I first met Charles Saunders in 2008. Although I was releasing my second novel, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, I had only recently become aware of the flourishing community of Black science fiction — right under my nose.
And then I read Imaro…and I was blown away. Charles writes like the African American greats that I cut my teeth on — authors like Richard Wright and James Baldwin. His words flow like water — smooth, fluid, effortlessly — and with myriad and vibrant shades.
After reading Imaro and becoming addicted to the series I became curious to know the man behind the character. I did some research on Charles and found that he had an illustrious career that stretched back to the 1970s! That he has written more than 20 short stories, that he has written screenplays, essays, articles. And that, most recently, he created the counter-part to the sub-genre Sword and Scorcery: Sword and Soul.
Needless to say, I was awed and just as timid about approaching him, as I would’ve been about approaching any other legend. Little did I know that he would become my friend and writing mentor. Little did I know that Charles Saunders was, and is, a tireless advocate of diversity, and a tireless fighter.
For us in the SF/fantasy community, he has always been willing to share his story, to extend his hand, to let up-and-coming-writers like myself know that the road is long but there’s light at the end of the tunnel…
And to mentor us. I am honored and humbled to call him my friend. If anyone deserves to be honored during Black history month, to be touted as a giant of Black science fiction/fantasy– of writing itself — it is Charles Saunders.
He has inspired me, he inspires us to — borrowing his favorite phrase now — “keep on keepin on.”