Sitting on a panel next to Gerald Coleman is kind of like sitting next to royalty. The man makes worlds, people! Entire universes! The occasion was the recent Boskone conference, where we were literally talking about world-making, and how we do it. Since I came to this wonderful science fiction and fantasy convention by way of my paranormal mysteries (i.e., witch cats!), I was a bit at a disadvantage. I may imagine powers for my felines, but I basically write in the “real” world. That doesn’t stop me from reading outside my lane, however. And if you grew up on Tolkein or Harry Potter, well, you should take the next step and check out Gerald’s books – and all his worlds!
How does a story start for you?
It begins with an idea – a nugget, or a thought, or note jotted in my journal. If it’s for a shorty story with predetermined parameters then it begins with me reading over those and then letting my mind wander and play with it in the “background” or my subconscious. The way the mind works never ceases to amaze me – how it can chew on an idea without you really consciously knowing that it’s going on until it presents you with an idea like a gift.
Who in your latest book has surprised you?
My most recent published novel is A Plague of Shadows, the second book in my epic fantasy series. I’m currently working on book three. I guess i’d say that it’s not one individual character, but how characters in a story can take on a life of their own in your imagination. And coupled with how your subconscious can chew on an idea
without your conscious input that can lead to some interesting directions in plot that you had not considered. Maybe it’s also the world of the itself. I love worldbuilding and sometimes it surprising how expansive and in-depth the world you’re creating can become, as if it too has a life of its own.
When or where is you latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
The other project i’m currently writing is a scifi novel. It opens on a desolate planet in a nowhere corner of the galaxy. It’s influenced by Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Faded Sun series by C. J. Cherryh, Black Panther, and African history. It’s a reaction to history, the current state of inclusion and diversity in SF&F, particularly scifi, and plays with the tropes of the genre in a way that should be provocative and exciting.
What are you working on now?
As I mentioned above, I’m working on a scifi novel, the third book on my epic fantasy series, and two short stories. The first short story is for a dystopian anthology being published by Onyx Path Publishing and the second is for Broken Eye Books.
What question did I not ask that I should have?
Hmmm. I’ll say, why do I write what I write? I’ve been a science fiction and fantasy fan my entire life. It began with Scholastic in elementary school and purchasing books like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, followed soon after by Watership Down. After that it was comic books and SF&F novels. I read voraciously. But, it wasn’t long after I hit my teens that I began to realize that none of the characters looked like me. I wasn’t represented in either fantasy or science fiction. I soon knew that I wanted to write SF&F and I also always knew that I was going to write with POC, particularly black folks, at the center of my stories.
Gerald L. Coleman is a Philosopher, Theologian, Poet, and Scifi-Fantasy Author residing in Atlanta. Born in Lexington, he did his undergraduate work in Philosophy and English at the University of Kentucky. He followed that by completing a degree in Religious Studies, concluding with a Master’s degree in Theology at Trevecca in Nashville. His most recent poetry appears in, Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, Drawn To Marvel: Poems From The Comic Books, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Vol. 18, Black Bone Anthology, the 10th Anniversary Issue of Diode Poetry Journal, and About Place Journal. His speculative fiction short stories appear in: The Science Fiction, Cyberfunk Anthology: The City, the Rococoa Anthology by Roaring Lion, the Urban Fantasy Anthology:Terminus, the 2019 JordanCon Anthology: You Want Stories?, Dark Universe: Bright Empire. He is the author of the Epic Fantasy novel saga The Three Gifts, which currently includes When Night Falls (Book One) and A Plague of Shadows (Book Two). He has been a Guest Author and Attending Professional at DragonCon, Boskone, Blacktasticon, JordanCon, Atlanta Science Fiction & Fantasy Expo, The Outer Dark Symposium, World Horror Con, and Imaginarium. He has recently joined the staff of WorldCon Dublin as its Programme Content Consultant, and Multiverse Con as its Director in programming for the Fantasy Track. He is a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and has released four collections of poetry entitled the road is long, falling to earth, microphone check, and Nappy Metaphysic. You can find him at GeraldLColeman.com.