Tuesday, October 2, 2012

African American Fantasy

Okay so in my WordPress blog from this past Wednesday, I mentioned my next YA title Eternal. I announced that the rough draft was complete but that I hadn’t had time to devote to it. I’ve been contacted by readers about the project since I first mentioned it but all I’ve really revealed about it was that it’s to be a YA Fantasy story and vastly different from my previous YA title Expectation of Beauty.
            No, there are no vampires- love reading about ‘em, love movies about ‘em, even TV shows (a girlfriend just got me hooked on The Vampire Diaries) but writing about ‘em is NOT my cup of tea. I adore the YA market as a whole but many more things about this project appealed to me aside from the fact that the main characters are young African Americans.
            The Fantasy Element: I’m sure that I’m not the only African American in love with The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, and True Blood, Harry Potter or the Divergent series. Unfortunately, when I watch these shows or read these books, the African American element is sorely lacking. I’m sure that Eternal is not the first African American fantasy to feature AAYAs (African American Young Adults) but I’ve always selected my projects on the basis of ‘If I want to read it and I can’t find it, I write it.’ So there’s a huge chunk of my motivation right there. While working on the concept of this story, I was very interested in exploring how the Fantasy aspect could be played out among a predominantly African American cast. Then there was the plot. As I said, I don’t write about vampires so I wanted the supernatural element to revolve around something not consistently (or perhaps ever- ha!) explored (or overdone).
            As with my historical novels, the Eternal storyline will combine entertainment with education. Much of my inspiration for the story involves the Yoruba culture and religion of Southwestern Nigeria. For purposes of this story, I was especially interested in the mythology. I spent several months researching its various aspects and how what I uncovered would or could pertain to the characters, their motivations and choices.
            When asked about my own motivations to becoming an author, I’ve often said it had a lot to do with reading stories and never finding characters that looked like me. I can’t help but think that younger readers have those same concerns at one time or another. I hope that Eternal will provide the intensity, entertainment and enlightenment fans of suspenseful fantasy or paranormal stories will crave in addition to characters of color that I hope they will champion.

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