Georgia-based indie writer Milton Davis is raising money for Changa and the Jade Obelisk, a sword and soul animated adventure based on his novel Changa’s Safari. In the first episode, Changa, a young prince vowing to seek revenge for the death of his father and free his family and people from captivity, faces off against the sorceress Bahati and her evil horde of Hyena Men. We caught up with Davis as he prepared to participate in several panel discussions at this year’s DragonCon and asked him to tell us more about how he creates.
Midwest BSFA: When did you start writing? What inspired you to start writing?
Davis: I’ve been writing off and on for over thirty years, but this recent spurt began 10 years ago. I’d always enjoyed writing but never came across anything that inspired me to write on a regular basis I turned 45. I decided at that point it was now or never.
Midwest BSFA: Describe your writing process.
Davis: I write every day, usually in the morning before I go to work. On weekends, I usually write in the afternoon for a couple of hours. I work on more than one project at a time, usually two, that way I don’t get writer’s block because if I get stalled on one project I shift to another one.
Midwest BSFA: Many wannabe writers have day jobs and other responsibilities, and subsequently use them as excuses to not write. How did you overcome those hurdles to start your writing journey?
Davis: That’s a tough question. I’m one of those folks that once I decide to do something, I jump into it 1,000%. I came up with a plan on when I would write, what I would write and how long I would write it. I’m not much of a TV person so it was easy to find the time. I feel if you really want to do something and you’re passionate about it you’ll find a way to get it done.
Midwest BSFA: You write in a wide range of genres. Which one is your favorite?
Davis: Sword and soul is my favorite by far, but steamfunk seems to come easier to me.
Midwest BSFA: Tell us about your animation project. How did the idea to animate Changa come about?
Davis: From the first day I began writing Changa’s Safari, I envisioned it in some type of video form, either animation or motion picture. I met Eric Elder two years after releasing the first book. He’s an experienced animator who has worked with The Simpsons and King of the Hill. We talked about the idea for years until we finally decided to take the plunge. And here we are.
Midwest BSFA: Who are you hoping to reach most with the Changa animated project?
Davis: I hope to reach sword and soul fans first and foremost, and sword and sorcery fans in general. Specifically, I wish to reach those people who have always enjoyed action adventure but longed to see black main characters doing their thing. I also hope to reach young black people like me so they can have heroes that look like them.
Midwest BSFA: You mentioned “steamfunk” earlier. Explain for the people in the cheap seats the “funk” derivative of steampunk and dieselpunk.
Davis: Steamfunk and dieselfunk both follow the genres with the exception that both incorporate the history and culture of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. It brings a fresh perspective from storytelling and costuming, but it also incorporates some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of those time periods for people of these cultures.
Midwest BSFA: You and Balogun Ojetade are the first names most people mention when they talk about works written outside of the typical steampunk narrative. How does that make you feel?
Davis: Our goal was simply to tell stories from what we consider our perspective. I enjoy steampunk/steamfunk, but for me, it’s another aspect of storytelling, not a lifestyle. I’m glad that we have introduced the genre to people who otherwise not have paid it much attention, and I’m glad that we are creating characters and stories for people of color already participating in the genres to relate to.
Midwest BSFA: Do you ever get tired of being called upon to “represent”?
Davis: I do get tired sometimes, but I think it’s important to participate and discuss the issues, especially if it prevents another one of those panels on race that only have one particular race participating.
Midwest BSFA: What does the perfect literary landscape look like to you?
Davis: The perfect literary landscape would be a landscape where stories are published based on the merits of the story itself, not because of someone’s agenda. It would be a landscape where stories are enjoyed from all different perspectives and writers are free to write passionately about themselves and their cultures without restrictions and biased criticism.
Midwest BSFA: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Davis: I’d like to ask everyone reading this interview to take the time to check out our Changa and the Jade Obelisk crowdfunder. Besides being a great story, it’s another opportunity to add our voice to an area where we are sorely lacking. If you’re interested in my books you can check them out at www.mvmediaatl.com.
If you’re attending DragonCon this year, you can meet Davis in person at three panels: Race and Gender Issues in Alternate History, The State of Black Science Fiction, and World Building Part 2: The Multicultural Multiverse.