Updated: Jul 24, 2019
1). How did your writing journey begin?
I began writing poetry in high school. By the time I was a freshman in college it became more than just a passing fancy. The real catalyst to my writing turning serious was reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X. That changed everything. After that my poetry became an examination of self, the culture, the country, race, and politics. I initially went to university to become an architect. But then the second influence on my writing presented itself. I took a philosophy 101 class and had every presupposition I had every held brought into question. I immediately changed my major to philosophy. A year later I became an English and Philosophy double major. I’ve been grappling with the fundamental questions of our existence and trying to put them into words ever since.
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
When it comes to science fiction and fantasy my most prominent influences are Robert Jordan, C. J. Cherryh, Robert Aspirin, Joel Rosenberg, Michael Moorcock, and Glen Cook.
3). Are you an outliner or a panster?
I’m a bit of both.
4). What are your favorite books?
The Wheel of Time, The Faded Sun Series, the Myth Adventures, Elric of Melniboné.
5). Describe your writing process.
In writing my fantasy series I began knowing how it would end. Based on that I figure out how each novel in the series should end. And then what I need to achieve in each chapter to meet the arc for each book. At a more granular level I take copious notes but I also rely on that ineffable unconscious thing where the mind is constantly working on the story in the background and periodically plot, character, and world building spring to mind like magic – though it’s actually your subconscious mind working on story details.
6). What inspired you to write The Messiah Curse?
I’ve read science fiction and fantasy since the days of scholastic orders in elementary school. I started with comic books and then novels like Rats of NIMH and Watership Down. By 7th grade I was checking out The Three Musketeers and Lord of the Rings from my junior high library. After that I read everything I could get my hands on. By the time I was in college writing poetry I knew one day I wanted to write scifi and fantasy. That history always informs what I write in a broad senses. When I sat down to write The Messiah Curse it was my first time delving into Urban Fantasy. I immediately pulled from my background in theology to create a unique character based in a well-worn trope so that urban fantasy readers had a familiar frame of reference but something exciting and new within that context.
7). Tell us a bit about your story.
The Messiah Curse is a psychological urban fantasy story about a character who exists in a supernatural otherworld that exists right underneath the mortal world of Atlanta. It’s as much about him dealing with the fallout of his past as much as the conflict with antagonists in the present. You get to see an interesting cast of characters as well as a unique world that exists just out of sight of the real Atlanta.
8). How do you feel about Atlanta being a Black Speculative Fiction hub?
I love it. If only for the reason that I don’t have to catch a plane to be in the center of the explosion of the black fantastic and much of what’s happening with black creatives.
9). Will there be more stories about this character?
I think there’s definitely a lot more to discover about Azriel. (Cue sinister look.)
10). How do we keep up with all things Gerald L. Coleman?
You can find me at geraldlcoleman.co. (Not .com, .co)
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
Write what you want, how you want. Take note of who is buying your books so you aren’t wasting time chasing after readers who aren’t your audience. If there’s one thing you should spend your money on it’s a good cover – even before you pay an editor, for the love of God pay what you have to for a really great cover - that’s not the place to get cheap. Find a talented artist and pay that $750-$1000 for it. It’s going to be your number one marketing asset. Learn the rest of what we call “best practices” in publishing. That includes what I just said about the cover. It also includes layout, editing, and promotion. There are a lot of authors doing a lot of incredibly bad things to get their books published and when it comes to marketing. Learn what not to do. They make us all look bad. Now, go write, and have fun with it.
Read Gerald Coleman's story The Messiah Curse in the Terminus Anthology. Visit our State of Black Science Fiction booth at the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend for a signed copy.