Black Authors

Can you name one fantasy book written by a black author?

Don’t feel bad if the answer is no because I (a black aspiring fantasy author) can’t name a single one. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I can’t name a black author who has written something that was outside the realm of African American fiction or nonfiction. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who is like this, regardless of their race.

As an aspiring author and a black person, the question is always lurking in the back of my mind: Do I have to write about African American subjects to be a notable author?

Think about some of the great black writers. Maya Angelou wrote about black issues. Toni Morrison wrote about black issues. Ralph Ellison wrote about black issues. They wrote about other topics, but they are known for what they wrote about black culture.

I’m certainly not condemning them for writing what they did because the world needed to be exposed to the subjects they wrote about. However, I don’t just want to write about black culture! I have definitely written short stories about being black, and I do plan on getting them published some day. But my favorite genre to write about is the fantasy genre.

As crazy as it seems in the 21st century, if I or some other black author writes a great fantasy book that people love, we won’t be just another talented writer. We’ll be that black fantasy writer. We won’t be known for how good our book is as much as we’ll be known for how we broke racial barriers in fiction writing.

Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be just an author. There will always be “black” attached to anything I write.

My Issues with Realistic Fiction

If you regularly read my blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t really dabble in realistic fiction. I don’t focus this blog on fiction with people and events that could conceivably happen. I’ve passed over some great books simply because there wasn’t an element of magic, sci-fi, or horror. I don’t even like mystery books if they involve realistic events. I’ll only read a book without a supernatural or futuristic aspect to it if it’s historical fiction, which I love.

I guess when I really think about it, I just don’t like reading about reality.

I’ve got nothing against real life, but it can be so boring at times. I wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, hang out for a few hours, and then go to bed. Why on earth would I want to read a book that reminds me of that routine? If I’m reading a book that takes place in the 21st century United States, I’m always thinking in the back of my head, “Do I really want to spend my free time reading about something I can actually experience?”

I’m not saying realistic fiction is crap because it’s not. I’m just saying it doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’ve always been the type of person who looks for an escape. When I’m stressed out, I don’t want to read a book that reminds me of my reality. I want to be taken as far away from my reality as possible. I’d rather think about the adventures of the dragonriders of Pern (Anne McCaffrey. Look her up!) than think about my long day at work. I’d rather read about a witch’s struggles with her vampire husband (All Souls Trilogy) than think about my own relationship status.

Magic, futuristic technology, outer space, supernatural horror, and dystopian societies are so much more fun to read about. I just don’t think I’ll ever be the type of person who enjoys reading a book where ever single event could actually happen.

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

I’ve been wanting to read the Artemis Fowl series since I was in middle school. Now as a 24-year-old, I’m finally getting around to reading it. All I can say is that I wish I had discovered these books sooner.

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com
Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old self-proclaimed evil genius. He definitely has the genius part down, but as you read the book, you start to doubt how evil he actually is. His goal in life is to somehow restore the Fowl fortune and their criminal empire, and he turns to the elusive fairy world to get it.

The interesting thing about the fairies in this book is that they aren’t the typical Tinker Bell fairies. From the way I understood it, “fairies” is kind of a catch-all term for a number of mystical creatures (elves, dwarves, goblins, etc.) who lived underground and didn’t trust the Mud Men (humans.) Artemis’ plan is to use the fairies’ sacred book in order to make his millions.

People who know me know that I rarely use a phrase like this, but Artemis Fowl is an absolute delight to read! I’m not kidding. I read it in less than a week, and I enjoyed it so much!

As you read, you grieve with Artemis as he watches his mother suffer from some sort of mental illness. You are genuinely impressed at how calm and calculating he is, even though he’s just a kid. You mourn whenever Artemis’ bodyguard and faithful friend, Butler, or Butler’s little sister Juliet get into danger. And you look forward to the moments when his seemingly tough personality is cracked to remind you that he’s only 12.

I was definitely rooting for him to succeed because who doesn’t love an evil boy genius??, But it’s impossible to hate his adversaries, the fairies. Julius Root is hilarious as a typical police chief type character, and Holly Short is so spunky and determined that I hope she returns for the sequels. And the centaur Foaly’s constant snide remarks are especially funny when Root overhears them.

Eoin Colfer’s writing style for this book was great. You feel like he’s in the room with you, telling you the story out loud. There are so many clever little jokes in the book that I just don’t think I would have appreciated as a middle school student. I’m reading another book right now, but after that, I’m definitely going to start book 2, The Arctic Incident.

Writing Prompt: Starbucks

This writing prompt comes from the wonderful world of Reddit. It’s amazing the kind of stuff you can find on there…

A Starbucks Barista has given you a Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino with soy instead of a Caffè Vanilla Light Frappuccino with non fat milk. Make this as tragic, heart-wrenching and miserable as possible.

It’s funny how a last day on earth is the same whether you’re sick or scheduled for a lethal injection. In my case, I’m sick, dying to be precise. The doctor has given me about a week…about six days ago. I’ve been holed up in this hospital bed, feeling my body weaken, counting down the seconds of life.

My wife cried. My mom cried. My dad cried. My siblings, cousins, niece, nurse…they’ve all cried. I cried with them.

But now I’m done with crying. Now all I want to do is enjoy my last day on earth as much as I can. I want Starbucks, specifically a Caffè Vanilla Light Frappuccino with nonfat milk.

Back before I got sick, I used to have a Caffe Vanilla Light Frappucino with nonfat milk every single day before I went to work at my law firm. It was the best way to start each day working at my dream job. I had it all back then…now I have hours.

It took some doing, but I’ve convinced the doctor to let my wife and me go out to Starbucks. I remember striding into my local Starbucks dressed in an expensive suit. People, specifically women, used to stare. Now everyone stares at the withered man in the wheelchair.

“What can I getcha?” the chipper barista asks.

“A Caffe Vanilla Light Frappucino,” my wife says, trying to sound chipper herself.

“With nonfat milk,” I put in.

“Certainly,” the barista (Her name is Tiffy…not Tiffany…Tiffy.) says. She gives me a sympathetic look. It’s like I’m dying or something.

We go to a table and wait. I look at my wife, who is trying not to look at me. I remember when we used to compete to tell the best work story. I remember when it was a race to see who could get promoted at their job first. I remember when we had our entire lives together to look forward to.

Now she won’t have anyone to compete with. I reach out for her hand, and she jerks it away because she has to wipe her eyes.

I’m helpless. I can’t work. I can’t be with my wife. And if the doctor is right, I can’t live to see a new week. There is only thing in my life that I have control of anymore: a Caffe Vanilla Light Frappucino with nonfat milk.

“Here you go!” Tiffy comes bouncing over.

“For you, ma’am, a passion iced tea lemonade.”

“And for you, sir, a Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino with soy.”

I stare at this foreign drink in front of me. Of course. Of course I can’t even get my favorite drink correct on the day I’m probably going to die.

“Um…that’s not what he…” my wife begins.

“It’s perfect, Tiffy,” I cut in. “It won’t kill me to try something new.”

Sites to Follow: The Millions

So I decided to start a new category about other sites. One of the best ways to learn how to be a good blogger is to follow popular blogs and websites. My first recommendation is The Millions.

The Millions is an online magazine, and it’s pretty amazing! They have tons of book reviews and essays, and they’re really good about linking to other websites. I think that’s important.

To me, the best feature on the site is the Lists page. As a Type A person, I am in love with lists! I make lists to make lists! This section of the site provides lists for writing tips, books genres, book recommendations, etc. I got a little overwhelmed just thinking about all the lists I could read. I had to calm myself down😉.

Here’s a list of Kindle tips that I thought was pretty cool: http://www.themillions.com/2014/12/a-2014-cheat-sheet-for-all-you-new-kindle-and-other-ereader-owners.html

Anyway, I would definitely recommend following The Millions. I think it’s a great resource whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both.

Any blog recommendations for me?