Golden Tentacles and Golden Reviews

The UK-based genre review site, Pornokitsch has an annual novel awards post. It’s a very light-hearted site, and their reviews are often very witty (though insightful). This year, for the first time, they’re having a Best Debut Novel award (called the Golden Tentacle Award) and have awarded it to me for King MakerIn part they say that:

Mr. Broaddus, an Indianapolis native, uses his hometown as the setting for his unique retelling of the King Arthur myth cycle. The Arthurian stories have been told over and over again, but by setting them in downtown Indianapolis, Mr. Broaddus layers both feverish intensity and brutal modernity on top of the original tales. Beyond that, Mr. Broaddus brings the tension, the danger and the mystery of Indianapolis’ backstreets to life in a compulsively captivating way – even before the supernatural elements start cropping up. Indianapolis is a strangely mundane location for genre fiction, but Mr. Broaddus makes King Maker feel bigger than a simple local story.

I haven’t felt this proud to be a black geek since Joss Whedon managed to not kill off a cool black character in Buffy.  It’s been a raucous weekend of celebrating in the Broaddus household (well, after explaining to my wife that an award from a site called Pornokitsch in no way involved strippers or the like).  And I’ve quit beginning most of my conversations with “as your award winning husband…” (though that stopped after her “say that one more time and that award is going to make you walk funny” retort).

And while I’m usually pretty flippant, but this really does mean a lot.  I’ve seen some of the names I beat out and that makes my head spin all the more.  Last year, they gave their Kitschie to China Miéville’s The City & The City which, as far as I’m concerned, means my name and China’s get to be used in the same sentence.

As writers/artists, we can say what we want about not reading reviews and how art, once released, belongs to the audience, but it’s nice to get some validation.  To know that your work has connected with folks.  And for that, I thank Pornokitsch and can’t wait to post pics of me and my award.

Speaking of not reading reviews, I definitely didn’t read the following one (nor Nick Cato’s).  Which meant I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief (because I also wasn’t fretting how book two of the series might be received by my readers).  Which meant that this review also didn’t  help make this weekend special (which doesn’t read in part):

So how good is the book? well, if I say 18 pages – that’s how much time it took me to be hooked, and that’s just reading the prologue before chapter one even started. I can count on one hand how many authors have the power to do that (one being my favorite PKD). Within those 18 pages Maurice Broaddus managed to evoke an attachment to those kid’s which made what happens on pages 17 to 18 really tug at the old heart strings. More importantly you get to understand why Rellik became the person he is, and even relate to the choices he makes. It’s almost like Maurice Broaddus is reliving real memories rather than creating a fictional story, the suspension of disbelief is both immediate and faultless.

King’s Justice is up for pre-order now and will be out in a month!

Facing Your Friends Part II: King Maker All Over

aka, what goes around comes around…

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about “facing” friends (facing means turning books out so that folks can see the whole cover, not just a spine and allowing those writers more book shelf real estate).  Well, turns out, I have a lot of friends.  Folks have been sending me pictures of King Maker out in the wild, faced out.  When King Maker first debuted, folks sent me confirmation pics.  The pics have kept coming in.

Eric Smith sent in a pic from the Barnes and Noble in North Ridgeville, OH.

Pastor Milo Curtis found his copy out in Oregon.

As much as it pains her, Chesya Burke exercised some of her underused “nice” muscles and found my book down in the might ATL.

Jeff Vandermeer continues to show why he rocks so hard.  Here’s King Maker down in Florida.

Joe Branson found his copy at the Barnes and Noble in Reston, Virginia

Jen Orosel found her copy down in the Barnes and Noble in Texas.

A certain editor from Lexington, KY, between planning the world domination of Apex Books, went out and sprang for his own copies of some of the books from his stable of writers (speaking of which, I need to pick up Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman myself).  I am unconvinced that King Maker found its way to the cowboy romance section on its own.

When in doubt, you can always just order a copy off the internet and wait for it to arrive at your doorstep like Ron Smith.

Hmm, I just did an entire blog post basically repeating the same pic of my book.  I would say that this was the height of my narcissism and dorkiness, except I was just as dorky here in Indianapolis.  Not that I was running around town to see my book on the racks, signing them, and posing with them or anything …

King Maker is Here!!!

Spotted out in the wild by Daniel R. Robichaud in San Antonio, Texas with confirmed sightings by fellow Indiana Horror Writers, Brian J. Shoopman in Greenwood, Indiana, and Rodney Carlstrom in Noblesville, Indiana … King Maker has hit the U.S. shores!

It seems like just yesterday that I was  I was doing some volunteer work with a ministry called Outreach Inc. (they work with homeless and at-risk teens). Well, we were doing a writing exercise and I was trying to get them to imagine themselves in different environments and situations. And no one could imagine themselves past next week, much less in a different life. So I went on a rant about princes and princesses and the idea of prince of the streets kind of stuck with me. And how the kids protective were of one another reminded me of knights. Next thing you know … Arthur, cause that’s how my brain works.  It’s hard to believe that I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo only a couple years ago (literally, two years ago next month).

It DOES feel like I’ve kind of given birth … to a bouncing baby paperback.  It’s a heady mix of terror (this is it!  This is what you’ve worked toward and sacrificed for … wait, what if people don’t like it and you really suck?!?)  and excitement (MY BOOK IS HERE!  IT REALLY HAS MY NAME ON THE COVER!  WHY CAN’T I STOP JUMPING UP AND DOWN LIKE A DRUNK CHEERLEADER?  WHY DON’T I HAVE PANTS ON?).

King Maker is book one of my Knights of Breton Court trilogy.  It follows the life of King James White, a homeless teenager pulling his life together, who is the modern embodiment of the spirit of King Arthur.  The story of Camelot slowly begins to play out on the inner city streets of modern day Indianapolis.  So amidst urban decay, gangs, the drug trade, and homeless teens, there are zombies, elementals, magic, and trolls.  It’s The Wire meets Excalibur.*

You can check out some of the reviews here.  Feel free to leave me your thoughts on the book on Amazon reviews since, you know, I will be obsessively checking them and judging my self-worth by them.  To make things as easy as possible for you:

Search for an independent bookstore near you

King Maker on Amazon and available for your Kindle

King Maker on Barnes & Noble and available for your Nook

King Maker on Powell’s

King Maker on Book Depository

You can read the first chapter here.

And keep checking the News section of my website.  There I will be posting my book signing and convention appearance schedule.

Yeah, I’ll probably spend the rest of the day looking myself up on book sites and library databases then calling in the family to point at the screen and yell “That’s ME!”  They’ll NEVER get tired of that!  Never, no, never.

*Or we could do the comic book version of the pitch:  Mage meets that one Falcon mini-series where street gang members kidnap Ronald Reagan.  Or, Mage meets DC’s scrapped Milestone line.  Or, Mage meets Power Man, except none of the black people yell things like “Sweet Christmas!” … though it’s not too late for me to write that into the third book of the trilogy in order to start that trend.  I’m sure glad no one actually reads my little footnotes.

On Setting Part II (aka Why Does King Arthur Talk Funny?)


“Nobody can be too careful about their habits of speech.” –Once and Future King

Even bearing in mind that not all critics are created equal, two of the reasons I don’t want to read reviews is that 1) good or bad, they become stuck in my head (good:  I wonder if I’ll ever write anything that good again; or bad:  they’ve discovered that I’m a hack and a fraud like I’ve always secretly believed);  and 2) I may feel the need to respond to some of their criticisms.

So anyway, before I went on my review fast (and a sucky job I’ve done at it), I ran across a criticism about the language in my novel.  To be straight, I have a very urbanized tale, putting the “urban” in urban fantasy as it were.  It is set among homeless teens, gang members, and drug dealers and thus has what I will generously call a highly select lexicon.  Some of which some readers have reacted poorly to.*

I get that an inner city tale of any sort might not be in every reader’s given experience.  Then again, the book is billed as The Wire meets Excalibur, so it’s not like the warning’s not right there on the cover.  But I want to look at this from the fantasy writer’s/reader’s expectation perspective.  Our job as writers is to build worlds, worlds complete with art, history, and language.  If a writer has done their job well, they can submerge you into any alien world and as part of the reader’s journey, they pick up the slang or language of the world.  Be it the lexicon of Dune, snippets of alien language, the random bits of poetry in the Lord of the Rings**, or Klingon (which I probably should have taken instead of French in college).

What I can’t stand, however, is when the … tone of the comments are undergirded with what I will generously call “angst” that the characters speak in American slang.  As if there is one and only one cultural lens through which Arthur can be interpreted.  Let me put it another way.  I am finally getting around to reading T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (I know, I know:  “what kind of King Arthur book can you have written if you hadn’t even read this?  Blah, blah, blah … bite me).  It’s widely hailed as a fantasy classic and I am in no way criticizing its position as I’m fully cognizant that my books may be in the discount bins in a few months, forgotten and unread.  Anyway, I ran across this passage:

“Wold fools may be wold fools, whether  by yea or by nay, but I haint served the Family for fifty year without a-learning of my duty.  A flibberty-gibbeting about wi’ a lot of want-wits, when thy own arm may be dropping to the floor!”

Now, I read that passage several times, with the criticism that I was committing some sort of cultural  hate crime in the back of my head.  And I thought, as an American male plopped on his couch reading this book, “this isn’t exactly torn from my cultural lexicon.”

This was just something I was thinking about as I vowed yet again to quit reading every review before I finish the last book in the Knights of Breton Court trilogy.  As it stands, I’m ¾ of the way done with the last book, King’s War.  The story is still set in Indianapolis, the characters still have their particular lexicon and their own diction.  It’s all a part of world building, where I hopefully transport you to a new world and make it believable and real.  After all, this Indianapolis doesn’t exist (as far as you know).

Of course, all of the criticism could be right and I simply suck.

*A friend told me to imagine that readers of fantasy were little old white women living in Iowa.  Not terribly accurate as sweeping generalizations go, but, oddly enough, it gave me some comfort.

**I won’t lie:  I was not a fan.  I came to a point in Fellowship of the Rings where I literally said out loud “if he writes one more damn elf song/poem, I’m done with the book.  He did and I was.  So, maybe I ultimately have no room to grouse in this blog and should leave it at “to each, their own.”


Angry Robot Books to Join Osprey Publishing

Yeah, yeah, yeah:  the following press release would have been posted sooner but it took me a while to get my blog fixed.  Let me begin by saying that THIS WASN’T MY FAULT!  And I’ll also begin by giving you the upshot on what this means for the U.S. release of my novels.  Here are the new release dates:

King Maker – US: October 2010
King’s Justice – UK: February 2011; US: March 2011
King’s War – UK: November 2011; US – tbc but similar


Angry Robot Books to Join Osprey Publishing
Leading Non-Fiction Publisher Acquires Specialist Sci-Fi Fiction & Fantasy Imprint

Following an acclaimed first year of publishing, the revolutionary science fiction imprint Angry Robot Books has parted company with Harper Collins UK. It will now run as an independent publishing imprint, with the full backing of niche publishing experts, Osprey Publishing.
Angry Robot will continue to operate from its Nottingham office with its existing team under Marc Gascoigne, its founder and publisher. Marc said:

“With the support of Harper Collins UK, my team and I have worked very hard on Angry Robot since it was started in July 2009. We have a great publishing programme in place and a dedicated bunch of fans, the Robot Army, as well as some excellent sales of our first titles in the UK with an imminent launch into the USA. We are very pleased to have become part of the burgeoning Osprey empire. They understand our business and the enthusiasts who drive it.”

Chris Michaels, HarperCollins Digital Publisher, Fiction/Non-Fiction, who helped set-up Angry Robot, said:

“Having helped build the foundations for a successful future, we are delighted that the Angry Robot team has found a new publishing partner in Osprey. We believe this will help them develop their niche offering, supported by Osprey’s specialist sales and marketing teams.  We wish them good luck for the future.”

Marc Gascoigne added, “Our publishing programme for 2010/11 will be basically unaffected by these changes. There will be a short break while the transition is sorted out, but we will be re-launching in September 2010 and then it will be business as usual.”
Osprey’s move is a reflection of the company’s continuing strategic drive into niche communities that share a deep enthusiasm for their interest or hobby, whether it be military history (Osprey Publishing), heritage (Shire Books), or science fiction and fantasy. Richard Sullivan, Marketing Director at Osprey commented:

“We have a great deal of experience of serving specialist niches with a very tight product focus. Angry Robot is a great fit with our existing businesses. We are very excited about the opportunity to enter into a new market and we are looking forward to helping Angry Robot, its authors and its readers go to some exciting places.”

Osprey’s investors are also looking at this as a significant step in the overall plans for the company. Rebecca Smart, Managing Director of Osprey commented:

“We were very impressed with the Angry Robot business plan and forecast, and thought it was an excellent strategic fit for the Osprey group. We’re delighted to welcome the Angry Robot team.”

For Further Details Contact
At Angry Robot: Lee Harris, +44 (0) 792 635 493, lee.harris@angryrobotbooks.com
At Osprey: Richard Sullivan, +44 (0) 186 581 1304 ; richard.sullivan@ospreypublishing.com
At HarperCollins: Chris Michaels, +44 (0) 208 307 4114, chris.michaels@harpercollins.co.uk

About Angry Robot
Angry Robot Books is a global science fiction, fantasy and horror imprint dedicated to delivering innovative books in all formats everywhere. A strong online presence and an army of fans ensure that Angry Robot delivers the best in contemporary and cutting-edge fiction.  To find out more, visit the Angry Robot website www.angryrobotbooks.com

About Osprey Publishing and Shire Books
Osprey Publishing is the leading publisher of illustrated military history. Over 1,500 titles in print provide a definitive resource for both established military enthusiasts and a wider audience with a general interest in military history. In 2007 Osprey bought Shire Books, the leading publisher for an eclectic range of titles on all aspects of heritage and nostalgia.  To find out more, visit the Osprey website www.ospreypublishing.com and the Shire website www.shirebooks.co.uk

About HarperCollins
With a heritage stretching back nearly 200 years, HarperCollins is one of the world’s foremost English-language publishers, offering the best quality content right across the spectrum, from cutting-edge contemporary fiction to digital hymnbooks and pretty much everything in between.  Today we publish some of the world’s foremost authors, from Nobel prizewinners to worldwide bestsellers.
To find out more, visit the HarperCollins website www.harpercollins.co.uk

All Things “Dark Faith”

As the promotional efforts for Dark Faith begin in earnest, Apex Book Company has been running a series of mini-interviews with some of the contributors called Dark Faith: DEVOTIONS. I’ve been loving the responses and want to collect the links to them here. And take a moment to appreciate how much my friends love and respect me…

[Here is the Dark Faith Blog]

DEVOTIONS

Alethea Kontis – “The God of Last Moments”

Mary Robinette Kowal – “Ring Road”

D.T. Friedman – “Paint Box, Puzzle Box”

Wrath James White – “He Who Would Not Bow”

Tom Piccirilli – “Scrawl”

Jennifer Pelland – “Ghosts of New York”

Nick Mamatas – “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz Jesus Christ”

Ekaterina Sedia – “You Dream”

Lucy A. Snyder – “Miz Ruthie Pays Her Respects”

Linda D. Addison – “The Story of Non-Belief”

Rain Graves – “Lilith”

Richard Dansky – “The Mad Eyes of the King Heron”

Lavie Tidhar – “To the Jerusalem Crater”

Geoffrey Girard – “First Communions”

Kelli Dunlap – “Good Enough”

John C. Hay – “A Loss for Words”

Matt Cardin – “Chimeras & Grotesqueries”

Richard Wright – “Sandboys”

Chesya Burke – “The Unremembered”

SAMPLE DARK FAITH

Catherynne M. Valente – The Days of Flaming Motorcycles

APEX MAGAZINE – DARK FAITH SPECIAL

SHORT STORY: “The Last Stand of the Ant Maker” by Paul Jessup

SHORT STORY: “City of Refuge” by Jerry Gordon

AUDIO FICTION: “City of Refuge” by Jerry Gordon (read by Maurice Broaddus)

DARK FAITH Roundtable: Gary A. Braunbeck, Jay Lake, Nick Mamatas, and Catherynne M. Valente

Related Posts

DARK FAITH: Introduction by Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus – The Big Idea

Flames Rising – Dark Faith Preview (including my introduction to Dark Faith)

Jew-ish.com – Have a Little (Dark) Faith

Alethea Kontis – God of Last Moments

Kelli Owen – “Dark first, Faith second”

Jason Sizemore – “The Ups and Downs of an Anthology”

Matt Cardin – Narrative Frames and perceptive reviewers

To Breathe Underwater – Through Faith Darkly

Nick Mamatas – Kazzie Contemplates Secret Wisdom and Wise Secrets…

Adventures in Reading – Ghosts of New York and Other News

B&N Community – Give Me Something to Believe In: Spiritual Quests and the Search for Truth in SF and Fantasy

INTERVIEWS

On my end, I have the unprecedented (in my career thus far) problem (and hopefully this will be a recurring “problem”) of promoting two projects at a time. Thus, the latest bouts of interviews (though King Maker was mentioned in Publishers Weekly all on its own):

Fantasy Magazine – Editing Dark Faith

Examiner.com – Maurice Broaddus has ‘Dark Faith’

Random Musings – Interview with Maurice Broaddus

Innsmouth Free Press – Interview: Maurice Broaddus

Horrow Web – Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon

Omnivoracious – Jeff Vandermeer – King Maker Maurice Broaddus on the Anthology “Dark Faith”

The Occult Detective – Soul Searching with Maurice Broaddus

SCN Book Review: Dark Faith anthology

Publishing Dark Faith: An Interview With Jason Sizemore

PODCASTS

The Dead Robot Society’s Podcast – Episode 132 – A Discussion of Dark Faith

The Funky Werepig:  Mo*Con V live!

REVIEWS

B&N Community – Give me Something to Believe In:  Spiritual Quests and the Search for Truth in SF and Fantasy

Shroud Magazine

Publisher’s Weekly

Suvudu – Looking at the Shadow Side of Belief with “Dark Faith”

SFSignal

Horror Web

Black Static

Innsmouth Free Press – Dark Faith

365 Short Stories – Dark Faith

Wings Lifting Wide – Review:  Dark Faith

Amazon.com Customer reviews

Book Rec- Dark Faith

SFRevu – Dark Faith

Black Gate – Short Fiction Review # 28: Dark Faith

Eyesore Times – PDS Friday:  New York, New Psalm

Postule Oozings – Dark Faith

Stem Shots – Apex Publications Brings the Goods

Dylan Fox – Review of Dark Faith

Horror Fiction Review

TJ McIntyre – July Book Reviews

Horror World

I Have An Opinion On Almost Everything

Critical Mick – Insert Clever Faith-Related Title Here

Choat Road

Booklist:  What questions would you ask Jesus if he returned on the eve of an apocalypse and granted every surviving human a personal audience? If a Zen Buddhist were consigned to Hell, would he suffer the torments of the damned or remain blissfully serene? These are some of the questions explored in this distinctive collection focusing on philosophical conundrums presented by religious faith. Thirty-one tales and poems from some of the horror genre’s most talented writers cover quite a spectrum of inquiry. Jennifer Pelland’s “Ghosts of New York” finds the World Trade Center jumpers on 9/11 endlessly reliving their terrifying plummets to earth. An autistic girl who becomes miraculously lucid in Chesya Burke’s “The Unremembered” spurns the priest who mistakes her miracle for a Christian one. A saintly boy found murdered in Ekatarina Sedia’s “You Dream” haunts a woman’s nightmares. While the overall quality is mixed, and the selections lean heavily on shock value rather than subtlety, there are enough provocative scenarios here to provide hours of faith-challenging entertainment. –Carl Hays

P.S.

Rounding out this “All Things Me” post, I’d like to point to two more items:

1) Zoe E. Whitten, hysterically funny writer and tweeter, was wrestling with my novella, Devil’s Marionette in this moving piece.

2) My story “Hootchie Cootchie Man” was listed as an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s list of notable stories for the year.

Between Brett and Brooks… (King Maker Reviews)

KingMaker-front-300dpi
Right now, King Maker is only available over in the U.K. and in Australia, but thanks to Jim Mcleod, I know what it looks like on the book shelves. And in the hands of rabid fans.

king maker1

For those especially anxious to get their hands on a copy of King Maker, here’s a place that offers free worldwide shipping.

To make things as easy as possible for you:

Search for an independent bookstore near you

King Maker on Amazon and available for your Kindle

King Maker on Barnes & Noble and available for your Nook

King Maker on Powell’s

King Maker on Book Depository

You can read the first chapter here.  Here are some early reviews:

-Science Fiction and Fantasy (a review I’m particularly proud of though I swear I’m not going to live and die by the reviews)

-Fantasy Literature
-gillpolack
-Adam Christopher – Steampunk, Superheroes, and Science Fiction
-Civilian Reader
-Neth Space

Falcata Times – URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: King Maker – Maurice Broaddus

-Zoe E. Whitten – Book Review: King Maker by Maurice Broaddus

King Maker was mentioned in Publishers Weekly

AntiBacterial Pope – My Top Ten Reads 2010

Not Free SF Reader

INTERVIEWS

Wicked Writers – To Be the Black Geek

On Setting (aka King Arthur in Indianapolis?)

I ran across a blog entry the other day which seemed to take issue with my series The Knights of Breton Court. First off, here’s the book description (from the Angry Robot website): On the streets of Indianapolis, the ancient Arthurian cycle is replaying in the lives of rival street gangs. Told through the eyes of King, as he gathers like-minded friends and warriors around him to venture into the fastness of Dred, the notorious crime lord, this is a stunning mix of myth and harsh reality. A truly remarkable novel.

I understand this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, after all, what’s a few pimps, trolls, drug dealers, elementals, homeless teenagers, and the occasional dragon between friends? However, that was the element of disbelief said blog writer couldn’t suspend. His issue was the setting. Indianapolis, specifically selling Indianapolis to British readers.

When it comes to American cities, Indianapolis is nothing special. My apologies to the Hoosiers but it’s true. It may be the 14th biggest US city but in terms of defining characteristics or geography or culture, there isn’t a lot to talk about.

(It’s a great blog, btw. The author goes on to do an informal survey asking people what their impressions of various big cities were. Indianapolis is … yellow and average.)

I debated briefly about whether or not the story would fly in Indianapolis. But considering what all inspired the story, it was ultimately a no brainer. And I’ll admit, I’m a lazy researcher. I had to go all of around the corner to find this tag:
(This really was taken around the corner from my house. If you know what you’re looking at, you know exactly which gang sets, or which gangs someone is claiming to be tagging for, are represented)

Now, the Indianapolis I write about is not the Indianapolis of the tourist brochures. I’m not trying to do anything exploitative or take folks slumming, either. One of the theses of the story is that any city has a shadow side. An invisible side to it that most people choose not to see, a whole world which may be playing out right under our noses that we have no idea is going on. Sometimes that world is poverty or homelessness. Sometimes that world is magic. Sometimes that world is filled with monsters. But it’s our world to explore.

Indianapolis is actually a perfect place to set the story. It’s a blank enough canvas that I’m betting even native readers will have their eyes opened by much of the story’s locales. And frankly, be it Indianapolis, The Shire, or Gallifrey, the important isn’t how familiar the world is to us, but how real the author makes it to us. Here’s hoping I made the Indianapolis haunting, real, and terrifying. If not, you at least have a gorgeous cover to enjoy.

EDITED TO ADD:

Here is the response from Stomping on Yeti and a King Maker inspired contest from them.

God gave us children to bring us back to earth…

So I got a package today from Angry Robot. Inside was a card that read:
First one hot off the presses? Whatever could he mean? Oh yeah …

So yes, there was much happy dancing in the Broaddus household. But before my ego could swell to unbelievable, “I am Author” proportions, my boys came in to find out what the ruckus was about.

Reese: “What’s that?”
Me: “It’s my book.”
Malcolm: “You wrote that?”
Me: “Yep. Here’s my name and everything.”
Malcolm: “You wrote that? But … that’s a real book.”

And with that, my feet remain firmly on the ground. But I’m happy inside.