02 March 2011

Author Answers with Maurice Broaddus

If you've met Maurice, you know that he's his own introduction. If you've never met Maurice, you're missing out. In addition to being the author of the Knights of Breton Court series, countless short stories and co-editor of the Stoker-nominated Dark Faith anthology, we're lucky here at Word Nerd to call Maurice a friend.

We tore him away from his busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. You can find out more about Maurice at his website.

WORD NERD: King's Justice hits shelves here in the US in March (I saw it at Barnes and Noble yesterday, in fact). You've described your series as "Excalibur meets The Wire." How does the King Arthur myth fit into urban Indianapolis?
MAURICE: Not always comfortably, I’ll tell you that. When you mention King Arthur, everyone comes to the work with a certain amount of expectations and preconceptions. I’ll have to beg the readers forgiveness if I ignore most of them. It’s a different world than many fantasy readers are used to exploring, and I’m fine with that. If I’d set the story on a distant planet, they’d have to get use to the language and nuance of culture there also.

On the flip side, the myths are timeless and infinitely adaptable, because the themes are universal. Lost love, betrayed love, grabs for power, the bid for redemption … you can drop those themes into any setting. Plus I think what people forget is that there were a lot most stories associated with King Arthur beyond Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin. And that’s where the real fun lies.

WN:  You've also got a whole host of short stories set to come out this year and more novels and stories are in the works. How do you keep track of all the plots you're working on?
MAURICE: Hmm…if the fact that I recently discovered a novel that I had started and forgotten proves anything, is that I don’t. Two things keep me on point: deadlines and energy. Either I move with whatever project has the closest deadline or I go with whatever project holds my interest and primes my creative pump.

I suppose I should add a third thing: collaborators. Currently I am juggling six collaborative projects and my partners—who also have deadlines and energy priorities—have a way of reminding me what should be on my immediate plate.

WN:  In addition to writing, you've also edited the Stoker-nominated "Dark Faith" anthology and are gearing up for "Dark Faith II." What has being an anthology editor taught you about writing?
MAURICE: For a start, it’s reminded me that being professional and adhering to the editor’s instruction already places you ahead of the game. I was stunned by how many people shoot themselves in the foot before anyone even looked at their stories.

I think every writer ought to take a turn wrangling a slush pile. When you start picking apart stories for their weaknesses, it sharpens your eye for when you turn to your own work. All of those soft beginnings, those times of style over plot, the thin characterizations, the uninspired dialogue … you start seeing enough examples of them and you immediately turn to your stories and start tossing out pages.

WN: As a reader, what books have captured your attention lately?
MAURICE: Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker. I know, I’m a little late coming to that party. But I tend to read stuff based on where my creative head is (it helps as I switch from project to completely divergent project). So I have Boneshaker and the Steampunk anthologies edited by the Vandermeers. Stephen King’s The Stand. And … The Velveteen Rabbit.

WN: You also help host this convention every year in Indianapolis... Mo*Con...How did you end up with a convention named after you and what's on the docket for this year?
MAURICE: Well, the origin of the convention is that when I was going to conventions, I’d always end up in these great spiritual discussions. So I thought it would be a neat idea to build a church service around one. A friend of mine who wished to annoy me kept calling it Mo*Con and the name stuck. This year is Mo*Con VI and it continues to expand. We will have an art gallery featuring artists Danny Evarts and Steve Gilberts. We will have writers crossing all kinds of genres and media, like Cullen Bunn, Lucien Soulban, Lee Thomas, and Gina Ranalli. Plus some familiar faces will be there. One of the conversations I’m most excited about will be on the topic of homosexuality, the church, and literature. I expect that one to be the capper of the weekend.
(FMI on Mo*Con VI: Return of the Mo, go here. Maurice will be there. It's still up in the air if 1/2 of Word Nerd will be there, but we're hoping.)

WN: What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and how did it help you?
MAURICE: “Writers finish things.” It reminded me that a lot of people play at being writers. People find out you’re a writer and suddenly everyone tells you about how they ought to write a book. But writers finish things. We don’t just have the idea, we commit it to paper. We don’t just commit words to paper, but we have to get to the end of that story. And we don’t just stop at ending a story, but we suck it up and send it out in order to try to get published.

“We got bills to pay.” This wasn’t so much advice as much as a reminder from my wife. One, she was telling me to get over whatever bout of writerly angst I was having because we can’t explain writer’s block to the mortgage company. And two, she reminded me that was I did took time and effort and I needed to be compensated for it. Which means pursuing better markets and not settling for “exposure”.

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