Monday, October 20, 2014

Black Speculative Fiction Month, Day 20: Author Dennis R. Upkins stops by for #BSFM

This is our first time celebrating BSFM, but the awesome Dennis Upkins has always been a crowd favorite. 

It honestly wouldn't be BSFM without him, and hopefully we'll get a chance to touch another great monument for the month with him as it is also LGBTQ Month as well.

He kind of doesn't require an intro, but We'll give him one anyways =)

Our next author to discuss Black Speculative Fiction Month: Dennis R. Upkins!

1. Have you celebrated BSFM before this year? How did you hear about it? What were your initial reactions?
DRU: Oh boy did I. October is already one of my favorite months of the year because of Autumn and Halloween. So BSFM was icing on a most delicious cake. Last year was the inaugural year for the event and I first learned about it on a couple of online forums I frequent. It was basically Christmas (and Halloween) for me because I was able to celebrate being a black geek with my fellow Wakandans. It was during that time too I was preparing for the release of West of Sunset. So as a speculative fiction author and a fan, BSFM hits home for me as I discuss here:

2. Why do you think having a month dedicated to Black Speculative Fiction authors is important?

DRU: To quote Joss Whedon, "Because you are asking me that question."

Why does BSFM matter? BSFM matters because now more than ever our stories must be told and our voices must be heard. BSFM matters because too often at cons and writing events, I'm often the only queer non-white guest in attendance. BSFM matters because black lives matter, as #Ferguson and countless othe tragedies have reminded us. BSFM matters because Racefail happened and there are white industry "pros" who have gone on record in claiming that black geeks are the result of the internet. Because Octavia Butler didn't happen or something. BSFM matters because the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and similar initiatives are desperately needed and long overdue. BSFM matters because too many people can't wrap their heads around the fact that my characters Noah Scott, Cassidy Reeves, Brecken Everett, Nemesis and Violet, Virgil Rhames and Iyana epitomize Black Excellence and are not wishful thinking of flights of fancy. BSFM matters because it illustrates how black are loving themselves, embracing their power and creating their own spaces and efforts to thrive in a racist world that would sooner we didn't. That's how Black Excellence gets down.

3. How do you celebrate BSFM? What are some things bloggers, authors, and fans of Black Speculative Fiction authors can do to spread awareness?

DRU: Well I'm excited to announce that in its second year, BSFM has grown immensely and word and interst has seriously spread. For me, I just make the month fun. It's a month a long party and celebration. For me, I discuss my favorite books, movies, comic books that feature black protagonists and/or was penned by a black writer. I also discuss my experiences, the triumphs and challenges of being black novelist. Other bloggers, authors, and fans can boost the signal about the month, share their thoughts on why they believe BSFM is important, recommend media and artists, and just make the event their own and have fun celebrating.

4. Who do you think are trailblazers when it comes to Speculative Fiction?

DRU: Too many to list. And there are some writers who while they may not technically penned a speculative piece, their influence is undeniable. Alexandre Dumas, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Octavia Butler, Mary Shelley (she who has been credited as the creator of science fiction), Reginald Hudlin, Dwayne McDuffie, Joss Whedon, Janelle Monae, JK Rowling, Stan Lee, Tanarieve Due, Steven Barnes, Shonda Rhimes, Quincy Morris, Michael Turner, Perry Moore, L.A. Banks, no really it's too many to list.  ;-)  But these amazing souls have set the bar of excellence immensely high for mere mortals such as myself, but as the kids say, "Challenge accepted!"   :-)

5. We're hoping to open the awareness to more intersectionality when it comes to main characters in Speculative Fiction. Please tell us you know some books with Black main characters, who aren't abled, straight, who may not be a default size or religion.
 Pics provided by Amazon; Dennis' Facebook Page

DRU: *coughs* Hollowstone and West of Sunset *coughs.* I should point out that in spite of the epic fail that seems to be a daily basis with Marvel and DC, comic books actually feature some amazing black intersectional characters. Misty Knight, Xavin, Nick Fury, Thunder, a significant portion of the Milestone Comics lineup, Mr. Terrific, Voodoo, and many more.

Hopefully we'll be seeing many more not only in books but media in general. And if I have anything to say about it, we will, as Stranger Than Fiction, Hollowstone and West of Sunset have proven.    ;-)


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