Sheree Renée Thomas is an award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor. Her work is inspired by myth and folklore, natural science, and the genius of the Mississippi Delta. She is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books), and the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and associate editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora.

Pan Morigan is a Canadian/American singer/songwriter and writer from the great lakes part of the world where the long, stormy sky is a powerful influence, and the primary landscape. Her work is forthcoming in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Troy L. Wiggins is an award-winning writer and editor of Black Speculative Fiction from Memphis, Tennessee. His stories have appeared in several online venues, including Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fireside, and in print anthologies including Long Hidden, Memphis Noir, Tiny Nightmares, and the forthcoming Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (Titan Books).

Trouble the Waters edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan and Troy L. Wiggins

Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue gathers the tidal force of bestselling, renowned writers from Lagos to New Orleans, Memphis to Copenhagen, Northern Ireland and London, offering extraordinary speculative fiction tales of ancient waters in all its myriad forms. From a trio of stellar, award-winning editors, this new collection of 30 stories and 3 poems features some of the most exciting, up and coming writers working in science fiction and fantasy today, including a couple Grand Masters, writers for DC, Marvel, and Disney, television creators and more astounding, emerging voices.

Here, you'll meet techno savvy water spirits, bayou saints and sirens, robots and river rootwomen, a pod of joyful space whales, and a castle of water-born terrors and mysteries. Including work by Nalo Hopkinson, Jaquira Diaz, Andrea Hairston, Linda D. Addison, Rion Amilcar Scott, Marie Vibbert, Maurice Broaddus, and other breakout beautiful voices, these stories and poems celebrate the most vital of elemental forces, water.


Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Pan Morigan, and Troy L. Wiggins, Trouble the Water: Tales from the Deep Blue is a comprehensive anthology of thirty-two water-themed short stories invoking African mythology, the Middle Passage, shapeshifters, rootworkers, mercreatures, and robots, bridging the mystical histories of the New and Old Worlds. Established fan favorites such as Linda D. Addison, Andrea Hairston, Maurice Broaddus, Nalo Hopkinson, and adriene maree brown join forces with rising stars and up-and-coming authors in this beautiful collection. – Zelda Knight



  • "Stories to make you feel infinitely hopeful. This collection recharges rebellion as powerfully as a dry spell broken by heavy rain."

    – ZZ Claybourne, author of Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe and The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan
  • "Trouble the Waters: Tales from the Deep Blue's confluence of stories range from the salt-edged to freshwater clear. The anthology's powerful water-buoyed voices represent international understandings of water's multiple mythos, its futures possible, and its pasts unforgotten....A fantastic collection."

    – Fran Wilde, Nebula-award winning author of Riverland and Updraft




There are those who claim to know the ways of water. They have listened to its many flowing tongues and watched its comings and goings in an effort to achieve some form of mastery. They have watched its promises of calm be broken by mercurial moods that swiftly change from tenderness to the rage of dismembered ships and boats splintered, homes swept away to disappear in the horizon.

What binds those who claim to know to those who know better than to claim, is the undisputed fact that water, all water, is life. It is the water around our blue-green world that sustains us, and yet it is also water, troubled waters, that can lead us into danger, or, as the spiritual "Wade in the Water" suggests, intervene to protect and save us from ourselves.

This collection of tales from the deep blue has multiple origins, like the many shifting forms that water on earth knows. Perhaps the first was when I had the good fortune to hear poet Linda D. Addison perform "Mami Wata, Goddess of Clear Blue" at the 2005 World Horror Convention in New York where Linda was the Poet Guest of Honor. Her reading of this fine work was held only a few months before the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. With grace and power, Linda visibly stirred the audience and her evocation of the West African water goddess remained a beautifully haunting memory.

Four years later, art historian Henry John Drewal and guest curator David Driskell helped visitors to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art gather a framework for viewing the extraordinary exhibition, Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African Atlantic World. My daughters and I traveled from New York City to see this rare exhibit in Washington, D.C. Created by the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the exhibit displayed breathtaking altars and various creative celebrations of the powerful water goddess whose unmistakable mermaid persona can be seen throughout Africa and the African diaspora.

Between Linda's New York poetry reading, Hurricane Katrina, and the Mami Wata water spirits exhibition in Washington, DC, the first droplet of an idea was born. My dear friend, the late author and literary patron, Ama Patterson, a co-founder of our Beyond 'Dusa Women's Writing Group, agreed to co-edit a collection of tales around Mami Wata and various water deities. We were excited about the possibility of diving into works that centered water spirits, mythology, and lore. We exchanged writers wish lists, bookmarked stories and articles, and dreamed about what might be. Unfortunately, Ama's health took a heartbreaking turn, making her work on this project impossible after a time. It is our great loss that dear Ama, a brilliant, gifted writer and a true goddess in her own right, is no longer with us, writing her stories, telling her tales in that wonderful voice that evoked a true sense of wonder.

In hindsight I realize that Trouble the Waters was also inspired by the multitalented dynamo, Liz Roberts and Mrs. Cornelia Bailey, an invaluable voice in the Sapelo Sea Island community. It was in her home, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, where we ate Mr. Julius Bailey's delicious shrimp and grits, and witnessed firsthand the beauty and magic of storytelling as a natural force. Trouble the Waters is dedicated to these three amazing women. I am also truly grateful to have the opportunity to continue this project with four of the most talented editors and artists I know, Pan Morigan and Troy L. Wiggins and our cover artist Stacey Robinson and designer Daniel Coates, friends and comrades on this aquatic journey. The twenty-nine short stories and three select poems collected here represent water spirits, gods, monsters, and the unclassifiables from around the world by writers from voices you are going to love.

The works explore many themes and tones, evoking water in its myriad moods and modes. "Mami Wata, Goddess of Clear Blue," the opening poem by Linda D. Addison and "Dance of Myal", by Maurice Broaddus, examine Myths and Deities: Present, Future, Past.

Tales such as "All of Us Are She" by Jasmine Wade, evoke primordial womb waters and remind us that sometimes we must birth ourselves, while "The Ancestor Abiodun Tells Me About the Time She Forgot Osun" by Maria Osunbimpe Hamilton Abegunde, and the poem, "Maafa to Mami Wata" by Heather 'Byrd' Roberts, reimagine The Middle Passage and Other Histories.

"Deep Like the Rivers" by Christopher Caldwell, "At the Opening of Bayou St. John" by Shawn Scarber, "The Sea Devil" by Susana Morris, and "Hagfish" by Rylee Edgar recall the transformative power of water and offer us intriguing takes on Shapeshifters.

The Water Creatures in my own story, "Love Hangover," "Seamonsters" by Ama Patterson, "Lilies and Claws" by Kate Heartfield, "Mother of Crawdads" by Betsy Phillips, "Against the Venom Tide" by Henry Szabranski, and "Mississippi Medusa" by Elle L. Littlefield all remind us that while the earth is round, her waters are vast and deep. We may never know all the strange, wondrous lifeforms teeming below.

Other works such as Jacqueline Johnson's poem, "Green Symphony", "Portal" by Mateo Hinojosa, and "A City Called Heaven" by Danian Darrell Jerry, capture The Power and History of Water Itself. These works remind us that water lives. And no volume on water can be complete without Watery Legends, Fairy Tales, and Lore. "Salt Baby" by Nanna Áradóttir, "Numbers" by Rion Amilcar Scott, "The Weaver's Tale" by Cecilia Quirk, "The Stone" by Naila Moreira, "Spirits Don't Cross Over Water 'Til They Do" by Jamey Hatley, "The Half-Drowned Castle" by Lyndsay E. Gilbert, and "Follow Death" by Story Boyle, cast their own spells, creating haunting tales of characters that operate within their own systems of magic and logic.

There are also works that offer us New Worlds, New Wata, such as "Andrea Hairston's "Seven Generations Algorithm," and "Water Being" by Pan Morigan. We are reminded to be good stewards of earth's many waters and of ourselves in works that explore Eco-Justice and Environmental Change, including "Hoʻi Hou e na Pō" by Gina McGuire, "Juniper's Song" by Marie Vibbert, "Whimper" by Nalo Hopkinson, "Call the Water" by Adrienne Marie Brown, and "Ghosts" by Jaquira Díaz.

In the old days, Pliny the Elder and others described an ancient practice of water divers and seafarers pouring a bit of oil over troubled waters, to ease the path before them and ensure a safe journey ahead. We hope these tales from the deep blue recesses of these talented writers' imaginations will soothe you at times, frighten and unsettle you a bit, make you laugh, and nod your head in wonder, reveling in the fact that our world is indeed round and water, sweet, deep, life- sustaining, transformative blue water makes up most of it.

Sheree Renée Thomas

Memphis Tennessee

Mississippi River