In 2007, my first novel XIII (13) was published. At the time, I was at a different mindset than I am today. I believed then, that there weren’t many African-American readers that would be interested in a paranormal thriller novel. With that belief instead of making my protagonist (Avery Hudson) Black, I wrote him as a Caucasian character.
It wasn’t until I read Within the Shadows by Brandon Massey had I realized how wrong I was about an African-American readership for Black Speculative Fiction. Once I read his book, I went in search of other books featuring characters that looked like me. And, to my surprise there were in fact more—not many at the time mind you—but they were out there. I’d found L. A. Banks, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Octavia Butler and Charles Saunders to name a few.
Enlightened by this, I spoke about Black Speculative Fiction at conferences and book signings I attended. Unfortunately, the reaction from attendees soured my attitude again, because every time I brought up horror, science-fiction, fantasy, or the paranormal African-Americans showed little to no interest in the subject matter. I hit the proverbial bump in the road, so rather than write another speculative fiction novel, I dove into mystery featuring private detectives Joe Hooks and his ex-partner Kool-Aid. Mystery proved to be more accepted by Black readers.
Even though I teased elements of the paranormal into my novel LOST HOURS; it wasn’t enough to satisfy that itch I suffered wanted me to write more speculative fiction. And the world I created in XIII cried out me once more. In my third novel, I revisited the paranormal. Taking a minor character from XIII, FBI Special Agent Jamaica Kurtz, I made her my protagonist in THE FRIDAY HOUSE, a mix-genre novel. The novel includes espionage, government conspiracy, fast-paced action, suspense and the paranormal.
To this day THE FRIDAY HOUSE is still one of my personal favorites. I believe this was because I wrote it the way I wanted and didn’t care how anyone else felt about the story or the characters. The experience allowed me to be free of the chains of trying to write purely for profit. From that time forward I wrote books that I’d like to read myself and haven’t looked back since.
As time went, the number of Black writers of speculative fiction increased bringing with them readers who at one time would have scoffed at the idea of reading speculative fiction. Oh how times have changed. When I began writing I could scarcely name ten Black writers in the genre, now I can rattle than off for an hour. Just to name a few of my favorites: Milton Davis, Balogun Ojetade, Valjeanne Jeffers, Ronald Jones, DaVaun Sanders, Derrick Ferguson, Kai Leakes, Hannibal Tabu, Carole McDonnell, Alicia McCalla, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Thaddeus Atreides, Lynn WordSmith and K. Ceres Wright. Black men and women writing in a genre that seemed unimaginable to me at one time has become the norm. I am so proud to be among these many wonderful authors writing speculative fiction.
At the time of this writing I’ve written a total of speculative fiction novels: XIII, THE FRIDAY HOUSE,
PANTHEON: ESCAPE, TAURUS MOON: RELIC HUNTER and TAURUS MOON: MAGIC & MAYHEM. I’m looking forward to having more Black readers discover my works and that of Black Speculative Fiction in general.
D K Gaston is the author of more than a dozen books ranging from Speculative Fiction to Crime novels. His first book was published in 2007. He also writes under the name Keith Gaston. Happily married with children, DK is busy writing his next novel in Michigan.