Saturday, December 14, 2013

Do the Twinja's have a separated at birth triplet? No! It's sci fi author Alicia McCalla!

Our introduction to this author came about when my sister and I began blogging. The book had three of my favorite things in a book: Sci-Fi elements, Interracial Romance and how could anyone ignore the amazingly beautiful book cover? This author is extremely dedicated to multiculturalism in Science Fiction and Fantasy and we love how we paints our worlds beyond"Black and White". 

Even though we missed an earlier opportunity to meet her in person; (this year when she spoke on The State of Black Science Fiction and Fantasy)We were lucky enough to catch up with her before the end of her busy year and are so happy to have gotten a chance to sit down and learn more about her. If any of you are fans of Genetically enhanced humans with hot blonde love interests, Read ahead! You'll want to know all about Alicia McCalla!

1. I am already a proud owner of your book "Breaking Free." But please Alicia, for those of us just finding out about you, can you introduce yourself? What can one expect with you as an author?

I’m so pleased that you have enjoyed Breaking Free! I’m excited about that series.  I can be best described as a writer on a mission.  Just like you all, I began my love of SciFi and Fantasy as a teenager. I couldn’t get enough of it until all of my friends and family members began to tease me. Then, it really wasn’t cool for a black girl in the hood to read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But I loved those books and all things dragons, too. LOL.  I even played Dungeons and Dragons, back in the day. As I grew older, I allowed other people to dictate my reading tastes. That really sucked. 

One day, I put my foot down and not only did I openly read SFF, I began to write it as well. The stories that I write usually have epic plots and unique characters. It’s my goal to desegregate FFP worlds and add people of color into the center of new universes.  Shrug. Maybe, I’ll take over the SFF world someday. Can you tell that I loved Pinky and the Brain?

2. I notice on Facebook you have a bit of friendly competition! Who are some of your favorite fellow authors?
I do. I have lots of writer buddies.  We have great discussions, blog tour together, and otherwise support each other. I have a cross section of SFF, YA, and Romance authors that are my close friends. I tend to have a diverse crowd of my sister friends such as Leanna Renee Hieber (Steampunk), Seressia Glass (Urban Fantasy), Jax Cassidy (Paranormal Romance), Kenya Wright (Urban Fantasy),  AD Koboah (Urban Fantasy), Nicole Kurtz (SFF), Deanna Zhollis (Horror/Fairy Tales) and Crystal Connor (Horror).  

I have so many writer buddies that I almost hate not mentioning them all.  I must give a shout out to my two favorite FB groups “State of Black SF” and “Reading in Black.”  Of course, my partners in crime are Delaney Diamond and Sharon C Cooper.  We are always cooking up something. LOL!

3. One thing I notice about the covers to your books are that the women are much darker than most books featuring Black women in SFF. I think I was lucky, colorism wasn't a big issue for me up until I turned 21. But it seemed as though after that, I became most people's reference for what was dark skinned. When that happened, I began to realize my image was virtually invisible. The covers to your books weren't something I had growing up, so I have to ask, do you choose your covers? Is there a process you go about your covers?

Luckily, I have always chosen my own covers. Even when I worked with Heart Ally Books, I was excited to get to develop the cover ideas.  I can’t say I have a process. I just try to pick images that suit the characters in my story and then I hand them over to my cover designer who works her magic.
That was the one thing that I noticed, that darker skinned women were invisible. I remembered reading an article about Octavia Butler some years ago where she talked at length about her characters and the images that were portrayed on the covers. Then, and now there are some publishers that still believe that placing a darker skinned person on a SFF cover will reduce the sales. It’s a shame. Readers of the genre always comment on how beautiful my covers are and how they wished that there were more images like these. That makes me proud.
4. I read an interesting post on your blog about feeling ostracized for loving Science Fiction as a kid. I can't deny that I'd always felt the same way. It was just something that wasn't conventional in a Black-Cuban home. It's finally something I find that my family have accepted about me, but was there something you got from Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal themed stories?

Yup. The chance to grow my vivid imagination. The opportunity to dream big and then move on to another universe.  As a librarian, it is neat for me to see my students fall in love with a good SFF book.  They already live the everyday life but “eyes” light up when they can view a societal problem from a different perspective.  These stories help to engage a side of the brain that deals with curiosity, problem solving, and imagination. These are all abilities that need to be nurtured in the homes of minorities and people of color. 

5. It seems as though the industry is slowly changing in the book world. There used to be only a few notable authors who wrote SFF to reflect a world most people live in(I won’t count those people who live under rocks :p). But there are still times when covers are whitewashed, or houses won’t back a book that features a character who is not biracial(generally a cop-out to forgo doing any research). Do you think the issues lie in the readership or the gatekeepers in the publishing industry? Do you think there are effective ways to encourage more houses to back more diverse titles?

Well, my answer is “yes.”  Issues do lie with the readership and with the gatekeepers.  This is why I believe that we need a full active movement to make a significant change.  Readers need to be open to purchasing books with darker skinned people on the color, without pre-judging. Readers also need to participate in networks to help support their favorite authors by simply purchasing books, sharing their reading tastes with friends and family and by posting favorable reviews on distributor websites such as Amazon, iTunes, and other places. These are the new signs of 21st century activism in literature, film, and art.
The Publishing Gatekeepers are a whole other animal.  If the industry continues on the path that it’s on, well, it simply may not exist but for a few privileged authors.  It’s distressing for some but I believe the future belongs to indie and self-published authors. I believe that as traditional publishers begin to pick up the most successful indies, then there will be a diverse shift in the acquisition process.  It’s very hard to say.  There have been some successful diverse SFF series by the NY companies but even they’ve faced difficulties. We shall see how this all plays out within the next 5-10 years but I am hopeful that indie and self-publishing will usher in greater diversity in literature.
6. If you could create a dream team of your favorite fictional heroes and heroines(including one of your own)who would they be, and why would they click?

Lately, I’ve been thinking that I want to write a story about a female detective or an assassin. So for now, my favorite team would involve James Bond’s Jynx with the faerie abilities of Sookie Stackhouse. I don’t have a name for this character or a title but lately the story has been calling my name.  I also have a YA character who is non-traditional.  She’s an outlandish girl who happens to be a paranormal detective but she’s a little overweight and has an uncanny ability to push dead people’s buttons.  *Shrug*. My mind connects in mysterious ways. 
7. What is your favorite line from one of your books?

Funny as it may seem the first line of Breaking Free has always hung with me. That line came to me in a dream. “As red death jammed the IV needle into his arm, betrayal pierced his soul.”
8. Of all the worlds you've created, which is the one you'd like to live in the most (published or unpublished)and why?

 Oh, I do love all the worlds that I have created. It’s hard to select. A part of me would love to live in XJ’s world, especially to have some genetic enhancement, but I would also love living in the African throne palace with all of those African gods and goddesses. How cool would it be to hang out with Shango? Just sayin’…

9. Do you have a playlist of music you generally listen to, to get into the mood of writing? If so,give us a sample of this stellar music ;p

I’m a boring girl. When I write I usually listen to Mozart or water or some meditation tape with Alpha waves. LOL. Now, my running mix has all party music.  I usually run before I write to get the juices flowing. I love When Doves Cry, Wooble, It Takes Two, Cupid Shuffle, Blurred Lines, Too Close (Alex Clare), and Lights (Ellie Goulding). IKR?! But for some reason, partying before writing gets me going.
10. People are hooked! Please tell us where we can go to gain insight on your future titles, blog posts, or just everything and all things Alicia McCalla?

Alicia writes for both new adults and adults with her brand of multicultural urban fantasy, paranormal, romance, and horror. Her stories always include strong heroines who fight back, sometimes to the death. Alicia is an activist in the movement towards diversifying Science fiction and Fantasy (#diversityinSFF). She created the first "State of Black Science Fiction 2012" blog tour, is an active member in the State of Black Science Fiction FaceBook group and has a ScoopIt page where she actively curates topics related to Afrofuturism, Black Science Fiction, and Black Speculative fiction.  

Alicia is a native Detroit-er who currently resides in metro Atlanta.  She works as a media specialist or school librarian in a local school district. Alicia enjoys spending time with her husband and son. Sign-up on for e-updates, releases, sneak peeks, and coupons.


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