If you listened to this week's episode of The Once and Future Podcast (You did, right?), you heard author Maurice Broaddus talk about how authors make money. Or how they don't. And how maybe they can. Maurice is a smart guy and an excellent panelist, but he is also a super talented author, as he proves with his novella from Tor.com, Buffalo Soldier. Here, he tells us some things that inspired him to write it!
In the alt-history novella, Buffalo Soldier, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, stumbles onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica and gets caught between warring religious and political factions. All parties vied for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari. Wanting the boy to have a chance to live a free life, Desmond assumes responsibility for him and flees to the United States of Albion. Hijinks ensue…in the form of assassins and giant steam-powered robots. Here are five things that helped inspire the story:
1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I love westerns, with Clint Eastwood’s movies topping my list of favorites of the genre (to be honest, For a Few Dollars More is my favorite of the “Man with No Name” trilogy). Though the stories are completely different, in the novella, there are characters who fill out the titular roles. Our hero, Desmond Coke, swaggers through the story in the role of the Good. Our mercenary, Cayt Siringo, brings the Badassery. Our mysterious business mogul, Garrison Hearst, rounds out the cast as the Ugly. All in a standoff in the nation-state of Tejas.
2. Inglourious Basterds. There is a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s movies that I adore for both its seeming simplicity and its layered complexity. British Army Lieutenant Archie Hicox goes to a tavern with Hugo Stiglitz and Wilhelm Wicki. They meet an undercover agent, the German film star Bridget von Hammersmark. The tavern is filled with soldiers. They draw the attention of Gestapo Major Dieter Hellstrom. All of them sit around a table, surrounded by soldiers, and have what on the surfaces seems to be a simple conversation. In reality, they are being interrogated, where the slightest mis-step, wrong gesture, faulty accent, or any incongruity to their story may give them away and things end in a bloodbath. Tarantino ratchets up the tension so much it’s practically another character sitting alongside them. There may be a scene in the novella that nods to this.
3. The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel. Joe Lansdale’s novella has the Traveler of Wells’s The Time Machine running amuck in the Old West after having damaged the space-time continuum. A team piloting a giant, steam-powered robot hunts him down. As a nod to one of my favorite steampunk stories ever, there are giant robots rampaging through this story.
4. “Black Indians.” I became intrigued by how many people claim to have “Indian blood” in them. Researching (and worldbuilding) are my favorite parts of writing and my research led me to the Seminole tribe. I immediately thought of them as an entry point for me re-imagining the First Nations Confederacy as a place for Desmond and Lij to potentially call home.
5. My nephew. Can I geek out about my nephew? Sure I can! My nephew is on the autism spectrum and was part of the inspiration for Lij, the young boy Desmond has taken responsibility of to protect from the various interests pursuing him. My nephew’s heart is so full of love and his infectious laugh can rattle the walls (I almost wrote a scene where Lij keeps trying to hug everyone despite the gun battle going on based on some of my nephew’s antics). The little guys is amazing and I wish the whole world was filled with more like him. Plus, we both love comic books, thus the origins of Lij’s love of stories in the novella.
Westerns, steampunk, and Taratino movies all set to a reggae soundtrack (at least in my head), Buffalo Soldierhas its roots in a lot of stuff, and hopefully makes for an intriguing story.
About Buffalo Soldier:
Having stumbled onto a plot within his homeland of Jamaica, former espionage agent, Desmond Coke, finds himself caught between warring religious and political factions, all vying for control of a mysterious boy named Lij Tafari.
Wanting the boy to have a chance to live a free life, Desmond assumes responsibility for him and they flee. But a dogged enemy agent remains ever on their heels, desperate to obtain the secrets held within Lij for her employer alone.
Assassins, intrigue, and steammen stand between Desmond and Lij as they search for a place to call home in a North America that could have been.
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.
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 wrote the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court. 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.