Available at www.vjeffersandqveal.com
October is Black Speculative Fiction Month. Right on! What, you ask, is Speculative Fiction? Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term for the broad genres of horror, science fiction, pulp fiction, and fantasy (for example, the sub-genre Sword and Sorcery). Black Speculative Fiction is also an umbrella term but with one important difference.
Black Speculative Fiction encompasses stories of horror, fantasy and science fiction which come out of the Black and/or African experience. So now we may add the very young sub-genre of Sword and Soul which was created by Charles Saunders. These are tales told, for the most part, by African American authors— stories of African sheiks, aliens in the hood, of Haitian witches and warlocks (for example, my story, Outcasts) of Native American and Black vampires and werewolves (such as in, for example, my Immortal series).
Once, as my friend and mentor Charles Saunders said, I could barely find a novel written by an author of color. Now, I can’t keep up with those that are emerging each year, each week, each day. We stand on the cusp of an era. An era which, if I may be so bold, may be likened to the Harlem Renaissance. Indeed we have come far, but with miles to go before we sleep. We must continue this journey with you, our readers.
October is BSFM month. How should you celebrate? Here’s an idea: why not hug an author by visiting their sites. Here’s my site: Pick up an ebook (or if you’re old school like me) a print copy of a book by your favorite author.
You don’t have a favorite author? Don’t sweat it honey, have one of mine 🙂 Here’s a list of some of my favorite writers.
Octavia Butler: Wild Seed, Clay’s Ark, Imago, Kindred. Purchase Queen Octavia’s novels here.
Charles Saunders: The Imaro Series, Damballa, The Dossouye Series, Griots: A Sword and Souls Anthology (editor with Milton Davis).
Valjeanne Jeffers: the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (includes books I and II)
Quinton Veal: Cover artist for Immortal III and The Switch II: Clockwork
(and numerous other covers). Check him out here.
Edward Uzzle: Retro KM: Lord of the Landlords, NETERS. Check him out here.
Howard Night: The Serpent Cult, Race War (The Reckoning). Check him out here.
D.K. Gaston: The Friday House, Pantheon. Check him out here.
A.J. Jarrell: Detecting Magic With Dick Hunter, The Good King Saga. Check him out here.
TK McEachin: The Elements Series (in press)
Carole McDonnell: Wind Follower, The Constant Tower, Spirit Fruit. Check her out here.
B. Sharise Moore: Taste: An Erotic Fantasy Series. Check her out here.
Derrick Ferguson: Dillion and The Voice of Odin, Four Bullets For Odin,
The Adventure of Fortune McCall. Check him out here.
Ronald Jones: Warriors of the Four Worlds, Subject 82-42. Check him out here.
Milton Davis: the Meji Series, The Changa Safari Series, Steamfunk! (as co-editor). Check him out here.
Balogun Ojatade: The Chronicles of Harriet, Once Upon a Time in Afrika Steamfunk! (as co-editor). Check him here.
Nalo Hopkinson: Midnight Robber, Sister Mine. Check her out here.
Tananarive Due: The Good House, My Soul to Keep. Check her out here.
Steven Barnes: The Lions Blood, Shadow Valley, Zulu Heart. Check her out here.
Alicia McCalla: Breaking Free, Iniko (African Elementals), Possibilities (edited with L.M. Davis). Check her out here.
Melvin Carter: Leopard’s Moon. Check him out here.
John F. Allen The God Killers. Check him out here.
And here are more some super-cool sites:
I’ll be adding links for everyone so be sure to check in with me. This list is not exhaustive. But it should get you started. Now go forth and celebrate! And Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month!
Live reading of Immortal: Chapter 1: Specter. Conclusion
And Chapter 2: Deseo
Visit us at our site:
Pick up books by Valjeanne Jeffers and Quinton Veal at:
Eljay’s Used Books Pittsburgh PA
The Wild Fig Lexington KY
And Nubian Bookstore Morrow GA
Allandra set her dials for landing. “This is the one Leonardo! I can feel it! Just like the readings indicated!”
“Humph!” her partner retorted, but with a smile in his voice. “ITS says that every mission. We’ve never find anything but plants, not even an animal. And I had my heart set on a pet, space monkey. Why don’t you give it up, babe?”
She laughed throatily. “Now you know I can’t do that.” Besides this time they’re right.
The young astronaut couldn’t see Leonardo. But she knew he was there, traveling parallel to her descent. They’d been in space for a week and both were ready for some R&R, even it was on the surface of an unexplored planet.
Moving through the crusty, mist-filled atmosphere, Allandra reduced her speed: coasting the tiny ship in. Her heart sank.
From a distance the dust that surrounded the atmosphere had given off a crimson glow—hence the name Red Stone. But up close, it was an ugly, crater-filled rock covered in red dust. Worst, there was no sign of civilization. Intergalactic Space Travel’s (IST) readings had been wrong.
The astronaut spotted a plateau between two boulders, a small valley, and headed for it. She easily maneuvered the ship into a smooth landing. She was operating a Probe: a craft—roughly the same size as the small, private planes that had become so popular during the 21th century. Yet probes had the weapons capacity and power of the much larger phoenix crafts.
Allandra scanned the surface. With the naked eye, it appeared to be mid-day. Or whatever passes for mid-day on this desolate rock. She pressed the blue button on her console, activating a test of the atmosphere.
“No readings of intelligent life species, no readings of other animal species,” a mechanized voice intoned. “Levels of toxicity are acceptable.” That means it’s safe for us to get out.
She activated her ship log, and began speaking: “This is Lieutenant Allandra Rex, commander of Probe 12. It is 2600 hours Earth Time, Day Seven of the mission. Lieutenant Leonardo Cash and I have landed on Planet Red Stone.”
“Preliminary analysis of the planet indicates there is not enough oxygen to sustain human life.” Keep it simple and straightforward.
Sidney had taught her this.
The second half is also available at amazon and smashwords for $.99
Colony will be released later this year.
I was tagged by Balogun author of the riveting series The Chronicles of Harriet and Once Upon a Time in Afrika.
Rules are: Answer ten questions about your current Work In Progress on your blog. Tag five writers / bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.
So I’m tagging: H. Wolfgang Porter, Quinton Veal, A. Jarrell Hayes, Ronald Jones, Carole McDonnell. and Author DjaDja Medjay. I assure you, I can count to five. I just cheated a little and added six, awesome authors.
On to my questions :)!
What is the working title of your book…
The working title is Colony.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve always dug space dramas. I cut my teeth on the original Star Trek series. Later, I became addicted to the predator movies. Most especially Predator vs. Aliens in which Sanaa Lathan received the tribal markings of a predator warrior! This triggered my “what if” mode. As in: What if the earth was dying, and aliens saw this as an opportunity to harvest our planet? And what if these aliens used every tool at their disposal– including love and sexuality?
What genre does your book fall under?
Colony is a space opera, which in layman’s terms, means science fiction emphasizng melodramatic adventure, set in outer space. Romance, wars, space travel… How cool is that?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My main character Allandra is strong, sexy and intelligent– as well as being handy with a laser gun. So I’d love it if Erika Alexander would play the lead role.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Allandra has always dreamed of life on other planets. But this mission she’ll find more than she ever dreamed of.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I might shop around for a publisher. But chances are, since I’ve become a stubborn Indie author that I’ll publish it myself.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me about three months. Hopefully, I’ll be finished with it by early next year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Colony is a space opera, so my genre is not unpresedented. But the direction I chose is.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the mind-bending space operas of Ronald Jones, author of Warriors of the Four Worlds, and Angela Nicole Parker, author of Spectar of War. The battles in both novels are edge-of-your-seat, bloody conflicts, with suspenseful, human plots. Right up my alley.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Readers can check out the first chapters of Colony (including Probe) on smashwords. I’ve also posted a few chapters on this site. Colony is definitely a break from my previous works. It’s hard science fiction with a techie, futuristic feel; which takes me out of my fantasy/drama comfort zone.
But that’s what makes it so much fun.
My decision to write about shape shifters and animals—especially werewolves— was first met with shock…by me. When I was growing up, and until say the last ten or so years, the cast of animals in science fiction/fantasy was pretty limited. You had your choice of evil and doomed or tragic and doomed. Either way somebody, usually your animal, was doomed.
Remember the “salt monster” from the original Star Trek series? It was a beast with no other desire than to assume the shapes of the crew—like a deadly chameleon. All the better to suck the salt from your body until you’re dead. That was pretty much the fare of traditional SF films and books.
Whenever I sat down to watch a werewolf film, I already knew the beginning and the end. I already knew the skinny. It definitely wasn’t cheerful. Some poor man or woman got bitten or scratched and went through a period of: “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Then eventually, like The American Werewolf In London, they all turned into hairy, psycho killers and proceeded to murder anyone unlucky enough to get in their way—including their own family members. That was the traditional SF nonhuman. That was his or her fate.
So why would I chose such a tragic protagonist? Now the plot, as they say, thickens. There is a nontraditional SF animal, oftentimes also a shape shifter, that has made his/her way into the SF/fantasy genre. These new animals or shape shifters can be loosely grouped into two categories: a thinking being that thwarts the heroine or hero, or one that helps them on their journey.
In The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, a science fiction/horror odyssey, there is a whole host of supernatural creatures: werewolves, were-goats, lizards… some good, some malevolent, but all with human intellect—a sharp break from the traditional werewolf formula. In fact, “Wolf,” a gentle, werewolf is pivotal to the hero’s success. When Wolf runs with the moon, he too becomes a killing machine, losing his human ability to think and reason. Yet Wolf’s humanity, unlike that of his literary forefathers, conquers this brutal calling.
But animals such as the talking familiars of A. Jarrell’s Detecting Magic With Dick Hunter,
and the magical crow of Balogun Ojetade’s Once Upon a Time in Afrika showcase animals that completely belong to a new breed of SF/Fantasy animals.
In Once Upon a Time In Afrika a magical bird, or a creature that looks like a bird, the “Crow,” gives the hero and heroine direction. In both cases these are thinking creatures. Gone is the mindless beast controlled by his or her transition into an animal.
Which brings me back to my original question: why would I choose to write about werewolves? Frankly, as I discovered, they fascinate me—always have—along with other shape shifting folk, like vampires. And because historically, in films and books, they’ve always been the underdogs: the unfortunate man or woman who was infected, suffered, killed and came to a horrible end. The underdog, the oppressed, the abused, the victim, who by the power of their spirit rises to become a heroine, has always been near and dear to my heart.
Another one of my motivations, is that in animals we glimpse one of the most glorious aspects of life. They will fight to death to protect those they love. They never kill for pleasure or greed. And the wolf is among the most noble, and beautiful creatures to walk the earth. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from these “cousins?”
The shape shifters, Karla, Joseph and others, that I’ve brought to life in my Immortal series, in the alternate world of “Tundra,” are definitely nontraditional. They are humans, whose birthright forces them to become more. Not because they were bitten or scratched, but because they are Immortal Other, entrusted with the survival of their world.
They challenge the power structure of their planet imposed by a sorcerer, who also happens to be a megalomaniac. Not fearlessly (For who among us is fearless?) but with great courage, drawing upon their bestial natures to fight and protect their planet. There is eroticism. What is life without love? Violence, for the Others are nothing if not revolutionary. And growth. If you live you evolve. Or you stagnant and die. There is whole cast of preternatural humans and daemons in the Immortal series—some good, some evil—and all with their own agenda (whether working for themselves or some other entity) for who will rule Tundra.
Immortal II: The Time of Legend
Indeed, the world of science fiction animals is no longer a realm of star crossed creatures. No longer are werewolves and other meta-humans ruled by harsh literary plots, their bloody death predetermined by their nature. This new world is rich and multi-layered. Shape shifters are free to think, live and love—both as humans and animals—to chose their own path, whether benevolent or evil.
Cover art and design for Immortal III, Immortal IV and The Switch II: Clockwork by Quinton Veal.
Valjeanne Jeffers is an artist, poet and the author of The Immortal and The Switch series. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Genesis: Science Fiction Magazine, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear (in press), Possibilites (coming in September to Smashwords) Steamfunk!Anthology (in press). Valjeanne’s novels can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Nubian Bookstore, Morrow GA, and Eljay’s Used Books Bookstore, Pittsburgh PA.
You can also preview or purchase her novels at: http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com
The legendary Charles Saunders (The acclaimed Imaro and Damballa series) just dropped a spectacular review of my novels, Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch II: Clockwork. And I am on cloud nine :)!! Here’s an excerpt:
Valjeanne “Sister Moon” Jeffers continues to rise in the ranks of speculative-fiction authors with the release of her latest novels in her interlocking Immortal/Switch series. her writing weaves vivid threads of science fiction, fantasy, horror and erotica into patterns as intricate as those in a kente cloth… read the rest here (click Recommended then Sister Moon Rising)
And you can read excerpts from both novels on wordpress or my personal site