October Frights featured author Maurice Broaddus
Author Maurice Broaddus was originally born in London, England, but has lived in America most of his life. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Purdue University in Biology (with an undeclared major in English) and comes from a family that includes several practicing obeah (think: Jamaican voodoo) people.
Whiling away his days as a freelance writer (including as a senior writer for HollywoodJesus.com) and ministry worker – he is about the pursuit of truth, be it by art, science, or by religion. He believes that lives should be lived missionally, that people should be about loving and serving one another, a lesson learned in his most important job: that of husband and dad.
CK: Your stories of the streets of Indianapolis draw on your own experience with ministry to homeless teens. Is that where you got the idea for this story or did you get involved with the ministry to research for the books?
MB: I was involved with the ministry first. Coincidentally, I’m in a coffee shop right now taking this call, sitting with a couple of people who work with Outreach Inc. I’ve been a volunteer with them since 2006, conducting writing programs for kids. One of the writing exercises I do is to ask kids to write about what they would do if they could do anything, be anything. I was surprised to find that most of them couldn’t imagine life beyond next week, much less imagine themselves as a knight on the streets. Out of those experiences, I wrote the draft of King Maker, the first book in the series.
From the drug gangs of downtown Indianapolis, the one true king will arise. The King Arthur myth gets dramatically retold through the eyes of street hustler King, as he tries to unite the crack dealers, gangbangers and the monsters lurking within them to do the right thing. The Knights of Breton Court books are available individually or in a collection at angryrobotbooks.com.
CK: Was it always planned as a trilogy?
MB: It was originally one book. I had previously sent another book, an urban fantasy novel, to (publisher) Angry Robot, which they had rejected. They liked my style and asked if I had anything else I could send, so I sent them King Maker. They weren’t really happy with the way the book ended, though, saying something like “unless there is more to the story.” My agent encouraged me to develop an outline for two more books, which I sent in, and Angry Robot bought the book trilogy.
CK: Did you always have it in mind to draw on the King Arthur mythology?
MB: Yes. With books two and three I draw even more on the Arthurian mythology. You can point to characters and plot points and see where it all fits in. For research, I read every version of King Arthur stories I could get my hands on.
CK: I like the dragon that lives under the government housing project in King Maker. That was a very interesting part of book one.
MB: I had fun with that. The whole idea, the metaphor of the magic, is that there are two sides to every city. The bright side of arts and culture and beauty, and the shadow side of poverty and homelessness. The importance of (the character) King in the story is that he is well aware of both sides and he chooses to take a stand to deal with those problems.
CK: Do you have a favorite character in the trilogy?
MB: Green in the first book. Merle is the runaway favorite in the entire trilogy. For books two and three I had great empathy for Lott, which is based on Sir Lancelot.
CK: Have you ever considered writing for other genres?
MB: I am currently working on a middle grade detective novel. That’s out of my realm of expertise, so I am stretching myself as a writer. I am inspired to write for this market because of my experience with my own kids and working as a substitute teacher.
CK: Who came up with the idea of having an annual writing convention (MoCon) and do you plan to continue hosting this event in Indianapolis?
MB: The convention was my idea, one that grew out of my experiences at other writing conventions. I wanted to have a convention where people could discuss ideas about God, faith, race and gender. I wanted a place that was safe and accepting of other people’s ideas and where they are. The American church has a watered-down version of the gospel of Christ. Jesus was about transforming lives, caring for the poor, and being an ambassador of Love. If you aren’t doing
that, what are you doing?
Religion, science, magic, love, family — everyone believes in something, and that faith pulls us through the darkness and the light. The second coming of Dark Faith cries from the depths with 26 stories of sacrifice and redemption, available at apexbookcompany.com.
CK: And the Dark Faith anthologies you edited (along with Jerry Gordon) grew out of that conviction?
MB: Yes. The title “Dark Faith” trips up some people who consider writing for it or who consider buying it. The stories in the anthologies are written by some of the biggest names in horror right now, and they explore ideas about faith from a wide variety of viewpoints: agnostic, atheist, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, etc. We have amazing authors in these two books.
CK: You have significant credits as an editor; when you read other’s work, do you have a different mind set when you edit your own stories?
MB: With Dark Faith, I look for stories that don’t need editing. With freelance editing, I remember that it’s not my story and I am there to bring out that writer’s vision. I make suggestions for how the story can be improved, but I don’t rewrite (as I would for my own work).
CK: Who are some of the writers who have influenced your work?
MB: Michael Chabon, Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Amy Hemphill and George Pelecanoes.
CK: How does the Broaddus family celebrate Halloween?
MB: I’m actually not a big fan of Halloween, but I think partly I like to be contrary (since everyone expects a horror writer to love it). My wife, on the other hand, turns it into a three day event. She scours the paper finding out who’s doing what. She and the boys will hit up trick or treat times in the mall, at churches, and then in the neighborhood. All while I leave a bowl of candy by the door with the tv turned up loud. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!