So this last week has been something of a publicity blitz for me. I was interviewed by Alicia McCalla for her blog here. Then I was on The WREK, an Atlanta based radio station, with Milton Davis and Sharon Robinson. (You can listen to that conversation here.) Both of these opportunities arose from my participation in Alien Encounters: Black Sci-Fi of the Diaspora.
In having these conversations, I have had to think more consciously about the ways that I talk about things like African American experience in my novel and in my series. I have written here about how the most important culture in my novels is the Panterian culture that I am creating. What I did not say is that as I envision this culture, it is not a solely African and African diaspora based culture.
As I have been talking about writing fantasy, as a black woman, the question and the expectation does come up about how my fiction taps into a uniquely African American experience…and in a way, the answer is that it does not. At least not so explicitly as to reference histories of slavery, civil rights movement, or any of the other sort of touchstones of African American experience that readily come to mind.
I don’t talk much about my other life on this blog and really at all in promotion of my book, but in my other life, I think about these ideas all of the time. In my other life, I write heavily about issues of race and African American experience among other things. I read so many wonderful books where certain aspects of African American experiences are the focus. Though I never really consciously though about it, this might be why these things are less enunciated, if you will, in my fiction writing, because I see, already, so many wonderful works of fiction that focus on and draw from those kinds of experiences. And I wanted to tell another kind of story.
Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely there. Each time I read my book, I see some new way in which my other life and my other writing has crept into my fiction project. My characters lives reflect one type of contemporary African American experience, but it is nothing like the stereotypical expectation of what that looks like. There are allusions to things like the civil rights movement and slavery-but they are just allusions and are far from the defining forces of Nate and Larissa’s realities. There are other interesting ways that the concepts emerge. But it is subtle because–ultimately–my books are about Panterians or Kulan–and that is the culture that makes Nate and Larissa who they are.