Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Two: Interview with @BlkGirlMagicMag + #giveaway

So it gives us immense pleasure to introduce our next guest. She's doing big things with the e-magazine "Black Girls Magic Lit", celebrating the diversity of Black girls and women in Speculative Fiction!

Conversing online with her has been a blast, that we had to sit down with her for our Diversity Month event!

Without further adieu...

Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Day Two:
Kenesha Williams of Black Girls Magic Lit Mag

Just so you know, we make every first timer on our blog go through an introduction. For those who might be new to you, why don't you introduce yourself to everyone!

Hi, My name is Kenesha Williams and I'm the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Black Girls Magic Lit Mag. Black Girls Magic Lit Mag is a speculative fiction literary magazine featuring stories with Black female main characters.
What can you tell us about your journey becoming a creator of inclusive content?

My journey to becoming a creator is a long story but I will make it short. I have always been have a voracious consumer of books and my favorite genre to read is speculative fiction. I have begun to grow tired of reading stories that didn't mirror myself. Everyone wants to be the hero or heroine in their own story and to continually read stories that didn't reflect the image that I see in the mirror every day was beginning to be frustrating.

What inspired you and the content you dish out to the world?

Eventually I decided to you "be the change I wanted to see in this world" and decided to create my own literary magazine reflecting what I wanted to see. I am a big fan of two other literary magazines one entitled "The Dark" which has dark spec fiction and the other entitled "Crossed Genres", which published diverse spec fiction & actually closed down this month. And I studied them for about a year before I started to create my own. I am also a writer who's self-published three short stories.

So what was it like figuring out your career path? What lead you up to this day?

Growing up I was an Army brat and the first woman in my family to go to university and eventually graduate with a bachelors degree. My family always stressed education and being only one generation out of poverty they also stressed practicality. Therefore my dreams of being a writer were put on hold because I was strongly encouraged to major in something that was "practical" that would give me a "good job" like many other people in my situation. 

In fact, writing as a career was very foreign to my parents although I loved reading & and inherited this love from my mother who had a huge library of books it seemed as if she felt writing was something "other people" did as an actual profession. 

In terms of diversity I have been on what I call both sides of the veil I grew up in my formative years on an army base in Germany that was pretty well integrated with a diverse population of people that all seem to get along. When we moved to America we moved to a city that had a pretty racially diverse school that was majority Caucasian and I had friends of all races and didn't experience racism or didn't feel that I had at that time.

We then moved to a middle to upper middle-class area that was populated mainly with other Blacks & I went to a high school that was 98% Black. When it came time to choose a university I chose an HBCU and loved my time there. I later transferred to a PWI basically to follow my then boyfriend now husband, LOL. I would say attending that PWI was where I first had my taste of what I now know were micro-aggressions. And of course in the working world as well. I was also pretty insulated living in the DC Area (Chocolate City), but in the last five years I've lived in an area where Blacks make up about 10% of the population and Confederate flags abound.

If you had to pinpoint the genres you like to write in, which would you decide suit you best?

I write mostly speculative fiction and mysteries, as those are my favorite types of books to read.

Since you love Spec Fic so much, if you can have any superpower or supernatural ability, what would it be and why?

If I had any supernatural power or ability I think it would be the ability to read people's minds because I always want to know what people are thinking good, bad, or indifferent.

Do you feel well represented in books and/or media?

I don't feel that my experience or race or look is well represented it in the books and media that I am drawn to the most which is genre type literature & media. I'm also a big fan of mysteries and I haven't seen a female protagonist in a mystery novel since the Valerie Wilson Wesley series which I loved.
There’s a lot of chatter everywhere about where the conversation of diversity is going. What could improve the conversation we’re going about inclusion?

I think in order to make the conversation about diversity meaningful is to start to replace diversity with inclusion because we were talking about a lack of diversity what were actually talking about is exclusion of others. Sometimes this is collusion is deliberate and other times it is out of singular focus on the one’s own identity. I think we also need to focus on the intersectionality and not thinking that our readers are not smart enough to keep up with a character that embodies more than one "difference".

Are there any books(or form of media) that you thinks gets representation right?

I think the media that gets representation right is definitely the blog, Black Girl Nerds, I'm a huge fan of that. Also there are some independent comics that are getting diversity right.
What is the book(or books) that have the biggest impact on you and why?

I would say that Alice Walker's The Temple of My Familiar had the biggest impact on me because although she's not known for being a speculative fiction writer that was probably the first black speculative fiction book I read and also Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon which is also spec fic in my view.

What would you tell your teenage self(unless you're still a teenager!) that you wish you knew now about your growth?

I would tell my teenage self to hold on you will be a writer one day and everything that you've lived through is going to show through your work and make it better.

Do you have favorite Book Bae?

Unfortunately I don't have a favorite Book Bae, I guess I am a serial monogamist. Well, actually sometimes I'm a cheater because I've been known to read four different books at the same time.

So many folks starting out need serious morale to get started. Any advice?

The advice I would give to people just starting out is to create the work they'd like to see in this world and to be open to all the possibilities.

Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?

Kenesha Williams is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the speculative fiction magazine Black Girl Magic Lit Mag. She is also an author who will be debuting a novel in 2016. When she's not writing, editing, or using her "twitter fingers" she is buying too many books for her three young boys and hiding the receipts from her husband who thinks she already has too many!

Our giveaway starts today! Kenesha, among many others are offering giveaway prizes for our giveaway, with more prizes to be added along the month!

Snag a year e-subscription to Black Girls Magic Lit Mag, and one of Kenesha's short stories!


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