Are we on Day 12 already? Seems like it. Today's guest is totally bad-ass and absolutely amazing and the best part? She's amazingly Indie. Say what you want about Indie authors, but they'll always have a space on Twinja Book Reviews for their inclusion, something sometimes we don't feel like the traditional world isn't doing enough of. If you don't know Madhuri Blaylock, we hope with this next interview, you'll look her up and look into her work because we promise, she's got some awesome books in the works!
As a first timer on Twinja Book Reviews, you have to awkwardly introduce yourself to the whole class!
I’m that dope ass Indian girl everyone thinks is Black...or Spanish...or Black and Spanish. I’m from down South, have lived in the New York City area for more than twenty years, and am proof that you can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl. No matter how badly she might try to shake it.
I was that girl in high school who rocked a Laura Ashley dress with her Doc Martens. I’m that girl today who walks into the office in my Boden and Frye boots.
I love Old Scout bourbon, french fries, tattoos, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, my mom’s Indian food, Friday Night Lights, coffee, and Martha’s Vineyard. I can wiggle my ears, flare my nostrils, and curl my tongue.
I am an introvert who can fool people into thinking I am an extrovert, all the while wishing I was home alone, not having to speak to a soul, lost in a fantastical world of my own creation. I would happily travel the world with my girlfriend, Emily, confident in the fact we would spend hours in silence, fully comfortable in our introverted skin.
As the great Charles Bukowski said, I write because it comes bursting out of me. I cannot stop it, nor do I want to.
I do other things to pay the bills.
What can you tell us about your journey as a published author? Has it been a difficult journey, or happy one?
The first time around that I did this, the world was such a different place and my experience was horrendous. It was 1999, I lost tons of money to unscrupulous book store owners, the Indie movement was not what it is today, and by 2003 I was beaten and defeated and just kind of went back into myself, stopped writing, and focused on living my life.
Then a few years ago some ideas started percolating in my head and I grabbed a notebook, something I had not done in years, and started jotting down notes. I had a very distinct idea about Dev and for a long time, I just spent time thinking about her, feeling her out and giving her life. Then came Wyatt, Ryker, Jools, and the Founding Families of The Sanctum. I spent time world-building and then finally told myself, sh*t or get off the pot. I did not want to die and be that girl with a ton of notebooks full of ideas. Once I started writing, it just flowed. Like madness. And it hasn’t stopped since.
So this go ‘round my journey has been much more than just happy, it’s been positively life-affirming. Friends tell me I’m a different person these days, my husband says I have a glow. It’s really the most amazing thing that’s happened to me in a while.
What genres do you write in? What draws you to the genres you like writing in? Do you plan on ever breaking outside of those genres?
I’ve written in the young adult and paranormal genres and have to say I love them both, although given my druthers, I’ll take paranormal any day. Mostly because I love writing about anything magical. I love the freedom of creating my own characters, worlds and the like.
Then again, there is something about the poignancy of young adulthood that has always struck a chord with me. I spent a lot of time volunteering with kids and I have to say, I’ve always come back to the teenagers. It’s this point in life where you’re sitting on the cusp and everything, and I mean everything, is just so important and real and brutal and crazy. I love it. Nothing screams emotion like a teenager. You cannot beat it and when you write it, and write it honestly, you also never forget it, which I think is vital. We should never forget that passion we felt as a young adult - if we can hold onto some of it, I think it can fuel greatness.
Do I plan on breaking out of either of these genres? Sometimes I think I could write some really good erotica, but then I think long and hard (no pun intended...haha) about it and I think I would get so bored so fast. I would much rather leave that to the CD Reiss’ and Lauren Blakely’s of the world.
Maybe a little dystopic fantastical romance...
Let's talk about diversity. That's the central focus of our blog, so it's unavoidable. Did you read diversely before you became a writer? If not, what were some of the breaking points for you, to feature diversity in your writing?
Once I learned there were diverse books out there, hell yes I read diversely. And this might sound crazy to you, but honestly until I came to Barnard, I had no idea there were diverse authors out there, writing all kinds of magic for kids like me. Sure, I knew of the Walkers and Morrisons of the world, but outside of them, my knowledge was pretty limited. College and New York City opened up a whole new world for me. I discovered Zora Neale Hurston, a Barnard alumna herself, and from there I was like a woman starved. I read everything I could get my hands on, from Morrison, Naylor, and Gaines to Marquez, Amado, and Rushdie. I spent years reading nothing but authors of color because for so long my reading had been anything but diverse.
Now, thankfully, I am a bit more balanced, but wow! what an experience it was, discovering characters with brown skin and curly, black hair, full lips and sexy thighs.
That said, I still believe there is a horrible dearth of diversity out there for ourselves and our children. It’s why a lot of my friends and I do what we do and are forced to do it Indie - because mainstream publishing is still whitewashing everything and if you believe in your work and the beauty of your diverse characters and stories and book covers, then you wind up working outside the parameters of the traditional. It sucks but it is what it is.
I hope one day the stories out there will encompass ALL of our stories, but until then, I’m happy to keep doing me.
Do you think diversity in books is present enough as of yet? Is there anything we could be doing more of to ensure diverse lit reaches the hands of those who seek them?
Oh god, not at all. There are pockets of interest, of unrest, and I feel like tremendous lip service is being paid to diversifying our bookshelves right now. It’s the conversation on everyone’s tongue. And then, just like that, the good vibes are shattered and you’re brought back to reality. Right when you feel you’re in the midst of the zeitgeist and are going to witness the winds of change, you have some idiot like Daniel Handler who comes along and ruins Jacqueline Woodson’s moment with his racist jokes and you just have to shake your head and wonder: will it ever change?
So no, there is by NO means enough diversity in traditional publishing. And if they think there is, they are kidding themselves. If they think donating some money to We Need Diverse Books is going to accomplish some great feat, they are so wrong.
In the meanwhile, you have the Indie world, where diversity is the name of the game. We are living it, celebrating it, embracing it, reveling in it. You want diversity, come find us because we’re doing it and have been doing it for a damn long time.
Sorry if I sound a little chest-thumpy right about now, but this is an issue close to my heart, that really gets my blood pumping.
Have any moments stood out for you as a published author? What has been your proudest moment?
Like any published author, I love five star reviews, but I also am proud of the moments I received horrible reviews, one stars or that one did-not-finish, understood them, and then moved past them. They are brutal, because your books are your babies, your blood, sweat, and tears on that page, out there for the world to either love or hate, but the one stars are as necessary as the fives because they teach you to buck up, grow some thick skin, and keep it moving.
I also quite enjoyed getting fangirled. It happened once and I whole-heartedly welcome it again.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Well, right now I’m finishing The Sanctum Trilogy, writing what I anticipate to be the last fifth of Book III: The Prophecy. I’m dilly-dallying and I’m sure subconsciously that’s because I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Dev and Wyatt. For the most part, I’ve completed Jools’ and Ryker’s storylines and probably also Darby’s. But Dev and Wyatt are major for me and I just hit the beginning of the end for them and I’m stalling.
That said, I must admit that I am already prepping my next series. Am I a total whore? Maybe.
I was writing a blog post about the first time I rode an elephant and as soon as I wrote the first sentence of the post, I knew it was going to be the opening line of my new series. It was such a crazy moment for me as a writer, totally exhilerating. From that sentence, all of the sudden this woman took shape in my mind and I started jotting down tons of notes about her, her backstory, her main story, and her possible love interest. I have no idea what I’m going to call the series or its exact genre, but it’s a start and I really can’t ask for much more.
I also intend to write a trilogy on my vampire, Darby Winthrop. She’s got a great story, wrapped up in the Civil War and the Underground Railroad, an epic love story with a Shifter, and a future with her recently-turned lover. All of her storylines are touched upon in The Sanctum Trilogy, but never delved into in detail. I think it’ll be great fun to live Darby’s life for a while. She’s a sexy, ballsy badass and totally worthy of her own trilogy.
Finally, where can readers go to get updates on blog posts, book releases, twitter, or anything else Madhuri Blaylock?
I love blogging, so you can always find me on my blog at www.madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com. Otherwise, like any good Indie author, I’m always doing my social media thing. Here’s a few places to find me:
About the Author:
Madhuri is a Jersey City Heights girl via Snellville, Georgia, who writes paranormal fiction and is slightly infatuated with tattoos, four-inch heels, ice cream, Matt Damon, scotch, Doc Martens, Laini Taylor, photo booths and dancing like a fool.
She's currently working on The Sanctum trilogy and hopes one day soon, everyone is walking around with a copy of The Girl in their pocket or on their Kindle.
She wants to get a goat and a burro, but since she lives in the city, will settle for some chickens.
To learn more about her, you can follow her blog at @Madhuri Blaylock , follow her on Twitter at @ Madhuri Blaylock and why stop there?like her on Facebook at @ Madhuri Writes
She's totally chatty so drop her a line any time.
Don't forget to enter our giveaway, all the prizes come from many of the authors visiting on our diversity month including a Kindle Fire for all you ebook lovers!a Rafflecopter giveaway