Writers Finish What They Start - An Interview with Maurice Broaddus
[Photo by WyldStyle Da Producer]
Maurice Broaddus writes short stories and novels for young people and adults. He is a community advocate, and has taught many classes at the Indiana Writers Center. His next class on our schedule is "World Building" on January 26. This class is great for sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction writers. We asked Maurice to share a bit more about his writing processes and inspirations.
What was the greatest piece of advice you ever got about writing?
1. Writers finish things. This was something told to me by one of my teachers. He said what separates people who want to write/talk about writing from writers is the fact that writers finish what they start. Where this really helps me is in the fight against “the Shiny”: I constantly battle ditching what I’m working on to run with the latest shiny idea that pops into my head. Every time I have to remind myself that “writers finish things.” And it helps battle the imposter syndrome: did you finish what you started? Yes, then you’re a writer.
2. Your angst won't pay the bills. Sometimes we attach a lot of romance to the idea of being a writer. We have to be inspired. We have to wait on our muse. This “advice” was given to me by my wife during one of my “my muse has left me” sessions as I stared down a blank page. She reminded that my “muse” was now named Deadlines. This was a follow up to our “exposure won’t pay the bills” conversation. (Her other bit of clutch perspective was “you can go to as many conventions as your writing pays for” which helped me not only guard against the temptation to give away my stories early on, but challenge me to only submit to professional markets).
3. Do that $#!+. This was told to me by fellow author, Daniel Jose Older. I was feeling anxious about a project I was working on. It was a novel that was plunging headlong into territories of race, class, and politics. I called up Daniel and that was the advice he gave me. Writers have to be bold and take risks. It can be scary sometimes (which is why it’s good to have friends who can nudge you). In the end, taking those risks, accepting those challenges, only makes you a better writer.
Why do you write?
I write because I have to. There is something in me that compels me to write, to release my ideas into the world, to let go of the stories running around in my head.
What are you working on right now?
-Wrapping up a second draft of an urban fantasy novel that’s “(black) Harry Potter meets Stranger Things.”
-Doing the edits to my forthcoming steampunk novel, Pimp My Airship.
-Working on the sequel to my middle grade novel, The Usual Suspects.
-Starting a science fiction novel that’s “Black Panther meets Game of Thrones … in space.”
-Three short stories, one of which ties into my science fiction novel world.
Favorite books or essays about the craft of writing?
Wonderbook:The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer
Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life by Nick Mamatas
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
What’s your favorite book, or the best book you’ve read recently? What do you love about it?
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. There is a reason why she has dominated all of the fantasy awards for the last few years and why the conversation has started about whether we’re no longer in the age of Tolkien but rather the age of Jemisin. Her worldbuilding, her craft, her prose, her style…each novel is a lesson on writing.
Is there a writer whose work provided new understanding of what fiction writing is, and how it can be written? If so, who and how?
Kelly Link. Each of her short story collections are like labs in writing. She’s my inspiration for why I take short story writing so seriously and as opportunities to experiment with different areas of the craft.
Why do you like teaching at IWC? What do you look forward to about it?
I am always energized by being around other creatives, especially my peers.
Maurice Broaddus has written dozens of short stories, essays, novellas, and articles. His dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, most recently including Cemetery Dance, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales Magazine. He is the co-editor of the Dark Faith anthology series (Apex Books). And he’s the author of the Knights of Breton Court trilogy (Angry Robot Books). In his spare time, he sits on the board of Second Story, a non-profit organization whose mission it is to encourage creative writing among elementary school students. He also started the Phoenix Arts Initiative, which encourages use of the arts for at risk youth to express themselves. Visit his site at www.MauriceBroaddus.com.