The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty, 2018

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic, 2015), a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, which won the International Latino Book Award and was shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature, the Andre Norton Award, the Locus, the Mythopoeic Award, and named one of Esquire’s 80 Books Every Person Should Read. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at, on youtube and @djolder on twitter

Selected Media

"Daniel José Older Creates Female Black Heroes to Make Fantasy More Real." Ashley C. Ford, The Guardian (June 29, 2015).

"Older’s imagined Brooklyn is full of danger, less gentrified than the real-life version, and decidedly diverse. “We’re doing something very political by deciding whose life matters, where we’re going to focus things, and who we erase from the picture,” he says [ . . . ] Older is critical of books that he says fail to include racial diversity – such as, he says, The Hunger Games. He chalks it up to a “phenomenal lack of imagination” on the part of the author, and a laziness, he feels, that is designed to keep some people out of the picture. “To be able to figure out all these quirky things about what you imagine the future will be like, and not somehow have any folks of colour doing anything heroic or worthwhile in it, what happened?” he asked. “Where did we go?”"

"Half-Resurrection Blues (Excerpt)." Daniel José Older, Tor.Com (Dec 17, 2014). See also excerpts from Midnight Taxi Tango, Battle Hill Bolero, Ginga, Kia and Gio, Anyway: Angie, and Skin Like Porcelain Death.

"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."

"The City is a Crossroads: Daniel José Older on Protest Art and Urban Lit." Vann R. Newkirk II, Gawker Review of Books (May 15, 2015).

"Urban fantasy presents a tremendous opportunity to talk about what’s going on in the world right now. Whether it’s police brutality or gentrification or black lives mattering or cultural appropriation, all these things are alive in the city. You can’t avoid them. For that not to be central to so much urban fantasy, for that to be basically sidelined by the larger genre of mostly white urban fantasy, is both a literary and a human failure. Why would you pass up an opportunity to talk about such a hugely important and literarily amazing and problematic conversation? All this stuff is great literature and very, very human and tragic at the same time. That’s what we’re supposed to write books about, these moments of history that change the course of things."

"Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice is Wrong." Daniel José Older, Seven Scribes (Sep 9, 2015).

"Here’s what stops more people from writing than anything else: shame. That creeping, nagging sense of ‘should be,’ ‘should have been,’ and ‘if only I had…’ Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not. "

"This Far: Notes on Love and Revolution." Daniel José Older, Guernica (Mar 25, 2016).

"It’s been a year since Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown dead in the streets of Ferguson. (I was in an airport that day, too, waiting for a flight to Cuba and watching Twitter explode with tweets from the scene of the murder. You texted me then and many times since, that you weren’t so sure about coming to a country that could do this to its people, a country that went out of its way to destroy black life.) It’s been a year of politicians stumbling to declare that all lives matter and reinstill the illusion of justice to the justice system. It’s been a year in which police took more than three hundred black lives as protestors shut down bridges and highways across the country to remind the world that those lives matter."