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Eleven Questions with Terminus Author M. Haynes

M. Haynes, author of Not Your (Magical) Negro

1). How did your writing journey begin?

I began writing when I was about nine years old. I started off writing handwritten stories and selling them to my classmates. The feedback that I got from those original stories let me know that I had a knack for writing. From there I began building my series and writing and publishing short stories until I published my first book in 2015.

2). Who are your writing inspirations?

Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Randall Kenan, and of course the people I grew up reading like J.K. Rowling and K.A. Applegate.

3). Are you an outliner or a panster?

Oh major outliner. I don’t write a word until I’ve outlined my plot, character arcs, and where a particular story/book fits into the overall universe.

4). What are your favorite books?

At the moment I’m really enjoying Son of the Rock by Violette Meier and Satyr’s Melody by John Darr. On the non-fiction side I’ve been reading a lot of The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.

5). Describe your writing process.

I start with the characters who will be in a particular story. I figure out what the characters are like and then work to build the world around them. Once I have the preliminary information out of the way, I begin thinking about the plot itself. I plan out everything so that I always know what the story should be like, even when thing take different turns as I write. I also write out by hand my stories before I type them up so that I have a self-edited portion of my process.

6). What inspired you to write “Not Your (Magical) Negro”?

I wanted to write a spellcaster story with Black men at the center. Being who I am it was also important for them to not exclusively be straight men. I also wanted to play a bit with hoodoo rather than “traditional” magic that we normally see. I was really glad to get the opportunity to bring all of these things into one story.

7). Tell us a bit about your story.

My story follows a guy named Ja’Corey who has magical abilities. He uses his powers primarily to better his life until he meets more people with similar abilities and he begins to learn the depths of his powers. We see the spellcasters bond and we see the birth of a beautiful partnership.

8). How do you feel about Atlanta being a Black Speculative Fiction hub?

I’m glad to be here for that reason. Since I study Black Speculative Fiction as well, I’ve seen just how essential Atlanta has been to the formation of the genre(s). I think that this is the perfect place for us as creatives to really push B.S.F. forward and I look forward to watching the community grow even more.

9). Will there be more stories about this character?

I have ideas for a few more stories, so who knows 😊

10). How do we keep up with all things M. Haynes?

You can follow me on my website which has my blog, my scholarship, and my own series. I am also on social media under Elemental_Books.

11). What advice would you give to new writers?

Don’t be afraid to take your time. Don’t rush; the building blocks behind a story are the most important parts. Take your time and think about what you want your stories to say, and always ask for feedback on if your stories are doing that. You can’t follow ALL the suggestions, but having opinions other than your own can really take your writing to the next level.

Read M. Haynes's story Not Your (Magical) Negro in the Terminus Anthology. Visit our State of Black Science Fiction booth at the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend for a signed copy.

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