Today, we are talking with Maurice Broaddus. Together with Jerry Gordon, he has edited Dark Faith, which focuses on the spiritual side of horror. His novel, King Maker, first in a trilogy re-telling Arthurian legends from the point of view of street hustler King, is being released by Angry Robot this year.
IFP: What was your goal with the Dark Faith anthology?
MB: I had a pretty simple goal when it came to Dark Faith. I wanted horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers to riff on the idea of faith. It started off as a tribute anthology to my convention, Mo*Con, since one of the panel discussions we have there typically revolves around the idea of spirituality. But it quickly grew into something more.
IFP: Were you surprised by some of the angles taken by writers submitting to Dark Faith?
MB: Yes and no. Part of the fun was that I wanted to be surprised by what people did with the theme. Of course there was going to be some hack stories; the slush pile is a great and scary place in its own right. So I knew I’d get some zombie Jesus or pedophile priest stories and, if folks had done anything interesting with them, they’d have made it into the anthology. That being said, some of the stories really surprised me. Jennifer Pelland’s “Ghosts of New York” was one of the first stories we received and that story STILL haunts me. I wanted to high-five someone when I got to the ending of Richard Dansky’s “The Mad Eyes of the Heron King”, because that ending was so perfect. And I flat-out called Kyle S. Johnson with an acceptance for “Go Tell it on the Mountain”.
IFP: What kind of elements make a good horror story?
MB: I’m a simple guy: scare me, unsettle me, disturb me, and challenge me. You do those things and have your story linger with me, you’ve done your job.
IFP: Apex Publications is offering a limited edition chapbook entitled Dark Faith: Last Rites that will accompany the book. What does Last Rites contain?
MB: Last Rites has four stories in it that I absolutely loved. As an editor, I had the fortune of having a lot of great stories to choose from and the unpleasant task of having to let some of those slip through my fingers. However, the idea of doing a promotional chapbook came up and that became an opportunity to share some more wonderful stories with folks.
MB: I never saw the two genres as separated by all that much. When you realize that horror is more an emotive element than a clear-cut genre, you realize you can do horror in anything. There are some parts of King Maker as dark as any horror I’ve written, despite me having fantasy tropes to play with. Just like plenty of fantasy tropes have made it into some of the horror I’ve written.
IFP: How long did it take you to write King Maker? Was it hard to sell the series?
MB: The first draft of King Maker I wrote during NaNoWriMo a couple years back. I pounded out a 50,000-word novel in a month or so. I revised it once to 60,000 words. It sold to the second place I sent it (although I then added another 30,000 words to the novel).
IFP: What inspired you to change the setting to Indianapolis?
MB: Well, I live in Indianapolis, so it was all about writing what I know. At the time, I had been working with some kids from Outreach Inc, a homeless/at-risk teens ministry. They really inspired the book. Because homeless teens play such a vital role in the story, it became one of the themes: the idea that cities have whole sides to them that we have learned not to see.
MB: Technically, I’m an English guy living in the United States. So, if I can do it, surely Arthur can, too. I also think that one reason the Arthurian legends are so vital is because of their flexibility. They transcend place and time and are ripe to be reinterpreted in new cultures and settings. It’s the idea of them that endures.
IFP: We love the cover. Did you have any input in it?
MB: Some. The original model I thought was too light in complexion for who I had in mind for King, my main character. After that, when you’re dealing with an artist as brilliant as Steve Stone, you just get out of his way and let him do his thing.
IFP: What are you working on right now?
MB: Right, right now, I’m working on a few blogs for my website, www.MauriceBroaddus.com. But I’ve just started the final book in the Knights of Breton Court trilogy, King’s War. I’ve also started work on a novel-length version of my steampunk story, Pimp My Airship. And I’m doing the preliminary worldbuilding for a postapocalyptic novel I will be co-writing with Wrath James White. So, I’m staying busy…it helps keep me out of trouble.