AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Maurice Broaddus

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

“I Used to Love H.E.R.” (aka Help Engineer and Rebuild My Robot Girlfriend Roommate) is about a brilliant biomechanical engineer student, Sophine Rachel Willouby Jefferson, whose Oxford University roommate dies.  Sophine decides why let death come between them.  So OBVIOUSLY the next logical step is to create a mechanical body for the brain Sophine keeps in a jar. She seems to keep running into resistance every step of the way.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

This is a story that takes place in my “Pimp My Airship” steampunk universe.  Actually, I should say my “steamFUNK” universe, as I purposely write steampunk from a decidedly black perspective.  This story allowed me to work out the backstory of the character who will become Deaconess Blues.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Yes, mostly because it’s a steampunk story in the age of KickStarter.  So I had to figure out a way for her to run her KickStarter campaign in a way that made sense.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I grew up in the 1980s, the only black kid in my class.  Growing up black, smart, and geek made me a particular brand of self-reliant.  Practically speaking, most rules are either suggestions or for other people.  I brought all of that to the table when I write Sophine.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

You wouldn’t think I’d have to do any, but trying to figure out how to keep a brain alive, much less seating in within a mechanical body required more research than I gave it credit for.  Plus, trying to figure out how to design the campaign (and come up with suitable rewards), well, gave me an excuse to browse a lot of campaigns.

What are your thoughts about crowdfunding generally? Do you back a lot of Kickstarters, or at least find a lot of interesting projects because of crowdfunding?

I ran a Kickstarter for my anthology, Streets of Shadows.  Easily the most stressful month of my life.  Constantly checking multiple times a day to see if money had (or hadn’t!) come in.  Watching the mid-month lull.  Then the dramatic last minute crossing the funding line.  I don’t think I’ll ever do it again…until next time.

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?  

It definitely levels the playing field.  Basically, you gin up excitement, build an audience, and bring it to your project.  Essentially creatively taking pre-orders.  Then your project launches with the support of an established audience.

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.)  

I have the inexplicable need to finally get around to reading Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves now.