Our featured author for issue 2 is Minister Faust, a Kindred award winning author, who is about to release Volume 2 of his War and Mir series this year. He is also busy at work on putting out new editions of his earlier work, and getting involved in graphic novels and even the movies.

He has been described as "Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison and Ishmael Reed all rolled into one," and he's also been a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.

We caught up with him and asked him about his thoughts on everything from indie publishing to family life to other writers.
We hear that you're updating many of your works. Can you tell us a little about what this means for you? Also, what new fiction can we expect to see from Minister Faust this year?

Updating my work is not quite on the level of George Lucas adding new effects to the original trilogy, but is more like using updated technology to remove blue screen phantoms from the finished prints. In my case, I'm dedicated to the idea of making my fiction prose invisible as possible in most circumstances. Yes, sometimes I aim for "beautiful prose," but much less these days. That doesn't mean I don't want the prose to be beautiful, but rather that I want people to feel whatever the text is saying, rather than feeling the text. It's irritating to me that the very people who criticise SF movies (for instance) for being about nothing but special effects are often the same people who heap praise upon novels for allegedly beautiful prose... novels that quite often fail to create rich dialogue, three-dimensional characters, or engaging plot. For those books, "beautiful prose" is merely a special effect.
Because my first two novels are told exclusively from first-person POV (and The Coyote Kings has something like thirteen narrators), I’m very sensitive to making sure that spoken voices sound like spoken—and not written—voices. What I found while revising the text for The Coyote Kings was that there were still parts of the manuscript that read like writing. And I would tell all writers who are dealing in dialogue or first-person narration, if it sounds like writing, take it out. Now, sounding like writing might still need to go when it’s third-person narration, but one can at least make a case for it there.

When I requested and got back the rights to The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, I didn’t have time to review the entire text before I indie-published it as The Coyote Kings, Book One: Space-Age Bachelor Pad. Now I’ve finished my work on the prose to make it aesthetically consistent, and I’ve also been able to plant a tiny number of seeds to lead towards the sequel, The Coyote Kings, Book Two: Uranium City, and to the subsequent books in the proposed series.

I’m also adding, to the electronic text, hyperlinks to the music cited in the novel (I also added a few new musical references) so that people can enjoy the novel’s “soundtrack”—and buy-links on my website will make it easy for people to support the artists if they like the music.
Updating my Kindred Award-winning novel From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain means more than merely re-titling it as Shrinking the Heroes (which I already did in 2011 when I got the rights back). It also means adding some additional “behind the scenes” content to the end of the book—some of the background material I created while world-building, including a time-line, a list of superheroes and supervillains, and related content.
Both of those novels will be available in brand-new paperback form by the end of April. They’ve been out of paper-print since early 2011, so I’m happy they’ll be back on shelves, especially since I know that each book was getting increased academic attention—and professors can’t assign books that students can’t actually buy.

As far as new works, I’ll be releasing War & Mir, Volume II: The Darkold. I’d originally hoped to get Volume II out last year, but the entirely unexpected death of my sister pretty much destroyed my ability to care about anything other than taking care of my family. When the Volume III comes out, I’ll collect all three volumes into what I’m calling War & Mir: The Unified Edition, and I’ll be dedicating it to her.

My other task for new work is screenplays. Director Ernest Dickerson, best known for his work on The Walking Dead, The Wire, and Juice, is a good friend of mine who wants to bring The Coyote Kings to the big screen. He’s kindly offered to help me get some scripts seen. So for 2013-2014, my main literary goal is to write as many screenplays as possible, and hopefully to turn some of them into graphic novels, too.

That’s one of the things I emphasize in my Building An Online Presence for Writers class – how to do things efficiently and get the most use out of the time one spends poking around on the web getting distracted by cat pictures.

So, tell us a bit more about the graphic novels and other projects. Do you think it’s important nowadays for writers to diversify?

I think that writers should do what they want to do. I'll go even further: writers should avoid doing material they don't want to do. If you love video games, comics, haiku, plays, sketch comedy, then do them. But if you think you're too good for something, or you simply don't like it, don't try making it. Your contempt will show in your work.

I do, however, come from a writing tradition that says that writers shouldn't be poets OR playwrights OR journalists OR novelists, etc.... they should be WRITERS. Learning the craft means being at least functional, if not actually good, in all those realms. I think that you get better in whatever individual realm by getting better in all of them. If you have to write dialogue for actors, and you're in workshops or sketch comedy performances and you hear your dialogue sounding like total shit, you learn quickly (unless the actors suck or you're so full of yourself you can't concede you've made a mistake) that you need to listen to how humans actually talk. And, by the way, listening to real humans, as much as possible (including to your spouse, kids, parents, co-workers, customers, etc.) with the intention of actually listening and not just pausing so you can insert your own comment, will probably make you a better human. Just sayin'.
Indie publishing. Why the switch from traditional publishing? Was it a gradual shift? How do you see this playing out in the next few years?

You know, here's the fate of most writers: obscurity and being abandoned by publishers. The corporate publishing world is corporate, and unless you're earning the publisher a LOT of money, you can expect to get ignored or even dropped. I'm not talking about Betsy Mitchell, the editor who published my first two novels--she was terrific and very supportive. I owe her, and I'll always be grateful to her. I'm talking about that entire system. As an artist, as a human being, I want control over my work and my life. Indie publishing restores that. Take my novel The Alchemists of Kush. That book has more blurbs than most books out there, enthusiastic praise by a range of outstanding writers in various fields. Could I get a single agent to represent that book? No. So those gatekeepers were gateclosers. Why should I let corporations tell me my books shouldn't exist? Because a MS on my computer isn't a book. It's only a book when other people are reading it on paper or on their own screens. So just like all painters, almost all photographers, all poets, most playwrights, all sculptors, and many filmmakers, and even many game designers, I don't wait for corporations to decide if and when my work should be seen. Fuck that. And more and more writers feel the same way and are acting on that. Call it libertarian, anarchist, or whatever you want. To me it's simply being an artist. Most writers could not realistically expect to earn a living from their novels, and I don't expect it (nor do I). I do the work because I love to, and because (I'm grateful to say) many people tell me they love what I do. I'd love to make millions, sure. But the sure sign you're doing what you love is that you do it at great expense (in time and effort) for its own sake. I've written professionally in various fields when I did NOT love what I was being told to write. Massive difference. I'm happy where I am.
What other writers have you been reading recently? Who is giving you the same sense of excitement you had when you were younger?

Plenty of the writers whose work I love and whose work excites me are also friends of mine: Robert J. Sawyer (Calculating God), Wayne Arthurson (Fall from Grace), Craig DiLouie (The Infection), Gayleen Froese (Grayling Cross), for instance. I don't know Cecelia Frey, but I loved her book A Raw Mix of Carelessness and Longing. But I also love graphic novels (and being the father of young children, I appreciate being able to read an entire story in a brief period), and Ed Brubaker (Incognito), who I don't know, is doing amazing work. I have recently adored the work of Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese), Daniel Clowes, Mariko Tamaki (Skim), Joe Sacco (Footnotes in Gaza), and many others. They're superb storytellers. Story is story. It's foolish to get distracted by whether it's on television or stage or screen or computer or paper.

What other interests or events in your life are often a focus or an inspiration in your writing?

I love food, tea, music, and martial arts. They're always showing up in my work. And now that I'm a father, I feel that I can do a better job writing about children, so that's increasingly part of my work.
You are also a teacher. How do you find that impacts on your own writing?

I don't know! I think having taught for so long has an impact on my work as an editor, but not necessarily as a self-editor. Great question... but I really don't know if I have an answer.
Minister Faust is a long-time community activist, writer, journalist, broadcaster, public speaker and martial artist in several disciplines.

A maverick novelist increasingly described as one of the finest voices of his generation, Minister Faust is the author of the critically acclaimed The Coyote Kings, Book One: Space-Age Bachelor Pad, and the Kindred Award-winning Shrinking the Heroes. His latest is The Alchemists of Kush, which writers and readers alike have already hailed as superb.

Minister Faust refers to his sub-genre of writing as Imhotep-Hop-an Africentric literature that draws from myriad ancient African civilisations, explores present realities, and imagines a future in which people struggle not only for justice, but for the stars.

He lives in Edmonton with his wife and daughters, where he also runs Canada's top bean pie bakery, Desserts of Kush.