Getting into writing – an interview with Jarvis Sheffield of Black Science Fiction


Jarvis Sheffield is employed by Historic Tennessee State University Special Collections department of the Brown –Daniel Library located in Nashville, TN. He is owner of multimedia company and is founder of the nonprofit an international web social network devoted to Afrofuturism and Black Science Fiction. He is also editor for Genesis Science Fiction Magazine, Genesis Anthology of Science Fiction and creator of the Genesis Science Fiction Radio Show.

Currently, Mr. Sheffield is a doctoral candidate at Trevecca Nazarene University studying Educational Leadership. The area of study focuses on utilizing online gaming as education tools. He is also the Director of the Diversity in Speculative Fiction & Literature Fandom Track with Dragoncon.

Why did you start your publication?

I started both Genesis Science Fiction magazine and the Genesis Science Fiction Anthology Books Series out of necessity. Creators of color were being marginalized in mainstream science fiction and fantasy media. We created our own to fill that gap and recognize highly talented people that we knew were out there; I say ‘we’ because all of this is a group effort. The members of Black Science Fiction Society pool our resources and talent to make this a reality.

What is the most gratifying element of publishing the written word?

I think the most gratifying moments keep happening for me. Each time I get a new issue in the mail of the work that our talented writers, reviewers and artists put together I am elated. It’s a real rush having the final product in hand, it is exhilarating.

What are your happiest memories in your writing/publishing career?

The happy moments don’t stop. Having people respond to the one of our publications. They tell us that they have never seen a publication like it or they tell us that they had no idea that so many other people of color were into scifi and fantasy.

How do you handle success and failure?

Success and failure are all part of being a creator. I try to deal with them both the same. If I fail I talk about it, if I succeed I talk about it. It’s part of the normal process of growth. Making sure to learn from past failures and trying not to repeat them is key to your bottom line and well being.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

I think when it’s all said and done, pushing through and getting something done has it’s own reward. There used to be a tag line from Nike Shoes, I “JUST DO IT”. So many things never get completed due to fear of failure or trying to make everything perfect. I don’t subscribe to either of those notions.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

My advice to young viewers is to not be afraid or too proud to start small and build.  In all things, show up, be courteous, listen, follow directions and follow through. Listen to sage advice from others that try to help you along the way and remain humble throughout your journey.


Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

I keep one foot in both the digital and the traditional paper camps. Genesis Magazine is in both print and digital formats. Genesis Anthology book series is currently in print but with plans to make them digital by years end.

Do you blog?

What I do may or may not be considered blogging. I occasionally post things that interest me on social media but not in any organized manner. I mostly repost things that I find interesting or useful to others. On occasion I will post a meme, recipe, or family photos that I wish to share with others.

Do you self-publish?

Everything I do is self-published. I enjoy the freedom of doing everything on our own terms and schedule. What we do is mostly for intrinsic value. I am not trying to become wealthy at this. I have a great career that funds my needs. I do this because I believe in diversity and fairness and this is a means to accomplish that.


If you have a publication or promotion – tell us.

Genesis Science Fiction Magazine is our serial publication that features art, reviews, and stories from diverse creators. It is available in print and e-magazine versions.

Genesis Anthology of Science Fiction Book 1 & Book 2 both feature 2 dozen flash fiction stories by seasoned and new writers from diverse backgrounds. These are available too.

For those interested in learning more about Black Science Fiction and Afrofuturism please feel free to visit our social network.


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