I didn't want to go into the New Year with resolutions or promises to do certain things better. I'm recovering from a stubborn bout of pneumonia from Thanksgiving weekend. A lot of things in December have had to slip to the wayside while I healed.
I'm not 100% recovered by any stretch the word (still coughing up mucus, though it's white now, yay). A lot more healing is in order for me to feel that 100%.
Due to a recent second round of antibiotics and a second round of mercifully strong steriods (energy to get up and walk to my living room, anyone?), I've been focusing on writing more. I wish to finish SINNER SHARPE, the snippets of which you can read in their snippet form on the blog or in longer-form on the newsletter.
It's transformed into something I wasn't expecting but I want to continue writing about it all the more. I've used my heritage (Trinidadian mother and Haitian father) to form these vampires. They're so different from anything I've written before. I was able to get past a roadblock in understanding exactly what these vampires were (their physical appearances, their movements. Their customs, why they are where they are now, and most importantly, how they feel about it (not happy).
It is fun, I will admit, to using my mother's dialect/patois to inform my vampires' speech. I've opted to write it out rather than tell the reader this character is speaking with a certain patois, Trinidadian Patois English, to be exact. I'm sure many of my readers may be familiar with Jamaican Patois--it's not too dissimilar to Trinidadian Patois, but there are some differences. Yet I hope those who read SINNER SHARPE when it's finally complete, can get by without too much confusion.
I'm choosing, with this round of storytelling, to dive into 'harder topics,' and things I want to write about. I want to give my worlds more nuance, my characters more stakes, and hopefully more heart. I write for everyone but I cannot deny my experiences--Black experiences--are what have shaped me and should shape my writing. I'm adamant about this because of the erasure of my Black characters in THE DARK WORLD series by white readers.
The amount of white readers who would reach out to me, excitedly, mind you, that they loved Damion (pictured left) or Darien Nicodemeus and then would invariably tell me (or show me fanart) that they're white when I specifically expressed both Vampires were dark-skinned, drove me up the wall eventually.
It was then I understood what some other Black authors would talk about on my Twitter timeline: White people don't understand dark-skinned in the way I meant it and most other nonwhite writers would mean it. They mean it as 'tanned' or they just ignore it, making the character what they want them to be in their head. Which, fair, someone's headcanon doesn't interrupt the work already done--except when they would take to Twitter and tag me in posts where they would show all my characters in a video game or some such and they'd all be white.
If you tag an author sending praise, that's great. If you tag an author sending praise with erroneous images of their characters, that seems to be another story. I remember one reader who was very excited about my books. She tagged me in a post where she'd made them all in The Sims, and I blanched and explained to her, nicely, that Damion and Darien weren't white. She apologized--it was awkward (the whole situation)--and deleted the tweet.
I never heard from her again. All praise, all excitement for my series, seemed to be gone. And that (and another two times) was when I decided, I wouldn't talk to readers (at length anyway) about THE DARK WORLD series, at least. There always seems to be such praise for the first book (followed by a strange insistence on telling me what should happen in the next when it's been completed for years), and once I respond with that very obvious statement, it's like I've killed their buzz.
That's when I realized people don't want to interact with artists, painters, writers...etc. out of respect for our craft or true excitement for our work (at least, not all of them do), but they want (and this just may be the younger crowd, or a crowd with hyper fixation [not a bad thing in and of itself]) us to make the art they want to see (or think they want to see). Not, unfortunately, the art that's already been or being made. And once that's made clear--that we're making the art we want/need to make, they run off as though scalded.
I have to thank that reader that made my characters in The Sims. She pushed me to want to make the Blackest work I possibly could. It's why my next three works-in-progress are all centered on Black main characters. So there can no longer be any confusion over which character is Black or not white.
SINNER SHARPE is about a mercenary who works for his handler, Member of the Tergine Magical Council, Yessup Rowe. A last mission for a million pieces of gold, find Sinner and his crew heading to a cursed land that people seem to forget. They're battling sea monsters, brainwashed crewmembers, and strange, terrifying creatures with bat-like wings and numerous rows of fangs. And those aren't the only strange things happening. Sinner is changing, and he just might have to accept it. He needs to get revenge on the man that's sent him to his death--and monstrous rebirth, after all.
Genre: Gothic Horror/Historical Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
SYLVIA features a powerful Black witch who's come to New York to locate--and help--another magic user with a strong aura. Her search leads her straight to Tristian Volta, a lawyer for a Corporate law firm. They've just snagged a deal processing the transfer of a blood bank to a pharmaceutical company with ties to vampires. She hopes to protect Tristian and help him unlock his power before the vampires get to him first.
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Vanessa is the story of a Haitian servant working for a wealthy family in London in the 1800s. Her life is forever changed when a man of her skin shows up at the door one night. He tells her she owns the house she works in. Left with this cryptic message, she bids him farewell and continues her duties before succumbing to sleep. But sensing something is wrong, she leaves her bed and travels to the Lady of the House's chambers. Her visitor has been waiting for her. And he is determined to make her his.
Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary/Gothic
I'm really exciting to continue fleshing out these stories. And the response from my newsletter subscribers on the excerpts I've shared have been really incredible. It makes me think I can do this writing thing.
If I did have any goal for the New Year, it would be to finish up SINNER SHARPE. Then I'd like to move onto SYLVIA as that's practically finished. I just have to tweak some things in the story. VANESSA, I probably won't get to 'till later in the year or 2024 but that's okay. I take my time when I write (though I've gotten faster). I want each story to be as good as it can be.
If you've read this far, thank you.
I hope the first day of 2023 is going swimmingly.
I'm off to officially start it and get more writing done!
'Till next time,
With Blood and Love,