We're almost to the end of the week, but the response for the event has become overwhelming, to accommodate everyone we will post on a few weekends too =)
Our next guest we've seen on Twitter here and there, but it wasn't until yesterday's guest hosted her Colors in Darkness event that we got the chance to know her work more.
For those looking to diversify you Paranormal Romance, look no further =D
Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Eight:
Author Kai Leakes
Thank you for stopping by the blog! Why don't you introduce yourself to readers!
Greetings and Hello everyone!
I'm happy to introduce myself as Kai Leakes. I am the baddest *kidding*, sappy, blerd around and I happen to also be a writer of Speculative Fiction and romance. Namely, fantasy, romance, and paranormal works. I am the author of Sin Eaters Devotion Book Series, it’s behind the book short follow-up Rebel Guardians: Sin Eaters Chronicles Book One, current short stories - Love, Lies, and Pleasure: A Brothers of Kemet Story (Romance) and Free Your Mind (a cyberpunk short).
I am from the Midwest, namely St. Louis, Missouri. I gained an addiction to books at an early age.
What can you tell us about your journey being an author?
My journey as a author was nothing but luck I feel. Due to the fact that, books were my love, writing out my imaginative stories didn't start until late in life due to my desire to see myself reflected in the pages of books I read. Sharing impromptu vibrant romance story tales with my cousins as a teen, writing books didn't seem like something I would pursue until one day in college.
My first story was a historical romance that I lost. I later, years later after graduating, ended up writing a epic fantasy, in a alternative world where magic was born to save the world. I really wrote it to test myself and see if I could create a story and I happily did. However, that gem is so raw that I'm keeping to myself to tweak it for later. Eventually from there, I ended up creating Sin Eaters and I've been procrastinating and writing ever since.
Outside of writing small stories for myself, I honestly can say that the real fire put in my belly with it, didn't happen until I started writing fan fiction with a friend I met on our favorite author, L.A. Banks website. If the site was still up, you guys could have seen some of the work we did, but so far its gone from the web.
It felt natural to me to create those stories funny enough. I loved it and always looked forward to what I could include to the thread.
What can you tell us about your experience growing up?
Growing up, I gravitated to all things fantasy. The only books that I recall in those genres that had clear diversity was, Babysitter Club. I could not find anything in the genres I like that reflected me and I used to look for it. Which was disappointing and had me mentally changing characters to reflect my world.
How can we make the conversation about diversity where it needs to be?
I think the conversation about diversity is going exactly where it needs to go. It's growing and becoming louder and I am here for it. I crave to see diversity become the default instead of what it is now because frankly, it's annoying and not reflective of the real world. Especially in the US. I crave to see more faces of color on book covers in fantasy and romance. I also crave to see those faces in on screen. I need to see our lives shown and shown how we love and that we don't ALWAYS seek the approval or love of the default as media always tries to make it appear. Especially when using POC's as tokens.
I mean hello! POC are abundantly living in the cities, these speculative fiction/fantasy/comic books that are on TV and movies and being read based. Yet, we are never shown, but in a wink of the eye.
Above all of that, I crave to see more writers of color (who write speculative fiction/fantasy and romance) in the forefront being celebrated, best-sellers and giving major publishing and movie deals!
What has been your favorite character to create and why?
This is a hard one, I have two.
Khamun and The Medusa. Two polar opposites in the battle of good and evil are my favorite characters to have created. Khamun started out as nothing but a voice to me, the Attacker. That's all I knew him as when I created his intro chapter. If you've read Sin Eaters multiple times, I know that my readers can tell that the intro chapter is my favorite. It was so descriptive that you could feel your self in his world, in his mind and seeing what makes him tick.
Khamun is my body boy hero. Not classically sexy, but handsome and alluring. His temper and duty to protecting us while being an outcast, makes me care for him so much. I also enjoy connecting with his prowess and crafting his fighting scenes.
Now, another one who fires me up in the same with with fighting is The Medusa. This woman is a powerhouse who happens to be the object of a incredible evil force and has no qualms about it as far as the reader knows. I love jumping in her mind and discovering many different things about who she is and her complexities. But above all of that, I enjoy watching her toy with her targets and toy with those she hates, which is the Light.
Why do you write the types of books you write, and do you plan diversifying genres in the future?
I love writing paranormal romance because that's what I grew up reading in a sense. I gravitated to Bram Stoker, RL Stine's Fear Street, Anne Rice, then in the mix was Babysitters Club and whatever tawdry historical romances I could get my hands on.
It all shaped me into who I am today. As a young child then, I imagine myself as the characters. Changing their color, their shape, hair etc. It got to the point where I couldn't do that anymore. It was that, which lead me to creating y own stories and why I purposely chose to shape my stories around who I wanted and needed to see in stories. So the plan to diversifying genres was always there and I have. I've stepped into contemporary romance and Cyberfunk for the first time. I'm also, stepping into the world of Steampunk for the first time.
Who is your favorite Book Bae?
My sexy Jag-were in L.A. Banks Vampire Series. I can't give you the name because I forgot it. Sad, I know. But, he was fineeeeeeeeeeeeee! and a good guy. Oh and a shape-shifting jaguar. I mean, hello!
If you can have any superpower or supernatural ability, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superpower, I'd have a combo of Storm and The Phoenix's power. I want to protect my mind from mind readers. Move things with my mind. Have a tiny bit of strength. Fly or teleport and use fire or lightning if I wanted.
Can you see that I'm a little super power greedy? LOL.
What is the book that have the biggest impact on you and why?
L.A. Banks Vampire Huntress Series. The impact was that not only did she have a book of vampires and bad-taz fighters, but, they were all of color! The lead was a sista with dreadlocks, dark skin and not model vixen typed. Then above all of that, the man who loved/needed her was a fine darker toned Latino brotha! I absolutely loved it.
What type of advice can you give to those starting out?
My journey as an emerging writer and stepping into the role of author has been rewarding but difficult. Learning how to take the steps to tighten my writing and create a plan in marketing myself continues to be a struggle. But with having a foundation under you and a support network around you, becoming a writer can be a great adventure. So my advice is write and trust in yourself!
Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?
You can find me here:
Thank you and remember, “The Light Always Prevails.”
Born in Iowa, but later relocating and raised in Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was an imaginative Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. The art of imagination was the very start of Kai’s path of writing which lead her to creating the Sin Eaters: Devotion Books Series.
Since a young child, her love for creating, vibrant romance and fantasy driven mystical tales, continues to be a major part of her very DNA. With the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world, Kai Leakes hopes to continue to reach out to those who love the same fantasy, paranormal, romantic, sci/fi, and soon, steampunk driven worlds that shaped her unique multi-faceted and diverse vision.