (collection)
RECOMMENDATIONS: The Fifth Season (N.K. Jemisin)

Afrofuture Fridays brought to you by a partnership with folks we’d like to thank:

Afrofuture Friday: Parable of the Sower Discussion

The theme of our Afrofuturism Fridays discussions is to ponder the questions “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to be?” and “How do we get there?” because we have to imagine the future we want to see.

Let’s start with a re-cap of Octavia Butler and her seminal work Parable of the Sower.

Who was Octavia E. Butler?

(AP Photo/ Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joshua Trujillo)

Born in 1947 in Pasadena, California, her mother was a maid and her father a shoe shine man who died when she was seven. She was raised in a strict Baptist home by her mother and grandmother. Though introverted and socially awkward, and having severe dyslexia, she spent hours reading science fiction and fantasy in her public library.

When she was 10, she saw the B-movie “Devil Girl from Mars” which changed her life. She had two epiphanies: “Someone got paid to write that.” And “I could write better than that.” So she convinced her mom to buy her a typewriter.

A well-intentioned aunt told her that “Negroes can’t be writers.”

She graduated high school in 1965 and began to take night classes at a local community college. She entered and won a fiction writing contest with a draft that would become Kindred, her best-selling novel. While working a series of temp jobs, she was encouraged by science fiction great, Harlan Ellison, to keep writing.

In 1984, her short story “Speech Sounds” (about the unraveling of civilization when a disease renders everyone mute) won the Hugo for Best Short Story. The next year she won the Hugo and Locus Awards for her novella Bloodchild. Parable of the Sower came out in 1993 and Parable of the Talents in 1998, the latter won the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction novel. In 1995 she became the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

The Parable series was supposed to be at least a trilogy, but researching it proved too depressing for her so she gave herself a break by writing a science fiction vampire novel called Fledgling. It was her 14th and final book. She died of a stroke in 2006.

She inspired a generation of writers (myself included – I sent out my first story in 1993).

Parable of the Sower

[If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, here’s a Crash Course Literature by John Greene.]

Octavia Butler has said that she came to this of the future by imagining our current problems progressing unchecked to their logical ends. How prescient was Butler? Here’s a taste:

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

That quote was about a presidential candidate running on the platform “Make America Great Again” … which she wrote in 1998. And that was in the sequel, Parable of the Talents. Her work combines imagination with social, political, and even religious practice. It creates blueprints to find new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us. And, with its Afrofuture promise, it paints a vivid portrait of what the world could look like. In our discussion we’ll be looking at themes in the book focusing on community strategies to survive a dystopian landscape as well as a discussion on what transformative justice may look like.

LIVE Parable of the Sower: Online Book Discussion

LIVE Parable of the Sower: Online Book Discussion.

Posted by Kheprw Institute on Friday, 10 April 2020

Afrofuture Fridays brought to you by a partnership with folks we’d like to thank:


First off, I’ll just leave this right here…

Anyway, my new novella, “Bound by Sorrow,” is up on the Beneath Ceaseless Skies site. Here’s a summary (part of the review on the Hugo nominated Quick Sips Reviews site):

Dinga is a warrior on a journey to deliver his dead sister to the Dreaming City, a city where gods still live. Accompanied by the irreverent bard Gerard, Dinga’s journey is punctuated by stories, his own and those he encounters, which illuminate his life and his mission and the mythology all around him. It’s a story very much about grief, and power of confronting grief in different ways. There’s an epic sweep to the piece a deep history that might be historical (fantasy), building this very living feel of each layer of story, reaching forward through time from Dinga to the reader, and perhaps beyond. It’s a story that unfolds and unpacks a lot over its novella length, but never loses sight of its thematic core of grief, death, dreams, and choices.

READ THE REVIEW OF THE STORY HERE (spoilers: it’s a great review)


Over on the Patreon:

[AWESOME PIC] Ferb – In this time of anxiety, inconvenience, and sacrifice … our cat Ferb still refuses to drink out of any other bowl or faucet. #wakeupmeows

[AWESOME BLOG POST] The life update post that I did for Brian Keene’s site (except with bonus additions)

[AWESOME PIMPING] SoS ch 4 (a sneak preview of a work in progress)

[AWESOME COMMUNITY] COMMUNITY REPORT – March/April (the work slows, but doesn’t stop)

As always, I appreciate your support of my Patreon. Words cannot express how encouraging it is, especially during these dark times. I really appreciate it…and each and every one of you. Thank you!

I launched a Patreon because some friends wanted a way to help support the work that I do in the community. If you would like to support it (and receive updates on the work that’s being done) please feel free to join. Thank you so much!
Become a Patron!