Author Interview: P. Djéli Clark

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror. We spoke with author P. Djéli Clark about the inspiration for Ring Shout, his favorite audiobooks, and more!

P. Djèlí Clark couldn’t write a bad book if he triedRing Shout is fantastically fun even as its core is as serious as can be.”

author Victor LaValle

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

Inspiration came from a lot of different places. A diet of fantasy novels since I was a kid. Some African-American southern folklore and music. The film Birth of a Nation. Madeleine L’Engle books. A few Beyonce videos. Houston Hip Hop. I put a lot in there. The idea for the story began to bubble up sometime in 2015. It sat with me for a few years. Actually sketching it out didn’t take place until after I pitched it to my editor at Tor. But by the time I sat down to write, it had been running through my imagination for so long I had a good idea of how I wanted it to look.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

It’s got swordplay, magic, and monsters—in 1920s Georgia.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I haven’t yet listened to this one, but can’t wait!

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I’m an avid audiobook listener. Anything narrated by Neil Gaiman is on my list. His voice on his own books—it’s like the English nanny storyteller I never had. When I just want to relax I throw on some Wheel of Time.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

These were always the cozy places I’d visit before I even started writing. Enjoyed conversations with the owners or workers, who’d give me some good book recommendations. Now as an author, they’re my favorite places to interact with readers—readers who look to their local indie bookstores and booksellers to provide them with fresh new voices.

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