BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – EDEN ROYCE

My beautiful picture
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
I wanted to be a writer since I was about five years old, but I didn’t pursue it seriously until I was in my mid-thirties. For me, being a Black writer means being myself on the page. Regardless of what genre I’m writing in – Southern Gothic, fantasy, horror, or science fiction –who I am as a person – a Black Southern woman – always makes it into the story in some way.   
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I write full time now, after leaving my day job a little over five years ago. I have a B.S. in Business Administration and worked in finance most of my career.
As far as writing education, I’ve never taken writing classes, but I read voraciously and have since I was a child.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
When I had a day job, I did most of my writing after work. I was never without a notebook though, so I could jot down ideas whenever they popped up. You never know when something will inspire you, so I like to be prepared. I still keep one on my nightstand.
How many books have you written?
I’ve published two collections of short stories (Spook Lights and Spook Lights II), but only one novel, a middle-grade Southern Gothic historical that will be published in early 2021. I’m hard at work on two more, though.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Zora Neale Hurston, J. California Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Never. I listen to sounds like crackling fireplaces, thunderstorms, or rain on a tin roof when I write.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
I’ve only completed one so far, and that started out as a collection of short stories.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
Not a book, but a short story. It’s “For Southern Girls When The Zodiac Ain’t Near Enough” and it’s my love letter to Black Southerners, no matter where they may be in the world now. I’ve been lucky enough to have some readers mention that it resonates with them, and they return to read it periodically. And that means so much to me.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want my legacy to be one of mixing African-American and Gullah-Geechee folklore and mythology into stories that show we as Black people have a rich cultural past and a tradition of storytelling despite our traumatic history. And to let that rich cultural past inspire us to do even more now and in the future.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m working on two novels: a middle-grade Southern Gothic contemporary fantasy and a young adult horror/dark fantasy.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Website: http://edenroyce.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdenRoyce
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edenroycebooks/  

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – LINDA ADDISON

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
The first time I held a book in my hands in elementary school and the teacher read the story and I followed the pictures I knew I wanted to makes things like that. I didn’t know that meant being a writer until later. I also grew up lacking basics so I came to the conclusion that being an artist meant deciding to be poor and I wasn’t willing to do that, but I had to write also. I was good at math and science and that was my path to college and a career in computer science, which I retired from years ago. All along I read about writing/writers and wrote/published speculative poetry and fiction.   I was very aware of being a black writer. There were very few black speculative writers, but I couldn’t deny my imagination so I continued. As I got recognition, I was happy to represent the Other at conventions and in print. And now even happier that there are more Others (black, gay, trans, etc.) being published and publishers.
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I write full-time now, after retiring from my day job five years ago. I have a B.S. in Mathematics, later I finished the NYU program for Computer Science and worked in programming until I retired. Per writing, I never took a class just for writing but read everything I could about process, grammar and the life of writers; I still do. I’ve kept journals since 1969.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
When I had a day job I would write: lunchtime, after work, when I could. Sometimes it was only for 30 minutes in a day. I would edit and outline when I was traveling back and forth to work. I didn’t hangout on weekends, but would use the time to squeeze in writing time.   This is how I came to see that even a few words a day could add up to a poem, story, book.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
I love music without words when I’m writing, like Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and others, speculative movie sound tracks, and some local artists I’ve discovered in Arizona.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
My poetry collections have taken from two to three months to finish the first draft. Then another month or two to edit, and make sure of the order.   I can’t say for a novel since I’m finishing my first now. I’ll know more when I’ve done my second novel.

How many books have you written?

I’ve published four books of just my work (Animated Objects, Consumed, Reduced to Beautiful Grey Ashes, Being Full of Light, Insubstantial, How To Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend) and three in collaboration with other writers (Dark Duet with Stephen M. Wilson; Four Elements with Charlee Jacob, Marge Simon & Rain Graves; The Place of Broken Things with Alessandro Manzetti).

As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?

My personal responsibility is to being honest with the work that comes through me. There’s no way to completely separate my work and my being a black author, a female, my childhood and every moment of my life. Some readers have said my work uplifts and educates. I’m grateful for that, but I don’t consciously inject that into my work.

What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

My poetry collections come out of my journals, for the most part, which I’ve been keeping since 1969. I write any bits, pieces of poetry, reactions in them. Then something will shift and I start putting together a collection. This shift often starts with a poem, sometimes another person, like Stephen M. Wilson approaching me to do a music inspired collection (Dark Duet). I will go back to my journals since the last book and pull out seeds to build on. It’s very organic and not easy to explain.

I have several novels I want to write, inspired by short stories I’ve published. I’m finishing a novel now, inspired by a story, “When We Dream Together” published in Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction (Graves Sheffield Publishing). I wrote a short outline of each chapter in three months.

What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?

I use the internet, magazines, non-fiction books in my home/libraries, television documentaries/series, everything.

What does literary success look like to you?

There are many points that were successful events for me. I spent a lot of time submitting my work to magazines in the beginning of my career. Success is getting published for me. Every publication was meaningful and important to me.

A few of the special moments: getting an article published in Essence Magazine in 1983 was over the top amazing. I walked from news stand to news stand, looking at the issue and thinking how people I didn’t know were buying it and reading my work. Having my poem published in Asimov’s SF Magazine (May 1997) after years of being rejected was major. Then there was being the first black author to receive a HWA Bram Stoker award® 2001. I feel beyond amazing about being one of the editors (with Kinitra Brooks & PhD & Susana Morris, PhD) that put together Sycorax’s Daughters anthology, dark fiction and poetry by 33 black women, which was a HWA Bram Stoker award® 2017 finalist. Being part of introducing that many black authors to the wider horror community was exceptional, as well as, receiving the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’ve received more than I could have imagined.

Linda’s Contact Information

>Website: http://www.lindaaddisonpoet.com
>Facebook=https://www.facebook.com/linda.d.addison
>Twitter=https://twitter.com/nytebird45
>Instagram= https://www.instagram.com/nytebird45/;
>Amazon page=www.amazon.com/author/lindaaddisonpoet

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – VALJEANNE JEFFERS

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
As a young girl I wrote stories and poetry. But life got in the way, and I didn’t return to writing until I was in my forties. Discovering Octavia Butler was the catalyst for my taking the journey into writing fiction. For me, being a black writer means I have two responsibilies. I have to hold up a mirror to American society, to the world, to make folks think about the problems we’re facing, and offer solutions. I am the conscience of my nation. The second one is to write a story that grips my readers and holds on tight, one that gives them everything they want, and leaves them wanting more.
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I write everyday, but I also work as a tutor/teacher. I have an MA in Psychology, which actually helps me with character development.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to set my own work hours, so I can take off if I need to attend a CON or meet a deadline.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I’ve written both fiction and nonfiction. I actually wrote a nonfiction book, The Story of Eve, which was never published (except as articles). But Speculative fiction (horror, fantasy, and science fiction) is my favorite genre. We stand in the midst of a Black SF/Fantasy Renaissance: black and brown folks are making huge strides in film, art, and writing. As a black female writer I am part of this movement, and writing is, in of itself, a form of political resistance.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
There are so many! I won’t try to list them all, but Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemison and Brandon Massey are huge influences, as well as: Tananarive Due, B. Sharise Moore, Quinton Veal, Balogun Ojetade, and Milton Davis.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
I listen to Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock and everything in between. It just depends on what mood I’m in and what I’m writing. King Britt, for example, is my best inspiration when I’m creating a very visual and/or romantic scene.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
It varies; anywhere from a year to two years. I took two years to finish Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective III: The Case of the Vanishing Child. But, I write stories while I’m working on novels, too.
What does your writing schedule look like and how many hours a day do you write?
I don’t have a set schedule, but when I’m writing (especially if I’m in the “zone”) I may go as long as six to eight hours.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I drink too much coffee and smoke too many cigarettes!
How many books have you written?
I have written ten books. This includes: The Story of Eve, my  Immortal and Mona: Livelong series (six books), Voyage of Dreams, Colony: Ascension: An Erotic Space Opera, and The Switch II: Clockwork (includes books I and II). I also co-edited, with Quinton Veal, Scierogenous: An Anthology of Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volumes I and II.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
As I’ve said earlier, writing is a form of resistance. For black folks reading novels and stories in which they are heriones and heros is both uplifiting and empowering. As black writers, we are quintessential to this journey. No one can tell our stories the way we can. I’d like to share something I wrote several years ago, and it’s still relevant today. In the 21th century there are very still few characters like us, and out of this small pool many are post-modern “Step-and Fetchits” (stereotypes). This is why speculative fiction is so important. This genre helps us to see outside reality, to say: what if? It helps us to imagine and create spectacular, wondrous realms, step back and find the beauty and wisdom there, and then transform our own space. We need to dream, and we need our writers to help us to dream. Even if – especially if – these dreams are of fantastic, imaginary creatures and happenings. We need this because dreaming can be an escape. One should never underestimate the power of escape. Imagine a child living in squalor, and escaping into pages of a novel. Or a slave reading by lamplight and envisioning her freedom. Or a man working as a sharecropper, and at sunset telling his story with harmonica. We all need to escape, at least sometimes, into the worlds of those who dream like us, who understand us; who look like us. To paraphrase B.B. King, we need authors who get us where we live. Second of all dreaming helps us to change. If you can dream it, you can do it. You can move yourself and your corner of life forward.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I love my Immortal series, but then I also love my Mona Livelong series. I am passionate about both.
What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Nonfiction research typically takes longer (for me) than fiction research. But both can take hours or even weeks. When I wrote my essay for Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler, I re-read Wild Seed, took notes, and watched interviews with Ms. Butler etc. It took me around a month to finish my research.
What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?
It varies. I use the same method I used to complete my MA, which is googling a resource, reading it and then using this resource to find other articles.
What have you found to be the best marketing practices for your books to the black community?
I have found devoted readers on facebook and twitter. But, for my community, going to SF/Fantasy Cons and  author signings works best.
How important is it that black creators work together to encourage, empower and educate the black community through their work?
Collaboration and sharing resources is very important for our community to help us grow.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’m very well known, and I am humbled and honored by this. But I would like expand my audience and reach even more people. Eventually, I’d like to become a full time writer.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I dearly hope that my legacy will be that I am talented, humanistic author who cares about the black community and the globe, and one is who is not afraid address issues like homelessness, racism, sexism and climate change in her writing, but who can so in a beautifully written and exciting novel or story.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
 My co-editor Quinton Veal and I are working with Director Balogun Ojetade to bring my novel The Switch II: Clockwork to the screen, and possibly Scierogenous (as a series). I’m also releasing Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective III: The Case of the Vanishing Child this year.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Readers can visit me: www.vjeffersandqveal.com http://tehotep.wixsite.com/scierogenous and http://tehotep.wixsite.com/immortaliiiaudiobook  

Author’s Biography

Valjeanne Jeffers is a speculative fiction writer, a graduate of Spelman College, and a member of the Horror Writers Association, and the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective. She is the author of ten books, including her Immortal and her Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Valjeanne has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk!;The Ringing Ear; Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler; Fitting In; Sycorax’s Daughters; Black Magic Women, The Bright Empire, and Blerdrotica (in press).Readers can also preview or purchase her novels at: www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – NISI SHAWL

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
I first realized I *could* be a writer in the 1970s, after reading a bunch of feminist SF.  I realized if Suzy McKee Charnas got away with saying what she said, I had a chance to do something similar.  What it means to me to be a black writer in this society is to have built-in “cognitive estrangement,” the quality that critic Darko Suvin thinks is essential to the imaginative genres.
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I’m a college drop-out.  I write and teach writing full time.  I work in a bookstore one day a week.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
I have no day job to speak of.  I’m divorced, no children.  My family know not to talk to me–or even talk around me–when I’m writing.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I write science fiction, fantasy, horror, and creative nonfiction.  Which is the most influential?  I have two words for you: Black Panther.  In speculative fiction there has been a growing acceptance of the presence of African-descended writers and African-derived content since the 2009 online controversy known as “Racefail.”   Con or Bust, the Carl Brandon Society, and many other factors have supporteded this growth.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Samuel R. Delany, Gwyneth Jones, Colette, and Raymond Chandler.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
I listen to instrumental music for the most part, and the sort of instrumental music depends on the sort of story I’m writing: harp music, ragtime, hard bop, electronica, so on, so forth.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Years.  Everfair took six.  I write at a fairly slow pace.
How many books have you written?
Eight.  Now ask me how many I’ve published (five).
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
Nope.  I feel a personal responsibility to my ancestors to create beauty.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about The Blazing World, which my agent described as “weird.”  It’s unpublished and unsold.  It’s the first novel I ever wrote.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want my work to challenge and satisfy readers, to have the undeniable emotional impact of a piece of music.  I want it to set a standard that others enjoy meeting in their own work.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m revising a Middle Grade historical fantasy about two young African American girls having adventures in 1962; it’s called Speculation, and it involves a pair of magic glasses.  I’m also drafting a sequel to Everfair, my Nebula-nominated alternate history of a socialist Utopia in the 19th century Congo.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Google me.

Nisi Shawl is an African American writer, editor, and journalist. They are best known for co-authoring Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, which is the go-to guide to representing difference in fiction.  Their debut novel, Everfair, ws a Nebula finalist; their debut story collection, Filter House, is co-winner of the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.  Most recently Shawl edited New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color.  Among other books, they co-edited Stories for Chip, a tribute to Samuel R. Delany; and Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.  They edit reviews for literary quarterly The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and have contributed to Ms. Magazine, The Washington Post, Tor.com, and other venues.  Shawl has appeared as a guest lecturer at several educational institutions, including Duke University and Spelman College.  They live in Seattle, near a large lake full of enticingly dangerous currents. 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – JD MASON

How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
Commitment is everything. I don’t making writing an afterthought. It’s as important as showing up in any other aspect of my life and making the time to do it is probably a bit more important, because it’s easy to make excuses NOT to write. I set personal goals for myself. There are no magic formulas or answers. I make up my mind that I’m going to write a chapter a night, or five chapters a week, or 1,000 words a day or whatever, and I stick to that. If something gets in the way of me meeting that goal, well, that means I have to make it up and instead of writing 1,000 words that next day, I have to write 1,500 or 2,000. The excuse of not having time, really is just an excuse. We make time for what’s important to us.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I started out writing mainstream women’s fiction (relationship drama). Overtime, that changed and I started introducing more speculative aspects to my work. I don’t think my readers noticed, but if they did, they didn’t complain. I’m not writing in several genres; women’s fiction, mystery/suspense, romantic and dark fantasy. I do see a change in that more black writers are offering more stories in speculative fiction. And I think that one of the main reasons we’ve been marginalized in the industry is because the publishing industry has had no idea how to capitalize on it financially. They don’t believe that black folks read speculative fiction and consequently, have not spent a lot of time focusing on it. Not an excuse, but my opinion. The publishing industry isn’t big on taking risks. They tend to go with what they know works, and across the board, not just with speculative fiction, they’ve never really known how to market/publish black writers and/or relate to black readers. I like to think that, as a writer, I’m offering readers a chance to step outside of their comfort zones to try new things. Most of my audience does not read speculative fiction, but some have given my books a chance and the responses have been surprisingly nice.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Walter Mosely is my literary hero because Walter rights what he wants to write. He’s never been one to stick with what works and dares to venture out into any all genres. I believe that’s the core of what a creative writer should be. Fearless, daring and willing to take risks.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As with most writers, I think I’ve got to “feel” what I’m writing. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and so, I think I’ve developed a good instinct on what “feels” right. My stories have to inspire whatever mood I’m trying to create in me, and if they do, then I’m confident they’ll inspire that same feeling in others. If I don’t feel it, then I have to let it go and try something else.
How many books have you written?
Over 25. I started with McMillan/St. Martin’s back in 2002 and have been writing ever since.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
I’ve always considered myself an entertainer first. Mainly because I see value in it. People read fiction to escape their reality and I’ve always believed that it’s important to provide that to my readers. I’ve always seen my writing as a way to celebrate experiences from the black perspective; love, hate, joy, pain, magic—and if someone happens to learn something from what I’ve written, all the better.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I wrote a series of books some years back called my Inherit the Crown series. The series actually tanked, but that had more to do with me than the story. Poor execution on my part and the publisher took a chance on it and lost big time, so they lost interest. I recently received the rights back to the stories and am about to re-release the series again. This is a huge risk for me because it could very well tank again. It was a terrible blow to me as a writer to have to suffer through that failure before, and I feel kind of crazy for putting myself on the line again, but I truly believe that the story is good and that it deserves one last chance to show me that. I may not sell a lot of copies or win over huge audiences, and I may be the only person in the world who loves this series, but honestly, that’s all that matters. If readers truly think it sucks, then I’m about to find out.
What does literary success look like to you?
It used to look like making the New York Times/USA Today bestseller lists, selling 50K copies of a book and making crazy money. When it looked like that, though, I was miserable. I found myself comparing my success to others and I was never good enough. Now, it looks like loving what I do. Writing what I love. Having some stranger reach out to me and say, “Hey, I loved that book”. It looks like being unafraid to fail and to try new things.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want people to look back at my body of work and say, “Wow! How the hell did we miss that?”. I want them to see that I believed that black people could live every type of life imaginable from billionaires to dragons to saviors and do it better than anyone could imagine.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m re-releasing my first dark fantasy series that I mentioned earlier; Of Gods & Shadows, Of Dark Creatures, and Of Doom & Light. I’m finishing up the fourth of my novellas in my black dragon series; Talos: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 2 (Eshe: The Fire Breathing Series, Book 1, Demir: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 1, and Oriana, The Fire Breathing Series, Book 2 are all available now). I have a total of 9 books planned for this series and I’ve fallen behind schedule. I’m working on revisions for a new novel “The Pearl of Dumpling” that I’m super excited about and hope to release later this year.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Website: https://www.jdmasonauthor.com Website:https://www.sistersanddragons.com/

KOBO BLACK FRIDAY SALE: The Best Is Yet To Come ON SALE!

The Kobo Black Friday Sale
is running
Friday, Nov 29th through Monday, Dec 2nd!

My short story collection, The Best Is Yet To Come is on SALE!

Click this link: www.kobo.com on Nov 29th for details and to pick up your copy and SAVE!
#writemind

Codename: Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Master Link List

Codename Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Banner

KNIGHT RANGER POSTER ART 2My blog tour in support of Codename: Knight Ranger launches Monday, 2 November 2015! Check out Seventh Star’s announcement here. This blog post will serve as the master list, and I’ll add live links to the each post as soon as I know they’ve gone up.

It’s going to be an exciting week and I hope you come back frequently to check it out.  I want to thank all of the book bloggers who volunteered to be a part of the fun.

The complete blog tour is as listed:

Monday, 2 November 2015
On Cloud Eight and a Half (Guest Post)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Author Interview with Pete Welmerink

Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Armand Rosamilia Guest Post
RJ Sullivan Top 5 Post
Book In The Bag Author Interview/Guest Post

Thursday, 5 November 2015
Darkling Delights Author Interview

Friday, 6 November 2015
Beauty in Ruins: Science vs Superstition, Military vs Monsters? (Guest Blog)
Sheila’s Blog (Guest Blog)
Bee’s Knees Reviews

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Please check in regularly to see the list fill in, and leave a comment below as the tour progresses and to let me know what you think.

Thanks & remember TBIYTC!!!