Daniel Jose Older

Behind the Scenes: Daniel José Older in Conversation with Cheryl Klein

Behind the Scenes: Daniel José Older in Conversation with Cheryl Klein

Besides being a paramedic, a lot of what I bring to the table as a writer is my work as an organizer. As an organizer, one of the principles that we work with is the idea of history being present and walking with us always. And certainly in Brooklyn, you know, when you walk around history is with you at all times, whether it is with the actual memorial murals themselves, or you walk down one street named after a slave owner and another named after an abolitionist and then you’ll turn a corner and you’ll be on Malcolm X Boulevard. All of these layers are constantly there. Meanwhile gentrification is happening, police brutality is happening. It’s a crossroads. To me, ghost stories are always a way to deal with this concept of history being alive.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Party Scene)

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Party Scene)

The Bradwicks’ elaborate Park Slope brownstone was bursting with teenagers when Sierra and Bennie got there. Just about every ninth, tenth, and eleventh grader from Octavia Butler High was running around the backyard or exploring the winding passageways of the house. The sound system alternately blared hip-hop and grungy emo rock as various DJs took turns pushing one another out of the way. Some kids stood in a little circle out back, beatboxing and freestyling, inventing brand-new ways of putting one another down and sending up wild cheers when each dig found its mark.