Words of Wisdom
What inspired you to write your book?
I've always been obsessed with fantasy, and stories about vampires and witches were my favorites. I loved the show True Blood and how it created this world where vampires and humans were uneasy bedfellows. As a millennial, I was also a huge fan of the witchy, female badassery of shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and of course the movie The Craft. It is also an unfortunate fact that the 2016 election inspired me to write and highlight a lot of the effects of "us vs them", scapegoating mentalities could have. I thought, why not tell this story but with my favorite fantasy elements and with a largely Black cast of characters, because I'd seen and read too many stories where the main magical character is white.
What is your writing process like?
As the daughter of a meticulous project manager, I've always prioritized organization before starting anything. I research and outline my work, even my blogs before I do any writing. This helped tremendously with To Astera, With Love because of how layered the world building had to be - there's Mercury's story, there's the magic system (which was so fun to research and make my own, because it didn't make sense to me that Black witches would be strictly practicing Euro-centric magic), and then there are the things happening in the world outside of Mercury including the politics.
How many hours a day do you write?
It varies. I've learned that being an indie author is as much about being a business person as it is a writer. I spend, not equal parts marketing and writing, but I certainly make time for both in my day. That means that some days I write for 3+ hours, and other days I get 25 minutes in. I also try to prioritize self-care, so there are days when I may not write at all and that's ok. Rest is an important part of the process, too.
What does literary success look like to you?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to get on Tomi Adeyemi's level. However, the times I've felt the most successful thus far are when people have told me that they really connected with my work. So I'd love for more of that to happen - more people just interacting with my work and reading To Astera, With Love and vibing with what I've put into the world.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Pushing through the "writer's block." When I was younger I'd let it rule me and wouldn't write for months. Then I realized that I was either feeling this way because of self-doubt or because the idea still had to percolate in my brain. So in those moments, I try to get myself together and think about why I'm feeling that way. Then I give myself a pep talk, put on either Donna Summer or Megan Thee Stallion, and work on something else.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me, always.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be patient, be kind to yourself, and don't compare your journey to others.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For this series, and for the next book I've got planned, I've been doing a lot of research on magic, history, gods, and goddess of different cultures, and politics. I spend a few weeks researching as I am outlining my work.
What advice do you have for other Black writers?
Don't shrink yourself to make others comfortable. Our stories are valid and they deserve to be told. Also, find other Black authors to connect with. This industry is hard whether you're indie or you decide to go traditional. Having people in your corner who relate to you both as a writer and as a Black person is essential.
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