This week’s spotlight author is Zaji!

For a complete bio, please visit:

BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION WRITERSWhen I started reading, “When We Were One” by Zaji, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The blurb on the back cover piqued my interest, but after reading it, I was rewarded with a very well written and inspiring story.

Unlike most of today’s speculative fiction, this novel was thankfully devoid of vampires, werewolves and zombies. Don’t get me wrong, as a writer and fan of urban fantasy I like my supernatural creatures, but it is refreshing to read a book where they aren’t present.

The story takes place on Parthos, a world where a unique race of women known as the Parthonites, live peacefully and in harmony with their environment. When their unique system of reproduction yields an anomaly, they are at a loss on how to understand why this has happened and how to deal with it. Meanwhile, visitors seek to uncover the secrets of their culture by any means necessary.

I liked, “When We Were One,” because of the spirit in which it was told. There was a sense of serenity I got from simply reading the story. It captured me with a sense of wonder and left me pleasantly satiated.

Even though the story took place in a fantasy realm, it resonates with core values that are intertwined in the spirit of humanity as we know it. As I read the novel, I got a definite sense of real world applications with a shot of history, which served to weave a tapestry of entertaining, insightful and inspiring prose.

The one critique I have of the novel, or at least the copy I read, was that the font style slowed down my reading considerably, about a third of the way through the novel. While I liked the look of the font aesthetically, but I found it wasn’t conducive to prolonged reading. I would encourage Zaji to consider a more standard font, for the sake of her readers.

As an added bonus, I had the honor of interviewing the author and here are her responses to my questions:

1) What drew you to write in speculative fiction and why do you feel that it is a powerful and/or worthy genre?

I’ve been a lover of speculative fiction for as long as I can remember. The Twilight Zone was my first taste of speculative fiction, given that it featured both science fiction and speculative fiction stories. I have probably watched nearly every Twilight Zone ever made. I was then drawn to other authors such as Octavia Butler, who skillfully created worlds that drew me in. I felt like I was in her stories, a part of her villages, moving through time with her characters. I honestly have a love for all types of fiction, but writing speculative fiction gives me the freedom to create anything I want and make you believe it. Speculative fiction allows me to open up the cosmic gateways of possibility and explore everything conceivable. The limits are only confined to my imagination. Through speculative fiction, I can show readers what could be if they only let their mind explore the ideas.

2) Who are some to the authors who inspired you on your journey as a writer, and why?

 Authors who inspired me include Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Brandon Massey, M.P. Shiel, Ray Bradbury; too many to name.

3) Are you working on any other projects that you can share?

I am currently working on the prequel to When We Were One, as well as several short stories. I’m also planning a writers’ retreat I hope to have this year in the summer. Additionally, I’m considering doing an online Self-Publishing workshop for writers who desire to self-publish their works.

Many of the short stories I’ve been writing might work for a book of short stories, Ray Bradbury style. For example, all of the stories in Martian Chronicles were published as individual works in other publications. He put them all together in one book given that they were all related to Mars. I’d like to do something similar.

4) What do you want readers to take away from, “When We Were One”?

I want readers to go away with any aspect of the work that moves them. I am not the type of writer who wants readers to see specifically what I see or what I meant when I wrote it. I want them to see what comes through for them. Each person, depending on their life experiences, will see and feel something different when they read a work. Some will see the obvious, but others will feel the not so obvious. I give each reader freedom. I want them to allow that freedom to take them where it needs to take them when they read my work. I want them to feel what they need to feel so that they move to the next level of their existence. They cannot move to the next level of my existence and life based on what I meant the work to be for me, they can only move where they need to be, in their own time and understanding. Works I read 20 years ago look very different to me now because of my experiences. I often read them again and think, how did I miss that? How come I didn’t understand that before? Or even remember reading that part? This is because we do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are. This is the same with reading. We do not read based on what a work is, we read and understand a work based on who we are in that moment. I want readers to see what they need to see in this moment when they read my work. This is not to say that some works aren’t obviously positive or negative and need no interpretation, but for the most part, our response to any given work is based on how we see the world. All else is open for discussion and sharing if the opportunity arises.

5) When can readers expect future installments in the series?

I’m a slow writer. But I do hope to have the prequel to When We Were One done by early next year.

In conclusion, I highly recommend picking up this novel and giving it a read. I look forward to reading more adventures set in this unique and wondrous world, with its plethora of strong, dynamic characters and thought provoking situations.

For more information on Zaji and how to purchase her novels, please visit her website:

Next Friday I will be reviewing Carl Weber’s latest novel, The Man in 3B!

Until then, REMEMBER TBIYTC (The Best Is Yet To Come)!!!