Last August, when my mother, Lola, and I packed up the Beckyville Bookmobile and pulled out of my garage in L.A. for a cross-country book tour, Onyx Con in Atlanta was supposed to be the final stop on our itinerary. As a member of the Black Science Fiction Society, I’d been hearing about this convention for African-American writers of sci-fi, fantasy and comic books for some time. I’d never attended a convention before, had really just started to embrace the title of speculative fiction writer. Yet, I was intrigued by the chance to network with fellow scribes. One of my mentors from grad school, Tananarive Due, and her husband, the writer Steven Barnes, were among the featured speakers at the event. Knowing that Onyx Con was waiting for me on the opposite coast made the 3,000 mile journey a lot less lonely.
Founded by Joseph R. Wheeler III, Onyx Con was two eye-opening days of panels and exhibits. Even though there weren’t many women writers in attendance, I never felt out of place or as if I had crashed some secret order of warlocks. Many of the brothers came over to congratulate me on my book Escape from Beckyville or to marvel at my dainty purple chariot parked out front. One man, who said he’d heard about my journey through the Black Science Fiction Society, approached my vending table with a $10 bill in hand “for gas money.” I was truly touched by the kindness of strangers. More than that, I was uplifted by the novels and comic books on display with black faces emblazoned on the covers. It was a visible reminder of our shared quest for visibility in a white-male dominated industry, a way to flaunt our agency with swords and superpowers.
I never felt the jostle of competition at Onyx Con that you’d expect at a convention where folks are peddling their wares in a roomful of artists with similar products. The vibe was supportive, and people were quick to praise the work of others, whether it be a provocative logo, cover artwork or excerpt from a book. Young kids, as well as grandparents, flowed from table to table checking out the latest offerings in the world of black sci-fi. It made me smile to see the delight of these youthful visitors when they picked up a comic book with a hero who resembled their father, mother or even themselves.
One of the speakers at the event said something during his presentation that will forever resonate with me: “We are the superheroes we’ve been waiting for.” That statement means so much more than simply crafting characters in our image and endowing them with super strength, super knowledge and super prowess. It means creating the change we want to see with our words. It sometimes means self-publishing our work and taking it door to door, if need be, as a reminder that we have a voice, that we are people of vision, and our stories matter.
Catch up on the discussion:
February 27 concludes our seven-week blog tour, and I’m having a big giveaway to commemorate it! Keep those comments and Facebook likes coming. Remember to hashtag #blackscifi2012 @NicoleSconiers on Twitter.
Check out other participating members of this seven-week blog carnival:
Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer — is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all-genre anthology entitled Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him at : http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com.
L. M. Davis, Author — began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author — Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him at: www.mvmediaatl.com/Wagadu and www.wagadu.ning.com.
Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author — DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo.
Margaret Fieland, Author — lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry is available from Amazon.com Her book, Relocated, will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.
Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com.
Thaddeus Howze, Author — is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him at: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com.
Alicia McCalla, Author — writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on iTunes and Amazon. Visit her at: http://www.aliciamccalla.com.
Carole McDonnell, Author — writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com.
Balogun Ojetade, Author— of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within (non-fiction), Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Steampunk) and the feature film, A Single Link. Visit him at: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com.
Rasheedah Phillips, Author — is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.
Nicole Sconiers, Author — is an author and screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her at: http://nicolesconiers.com and http://www.nicolesconiers.com/blog.
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. — is owner and operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com and BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him at: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd.