School Library Journal – Review of the Day: The Usual Suspects by Maurice Broaddus

Betsy Bird tweeted about her review saying “Just read a book by @MauriceBroaddus that doesn’t just tell the truth about kids & the system that fails them. This smart, witty, funny tale is basically a metaphor for America today. Hyperbole? Read it for yourself, bucko. This is my new favorite thing.” So then I clicked over to it where the review concludes that The Usual Suspects…

…  feels like the author is handing truths to the kids reading it, completely bypassing the adults of the world. It feels sneaky. I can see a kid gleaming truths from these pages that they have NEVER encountered anywhere, with the possible exception of their own brains. I can see adults becoming uncomfortable with just how much honesty is on display here. It gives away the game, this book does. It’s always a good idea to sometimes read a book that’s smarter than you are, starring a kid that’s smarter than the world around him. You know why I haven’t heard more people talking about this book? Because nobody knows how to sell it. Well, sorry folks, but the secret is out now. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read for kids, and maybe the best school rated children’s novel I’ve encountered period. This, right here, is the book of our times.

Read the entire review here. Because it’s so awesome *I* want to go read the book again!



Achieving Together – The Space to Dream

This is the text (and video) from my closing keynote address at the Achieving Together Conference

The Space to Dream

[You know why I love librarians? When I tell anyone else that The Usual Suspects got a starred review in Kirkus Reviews, they’re like “only one star? That doesn’t sound good.” But librarians get it.]

Now me, I’m an accidental librarian.

Let me back up, I’m an accidental teacher.

Let me back up further, I’m a dad (that was done on purpose).

I have two sons. One’s now at Ball State University. The other is at Herron High School.

It’s my continuing joy to be able to walk alongside these young men. Like kids do, they have put me through my paces – I chronicle some of their elementary school antics in The Usual Suspects. I hope you heard that last piece: their ELEMENTARY school antics. When I turned in the original draft of The Usual Suspects, the initial feedback was that some of the scenes weren’t believable as stuff middle grade students would do. I told my editor one, if you think it’s unbelievable with them in middle school, when it was happening in real life in 5th grade, I thought the same thing.  Two, you may want to spend more time with middle school students. They’re kind of like … people.

Now I am fully cognizant of what I’m raising. My oldest son learns a system gets to know the rules, the ins and outs, and then figures out how to finesse that system to his advantage. My youngest son … does not care about your system. He lives to test, ignore, and break systems. He goes through the world on his own terms. Knowing this, I started shadowing my sons through school as a substitute teacher, both to be available to support my sons and, well, back up the teachers and administration.

*As a side note, I now firmly believe every parent should do some time volunteering in a classroom. If only to see what their little angel is up to with their friends during the school day and see what a teacher has to deal with when wrangling a classroom. Everyone’s ready to criticize teachers and tell them what they ought to do until they are the ones staring down a classroom and suddenly feel like a lone gazelle who wandered into a lion family reunion.

Anyway, when my boys got to The Oaks Academy Middle School, my youngest son really put his school through its paces. Changing passwords on teachers’ accounts. Trying to set the record for office visits and in-school suspension (because I raise goal-oriented students). And accidentally sets in motion a complicated scheme that called for a police investigation where halfway through us being interviewed by the detectives he leans over and says “I bet I gave you an idea for the sequel to your book.”

So, I told him “A. I didn’t need your help and B … oh, yeah, this is sooooo going to be book two.”

The detectives were very confused. (Man, this kid … also mid-interview turns to me and says something like “6947.” I’m like “what is that?” And the detective sits up and goes “Hey, that’s the passcode to my phone!” Because he was determined to be helpful, I guess.)

The situation turned out fine, but it also provided a great opportunity for me to begin the on-going conversation with my son that perhaps his way isn’t working and that he may want to look at making a few adjustments on how me moves through the world.

After walking him, the detectives, the families involved, the school through that situation, I was called into the principal’s office. I don’t care how old you are, you never get over that anxious feeling sitting outside the principal’s door waiting to be called in. And I’ve known her for ten years, but in that moment, she was the principal and I’ve reverted back to being a kid and preparing my “what had happened was” story. She sits me down and says “The way you handled that situation was amazing. Have you thought about being a teacher?”

Truth be told, I had. It hadn’t been my dream growing up. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a scientist and a writer. Well by this time, I had spent twenty years as a scientist and at least ten as a professional writer. But being in classrooms, working with kids, woke something in me. And when I confessed this, she gets this look in her eye. I grow scared, thinking that I’m trouble. “What I’d say?”

She leans across her desk and says, “Black male teachers are like unicorns.”

I didn’t know at the time that black male teachers made up only 2% of teachers. Black students could go their entire school careers and not even see one. As a school, we’re not where we want to be in terms of representation. And looking back at my own school career, I didn’t encounter my first black male teacher until I was in high school. A biology teacher named Mr. Broadus (no relation). But did I mention my degree is in biology?

So that’s how I became an accidental teacher.

When I was six years old, my family moved to this country from England. We went from London to the metropolis of Franklin, Indiana (trust me, even if you are from Indiana, you would have trouble finding Franklin, Indiana on a map). They had trouble placing me in the school system. They skipped me up to second grade, knew I probably should have been in third, but also considered the social ramifications of me being that much younger than everyone else in the class. Seeing how bored I was in class, my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Rainey, set me in the back of the room with a stack of blank paper and told me “just go ahead and create stuff.”

Let me tell you, I thought American schools were the best. I created little books, filled them with stories and poems and prayers. I was writing. I was learning the love of writing. What Mrs. Rainey may not have realized she was doing was that she allowed me room to dream about possibilities. Let me repeat that, she allowed me room to dream.

I was blessed.

I didn’t know how blessed until later. We moved to Indianapolis a couple of years later. I was placed in the “Enrichment program.” My brother, only a year younger, was not; so we ended up at two different schools. After his fifth-grade year, his school performance nose-dived. At the time, we figured he just hated school.

Then when my cousin and his family moved up here from Jamaica, the same thing happened. He had the same fifth grade teacher as my brother and then his school performance nose-dived. Turned out, his teacher had, we’ll be generous and call it “an unconscious bias” against young black males. She gave up on them pretty much from the beginning, writing them off as trouble-makers, not interested in learning, and essentially created self-fulfilling prophecies. One bad teacher derailed we don’t know how many young black students with a label and a bias.

My brother managed to recover after high school when he joined the Marines.

My cousin became an unfortunate statistic.

I think back to the idea of being a unicorn and how the presence of a single black male teacher in their early years might have course corrected them. Even just the power of their presence as a model. My students have the luxury to take seeing me and other black male teachers in their school. So, they can take me for granted and do imitations of me walking through the hallways. They got me strutting like I’m George Jefferson or something [and thank you for getting that reference].

In high school, I developed my love of libraries. Now, rather than tell about my high school experiences, I will tell you about this novel I wrote. You have to keep in mind that I write for me. So, I have several books that I have written but never published. This one is called The Lost Griot. It’s about this kid in high school who has such trouble with his bullies that he has a break with reality and is now narrating his life as if he’s a wizard in training in a Tolkien-like fantasy novel.

*As an aside, this of course is a ridiculous premise. The reality is that in my junior year, I decided I was Batman, made everyone refer to me as The Dark Knight, and at my twenty-year reunion, I bumped into some of my bullies who confessed that I had gotten so weird they decided to quit messing with me.

Also, I mentioned this “ridiculous” premise to my colleagues. They said that they currently had three “Harry Potters” in their class.

Anyway, this wizard in training could only find escape and solace in this safe haven called “The Library.”

It was a thirty-minute walk to the neighborhood library from the high school. A trek my character made every day, along with some of his friends. To hang out, to study, to just … be. You see, the library was this magical place that had all these portals, called books, that took me—I mean, my character—to new worlds. It’s where he was able to learn new things and practice his craft, as he was also becoming a storyteller. The library was a place that allowed him the space to dream.

Now, to be fair, I’m also an accidental librarian.

While I was still a substitute teacher, our school librarian went on maternity leave. They asked me to sub for her, because (hello! WRITER) I love books. When she finished her maternity leave, she transferred to the lower school and I’ve been the school librarian ever since.

If you ask my wife, I was born to be a librarian. I archive everything. I still have all the notes I passed in high school sorted by who sent them and when.

Smart writers love libraries. And librarians. They know stories and they know books.

People have asked me about the “secrets” to my writing career. When I’m stuck, I turn to libraries. And librarians.

I was on a panel at ALA a few years ago promoting my urban fantasy series, The Knights of Breton Court. They asked me what I was thinking about writing next. I mentioned turning my steampunk short story, “Pimp My Airship,” into a novel. And they nodded. Then I mentioned that I had this idea about a detective novel starring two black boys. The whole audience leaned forward and a librarian shouted, “tell us more.” I was convinced it was a book no one would want, but they encouraged me to write The Usual Suspects.

Now I still planned on writing Pimp My Airship, but I was stuck on the worldbuilding. I wanted it set in turn of the century Indianapolis but had no clue what that might entail. So, I turned to librarians. Professional researchers who get, well, far too excited when you tell them that you are looking for some information. They directed me to all of these arcane books and microfiche and a warehouse of photos and maps.

Okay, now I’m starting to feel like that guy in the bar who spills all his problems to his bartender, except that in this case, the bartender loves books. But I had gotten to a point in my career when I knew that I had to go to conferences for professional development but had no money. This librarian asked if I had considered grants. “Grants? For writers?” Which was all she needed to hear before she told me about their grant workshops, databases, and other resources.

It’s my privilege to be a librarian. I manage the Shared Systems at The Oaks Academy Middle School. Although the bulk of my job seems to be having the same conversation with my students over and over again:

            “Let me get this straight: I can order a book, from any computer, it will be delivered to this school. I pick the book up from you and you check it out for me.”

            “Yes. And as long as you return the book to the school, there aren’t any late fees.”

            “It’s that simple?”

            “It’s that simple. You know, back in my day …”

            “Nah, Mr. Broaddus, you trying to run game on me. Let’s go over this again.”

Because middle schoolers aren’t the most trusting of folks. They’re kind of like … people.

However, teachers I only had to tell once. And explain that they can have an additional library card just for their classroom to order extra books with extended loan times. Just this week, our art teacher ordered 47 art books for a project.


Art books. Art books are not light.

My room is on the third floor. Sometimes I … really love my job.

Before I became an accidental teacher and librarian, I was (and am) a writer. But I also wanted to help make the world a better place. I struggled because what could I do since I was “just a writer.” Well, I fell in with a few community organizations, one of which was the Kheprw Institute. They are a grassroots organization that believes in “Community Empowerment Through Self Mastery,” training up young people to be community leaders. It started because some young men in the neighborhood were struggling in the school system. Whom some teachers had given up on. Labeled. Now here’s the thing: The Usual Suspects is all about kids who have been labeled by a system, who usually are just bored and smart, but now have to navigate life within the confines of a label. Well, these young men were supported by the Kheprw Institute with tutoring and given entrepreneurial experience opportunities. From there, the Kheprw Institute has grown to working with hundreds of people in the community.

KI describes what they do as “people-centered work.” Building authentic relationships with people, not grounded in some transactional outcome, not focused on an agenda, but rooted in seeing the person in front of them. Learning about them. Caring about them. Supporting them. They believe that’s how you build strong communities.

It sounds a lot like what we do as educators, right? At The Oaks Academy we talk about “embracing the possibilities” of our students. Seeing them through the eyes of who they could be because the potential of every child exceeds our ability to measure. We all need to be about the business of doing people-centered work.

One of the first talks I gave over there was a history of African Americans in writing speculative fiction because we’ve been doing this for a while. Even W.E.B. DuBois wrote science fiction because, as fellow author, Tananarive Due, says “even the act of imagining ourselves with a future is an act of resistance.” This led to us doing a regular discussion series called Afrofuture Fridays and us building an Afrofuturism library within the community as a set of resources.

Afrofuturism is art through the black cultural lens. Art practice rooted in the past, that critiques the present, and creates roadmaps to the future. We live in dark days. Not quite post-apocalyptic, but times are rough, and the work is hard. Our Afrofuturism series has become critical to the work in ways I hadn’t imagined.

Sometimes we get so caught up in surviving today, we can lose sight of the fact that part of what we’re to be about is creating the future we want to see. In other words, these stories allow community the space to dream of what a better tomorrow could look like.

I was the first person in my family to go to college. I knew I wanted to be a writer. My mother—also known as the person paying for it—said that she wasn’t paying for that. She wanted me to major in something … respectable. Now, by “respectable” she meant nursing. And, by strange coincidence, my mother was a nurse. I told her … okay “told” is a strong word because you don’t “tell” a Jamaican woman anything. I’m going to go with “tell” because it’s my story and we’re all the heroes in our own stories. So, I told my mom—that still doesn’t sound right. I reminded my mom that I day dream. A lot. And not to put too fine a point on it, but if people’s lives are in my hands, folks are going to die.

We compromised with me being a biology major.

*As a side note, not quite satisfied with this, my mother became the second person in our family to go to college, completing her nursing degree. And later, one of my sisters became a nurse so I was completely off the hook.

But I want to think about this idea of me being a professional daydreamer. I’m reminded of my friend Rasul Palmer, who I work alongside at KI. Now he had so many labels on him, he wasn’t in school at the time. We met at my African Americans in speculative fiction talk. For matters of full disclosure, he later confessed that he didn’t even want to go. The elders in the space encouraged him to attend. He also didn’t know that he had my full attention when I was speaking because you know when you have an engaged student. Turns out that talk awoke something in him. As a writer. As a gamer. As a daydreamer. I’m not gonna lie: his head is always in the clouds. Half the time, we’re not sure he’s with us on this planet or in this timeline. And you know what? Good. Daydreaming is a valuable skillset, one to be nurtured. He’s now in his second year in college and has grown into a great strategic thinker for the organization. Because he’s been known, loved, and supported while given room to dream. Dream about possibilities for himself, the organization, and the community.

As I conclude, earlier this week, my wife came up to me with her phone in hand. She’s been struggling with her oldest baby being off on his own in this foreign land called Ball State University so she tries to check in with him regularly. This time she has this weird look on her face. Turns out, she’s received this text. Our son has discovered and making a big deal of this place called …the library. Did you know, because he was stunned to realize this, that he and his friends could gather there to study? You could have knocked me over with a feather.

As for my youngest, I’m not worried about him finding his way either. He’s only a junior in high school. He’s not supposed to have everything all figured out. I continue to encourage him to keep trying things. To fail at things. To take what he’s learned and try (and perhaps fail) at new things. As we say at KI, FAIL stands for First Attempts In Learning. Sometimes you have many first attempts. As parents, we love, we know, and we support, walking alongside our children in their journeys. All he needs is the freedom to dream about who he wants to be. I know he will figure it out.

What we have assembled in this room—creatives, teachers, librarians, administrators—have the opportunity to create space for people to dream. We create and hold that container.

As a librarian, as a writer, as a teacher, I am cognizant of the fact that we have a sacred responsibility. Because I am a writer, I choose my words carefully, so let me repeat that: we have a sacred responsibility.

As writers, we are the creators of stories.

As librarians, we are the keepers of stories.

We are the cultural and institutional memory of our society.

As teachers, we have the responsibility to pass those stories down.

            The stories that shape us as people.

            The stories that shape us as a culture.

            The stories that shape future generations.

This is how we begin to create the future we want to see. Together. To help make the world a better place.

Thank you.

Eulogy for My Father

I’d like to thank all of the well-wishers and folks who had been praying for me and my family (I read every comment and viewed every like as a reminder of the community that I have). Also, I really appreciate all the folks who donated to The Oaks Academy or to the Kheprw Institute in my father’s name. Today was a tough day and a good day, filled with family, love, and jokes. For those interested, here is the text of what I said at my father’s funeral:

I am the son of Jerry Broaddus and the grandson of Ernest Broaddus.


I remember at Grandma Ruth’s funeral, dad and Pap were up front, cutting up the entire service. I was sitting there getting so mad at them, but when I asked him about it afterwards he said, “if either me or Pap lost it during the service, that whole place would have come down.”

I’m pretty sure I’m not going to lose it, but I can’t make that promise, but I know you got me if I do, right?

I told Ro that I didn’t know if I would speak today. I literally wrote this at 3 a.m. this morning. I didn’t know if I’d have any words. Not because I lost my father, but because I literally just came from giving a keynote speech at a conference of librarians and teachers. In that speech, I talked about how rare black male teachers are and how even just their simple presence, the power of them just being there, can make such a huge difference in the lives of their black students.

That idea keeps playing in my head over and over, because my dad was there.

I know this may shock you, but he wasn’t the traditional sort of dad. He was never on the cover of Parents magazine, but he was there. Sometimes him being there looked a lot like him on the couch or in bed whistling for us to bring him stuff. Those damn whistles. One for me, two for Chenault, three for both of us. Then Ro came along and threw the whole system off. Didn’t matter where we were, when we heard them—and you could hear there all across Franklin—we knew we had to get back to him.

Richard Jordan reminded me of the time my dad raced me and him. Keep in mind, me, Richard, and Michael McDuffie were the fastest kids in the neighborhood. My dad had been standing there, smoking one of his Kools and sipping on a little something, listening to us talk crazy and said, come on then. He walked down to the finish line and set his cigarette and drink down. We asked him if he wanted to change shoes, since he had these wingtip shoes on. He said he’d make do. We lined up, Richard counted us off. He got to the finish line and had a chance to take a puff and a sip before we got there.

He was there.

He was there to make fun of us when we made him go to school recitals playing the recorders because we sucked. He was there when we didn’t want him, at 3 am when he came back from the clubs and felt the need to give us fatherly advice like “when you’re driving, it’s important to wear socks. Driving with cold feet is the worst.”

Growing up, he wasn’t a man readily in touch with his feelings. But he loved his family. Every Sunday we’d gather together for our family dinner and he and my mom would cobble together something, mixing British, Jamaican, and American dishes. Which sounds great til you get meals like steak n kidney pie, meatloaf, collalou, and bread and butter pudding. No matter how crazy the meal, he’d make BBQ wings for me because he knew I loved them. And if he really wanted to say I love you, he’d give me the last wings from his plate.

He was there.

He wasn’t a perfect man, but he taught us the power of being there. I look at the parents his children became. We’re not the traditional sort of parents. None of us will be on the cover of Parents magazine, but we are there. We are there in the lives of our children, ever present even when they don’t want us, we’re there. Guiding, supporting, advising, making fun of. Doing the hard work of being present in the lives of our children.

The power of presence in kids lives makes a difference. And I thank dad for that lesson.


I just wanted to say “Thank you!” to all of my Patreon backers. Your support helps the work that I do in the community, both the Indianapolis community as well as my writing community. Writers are paid on an erratic schedule and cash-flow issues are common; community organizers even moreso. Your financial support has allowed me to leverage opportunities for other creatives as well as buy me some breathing room for more time for writing.

Speaking of the writing, a story up mine recently sold and is now up over on Uncanny Magazine. The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor was deeply inspired by my work in the community (as well as by the artists there who push me creatively). And I was interviewed about the story by Caroline M. Yoachim here.

I have two other stories which are under consideration at different magazines. And I’m almost done with a new short story/novelette currently titled “Bound by Sorrow.” It’s a sword & soul/Afrofuturist piece. It is helping me think through the faith and magic system for my Afrofuturist novel, Sweep of Stars, which I’ll be starting in a couple weeks.


Meet The Afrofuturist Sci-Fi Writer Changing Indianapolis

I feel like I’m a bit in make-up mode since I was so quiet on my Patreon over the summer (thus extra pics and pimpin’). Though it’s not like I’ve been slacking. Indianapolis Monthly ran a nice piece on me called Meet the Afrofuturist Changing Indianapolis and Nuvo wrote a nice piece on our Indy Black Authors Gathering. Plus my whirlwind Clarion, Shared Worlds, Scares That Cares jaunt.

Here’s a round up of the latest being offered over on my Patreon:


Where I’ve Been edition – a couple shots from my whirlwind “tour”.

Ferb helps clean the turtle tank (Sept)


Wrath (a peek at a work in progress co-written with Wrath James White)

Serpent (a peek at a work in progress co-written with Jason Sizemore)


Marketing Pitches – got a project that you’re trying to come up with a perfect elevator pitch for? Here’s some of the things I’ve done.

Writing Through Tough Times – got a lot going on in your personal life and are wanting to figure out how to get writing done in spite of it all? Here’s some of the things I’ve done. (Sept)


-This Patreon was largely started because some folks approached me wanting a way to support my work in the community. Here’s where I keep those folks updated on what I’ve been up to. Includes an update on Café Creative, the artist platform launched by the Kheprw Institute.

-For September, we’ll be looking at Creating a Better Future and the genesis of One World. Don’t know that is? This is where you find out.

Obviously, there are a couple new community and writing initiatives that I’m a part of that are in the beginning stages. But know that without your support, none of this would be possible. So again, 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!


The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor up on Uncanny Magazine

My story “The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor” is up on the Uncanny Magazine site. But I wanted to talk about my inspiration for the story.

Pianist extraordinaire, Joshua A. Thompson, was doing his part of his “Black Migrations, Urban Realities” series down at Indiana Artsgarden and I wanted to check him out. He was performing with Manon Voice (it was actually my first time meeting the two of them face-to-face). By the time he got to the piece ‘Melancholia’ (composed in 1953 by Duke Ellington), with Manon Voice reciting the original composition “We Are Here,” I was through. I didn’t even realize that my pen had been jotting down ideas.

I’m constantly pushed by the artists in my city, no matter their craft, as they live their art out loud. This is a story inspired by community. (Special shout out to William Rasdell who let me pester him with questions about his work with the migration of the Diaspora.)

Anyway, here is the link to the story.

Also, the wonderful Caroline M. Yoachim did an interview with me about the story. You can read it here.

And the story was picked as one of the Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: July 2019:

The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor by Maurice Broaddus

“I believe all our journeys are to be celebrated, mourned, and remembered.” If you aren’t already familiar with the great Maurice Broaddus, let this story be your introduction. Broken into five stanzas, this science fiction-tinged tale tells of the movement, both willing and unwilling, of Africans and their descendants. We see glimpses of their lives from the first people to slave traders to runaway slaves to those who moved from the South to the North to those who left Earth entirely. Broaddus writes worlds that feel eerily similar to ours and uses them to expose the harsh truths we don’t want to see. “The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor” is a distillation of the best of Broaddus.

Uncanny Magazine – July 2019, Issue 29

There was also a review over on the Quick Sips Review site. It reads…

This series continues to be one that explores the importance of having spaces that don’t cater to whiteness. That don’t attempt to negotiate or co-exist with whiteness. That don’t necessarily even aim to struggle against racism in order to build a better, unified world. Because in part the truth behind that particular utopian bend is that the work is expected to be done by the oppressed. They are supposed to convince the powerful that there is value in diversity and equality. Further, it’s not supposed to be instantaneous, and in the mean time victims of racism are supposed to understand that the system can’t change quickly. That they must be patient. And it’s refreshing to see the alternative to that, where a group of people decide they are going to split away and form a place that has a new system. That can change instantly. That doesn’t need to bring with it the racist infrastructure so long as it brings with the memories of what happened, the spirit of the people who have survived, and who still want to be free. The piece skips forward in time, spending long enough with each new character to give a feel for the worlds they are in, that they are leaving, that they are going to. And while it doesn’t give too much of an arc for each character, it gives a generational arc that carries through, from very early times to the future. And it further contextualizes the setting of the series as a whole, showing the events and the inspirations that led to the settling of First World (a lunar colony) by black settlers. It’s deep and complex, building up and up until it can reach the moon itself. A wonderful read!

It’s also a story with homework assignments, if you want to know the soundtrack that I was writing by:

7 Traceries: No. 4. Out of the Silence


William Grant Still (A Deserted Plantation: Spiritual)


Valse Suite, Op. 71, “Three-fours”: II. Andante


Adagio in F Minor by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges


Duke Ellington: Single Petal of a Rose


In the Bottoms – Suite: Prelude: Night


In the Bottoms – Suite: Honey: Humoresque


In the Bottoms: II. His Song


Africa (arr. for piano) : Africa: II. Land of Romance (arr. for piano)

Meet The Afrofuturist Sci-Fi Writer Changing Indianapolis

Well, Indianapolis Monthly did an entire profile (written by Lou Harry) on me in their latest issue. I am…overwhelmed, to say the least. It begins:

This spring, local science-fiction author Maurice Broaddus signed the biggest contract of his life, a six-figure offer to write an Afrofuturist space trilogy. But even as he begins the intricate task of creating other worlds, Broaddus seems most dedicated to saving this one.

[Read the whole article here]

ALL MY MAY OFFERINGS! (It’s a busy season)

Here’s all I have going on this month (and my blog links where to find more information about them):


Our Audacity by Maurice Broaddus, guest editor
Words from the Editor-in-Chief by Jason Sizemore

Dune Song by Suyi Davies Okungbawa
Fugue State by Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due
N-Coin by Tobias S. Buckell
Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good by LaShawn M. Wanak
When We Dream We Are Our Own God by Wole Talabi
Pimp My Airship (novel excerpt) by Maurice Broaddus

Let’s Talk About Afrofuturism by Troy L. Wiggins

Interview with Author Steven Barnes by Andrea Johnson
Interview with Cover Artist Godwin Akpan by Russell Dickerson

*The Quick Sips review of the issue


When a gun is found near their school, seventh-grade pranksters Thelonius Mitchell and his best friend, Nehemiah Caldwell, must work together to solve the mystery before being blamed for something they didn’t do.

*Kirkus review

*Kirkus profile on me

*John Scalzi’s The Big Idea

*Barnes & Noble’s Edge-of-Your-Seat Thrillers for Young Crimesolvers


All the poet called Sleepy wants to do is spit his verses, smoke chiba, and stay off the COP’s radar—all of which becomes impossible once he encounters a professional protestor known as (120 Degrees of) Knowledge Allah. They soon find themselves on the wrong side of local authorities and have to elude the powers that be.

When young heiress Sophine Jefferson’s father is murdered, the careful life she’d been constructing for herself tumbles around her. She’s quickly drawn into a web of intrigue, politics and airships, joining with Sleepy and Knowledge Allah in a fight for their freedom. Chased from one end of a retro-fitted Indianapolis to the other, they encounter outlaws, the occasional circus, possibly a medium, and more outlaws. They find themselves in a battle much larger than they imagined: a battle for control of the country and the soul of their people.

*Barnes & Noble This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books

*Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favorite Bit

*My guest post on the worldbuilding behind Pimp My Airship


Tandy Kahananui is at her best when she’s fighting monsters and exploring dungeons — in Alternis, the video game that she’s making. Then she discovers that somehow, someone’s stolen her game. But it’s not pirates trying to make a buck. Alternis is the seed for an ambitious top-secret project to keep the world from plunging into war. And Team USA wants her on board. It’s not just a game anymore. The fate of the world is in her hands. Can she help Team USA hold its own? Can she even survive?

*Summer Glau talks about narrating the first season of Serial Box’s science fiction story Alternis


Do Not Go Quietly

This anthology of stories of resistance has the story “What the Mountain Wants” co-written by me and Nayad Monroe.

MO*CON 2019 (a re-cap in pictures)

The Pimp My Airship Universe Stories Round Up

In a world where America lost the Revolutionary War, the world of “Pimp My Airship” was born. Though the short story came first, subsequent stories have fleshed out the world. You don’t need to have read the stories before reading Pimp My Airship: The Novel, but there are Easter eggs in it for those of you who have. For you completists, here are the stories in their chronological (not publication) order (including a few which aren’t out, but were in my head so you can see where I was going):

“The Problem of Trystan” – Hot and Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance (DAW, 2011)
Reprinted in Mammoth Book of Gaslit Romance (2014)
-A tale of an early adventure of Sophine Jefferson/Deaconess Blues’ parents

“Steppin’ Razor” – Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (February 2014)
Reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine (Issue 87 – August 2017)
– Espionage agent, Desmond Coke, gets caught up in the Jamaican government’s intrigue and conspiracy over the fate of a young boy named Lij Tafari.

Buffalo Soldier – (2017)
– Having stumbled onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, finds himself caught between warring religious and political factions, all vying for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari. Assassins, intrigue, and steammen stand between Desmond and Lij as they search for a place to call home in a North America that could have been.

(sequel to Buffalo Soldier – unwritten)
-The world of Steppin’ Razor collides with Buffalo Soldier as Lij Tafari comes into his own as the figure known as the Star Child.

(Babylon Systems – unpublished novelette)
-Now imprisoned, the Star Child faces down the government’s system of oppression and population control from the inside.

All Gods Chillun Got Wings – Steampunk Universe (Alliteration Ink, 2016)
-A tale of an early adventure of Sophine Jefferson (Deaconess Blues) and Carlton Drayton ((120 Degrees of) Knowledge Allah)

“I Used to Love H.E.R.” – HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! & Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects (John Joseph Adams, 2014)
-The Oxford incident that gets Sophine Jefferson expelled from Oxford University.

“(120 Degrees of) Know the Ledge” – Not of Our Kind (Alliteration Ink, 2014)
-In trying to figure out who he is, Carlton Drayton returns to his home only to find that the organization he belonged to is corrupt. In leaving it behind, he must grow into something else.

(Axioms of Creamy Spies – unpublished short story)
-The head butler, Ishmael Washington, oversees Lord Leighton Melbourne’s household and has a secret. Luckily, no one ever notices the help.

“Pimp My Airship” – Apex Magazine (2009)
Reprinted in I Can Transform You (Apex Books)

Pimp My Airship – A Naptown by Airship Novel – Apex Books (2019)


[My Patreon is basically designed to give me flexibility in doing work in the community. I had people who learned what all I was doing in the city and wanted to be able to support me and I wanted to stay off budget for the organizations I work with. So, my patrons support my work and being able to give back to the community. For that, I thank you all so much.]

I am still in recovery mode from a very successful Mo*Con and am settling in for a summer and fall of travel and writing (since I have two books due this year). There will hopefully be more exciting news before too long.


At the Awesome Pics level:

-How to annoy Ferb in Four Simple Steps (spoiler: it’s one step)

At the Awesome Blog Post level:

-On Setting Writing Goals

At the Awesome Pimpin’ level: Wrath, chapter 9, an unseen project by me and Wrath James White. And Serpent, chapter 6, an unseen project by me and Jason Sizemore. [Yes, I will eventually be running some sneak preview chapters from my upcoming space opera trilogy]

At the Awesome Community level:

Updates on my work with:

-Afrofuture Friday

-The Build

– Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship Exhibition

-my visit to a class at the University of Indianapolis

-Mo*Con – including the behind the scenes details on what your Patreon support was able to accomplish

At the Awesome Books level:

Signed copies of both Pimp My Airship and The Usual Suspects have been mailed out.

And more! Look at what y’all got me out here doing!

As always, thank you for your support!

Become a Patron!

Mo*Con 2019: R/evolution (UPDATED: with pics, video, and audio)


Here is the livestream of the Cafe Creative panel at the Center for Black Literature and Culture.

Here is some footage from the Cafe Creative prelaunch reception

If you left the Café Creative soft launch early, you missed the dance party that broke out…


Here’s the Afrofuturism as Community Development livestream

And the “Wine with (t0) Jen” Interview as a podcast from Just Keep Writing

Pics by Wildstyle, Stacia Moon, LaShawn Wanak, Clarence Young, Sally Broaddus

Now that I’ve had a chance to rest and recover, allow me to say this: this year’s Mo*Con was magic. So, this is my big thank you post:

Make no mistake, it’s the people that made Mo*Con so magical. It’s been my privilege to watch it grow (at the speed of relationships) and this was our largest (and smoothest running!) Mo*Con. Thank you all for coming, being a part of things, and making it so special.

One of the things I’ve learned working with The Learning Tree and the KheprwInstitute is to appreciate and celebrate the gifts and talents in our community. Be they artists like Sylvia Ess McKee or Mechi Shakur, poets like Januarie York (who Held. It. Down. Friday night), photographers like Wildstyle Paschall(no one, and I mean NO ONE—accept no imitators—covers the scene like him), or pastors like Mike Mather who do so much in the community.

We DO NOT play around when it come to food and drinks at Mo*Con. Here are some of the (not so hidden) treasures in our community. Ro Townsend and Earl E. Townsend of GRoE, Inc.Chef Oya’s The TRAPJamaican Breeze Sports Bar & Grill (Ja’Net was the real MVP of Mo*Con), We Run This Foods, and Sip & Share Winery.

I cannot say enough about the amazing magic brought by my guests of honor. Sheree Renée ThomasTroy L WigginsBill CampbellDiana M PhoJen Udden. Just … wow. #amazing

Mo*Con returned last year and continues with the help and support of some amazing community partners: the Kheprw Institute (including the support of The Build, Afrofuture Friday, and Café Creative), Spirit & Place, and the Center for Black Literature and Culture.

Which brings me to the Mo*Con planning committee. Our safety officers, JJ Walker (to whom Pimp My Airship is dedicated) and Nick BrightStacia Moon(is there anything she can’t do?). Sibeko JywanzaJerry GordonRodney Carlstrom.

And Sally Broaddus. For supporting and hosting this madness. I couldn’t do it without you.

It takes a village and I love my tribe.