Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview with Daniel José Older, author of the Bone Street Rumba Novels

Please welcome Daniel José Older to The Qwillery. Midnight Taxi Tango, the 2nd Bone Street Rumba novel, was published on January 5th by Roc.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Daniel:  2009 I started writing novels. Before that it was music, some essays and short stories, scripts, but nothing focused. It was time to go all in with one project: that became Shadowshaper. Then the Bone Street Rumba developed as that was moving through the gears of publishing.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Daniel:  I tend to just start writing and let it take shape as I go. I'll have a vague sense of direction that clarifies along the way. Usually the end starts taking shape around the midpoint.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Daniel:  Just staying on it during those low moments when I don't really feel like it. Mostly, I love the process though, from start to finish.

TQWhat has influenced/influences your writing?

Daniel:  I love reading, and a lot of writers - Junot Díaz, Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, to name a few - have influenced me a lot. I also take a lot of inspiration from conversations on the street, with friends, the way we talk to each other in casual ways. And finally: music!

TQDescribe Midnight Taxi Tango in 140 characters or less.

Daniel:  A teenager, a half-dead guy and an unstoppable assassin in her fifties take on a cult of evil cockroach dudes. Hilarity and ickiness ensues.

TQTell us something about Midnight Taxi Tango that is not found in the book description.

Daniel:  Behind the facade of escapades, knife-fights and daring rescues, deep down it's about how different people deal with grief.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Midnight Taxi Tango?

Daniel:  I researched the history of tango and the biology of cockroaches...that's about it. Oh and a few quick checks on some gun stuff and ballet.

TQWhat inspired you to write Bone Street Rumba series? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?

Daniel:  I love fantasy and I've always lived in cities, so putting them together makes so much sense! And I love seeing true representations of the city, ones I recognize, in literature. Ultimately, it's just a lot of fun to re-imagine Brooklyn with all these teeming supernatural underworlds at play.

TQIn the Bone Street Rumba series so far who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Daniel:  Easiest is probably Carlos or Kia - both their voices just come very naturally to me. Kia really started as a very minor character in Half-Resurrection Blues and took over the page, demanded to have more of a story, so I listened. Hardest...maybe Mama Esther? She's an entity that's made up a few different spirits, so it's a little complicated thinking through how they come together to form a unified whole.

TQWhich question about Midnight Taxi Tango or the Bone Street Rumba do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Daniel:  You already asked 'em!

TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from Midnight Taxi Tango.

Daniel:  The entirety of Chapter 35: "Oh, this mothafucka." - Kia

TQ What's next?

Daniel:  The third Bone Street book, Battle Hill Bolero is scheduled to come out January 2017 and I'll be rereleasing a deluxe edition of Salsa Nocturna, which chronologically comes after Midnight Taxi Tango, later this year, with new stories and an essay.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Daniel:  Thank you for having me!

Midnight Taxi Tango
A Bone Street Rumba Novel 2
Roc, January 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

The author of Half-Resurrection Blues returns in a new Bone Street Rumba Novel—a knife-edge, noir-shaded urban fantasy of crime after death.

The streets of New York are hungry tonight…

Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an
agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York’s ghostlier problems. This time it’s a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn’s Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals—and is bound to take more.

The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie’s botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that—because whatever is bringing out the dead, it’s only just getting started.


Half-Resurrection Blues
A Bone Street Rumba Novel 1
Roc, January 6, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages


“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”

Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death.…

Short Fiction

Anyway: Angie
A Tor.Com Original
Tor Books, March 26, 2014
eBook, 32 pages

Reza's job has put her in the face of every kind of death. Thanks to her guns, her car, and her dapper style, she came through the Bad Years alive, but since losing Angie things haven't been right. Tonight's job threatens to bring the worst terrors of that time skittering back to life."Anyway: Angie" is a new urban fantasy story with more than a touch of horror from rising star Daniel José Older, set in the world of his upcoming Bone Street Rumba series.

Kia and Gio
A Tor.Com Original
Tor Books, January 7, 2015
eBook, 32 pages

Kia's a week shy of her seventeenth birthday, which is about how old her cousin Gio was six years ago when he just up and went away. Kia's a little bit in love with Giovanni (and who wasn't, really?) but she hasn't thought about him this much since the day he disappeared. It's not until a run-of-the-mill work shift at Baba Eddie's botánica goes awry that she begins to understand why he's on her mind…

"Kia and Gio" is a new story from rising star Daniel José Older, set in the world of Half-Resurrection Blues (book one of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, out this month from Roc Books) and his story collection Salsa Nocturna.

A Tor.Com Original
Tor Books, May 20, 2015
eBook, 32 pages

Between her obscenely muscular new capoeira teacher, her crush going off with a new girl in their favorite park, and trigonometry homework, Kia figures she has enough going on without some creepy ghost causing car crashes and hit-and-runs in her neighborhood. Carlos Delacruz, the half-dead half-resurrected soulcatcher for the New York Council of the Dead, would love to keep her out of it, but things don't usually go the way he intends. From the world of Daniel José Older's immensely popular Bone Street Rumba series.

About Daniel

Photo by Kevin Kane
Daniel José Older is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, composer, and author of the Bone Street Rumba novels, including Half-Resurrection Blues. He facilitates workshops on storytelling, music, and anti-oppression organizing at public schools, religious houses, and universities. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, and his short stories and essays have appeared in, Salon, BuzzFeed, Gawker, New Haven Review, PANK, and Strange Horizons. Find him online at

Website  ~  Blog

Facebook  ~  Twitter @djolder


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