5 Things That Inspired ‘The Voices of Martyrs’ by Maurice Broaddus

Image: Melanie R. Meadors

This week we welcome author Maurice Broaddus to Geek Speaks…Fiction! Maurice has written many pieces of wonderful speculative fiction that have appeared in places such as Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Asimov’s, and more. Most recently, several of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs, available now from Rosarium Publishing (Rosarium is a fabulous small press headed by Bill Cambell. I highly suggest you check out all their books!). In this article, Maurice talks about five things that inspired this new anthology!

My first love is writing short stories, so, naturally, I love short story collections. Such collections brought me into the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker) and showed me what all could be done with the genre (Walter Mosley, Kelly Link, Tananarive Due, Ted Chiang, Jeffrey Ford, Octavia Butler). Collections can be a kind of sampler platter to illustrate what all an author does. With over 50 short stories published from which to draw, what I wanted to do with The Voices of Martyrs was look at the African American experience through the lens of history. That’s the overarching idea behind the collection, though I do have five things in particular that helped inspire some of the stories.

1. Imaro. For some people, the sword and sorcery genre begins with Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Though I’m a fan, for me, sword and sorcery begins with Charles Saunders’ Imaro (sword and soul!). His work set in ancient Africa inspired the opening tale of the collection, “Warrior of the Sunrise.”

Image: Rosarium Publishing

2. Unknown Painting. I was walking the aisles at the Indiana Black Expo when I ran across a painting. It juxtaposed two images: a group of African American men in a slave ship hold and the same group of men in a modern prison cell. I don’t know who painted it and I’ve never seen it since, but the images haunted me and went on to inspire two of the stories in the collection, “Rite of Passage” and “The Ave.”

3. Parliament-Funkadelic. No one brings the funk like George Clinton. Not only did I get to see him in concert last year, but I also visited the baby mothership which is in the Museum of Psychophonics in Indianapolis–the version of Parliament’s Mothership that flew above audiences just prior to them taking the stage. I stepped into their mythology with The Electric Spanking of the War Babies and it was also the soundtrack that I wrote “Pimp My Airship” (steamfunk!) to. Let’s just say that tales of the mothership pop up in a lot of my stories.

4. HBO. I went through a phase where I seemed to be writing stories set in worlds similar to what I was watching on HBO. Oz (“The Ave”), The Wire, Rome, Deadwood, Band of Brothers (“The Valkyrie”). With “The Valkyrie” I was definitely going for a World War II/Miracle at St. Anna vibe except set in the future.

5. Martha Washington. Inspired by a little-known Frank Miller comic, I created Lt. Macia Branson. In “The Valkyrie,” I dropped her into a dangerous world where the church and the military are one and “the army of the Lord” is on the move. In the follow-up story, “The Voice of the Martyrs,” she helps protect an interplanetary mission/colonizing trip. Plus I needed an excuse to write biomech fight scenes.

Publishers Weekly says that “the lush, descriptive prose tantalizes all the senses, drawing the reader into a rich world spanning both miles and centuries. Hints of magic in both the past and present, as well as the science fiction elements of the future stories, make this an exciting exploration of genre as well as culture.” I hope you enjoy the stories.

About The Voices of Martyrs:

We are a collection of voices, the assembled history of the many voices that have spoken into our lives and shaped us. Voices of the past, voices of the present, and voices of the future. There is an African proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This is why we continue to remember the tales of struggle and tales of perseverance, even as we look to tales of hope. What a people choose to remember about its past, the stories they pass down, informs who they are and sets the boundaries of their identity. We remember the pain of our past to mourn, to heal, and to learn. Only in that way can we ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. The voices make up our stories. The stories make up who we are. A collected voice.

Photo by Chandra Lynch of ANKH Photography

About Maurice Broaddus:

Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award-winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic.” He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.

When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons… when they are not solving murder mysteries.

He really likes to make up stories. A lot. Especially about himself.

Coming closer to the truth, he was originally born in London, England, but has lived in Indianapolis, Indiana for most of his life. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Purdue University in Biology (with an undeclared major in English) and spends the bulk of his time doing community development work.

A community organizer and teacher, his work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Apex Magazine, Asimov’s, Cemetery Dance, Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He is the author of the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court trilogy. He co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, and Devil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com.

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Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available April 12, 2016.