SWORD & SOUL and STEAMFUNK! Oh, My!
Publisher Milton Davis brings two great Movements to the Masses
This week, we are pleased to welcome author and publisher, Milton J. Davis – CEO of MVmedia, producer of the Steamfunk series, Rite of Passage and author / publisher of six books of Black Speculative Fiction – to http://chroniclesofharriet.com.
Milton is a chemist by day and a writer/publisher by night and on the weekends. All of his works are self-published through his company, MVmedia, LLC: http://mvmediaatl.com.
Let’s get right into this informative and engaging interview with Milton Davis, a man of many talents.
Milton, your fourth book, Griots: A Sword & Soul Anthology was released in August, 2011 to critical acclaim; how does it feel to be a self-published author and publisher and how was it working with thirteen other authors and fourteen artists?
I love being self-published. I didn’t go into writing for validation or material success; I did it to fulfill a lifelong ambition. Self-publishing has allowed me to do so exactly the way I wanted. As far as Griots is concerned it was a labor of love as well. It was a challenge, but it was worth it. The response has been great from the readers and the authors and that’s all a man can ask.
Excellent! Moving on…You are a part of the writers’ collective The State of Black Science Fiction; what is it and how does the collective help you in your writing and in the building of your readership?
The State of Black Science Fiction is a group of local black science fiction writers dedicated to promoting black speculative fiction. We organize and participate in events promoting our individual works and black speculative fiction. Working with other writers has been inspiring and enlightening. Although we don’t agree on everything we do agree on our purpose. The energy and positive vibe from everyone keeps me going when things get tough.
It is, indeed, good to have such inspiration and you have been a driving force of the group as well as your independent publishing company. Now, as founding publisher of MVmedia in Atlanta, GA, how long has it taken to make a name for your publishing company in the industry, and what frustrations have you overcome to make it a success?
LOL! I think we’re still a long way from making a name for ourselves. I’ve been at this for 4 years now and overall it’s been a positive experience. The most frustrating thing has been completing projects as fast as I would like to.
You’re quite modest, Milton. But your work is definitely making a name for MVmedia around the globe. What, exactly, is the breakdown of books you publish (i.e. how many Sword & Soul, Steamfunk, Science Fiction, etc.)? How many are written by you and how many by other authors?
I have six books published so far; four of my own (Meji Book One, Meji Book Two, Changa’s Safari and Changa’s Safari Volume II), one anthology (Griots), and one Sword and Soul novel by Balogun Ojetade, Once Upon a Time in Afrika. (That’s you!) All of my books have been Sword and Soul so far, but next year will be more diverse with the Steamfunk! Anthology and a YA novel in store.
We certainly look forward to 2013 and all MVmedia will bring. Moving on…You call your company MVmedia, rather than MVpublishing. Why is that? Are you planning to expand beyond writing and publishing books anytime in the near future?
I named my company MVmedia because I do plan on expanding beyond writing. The original BAP (big ass plan) is to use my novels as a foundation for graphic novel, animation, gaming and movie projects. The little plan is to make enough money to supplement my Social Security.
You’re old, but not quite that old…yet (we both laugh)! What is the next book your company is releasing and when can we expect it?
I just released Once Upon a Time in Afrika and I’m very pleased with the initial results. My next book will be the Steamfunk! Anthology. My plans are to have it ready for release at Anachrocon in February, 2013.
The release of Steamfunk! is going to be huge. Steampunk is extremely popular and our voices will certainly enhance the movement. In regard to another great movement, where do you see Sword & Soul going? And what will make it grow? Is it cosplay? A conference? A Sword & Soul movie? All of these things seem to be making Steampunk very popular. Will the same work for Sword & Soul?
I’m very optimistic about Sword and Soul. Readers are taking to it enthusiastically. I believe as more writers pen sword and soul you’ll see the genre grow. Cosplay, conferences and of course a movie would help as well. The main thing is that we have great stories by a variety of writers to cover the different interpretations of what Sword and Soul is and should be.
The Sword & Soul stories are Blacknificent, so I am sure we will see much growth for Sword and Soul in the near future. As you said earlier, your company is coming out with the Steamfunk! anthology soon. Can you tell us what Steamfunk is, why you decided to publish such an anthology and when we can expect its release?
To me Steamfunk is looking at Steampunk from an African point of view. Most Steampunk scenarios don’t include history or subjects that include the Diaspora experience. Steamfunk fills that void. I decided to do it because there was energy among my fellow writing friends to produce a book that would answer the demand. We have the stories in hand now; expect the first Steamfunk! Anthology in 2013.
We eagerly await the release of that powerful and entertaining anthology. Milton, you have a very active online presence via your blog, Facebook and other social media sites and often comment on a variety of topics. Where do you manage the time to write and publish amidst all of the online stuff?
I don’t manage my time very well. I dedicate time to writing early in the morning, about 4:30 am, and in the evenings. I write at least a page a day during the week and at least two pages a day on the weekends. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done if you stick to that schedule.
So, what does a normal writing day entail for you, then and could you give the readers a glimpse into your writing habits. Also how do you cope with the stressful nature of schedules and deadlines?
Thanks. So, in these tough economic times, do you think small publishers can make their mark on literature and the book selling market? How best can small presses accomplish their goals?
Today’s technology makes it easier to have a chance at being a successful small publisher, but business is always a risk. I think the best way to be successful is to love what you do and to maximize the technology available. You also have to also be niche specific. A small publisher can’t compete with the big boys; it has to find an underserved market and concentrate on providing that market its needs. Again, the internet and social networking are valuable tools. I’m sure we wouldn’t have the reach we have now if neither existed.
In addition to the boost from the internet and social networking, I am sure you received help and inspiration elsewhere. Who helped guide you to where you are today and has writing or reading been a driving force in your own life?
My parents have been the biggest influence in my life. The sacrifices they made to provide for me and my sisters are immeasurable; whatever I seek to accomplish is to make sure their efforts weren’t wasted. Of course there are other influences; Scott Seydel, Sr. has been a longtime supporter, friend and mentor when it comes to business in general and Charles R. Saunders has had the biggest influence on my writing ambitions not only as a mentor but as a friend. And of course there’s my wife, Vickie. She keeps me strong and she keeps me straight.
Reading has always been a big passion of mine, but writing has been an interest that came and went. It’s back now. Let’s see how long it stays.
We hope your interest in writing stays a long time. You have given us some masterpieces! So, what parting advice can you give readers and up-and coming writers and publishers?
Write what you love and write first and foremost for yourself. If you stay true to those two points, you’ll be okay.
Thanks, Milton Davis, for a Blacktastic interview!