Eugen Bacon’s new novella, Broken Paradise, will be released on February 7, 2023, as part of the Luna Novella series. You can order it on our site, or through all the usual retailers, in print and digital.
The launch for the 2023 novellas, is on YouTube, and you can watch it here.
Let’s start from the beginning. Who were the writers who inspired you to become an author?
My father was well travelled. He understood early my affection for reading, and had a spectacular library that included the works of Chinua Achebe, Margaret Ogola (how-and-why-stories: why the crocodile swims in the water; how the leopard got his spots…), Camara Laye, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o… As I got older, I stumbled across Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Peter Temple, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler… My enchantment with reading translated into writing that was a curiosity, a quest for answers to questions stirring or troubling my mind.
What is the very first piece of fiction you ever wrote?
I was in London, a teeny tot on my chest. I was never one to twiddle my fingers, so I enrolled in a creative writing course with The Writers Bureau. One day I won a short story competition. It was a restorative story on the melancholy of an undiscovered writer. Toward the end, she studies her boyfriend, the way he holds the chipped cup, warming both hands. The corners of his mouth tugged down in a kind of frown. Something clutches her chest. She looks from his deadpan gaze, and knows he’ll be there, as she rips her manuscript—a story that’s going nowhere—and starts a new book.
What is the hardest part of writing, in your experience?
Writing the first draft (of a novel especially) is always the toughest. Once the ideas set, then I can play with the text, honing, refining the rough stone into a diamond. As an experimental writer, I can find it hard writing a story for an invited anthology. I need to let someone else’s muse simmer and linger in my head, until the story and muse becomes my own.
Tell me about your book. What was the inspiration behind it?
Broken Paradise is a novella about gods, magical realism and sibling rivalry—how family can be strong together or its perilous enemy. It’s a story of motherhood, magic and kinship, and the responsibility that power demands when we hold it, and how so easily we can misuse it.
Think back at your debut book. How did you approach the ‘getting published’ process? Any tips, resources that you can share with our readers?
I was already a short story writer with a generous folio of publications, but I wanted to craft a novel, story-by-story, layering the novel in a sum of parts that leveraged from my strengths as a short story writer. I wrote the best version of my book, which was part of a PhD in Writing by creative artefact and exegesis. I had mentors along the way, and intuitive readers to guide me along my path. Then I became a chronic submitter to publishers and agents (they are the worst!), and never kept a shrine of rejections.
One day my manuscript landed on the screen of a publisher I had chosen based on an excellent review of one of their books. This was Meerkat Press, and the publisher was so in love with my novel, Claiming T-Mo, it was the sweetest culmination of my wait to get published. I think Claiming T-Mo and her sister book Writing Speculative Fiction by Bloomsbury—the dissertation from the PhD—made me.
Never keep a shrine of rejections, and edit, edit, edit. Submit the best version of your work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have works lined up through 2024, all acquired and in some stage of the publishing process. In 2023, I have two novels, a novella (including Broken Paradise), and anthology (ed) and the US release of my collection of black speculative fiction Danged Black Thingthat won the Foreword Indies Award and was nominated in three awards, including the British Science Fiction Association, Aurealis and Australian Shadows awards.
I am currently building a new short story collection.
If you had to recommend an author and/or a book, who would it be?
Visit my website at eugenbacon.com—none of my books will disappoint you, I don’t think. Ivory’s Story is my favourite novella, and critics are whistling about Chasing Whispers. I am also really proud of my collaboration with Milton Davis in Hadithi & the State of Black Speculative Fiction by Luna Press Publishing. Hadithi means story in Swahili.
You can order Broken Paradise and the Luna Novella books, here.