Scierogenous: An Anthology of Erotic Science edited by Quinton Veal and Valjeanne Jeffers

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At: www.vjeffersandqveal.com

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Fantastic Books I’ve Edited: Week IX: Immortal…

MonaLivelongColony:Ascension
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AND OTHER FANTASTIC BOOKS I’VE EDITED.
Except for Immortal and Immortal II, all cover art and design was done by Quinton Veal.

Good evening everyone! Tonight I continue my series “Fantastic Books…” with a spotlight on (drum roll) my own eight SF/fantasy books which I’ve written and edited. So without further adieu I present me! 🙂

Colony: Ascension: An Erotic Space Opera (excerpt)

She awoke with an impending sense of wrongness. The astronaut reached for her view-screen, intending to alert Leonardo. His voice, any human voice, would comfort her, soothe her panic. Her view-screen was gone.

Everything was gone, her food, valise, helmet, suit. . . She wasn’t in her tent anymore. With a strangled cry she sprang to her feet, her heart pounding against her rib cage. Allandra saw that her new room was without windows. Just four walls, and a door without a knob. Behind her was the platform she’d just risen from, with translucent blankets.

The door slid opened and It stepped inside. It was tall, muscular and had two eyes, hands, arms, legs and feet. And there all of the similarity between It and a human being ended. Its head was triangular. Its eyes were bulging and perfectly round with black pupils. And Its nose was a small slit above a puckered mouth that resembled that of a fish.

The skin above Its tan form-fitting suit, and that of Its hands, was black with orange and brown stripes and had a silky almost wet appearance. Each of one of Its twelve fingers had a suction cup at its tip.

It pressed a metal button on its breast and a bass, undeniably male timbre, floated toward her: “Hello, Lieutenant Allandra.”

That’s not his voice. He’s using a translator.

“I am Chotz. You are on Planet Tyria,” the being said quietly. “I’m sorry if we’ve caused you any distress. I know you have questions. You may ask them now, if you like.”

Allandra hadn’t expected this. She’d expected meetings between equals. Shaking hands.
Pleasantries between two species. Not being kidnapped and confined in a. . . Cell. “Where’s Leonardo?” Her voice came out in a squeak.

Chotz’s puckered lips turned up in a fey smile. “He’s in a room much like yours, not far from here.”

Another cell. “Can I see him?”

“That’s not such a good idea right now. We need to get you settled in,” he replied smoothly.

“We scanned your planet before we landed,” she blurted. “We toured the surface. Why didn’t we see you?”

Sci-Fi Sunday: Interview with Voyage of Dreams Fantasy/Sci-Fi Writer Valjeanne Jeffers (This interview was originally published by Graveyard Shift Sisters)

When I asked Valjeanne Jeffers which of her books is the best introduction to her work, she didn’t hesitate before she replied, Voyage of Dreams.

And after reading it, I agree.

Voyage of Dreams is a collection of shorts from Jeffers longer works, intended as teaser for readers to have a taste of the genres the author writes in. There is horror, there is steampunk, there is erotica, there is sci-fi…

Now I must disclose that “Voyage of Dreams” does not have complete stories. Don’t pick it up unless you’re ready to understand that these are excerpts—written book trailers, if you will. They will lure you in and give you the need to know what happens next. You will come to hate the words, “To be Continued” (if you don’t already) and want to purchase the full-length novels. If you prefer to have an entire story right up front, I suggest reading the excerpts from her work on her Amazon author page and choosing a tale.

Valjeanne Jeffers

Jeffers has an enviable way with creating multi-cultural characters that leap beyond stereotypes. Her descriptions and imagery wrap you into the storylines. For writers, we are always searching for the “hook” that snags the reader quickly and Jeffers has figured that out.

She also creates strong female characters and I can never have enough of those. In Awakening, she sets her sights on freeing Nandi, an young African girl from the societal and family pressures of playing the part of princess. Nandi finds her way to becoming the warrior she craves to be, but not without significant bloodshed.

My other favorites?

Colony: Ascension – Reads like sci-fi horrorotica. A young female astronaut desperate to find life outside of Earth finds answers as she wakes up a captive of an alien race.

Mona Livelong: ParanormalDetective – Bizarre murders, a serial killer that is able to continue his work after death, and a female detective from the country who is the city cops’ last resort to stopping a plot that may affect all of North America.

First off, thank you for this interview. Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing style.

I’m a mother, grandmother, artist, poet and (sometimes) a teacher. And I love speculative fiction. I love reading it and writing it. My style of writing has been described by Charles Saunders, my mentor and a writer I greatly admire, as a world in which “science and sorcery co-exist.” Another favorite author and good friend, Derrick Ferguson, has described it as “imaginatively experimental.”

Both Charles and Derrick have described my style to a tee. When I write, I draw from horror, fantasy, science fiction, and erotica. I have a mixed-media, or I guess you could say mixed-genre style of writing. So depending upon which one of my novels a reader picks up he or she might come away describing me as horror writer, steamfunk writer etc. Some of my books can be very frightening ―I’ve even scared myself a time or two. Which, I think, is pretty cool.

When did you start writing and what drew you specifically to horror?

I started writing as a young girl; although I took a long hiatus from writing fiction and didn’t return to it until I was in my forties. I’ve always been fascinated by horror stories and shows. I grew up watching Dark Shadows, The Twilight Zone, Dracula etc. And I was always particularly fascinated by the shape shifters―vampires, werewolves and such. I was never afraid of them, instead I was sympathetic. Here were otherworldly creatures who had their weirdness thrust upon them by a bite or a scratch. My sympathy was always tinged with something else: admiration. Shape shifters, from my viewpoint, had wonderful powers!

Years later, their supernatural proclivities were gifts to me as a writer. And I began to imagine what if…? What if immortal creatures with preternatural speed and strength could change at will and use their abilities to fight for their planet? To defend the world against corporate and demonic corruption? This is how my Immortal series was born.

What inspired you to write Voyage of Dreams? What is special about this collection of short stories and how does your heritage influence your storytelling?

Well, I’ve been toying with the idea of combining excerpts from my novels and short stories into a book for sometime now. I just recently finished writing my two newest novels, Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and Colony: Ascension, An Erotic Space Opera, so I had an excuse to take the plunge and do it. Excerpts from five of my novels: Mona Livelong, Colony: Ascension, An Erotic Space Opera (these two newest novels will be out sometime in July, 2014) Immortal, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, and The Switch II: Clockwork are included. I also included four short stories: “Outcasts”, “Awakening”, “Mocha Faeryland”, “Grandmere’s Secret”. I really loved bringing my stories and excerpts together― and each one is so different.

For example, Immortal is an introduction to the first novel of my Immortal series. In Chapter I, “Specter”, the reader meets Karla and is instantly submersed in her world: An alternate universe in which horror and science fiction meet, with a little erotica thrown in for good measure. As I’ve said before I don’t shy away from sexuality. I don’t emphasize it either. It’s just a natural part of my storytelling, like it’s a natural part of life.

I also included an excerpt from Immortal III: Stealer of Souls as Stealer of Souls. In this excerpt, the reader is introduced to Annabelle, a seductive and dangerous vampire. But she isn’t like any of the vampires from the old lore and films. This is a radically different type of shape shifter―with heavy emphasis on the radical. In writing Immortal III, I really got in touch with my southern roots. Annabelle is a southern belle, and she is how I’ve always pictured the southern seductress: Black, beautiful, and deadly―especially to a man. But every character should have layers to their personality, so Annabelle is not one-dimensional. None of my characters are.

In Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective, a steamfunk, horror novel (excerpt), readers are introduced to Mona Livelong, the newest character in my newest series. Mona is kind of a city-country-city character. She is gifted with preternatural powers, and she lives in a small southern town right up the road from a big city. I really went out of my way to scare readers. I had a ball doing it too!

In speaking of my heritage, I’m a southern Black woman: card carrying and proud of it. I’m also a child of the 1960s, one of most moving and turbulent eras this country has ever seen. All of this informs my writing. Although a southerner, I’ve lived all over America and met people from all walks of life. So, I’m writing out of the Black experience, but I also identify with other races. My readers will find folks of all colors within the pages of my stories. Oppression, and fighting against it, is something common to all of us. Love, joy, hate, desire, suffering―these too, are commonalities we all share and that finds its way into my writing as well.

For you, what makes a great horror tale? What do you like to read?

There is so much about life that is terrifying―more terrifying than anything an author can write. For me, since I’m an eternal optimist, I like to read books that take horrific circumstances and transform them into something characters can triumph over; books with really terrifying circumstances and victorious characters; books that show the human spirit as indomitable. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten,” (Neil Gaiman). I think this is very applicable to horror fiction as well. We all know that the monster in our closet is often real. What we need to know is that we can take him down.

What scares you?

I especially, like Black authors, like Tananarive Due and Nalo Hopkinson, that take something familiar and transform it into something lethal. The Good House by Tananarive Due is the scariest book I’ve read to date. But I’m also a diehard Stephen King fan. I dig Dean Kootz too.

How can African American artists (actors, writers, filmmakers) succeed in horror and dark fantasy fiction circles? How can women? Do you feel your work has been received differently as a Black female author?

As African American artists, our job is to create the best product we can―be it books, film, or art, and then get it out there to our fans and readers. What I’m trying to say is we shouldn’t just write books (for example) we should write the best books we can―pour ourselves and our energy into them. Give the readers all you got and leave them wanting more. And then we have to market our products. As artists, we can’t wait for someone to do it for us. You have to build your own fan base. The job of female artists is no different from that of a man’s. No one is going to open any doors for us. We have to do it ourselves.

As a Black woman, I don’t think my work has been received much differently. But, I think sometimes guys―although not those in my inner circle, of course―may think that just because I’m a woman, I can’t deliver the hard-hitting battle and gory horror scenes that a man can. I actually had a male reader tell me as much at a conference. Nothing could be further from the truth. My male and female characters can swing a sword, take off a head, and mouth an incantation with the best of them. Author Charles Saunders (in his review of Immortal and Immortal II: “Immortality”) said that I can “snap a plot twist on par with the best of the thriller writers.” Author Milton Davis, has said (in his review of Immortal) that my “fight scenes are exciting and tense.” Recommendations don’t get any better than this!

What’s your next project?

As I mentioned above, I’m releasing two new novels in July 2014; Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and Colony: Ascension, An Erotic Space Opera. Mona Livelong is a steamfunk horror novel set in 1970. However, Mona Livelong also takes place in “North America,” an alternate historical period in which steampunk/steamfunk reins supreme, this means muskets, gas lights and steam-powered cars, to name a few. Steamfunk is one of my favorite genres. And lots and lots of sorcery. There is actually a whole cast of characters that make their debut in Mona Livelong. I hope my readers will come to love them, as they’ve come to love the characters of my Immortal series.

With Colony: Ascension, I went way outside my comfort zone and tried something totally different. Colony: Ascension is hard science fiction, a space opera―and an erotic space opera at that. But, as with my other series, I created communities of characters that are dependent upon one another for their survival. Readers can preview the first chapters of Colony on Amazon and Smashwords.

How can regional and cultural horror become more mainstream and recognizable to the wider horror fan base?

Authors have to market their books. They have to find ways of getting them into libraries. (I’ve donated books to libraries in different cities.) They have to attend conferences and they have to use social networking. These methods are already working. Many indie authors in my circle, Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade for example, are achieving national recognition. I recently attended the Octavia Butler Arts and Activism conference at Spelman College (in Atlanta, Georgia, which as organized by author Tananarive Due). More recently my name was mentioned, along with two very well known writers and Janelle Monáe, no less, as one of the artists influencedby Octavia Butler. I was heavily influenced by Octavia and consider her to be one of my literary mentors, although I never got a chance to meet her.

What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

I never have any problems coming up with ideas. But I can be a perfectionist. What this means for me is that I have to constantly remind myself that the first draft is the first draft. It’s not going to be perfect the first time I write it. A first draft is edited and re-edited until the final product is ready. This is a battle I seem to fight with every new novel.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read and edit other writers’ novels. I’m actually co-owner of Q & V Affordable Editing, a small company I started with my fabulous cover artist, Quinton Veal. I have to give a shout-out to Quinton, he’s done the artwork for all of my novels and short stories (except for Immortal I and II). He’s also very talented writer in his own right, and the author of four books.

Thank you for this interview, Valjeanne. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

I’d like to thank Eden Royce, horror writer extraordinaire, for interviewing me! I had a blast!

Preveiw or purchase books by Valjeanne Jeffers and Quinton Veal at www.vjeffersandqveal.com

Fantastic Books I’ve Edited: Week VIII: Breaking Free

BreakingFree

Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month Everyone! Tonight, I continue my blog series Fantastic Books… with a spotlight on SF Author Alicia McCalla, in which she discusses her grandfather as the inspiration behind her first dystopian novel, Breaking Free.

But first here is my own review of Breaking Free, which I had the distinct pleasure of editing:

“As Red Death jammed the IV needle into his arm, betrayal pierced his soul. Dr. Gary Leonard Kates, founder of the Revolution against CAGE, was tied to a chair. He thought about his three, little granddaughters as the lethal serum pulsed through his veins. He refused to tell Red Death the code. He’d take the secret to his death.” ~ Alicia McCalla, Breaking Free

Breaking Free, by Alicia McCalla is a YA science fiction novel that tells the story of XJ Patterson, a Black teenager. The story follows XJ as she battles “Cage,” a sinister governmental agency that oppresses psychically-gifted people of color, and fights to save her mom, the revolutionary Dorthy Kates-Patterson.

With flashes of brilliance, Author McCalla highlights XJ’s discovery of love in the most unlikely of places, her reluctance to take on her mother’s fight and the growth of her own preternatural powers–making her a force to be reckoned with. Ms. McCalla does not shy away from depicting the racism and classism of the alternate world she’s created, a world eerily similar to our own, nor are her characters one dimensional. In fact, she even managed to make me feel sympathy for XJ’s teenage, arch-nemesis.

Breaking Free is a fast-paced read, complete with edge of your seat SF, action and humor. And XJ is a likeable and strong heroine that young folks can easily identify with–most especially young folks of color. I thoroughly enjoyed Breaking Free, and I give it an enthusiastic five stars!

(This interview was first published on Petit Fours and Hot Tamales)

When I was a little girl, my granddad made me feel like I was a princess. It was exciting to be the only grandchild for so many years. As I became an adult, I would regularly call my granddad to check-in and tell him about my life, adventures, and latest escapades.

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When I would call, I’d play a game with him. I’d ask him if he knew who I was because I never wanted him to forget that I was his first grandchild. He would laugh and tell me that he could never forget me because I was unique and that he’d always remember me because of my voice. He said, “How can I forget that you are my first granddaughter?”

The last couple of years have been difficult. When I call, it’s hard for my grandfather to remember who I am. He knows my voice and knows that I’m important but he oftentimes can’t remember my name. He’s been diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
 
When I began writing BREAKING FREE, I knew that I had to include my grandfather in some way. In his youth, he showed quick wit, brilliance, and intelligence. My granddad was a trailblazer but more importantly he was cool. So it was natural for me to use him as the inspiration behind XJ’s holographic grandfather.

In BREAKING FREE, XJ’s grandfather chooses to commit suicide rather than allow CAGE to swipe his mind. He sacrifices himself for the revolutionary cause and copies his consciousness into a super computer. As a holographic image, sometimes his body becomes corporeal and sometimes his memories are degraded but he’s able to use his genius to help XJ become a revolutionary leader in her Genetically-Enhanced worlds.

BREAKING FREE tackles controversial issues such as race, class, same-sex relationships and gender but there is also this connection to my beautiful grandfather. Before my Grandfather completely succumbed to his Alzheimer’s, I sent him a copy of BREAKING FREE to read. He was so proud and excited to see my name on the cover and to read the story. Lately, I’m hoping that he’ll remember me, and I’m hoping that he’ll continue to be proud.

Alicia McCalla is a native of Detroit, Michigan, who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She works as a school librarian and enjoys traveling as well as spending time with her husband and son. Visit Alicia at: www.aliciamccalla.com to sign-up for e-updates, giveaways, and sneak peeks of her upcoming novels.

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Contact Valjeanne Jeffers for editing: sister24moon@gmail.com

Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. Purchase her novels at http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com and Amazon

She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and Quinton Veal for cover art at: sister24moon@gmail.com Their reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂

Fantastic Books I’ve Edited: Week VII: Warriors of The Four Worlds

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Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month everyone! On this glorious Monday, I continue my blog series with one of my favorite “hard science fiction” gems: Warriors of The Four Worlds by Ronald T. Jones. What can I say about Warriors of the Four Worlds? I love this book–absolutely love it. Warriors… has action and futuristic weaponry galore, with nail-biting suspense and a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. To top it off, the novel is funny too–a must (in my humble opinion) for any five star yarn. So, without further adieu I bring you Ronald T, Jones, author of Warriors of the Four Worlds.

Ronald T Jones

Contact Ronald at Amazon

(This interview was first published by Malcolm “Rage” Petteway,Rage Books Publishing LLC ).

Can you tell us something about your book?
Warriors of the Four Worlds is an action-adventure tale set in a far off future in a distant part of the universe. Humans are struggling for survival in the face of certain extinction at the hands of a brutally aggressive species. Warriors is narrated from the perspective of a hardened military veteran, Lev Gorlin, who is forced to take up arms once again to confront a new threat. Lev’s methods in defense of humanity are as merciless and aggressive as the enemy he battles.

How did you come up with the idea?
Honestly, I don’t remember. I do know that I approached this story as I’ve approached previous and subsequent stories. I wanted to present the best action and adventure that I could muster. I wanted twists and turns and peril aplenty in my story. I wanted to convey noble and perhaps not so noble heroics and the most dastardly, despicable villainy. Basically, I wanted to write a story that I would enjoy reading.

When did you start writing and what inspired you to write?
After gorging on a steady diet of Star Wars, Star Trek and all of the TV, film and literary science fiction that I could consume, an idea took form in my head and began flittering around inside my skull like a crazed moth attracted to light. It occurred to me that I don’t just have to watch this stuff, I can write it as well. So one day, back in the late 80s, I grabbed a pen, some paper and started writing.

Why did you pick science fiction?
It never occurred to me to write in any other genre. Science fiction was, is and will always be my passion. This isn’t to say that I’ve only read and written science fiction. But as far as fiction is concerned, science fiction has given me the greatest latitude to expand my imagination, to truly envision wondrous, strange and fantastic things.

What do you want readers to come away with after reading your book?
I want readers to come away with that pleasant endorphin-generated feeling you get after enjoying a wonderful movie, or a fine piece of chocolate or a great workout. I want my readers to feel good!

Who is your intended audience?
Science fiction fans, people who enjoy rip roaring action and adventure in any genre, anyone enamored of compelling story telling. Hopefully my work will attract any and all of the above.

What writers influenced you the most?
I’ve enjoyed the works of David Weber. His space operas are very engaging and his world building is truly epic. The same is true of fantasy writer, Imaro-creator, and godfather of Sword and Soul, Charles Saunders. There’s Steven Barnes and a host of other authors whose works I’ve enjoyed over the years.

What are your favorite aspects of writing?
I love creating characters and settings and situations. I love taking the raw material of my imagination and refining it into gripping prose.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, write. Constantly hone your craft. Write regularly, even if you’re not writing something related to your latest novel or short story. If you’re jotting down a to-do list, you’re writing. The more you write the better you get. Read regularly. Reading proficiency is connected to competent writing. And read aplenty in the genre you’re writing in. You’ll pick up a variety of styles from a variety of authors and eventually your individual style will emerge. Lastly, enjoy yourself. The moment writing becomes a chore instead of something you love so much you’d do it for free (which many aspiring writers are doing anyway) then it’s time to reevaluate your craft.

Review by Rage Books

Powerful, intense and unpredictable
Lev Gorlin is a highly decorated military soldier. He is a superb strategist and a war hero in a galaxy where Humans and Zirans protect the genetically docile Vingin through a tripartite alliance. . After a twenty year war with the Tacherins the humans begin a military drawdown, dismantling their lethal weapons that won the war. But in the eye of a promised peace, discord in the alliance breeds treacherous intentions. Lev Gorlin is pulled out of military retirement to lead the human resistance in face of a more aggressive and violent enemy.

Ronald T. Jones delivers a knockout punch with this exciting tale of military might versus strategic cunning. Warriors of the Four Worlds reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Ronald has embodied the action, intrigue and excitement of Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and masterfully wrapped it in a believable science fiction setting. The combat scenes and the military tactics he describes are told like a combat veteran relaying a personal war story. The feelings are raw and the action is fast.

I highly recommend putting this on your “next book to read” list. Definitely five star material here.

This is available for Kindle, which is great, because you will definitely want to take this book with you and steal time to read it at every opportunity until you are done. Then you will want more.

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Contact Valjeanne Jeffers for editing: sister24moon@gmail.com

Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. Purchase her novels at http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com and Amazon

She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and Quinton Veal for cover art at: sister24moon@gmail.com Their reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂

Fantastic Books I’ve Edited: Week VI: Recurrence Plot (And Other Time Travel Tales)

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Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month! Tonight, I continue my series of “Fantastic Books…” by showcasing Recurrence Plot (and other Time Travel Tales) written by SF Author Rasheedah Phillips. Recurrence Plot has themes of Afro-Futurism, a sub-genre Rasheedah helped to popularize, and that she continues to champion. This, in addition to themes of time-travel (another of my favorite themes), and Rasheedah’s excellent, surreal writing made Recurrence Plot a pleasure to edit. So without further adieu I present: Rasheedah Phillips!

(Portions of this Interview were previously published in Genesis Science fiction magazine, and also include interviews with Author Alicia McCalla, and The Nobantu Project)

Introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Rasheedah Phillips. By day, I am a public interest attorney at a nonprofit legal organization, assisting low-income Philadelphians with housing issues. Against the backdrop of night, I explore the fine line between fiction and reality, experiment with time order, reverse cause and effect, turn black holes inside out to create worlds, and rearrange the cosmos to foster favorable astrological conditions my characters. I am also a mother to my teen daughter Iyonna, and the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair, a community for Philadelphia Afrofuturists and Black Science Fictionists.

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Why did you decide to use the theme of intergenerational poverty in your book Recurrence Plot?

As an attorney representing low-income tenants living in public housing, intergenerational poverty is something that I witness daily in both my work and my community, and something I have had personal experiences with. It felt both natural and necessary to weave those topics into my stories, which are speculative re-tellings of real life experiences. Outside of the context of politics and policy, where they are spun and distorted, these complicated tales of intergenerational poverty are rarely heard and rarely analyzed.

Part of the reason why cycles of poverty and trauma perpetuate and repeat because these stories are rendered invisible, go unacknowledged, or are manipulated to suit particular agendas. This theme is an illustration of the ways in which our collective and personal pasts continue to affect us, how we reinforce or manifest negative and positive cycles of experience both in our personal lives and within the larger communities and societies that we participate in, and how we can break or shift these cycles. Fiction, and science fiction in particular, is uniquely suited, with a special language and lens, to tell these tales using raw, lived experiences, and helpful in figuring out the root causes of these issues.

Does your set of shorts, in your eyes, reflect Afrofuturistic feminism or Afrofuturistic womanism or neither?

I was not consciously claiming either feminist or womanist ideologies in writing the stories, but the book definitely seeks to tell the stories and experiences unique to Black women, from a speculative, afrofuturistic point of view. I sought to explore particular intersections of experience that are often missing from mainstream narratives of science and speculative fiction. I wanted to highlight the story of a teen mother, the story of a kid who grew up in foster care, the story of a first generation college student, the story child caught up in the justice system — and how these everyday, real world experiences parallel, or better yet, seamlessly blend into a science fictional world. The sheer weirdness of the societal institutions that we are apart of and how they impact our lives.

Because identities are political in and of themselves, and because my characters stand at the intersections of several identities, you could say the stories involve feminist or womanist concerns. However, these characters, in most circumstances, don’t necessarily have the time, space, or privilege to pick an ideology before they respond to a situation. I also believe that certain ideologies, fully ingrained and integrated into our being, are often unconsciously played out in our actions. Like cycles, they often go unrecognized or unspoken, though they inform how we interact with the world.

Ultimately, I would like to leave it up to the reader to assign those particular lenses, if they find that there. I like the idea of each reader transforming the meaning of the text by their involvement in reading it, and by the act of bringing their own context and experiences to the text.

I love that your science of time travel feels magical and connected to historical objects. In the traditional senses, historical objects help us to reconnect to our ancestors, was that your hope?

Yes, the novel explores the everyday ways in which we “time travel,” simply by touching and interacting with everyday objects. Objects are artifacts of memory and meaning, storing up energy, energy which is neither created nor destroyed in the larger universe. These artifacts of memory tell events as they actually happen, as they have been experienced, while the history that we read about in books are only subjective representations of what historians believe is crucial to remember.

I believe that Black folk need to be more in touch with our cultural and historical artifacts. These artifacts, these puzzle pieces of ourselves and our cultural heritage, are mostly inaccessible, whether they sit in a museum, in the private collection of a wealthy person, have been destroyed, or have yet to be unearthed. We tend not to remember our deeper cultural history, and we believe ourselves to be sure of those things we are taught in school and in history books. If we had access to the objects of our history, living with us and within our reach, we would feel more in touch with ourselves, our past, and will thusly be provided with more guidance for the future.

You have said before that Afrofuturism has always been here and always will be. Can you share with our readers what you mean by that?

When I say that Afrofuturism has always been here, I mean that Black folk have always been futurist, have always been scifi, have always been mythological. Afrofuturism is a modern term to put to something we have always done, but haven’t always been known for or highlighted under.

Despite the term being of recent creation, the phenomenon that is classified as Afrofuturism has been around since humankind has been present to observe it. It was known as the supernatural, the unexplained, witchcraft, paganism, tribalism, spirituality, or mythology. One could infinitely regress until we are left with only observable nature and the most rudimentary forms of communication, mixed with the human tendency to exaggerate or distort memory and the human necessity to interact with our environments.

From the Dogon tribe to the Mayans, from the old negro spirituals to the tunes of Outkast, people of color have forever passed down their accounts of what has come to pass upon our people and what is still yet to come. Exploring the origins of science-fiction and the annals of history shows us that Black folk are a part of that group of humans who have always told stories of a speculative or science-fictional nature, back when it had no name, and even when it did. In my practice of Afrofuturism, I find that it is fundamentally about Africa, about seeking to connect ourselves back to the motherland, back to our ancestors, and back to their lessons and stories, through the vehicles of sci-fi, spec-fic, and all things that fit under that umbrella.

I believe that Afrofuturism will always be here because I see the concepts and phenomenon inherent to Afrofuturism as continuing to evolve from being a lens or critical theory, and into a culture, a lifestyle, a spiritual practice, a tool for liberation, a benevolent institution, and all-encompassing in its scope so that it can touch on all aspects of the Black existence through all modes and mediums of expression.

One critical point underlying Afrofuturism is the persistence of the Black existence into the as yet undefined future, so even if Afrofuturism changes its name, its label, the foundation will continue to persist. We stand at a critical moment in this thing called history where we can freeze the moment and recognize our abilities to manipulate the collective timeline for positive change. Creating the future, defining the meaning of the future, and our existence in it, I believe, is the power of Afrofuturism. And so Afrofuturism and the concepts connected to it, must always be here, if we are to be here. And I believe we will be.

Creative Director Rasheedah Phillips’ independently published debut novel Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales) is now available for sale! You can purchase Recurrence Plot online at:
AfroFuturist Affair
Metropolarity Sci-Fi Distro
Recurrence Plot
Smashwords E-book

author-valjeanne-jeffers-ala

Contact Valjeanne Jeffers for editing: sister24moon@gmail.com

Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. Purchase her novels at www.vjeffersandqveal.com and Amazon

She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and Quinton Veal for cover art at: sister24moon@gmail.com Their reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂

Fantastic Books I’ve Edited Week III: N: Eternity Reclaimed

NEternityReclaimed
Buy N:Eternity Reclaimed at Amazon in print and in Kindle.

Today I continue my series of “Fantastic Books I’ve Edited” with a spotlight on Author DjaDja Medjay. DjaDja is the author of N:Eternity Reclaimed, (part of his Renpet series), which I had the immense pleasure of editing. Here’s my review of N:Eternity Reclaimed.

“’I hunger.’

A ravenous voice spoke out from an unknown place—with savage intent. Who and what was speaking? It was as if the air itself was alive with a flesh being’s consciousness..!

‘CHARGE at me!’ I shouted. ‘I want to know what fighting potential this world has!’

‘Yes, sister, I am coming…’” from N: Eternity Reclaimed, by DjaDja N-Medjay.

Author DjaDja N-Medjay deftly takes us on a journey with N a meta-human and time traveler. As N is snatched from one planet—one time to the next—as she fights to survive, she is forced to re-examine her life of conquest to discover the woman within the warrior. We meet her bloodthirsty husband, who has become more and less than a man, a murderous planet and a ruthless general…all who are ultimately searching for meaning and redemption. N is sexy, cosmic and transformative. This is Afro-futurism at its best and I give it an five enthusiastic stars!

Drumroll if you please! I now present, for your enjoyment, Author DjaDja Medjay.

DjaDja N Medjay (the D is silent) was born and raised in New York City. Over the years, he has studied many different modalities of healing and energy. At some point his passion began to take another route, seeing that he took in a lot of different modalities and digested a small percent, he know takes a different approach. Study and Application.

As a youth, he was always attracted to Sci-Fi and Fantasy films. In his adult years, he recognized that much of this genre mirrored themes in Nubian (Afrikan) Culture. He began to develop stories that reflected what he calls the ‘internal science’ of the Nubian Culture. Eventually he developed what he calls THE RENPET PHENOMENON, which is the main theme in his writings.

DjaDja N Medjay practices Martial Sciences and Internal Breathing during the course of his days. He also a Certified Ohashiatsu Instructor and Consultant as well as a LMT. He has taught several Ohashiatsu classes, has a fulfilling practice and offers his services to the community through Metta Lokka, a not-for-profit organization that provides loving kindness to community organizations.

What was the spark that gave birth to your first book Renpet?
This is an interesting question. The first book was developed as a result of reading Octavia Butler’s Pattern Master Series and later experiencing a lucid dream….of the future. Within the dream, I experienced our world after a series of world-altering solar flares which left much of the population removed from Earth. I was being chased by individuals that wanted to cause me harm. Long story short, I expressed supernatural abilities to control fields of energy….as my attackers had supernatural abilities of their own. The next morning I began to write down as much as I could remember and this was the starting of THE RENPET PHENOMENON.

What is The Renpet Phenomenon?
I am still developing this concept but here it is in a nutshell: The Renpet Phenomenon are a collection of cosmically shifting events causing changes in Solar Flare Activity resulting in Post Traumatic Stress of Cellular Activity and aggressive mutation of cellular composition….what one might call Evolution.

Renpet, the word, is an english representation of the Nubian utterance of sound to engender the energy of personified fertility, spring and youth..all elements of time. Used both by the Kemetyu (so-called Egyptians) and Nubians of AFRAKA, seen as a young woman with a palm shoot stemming from her crown (head).

RP, as documented in my Afro-Futuristic Novels, can be approached from many directions. To some degree, we can say one out of its many inceptions started with the introduction of Mitochondria (usage1901, from German, coined 1898 by microbiologist Carl Benda (1857-1933), from Greek mitos “thread” (see mitre) + khondrion “little granule,” diminutive of khondros “granule, lump of salt.”) to this planet within the bodies of certain sea-beings who were transported into the oceans of Earth.

Why is Sci-Fi important to you?
At one point I would of called myself a Sci-Fi and although I still enjoy a good sci-fi movie, my current opinion is that Sci-Fi is DEAD. Having journeyed through many spiritual sciences and practices while acknowledging each culture puts their spin on these practices, I come to the conclusion that my focus in the literary arts should lean towards the developing genre called Afrofuturism. My reasoning is that I have not seen or experienced, the science-fiction genre acknowledge its humbled beginnings…Nubian spiritual sciences and cultural stories.

In addition, I have yet to see any Science Fiction story or concept fully acknowledge the creator or omnipresent force (maybe George Lucas) that operates on the mechanism of spiritual unity and love. Most storylines illustrate man’s attempt to control nature while the Nubian culture encourages working with nature. Furthermore, I feel it is the responsibility of all Nubian writers to steer their focuses in the Afrofuturism direction. It is important to project images and ideas that you want to be reflected in years to come…there is an absence of humanity and love in Sci-Fi….but it is getting a bit better.
What can we expect from you in the future?

You can expect a strong push for mental and spiritual growth through literature as well as ‘bill-boarded’ images and concepts of Afrofuturism. I am also formulating a villainous scheme for animation and a potential film. You can also expect an interesting tie-in between my health and healing practice and my writing, as I encourage more people to become involved in natural internal sciences and practices while in-taking the life energies of the Sun…

However, until then…you can expect to see my next Afro-Futurstic Novel…Rising Depth to be released in Winter.

Rise in Excellence. DjaDja Medjay

RisingDepth

author-valjeanne-jeffers-ala
Contact Valjeanne Jeffers for editing and cover art at sister24moon@gmail.com

Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. Purchase her novels at http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com and Amazon

She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and/or cover art at: sister24moon@gmail.com her reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂

FANTASTIC BOOKS I’VE EDITED: STEAMFUNK!

SteamfunkPICK UP A COPY OF STEAMFUNK HERE

A witch, more machine than human, judges the character of the wicked and hands out justice in a ravaged Chicago. John Henry wields his mighty hammers in a war against machines and the undead. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman rule a country of freed slaves that rivals – and often bests – England and France in power and technology. You will find all this – and much more – between the pages of Steamfunk, an anthology of incredible stories by some of today’s greatest authors of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steamfunk …

For the next two months I’ll be featuring books I’ve had the pleasure of editing (i.e. copy editing) and interviews with the authors and editors of these fantastic books. This week I’m featuring Steamfunk! edited by Authors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade. Steamfunk! is an anthology that I had a ball editing! The stories are some of the most imaginative I’ve ever read, and what made my job even sweeter was that my own story The Switch (Part I of The Switch II: Clockwork) was included! So without further adieu, I present for your enjoyment an interview with Brother Milton Davis, one of the co-editors of Steamfunk!, who has been described as “the hardest working man in black speculative fiction today.”

 

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Q&A With Author Milton Davis

(originally published by The SPEC FICTION HUB/Interviewer Marlon Edwards)

1. You are, in my opinion, one of the hardest working people in Black speculative fiction today. I’ll be honest; I’m awed by your output. Every time I look up, you have a new novel or anthology out, or you’re on a panel, or you’ve just completed a short story, or you have a new project on the go.

Now, a lot of people start projects, but you finish them. And people enjoy them.

How do you find the time? Are you one of those disciplined creatives who carve out the same block of time every day? Or do you create in small snatches, whenever you have a moment?

I’m pretty disciplined I guess. I write every morning for about a half an hour, then for an hour every evening. I’m not much of a television watcher so that leaves me plenty of time to write

2. I think I read you say somewhere that you started writing later in life. Was that due to work and family being first priority, or did someone or something inspire you to create stories?

Family and work were definitely a big part of it, but the main reason was that I didn’t find my passion to write until later in life. It was sparked by the research I did in the ‘90s on African history and it culminated with the forming of MVmedia in 2005. I decided that if I was ever going to do it it was time. So I did.

3. If Charles R. Saunders is the grandfather of the Sword and Soul, then you are the father of the sub-genre. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say you helped to revive it.

If I’m counting correctly (and correct me if I’m wrong), you have six Sword and Soul novels, including your Meji books and your Changa books. And those are just the novels where you are the sole author.

How did you first connect with Mr. Saunders, and what draws you to Sword and Soul?

I met Charles by pure chance. I didn’t discover Imaro until 2005 when it was re-released by Nightshade books. I had finished Meji and Changa by then and tried to reach out to him with no luck. Later while on Blacksuperhero.com one of the members, Richard Tyler, announced that Nightshade was no longer publishing Imaro and that he was taking over. I immediately contacted Richard, who immediately put me in touch with him. Charles was gracious and friendly from day one. He agreed to read Meji and told me he liked it, which of course made my year. We’ve been Sword and Soul brothers since.

I love Sword and Soul because it combines two of my favorites; history and fantasy. It’s where my writing passion is for now and will probably remain for a while yet.

4. I’m fascinated by writers who have distinguished, professional day jobs, like you. By trade, you’re a chemist. Do your professional experiences ever make their way into your work?

Not yet. They’re both creative processes, but until I write science fiction I think the two will remain separate.

5. Steampunk is one of those sub-genres that is fiercely protected. Some steampunks have a hard-and-fast definition of what steampunk is, and what time frame it encompasses. Anything outside of that they don’t consider part of the sub-genre.

A little more than a year ago, you and your editing partner, Balogun Ojetade, released an anthology called Steamfunk!. In doing so, you two created a sub-genre of a sub-genre. You also pissed some people off.

What is your definition of steamfunk, and why do you feel speculative literature needs this sub-genre?

Steamfunk is Steampunk that incorporates the culture and historical perspective of people of African descent. The truth to me is that Steampunk, like most genres, operates on the conditions that anyone can play as long as you play by my rules. You don’t have to look deep to see that the historical foundation of the genre is based on a time in history and an empire that was not very favorable to and for people of African descent, especially those within the empire. The concept of Steamfunk grew out of a conversation by fellow writers discussing this fact. The Steamfunk! Anthology was a result of this conversation.

I think this genre needs Steamfunk because it allows us to express what was unique to our culture during this time period in our own way. How it’s expressed depends on the writer. I tend to take the alternate history approach. To be honest both Balogun and I were writing Steamfunk/Steampunk before we knew there was a name for it. And there’s one truth that a lot of Steampunk folks are reluctant to admit while others happily acknowledge; Steamfunk has brought more people of African descent to the genre than Steampunk in its current form and has added a fresh perspective.

5. An interesting trend that has been happening for some years now is young, Black men and women who were born in the northern United States are moving to the South—often where their parents were born—especially, Atlanta.

As this has happened, Atlanta now has what’s become a thriving Black speculative fiction community. Is that fair to say, and if so, why do you think that is?

Although our Northern cousins have contributed to the growth of the Black speculative community in Atlanta, a large portion of it is home grown. I’m a good example; born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia. I think the growth of speculative fiction among young black men and women across the board is a generational thing and will continue to expand as time goes on. Atlanta has become a hub because we’ve made it so. We have an active, open community supported by a large number of speculative fiction conventions, most notably DragonCon. Atlanta has always been a city where the black community possesses a can do attitude and this same attitude exists among black speculative creators and fans here. We don’t wait for it to be done; we do it.

6. One of the things I admire about you is, not only do you collaborate with other writers and editors and artists, but you truly respect the collaboration.

I’m paraphrasing here, and I hope I don’t misrepresent your words, but I saw you post of Facebook once that, if you want a certain artist to do your novel cover or draw your character, and you can’t afford the artist, save your money until can. You seemed to be saying, ‘don’t settle for second best.’

Is that what you believe, and, in your experience, does financial compensation make the collaboration a healthier one?

One of my beliefs is that most publishers don’t put their best foot forward when it comes to developing projects geared toward black people. They don’t feel the investment will yield a good return because of the lingering misconception that black people don’t read. I promised myself that I would produce the highest quality product my money and skills were capable of, especially when it came to artwork. So I use the best artists I can afford and I pay them in a timely manner. There’s a lot of shortchanging that goes on in this industry so there’s a lot of mistrust on both sides. I’m straightforward with what I want and what I’ll pay for it; if I can’t afford it I won’t do the deal. The result is that I get to work with some great artists.

It’s always best to pay people for their work. The backend deal can work, but so many artists and writers have been ripped off in such situations that I feel it’s best to just do the deal up front unless the artist suggests otherwise.

7. Before we end this interview, I do want to thank you for setting aside some time in your busy schedule to answer my questions. I also want to give you the opportunity to tell us what projects you have coming up.

I know you’re working on a secret project (which I’m sure you can’t tell us about yet), but do you have novels or short stories or anthologies that will be published soon?

Right now I’m working on the paperback version of Changa’s Safari Volume Three, which will be available either late August or early September. After that I’m taking a break to catch my breath and plan for 2015. I do have one more project I’d like to complete before the end of the year but I’ll have to see how things pan out. I have big plans for next year; three anthologies as at least one novel. Two of the anthologies; The City and Dark Universe, are science fiction anthologies which will be a first for me. The third anthology is a continuation of the Griots series. Everything depends on sales. If things continue to grow as they have, I believe it will be doable.

Thank you for the opportunity. I hope I haven’t put anyone to sleep.

 

Valjeanne Jeffers

Contact Valjeanne Jeffers at sister24moon@gmail.com

Valjeanne Jeffers is the author of eight science fiction/fantasy novels, and she has been published in numerous anthologies. She is co-owner of http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com with poet and artist Quinton Veal. Contact Valjeanne for editing, and/or cover art at: sister24moon@gmail.com her reasonable prices will shock and amaze you 🙂