Urban Fantasy Writers of Color: An Ongoing List

This is, as Nalo Hopkinson perfectly puts it here, a long and imperfect convo:


And as complex as it is, I think there’s power in seeing who’s out there making literary magic out of the cities we live in. I’ve written about the gentrification of Urban Fantasy and it is a very very white subgenre, but UF writers of color are out there, and our numbers are growing. This is a very loose list, it includes folks who may just have one or two SFF stories that take place in cities and others with whole series worth of UF books. It is, I’m sure, incomplete, so please throw in other suggestions in the comments.

LA Banks

Nalo Hopkinson

Seressia Glass

Alaya Dawn Johnson

Mikki Kendall

Maurice Broaddus

Minister Faust

Greg van Eekhout

1 misty nycZen Cho

Madhuri Baylock

Gina Ruiz

Sherri L. Smith

Joyce Chng

Nnedi Okorafor

Nisi Shawl

Silvia Morena-Garcia

Sabrina Vourvoulias

Kiini Ibura Salaam

Nicole Givens Kurtz

David Bowles

Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ayize Jama-Everett

Cesar Torres

Carlyn Worthy

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Alicia McCalla

José Iriarte

Troy L. Wiggins

Ernest Hogan

Rion Amilcar Scott

Guillermo del Toro


Mario Acevedo

Dora Badger

Tade Thompson

Tonya Liburd

Malon Edwards

Valerie Tejeda

Announcement: SANTO The Graphic Novel Series

Really really really excited to announce that I’ll be partnering with the great Rosarium Publishing to create a brand new graphic novel series called SANTO!

SANTO is about a team of badass santeros in an alternate universe early 2oth century Brooklyn filled with cool tiny robots, flying machines, weapons and…dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. (They’re helping build the Brooklyn Bridge, among other things.) There’s also an evil brotherhood of mystics called the Olritch Scourlings and a mysterious stranger that’s out ganking the santeros’ spirit stories.

This is a dream project in so many ways. I use philosophical elements of Lucumí spirituality in most of my writing, but up till now it’s been more in the background, hints and side-characters like Baba Eddie. In SANTO, the santeros are front and center, fighting their way through monsters, fanatics and corrupt cops. Also, in some ways this is my own literary response to the Lovecraft controversy, in part because I’m done writing essays about it and said all I want to say on the non-fiction tip. Reading Lovecraft, it was so jarring to see characters that I would’ve been friends with, maybe been in ceremonies with, presented as evil, child-killing demons. I wondered what the people of color alive back then would’ve contributed to answer HPL’s racism if the genre had been more welcoming to them. I wonder what stories we’ll never see because mainstream spec-fic didn’t deem them worthwhile.

SANTO is my counternarrative.

Rosarium is amazing. They brought us, among other things, the Mothership anthology of afrofuturism and they have an upcoming anthology of artists responding to police brutality.

I wrote the first issue  of SANTO for Mat Johnson’s Graphic Novel class at VONA, so huge shoutout to him and the whole class for inspiration and critique. Issue One should be out later this year. Stay tuned!!

The picture is the first sketch from SANTO by the amazing artist that will be drawing this project, Tommy Nguyen.


SANTO Ramses Sketch




My first Young Adult novel is available for pre-order!!!!!

Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Books A Million  *  IndieBound  *  Powell’s  *  iBooks

and you can request an autographed copy from WORD Books here.

Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.

Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.

“Sierra’s masterful adaptability is most apparent in her language, which moves among English and Spanish, salsa and rap, formality and familiarity with an effortlessness that simultaneously demonstrates Older’s mastery of his medium.”

-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This story about ancestors, ghosts, power, and community has art and music at its core; Sierra’s drawing and painting turn out to be tools for spirit work. Sierra’s Puerto Rican with African and Taíno ancestors; her community is black and brown, young and old, Latin and Caribbean and American. Sometimes funny and sometimes striking, Older’s comfortable prose seamlessly blends English and Spanish.

Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic—a must.”

Kirkus, starred review 

“Poetic and magnetic, Daniel José Older’s prose integrates authentic street dialogue, Spanish phrases, and vivid descriptions of the setting and its multicultural inhabitants as the action unfurls with scintillating suspense and a salsa beat.”

– School Library Journal, starred review

“Even if readers don’t recognize Older’s crafty commentary, they will find plenty to like in the unique fantasy elements, entertainingly well-wrought characters, and cinematic pacing. Smart writing with a powerful message that never overwhelms the terrific storytelling.”

-ALA Booklist, starred review

“I highly recommend Shadowshaper…it is exceptional in a great many ways.”

-Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children’s Literature, starred review

SHADOWSHAPER has been listed on recommended summer reading lists at the LA Times, the New York Post, Book Riot, BuzzFeed, and Bustle.




The Winter 2014 Storycraft Online Seminar Series

Welcome to the Winter 2014 Storycraft Online Seminar Series!

Here’s how it works:

Daniel Jose Older Writing Workshop Storycraft
photo by Gail Werner

Individual seminars: You can sign up to be a non-active participant to as many or as few of the four seminars as you wish (but not the workshop). Non-active participants can see and hear everything the teacher and active participants do but they won’t be on camera. They will be able to send written comments via Google Hangout. Each seminar costs $15 for non-active participants. There are twenty-five non-active slots available in each seminar. To take part in the workshop, where we do a full critique of each participant’s work, you have to select the package deal option.
Package Deal: You become an active (meaning on camera) participant in all four seminars plus the final workshop, where we collectively critique a ten-page piece from each member of the group. There are nine of these available. The package deal is $100.
The Package Deals are sold out.

These seminars focus on fiction writing, but non-fiction, poetry and script writers are welcome to attend and bring their insight into the process. All seminars run an hour and a half except the final workshop, which will go longer. All payments must be made through Paypal. All times are in EST.

1. Storycraft Overview: Beginnings, Middles, Endings

Sunday, December 7 5pm

What makes a great story great? Why do we read some books in a single night and put other ones down ten pages in? This interactive seminar explores both basic and advanced elements of narrative structure. We’ll discuss strategic approaches to analyzing and enhancing macrotensions within a story and how to craft a plot that keeps readers turning pages right up to the delicious/heartbreaking/breathtaking finale. Register HERE.


2. Context: Power, Politics and Worldbuilding

Sunday, December 14 5pm

Place matters. How do we create meaningful worlds around the action of our stories? This interactive seminar uses the social justice organizing concept of institutional power mapping to conceptualize nuanced literary landscapes. We will explore different kinds of power and how they can play out in a narrative structure. Finally, we’ll talk about the use of context in storytelling with a social justice focus. Register HERE.


3. Conflict, Character, Crisis, Desire

Sunday, December 28 5pm

Robert McKee wrote that conflict is the music of story. Characters we care about and the things they want are the driving force behind that music. This interactive seminar looks at both conflict and character as integral elements in narrative. Now that we’ve created complex worlds, how do we make characters that matter and deploy them into meaningful conflicts? Register HERE.


4.Craft and beyond…

Sunday, January 4 5pm

What makes prose stand up off the page? How do words come to life? In this seminar we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the writing craft, from words to sentences to paragraphs to scenes. We’ll discuss some of the often repeated, unofficial ‘rules’ of good writing and break down which ones to bother with and which to ignore. You’ll come away with a strong understanding of not just what works but why it works. In the “and beyond…” portion, we’ll spend some time discussing real world writing questions, including business strategies, redefining success, and understanding the market. Register HERE.


5. Workshop

Sunday, January 11 4pm

In this workshop we’ll use what we learned to critique a ten-page piece of writing from each workshop attendant. The workshop is only open to those that have been active participants in the previous four seminars.

Who Am I?

Daniel José Older is the author of Half-Resurrection Blues (book one of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books) and the upcoming Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History and guest edited the music issue of Crossed Genres. His short stories and essays have appeared in Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs regularly around New York and he facilitates workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis. He completed his MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at ghoststar.net/, on youtube and @djolder on twitter.