1. A blogging buddy of mine turned me onto your writing because I was looking for more books with more African American heroines in YA books, but for those who aren't familiar with you why don't you tell our readers a bit about yourself!
Thank you Guinevere and Libby for having me here today! And hello to everyone reading this!
My name is Phenice Arielle. I'm a native New Yorker who studied journalism at the Pennsylvania State University.
From there I went on to work as a freelance journalist, and had the opportunity to interview a lot of cool people like Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Dwayne Wade and others.
But my real creative potential began being fostered when I got into writing and creating music. After a nomination for one of my songs, I built up the nerve to use my creative writing to get into the world of epic storytelling. Thus was born my first full length novel!
2. What is your book about and what inspired it?
It’s interesting you ask that.
I was watching a 60 Minutes special on one of the unfortunate conflicts in Africa, about the creation of child soldiers. There was an additional report discussing poaching, and the use of ivory as a form of currency among armed rebel forces.
I knew I wanted to do something creatively regarding some of the tragedies that have befallen different regions in Africa long before I saw that report. So I think I just started imagining different scenarios for freedom and peace, but in a sort of underground railroad type of way.
I also wanted to write something that could be enjoyed by tweens, teens and adults alike. Something just as entertaining and obsessive as books such as the Twilight series. So I made sure to start the book off with a strong school love interest, and lots of angst.
The Phoenix Rising - Destiny Calls is really about the sacrifices we're all capable of making to help others.
That's why we follow a NYU journalism student named Kay, who begins having dreams about a lush jungle in the middle of Africa. She doesn’t know why she keeps dreaming about it, or why she keeps dreaming about engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the woman with the ivory dagger who wishes Kay death. But when Kay wins a school trip to South Africa, and her dream world begins to bleed into her actual reality, Kay is forced to leave everyone she loves, including the handsome co-ed Callum, to do something about the horrors she now knows exist.
3. What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in writing a novel, especially ones that involve multicultural themes?
I’d definitely say do your research. Know what you want to talk about, and then create an outline you can build and expand upon; line by line.
When writing with multicultural themes, I’d recommend engaging in conversation with as many individuals from that culture as you can, even if you are a part of that culture! Everyone has his or her own perspective on the same topics, and that can cause you to go down unexpected writing roads!
4. Describe your main protagonist Kay in less than 7 words!
Kay has unrealized potential, yet becomes fierce!!!
5. How important was it for you to make your main protagonist, Kay, a person of color?
Kay in many ways is the essence of me, and I am a person of color. It would have been untruthful to make her anything other than what I am myself.
6. We talk a lot about diversity and multiculturalism on our blog, and I've talked a lot about it together in the past. How important do you find incorporating multiculturalism and diversity in your writing?
I wouldn’t have written this book if it wasn’t for the cultural aspects of the theme. The love story and the coming of age themes are of course storylines that anyone can relate to, but in and of themselves, they’ve been done already. It was finding a storyline that was just as relatable, if even only in our ability to feel for another human being who we would have otherwise thought we didn’t share anything in common with that interested me.
7. What do you wish you saw more in YA, fantasy and science fiction novels?
I would love to see more representation of the world as it actually is. I would like to see the beauty, the perseverance and most importantly the intelligence of people of color in all novels, particularly in YA.
It troubles me when the only person of color in an American novel seems to be the only character in the book that doesn't speak proper English. For some reason, this has been used as a defining characteristic of the character in that book.
The sole character of color is usually a care taker or a maid. Those are both beautiful professions; but in its exclusivity, it’s an extremely limited depiction of reality. So yes, more reality in novels would be nice. Reality and beauty.
8. What were some of your favorite books growing up?
Oh, is Spaghetti Day is by far my absolute favorite children's book! It’s about a cat named Catrina who throws a spaghetti dinner party for her kitty friends when her owner leaves the house.
But my favorite stories, however, were the ones my dad would create and tell me before bed. He’s always been incredibly creative, and would encourage me to create the stories with him. We actually plan to release one of the many children’s stories that we came up with when I was in kindergarten.
9. What are your plans for Kay, Callum and all the other characters involved in The Phoenix Rising?
Oh boy! Well, there will be two more books in The Phoenix Rising series (after Destiny Calls).
Through these books, the relationship between Kay and Callum will grow. However, after the last page in Destiny Calls, life will become intensely more complicated for every single character.
There will be graduations, family revelations, and even breakups. There will be more epic adventures and the caring characters of both worlds will be forced to put their lives on the line for others, as well as for each other.
I can honestly say that what happens to everyone in books two and three will definitely keep readers on their toes!
I also made sure to include helpful clues in the preface and on page 481 of Destiny Calls as to what some of the complications are that Kay will face in the sequel.
And, such as in life, by the conclusion of the series, we will painfully lose at least two characters that we’ve grown to love. It’ll be difficult, but then again, so can life. I think the important part will be the lessons we learn along the way, and learning to grow through adversity.
Lastly, we’ll learn answers to some of the questions that were raised in the first book. Depending on how closely the reader paid attention to the stories that each character told, some major questions will be answered, and revelations will be realized in each of the following books.
10. Tell potential readers where they can get in contact with you and keep updated on what's to come in the future!
All of you wonderful readers can chat with me on Twitter @PheniceArielle, visit me on Facebookhttp://www.
ThePhoenixRisingDestinyCalls , or message me through my website's contact form:http://www.ThePhoenixRisingBoo k.com !
Enter to win her book "The Phoenix Rising-Destiny Calls" in our massive October giveaway!