So we've seen and heard such amazing things about our next guest!
If you didn't already know, there's this social network. Maybe you've heard of it?
It's called, get this...Wattpad.
Not only that, but for all you writers who are looking for a different medium to try your work out on and get response from actual readers, it's a really awesome space to gain community.
Our next guest actually become a Featured Author on Wattpad, and her debut novel Sunkissed has been read over 144,000 since it's debut on the site(For those not familiar with Wattpad's stats, most books don't get over 2,000 reads XD ).
Getting an overwhelming response over on Wattpad encouraged her to publish her book, so there's all kinds of amazing stories behind the magic of publishing a book.
I'm doing too much talking, not enough interviewing!
Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Twenty-Two:
Author Coco Nichole
Thank you for stopping by the blog! Why don't you introduce yourself to readers!
Hey readers! My name is Coco Nichole. By day I'm an high school English teacher, online tutor, and dedicated dog mom. By night, I'm an author of Multicultural YA fantasy and paranormal romance.
When I'm not teaching or writing, I'm usually drinking tea, spending time with my fiance, Eli, and our dog, Coconut.
What can you tell us about your journey being an author?
I've writing stories since I was ten years old, but didn't begin to share those stories until about a year ago. In the Fall of 2014, I joined the online writing community, Wattpad and used it as a platform to reach out to my target audience, connect with other writers, and draft my stories. In recent months, I've created a blog, revamped some of my other accounts on Goodreads and Amazon, and made my first novel available for Ebook and paperback purchase.
While I have considered traditional publishing and even sent out a few queries, I've decided a while ago that self-publishing was the best route for me.
Long before the internet was even a factor in my life, I have been writing stories. My only beta readers were my mom, my best friend, and one of my close sorority sisters. In high school, I wrote short stories for the literary magazine. It wasn't until I graduated college that I felt confident enough to show what I had been working on to the world.
When I started teaching high school, one of my students told me about Wattpad. I took a look and decided that it would be a fun way to spend my time and share my work. Wattpad has really made me aware of the massive online writing community as well the world of indie publishing. In just one year I have met so many dedicated readers and brilliant writers. Being an avid reader myself, Wattpad also became my new escape from reality and gave me a boost of inspiration to write more stories. I now currently have three major ongoing projects. Sun Kissed, however, is my priority.
If you are an blogger, what created the initiative behind your blog?
The primary reason my blog exists is to promote my debut novel, Sun Kissed. The site gives background on the story, links to wattpad pages, polls, and updates on Sun Kissed's progress as well as my progress as a writer.
What can you tell us about your experience growing up?
Here is my ethnic breakdown: My mom is half Caucasian, half Black American. My father is first generation Bahamian. I grew up around a lot of islanders. On top of that, we lived in South Florida, a very diverse community.
Ever since I was young, I loved learning about people who were different than me. I made an effort to surround myself with diversity wherever I was. In high school, I participated in foreign exchange programs. In college, I joined a Multicultural sorority and was very active in the Multicultural Greek life on my campus.
I read and admire many non-Western authors such as Isabel Allende, Sherman Alexie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison -- just to name a few.
What types of books(or media if you'd prefer) did you like consuming growing up?
I read a lot of books. A LOT. C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Christopher Paolini, and D.J. MacHale were some of my favorite authors back in the day. In addition, I had an appreciation for classical children's lit such as Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, and Howl's Moving Castle. I also read a lot of nonfiction on marine wildlife, especially cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises).
I did, of course, go through a phase where I consumed exclusively anime and manga. Some of my favorite shows included, Full Metal Alchemist, Wolf's Rain, Trigun, and AOT. My favorite manga series is Fruits Basket. To this day I'm still in love with anything that comes out of Studio Ghibli.
What would you tell your teenage self that you wish you knew now about your growth?
I wish I knew how much potential I had. I think I would have tried a lot harder to stand out rather than to keep all of my talent locked away and hidden.
Do you feel well represented in books and/or media?
Not really. When it comes to literature, I feel as though Black people only exist in urban / street lit or historical fiction about slavery. Afro-Caribbeans are especially looked over in this respect. This I find to be sad since West Indian culture is so varied and rich in itself.
Are there any books(or form of media) that you thinks gets representation right?
Oh goodness! I have some books in mind.
For YA lit: The Pendragon Series, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and the Lunar Chronicles.
I also follow a bunch of authors on Wattpad who write from diverse perspectives. I've compiled all their books on my reading list titled Multicultural Fiction.
How can we make the conversation about diversity where it needs to be?
Personally for me, I think the best place to start is to have more poc protagonists. I don't have the perfect formula to cure the overwhelming under representation of ethnic groups in the media, but I know that it makes a huge difference in the reader's experience when the main character is simply not White.
I also try to research the home culture of the character that I'm representing. This may result in them having varying world views or speaking multiple languages. And there is so much information on the internet that makes this kind of research much easier to access than it used to be.
Why do you write the types of books you write, and do you plan diversifying genres in the future?
I mostly write diverse/multicultural young adult / new adult fantasy and paranormal romance. I also have a zombie dystopian series that features poc characters.
As long as I'm alive, I'll be writing diversity into my books. Just holler at me.
What has been your favorite character to create and why?
My favorite character I created is an anti-hero named Remmy Azizi from my zombie apocalypse novella series: Chew.
At first, Remmy is pretty ethnically ambiguous. So it's fun to have readers guessing where she might be from when they read. At the end of the first book, you learn that she is Pakistani and a practicing Muslim. Remmy is also bisexual. This character was really a stretch for me since I've never written a non-heterosexual character before and I have very little knowledge of modern Middle Eastern culture. But the reader response to Remmy is overwhelmingly positive. On top of being so unique, she is also a bad-ass zombie slayer. So yes, I would have to say that Remmy wins the trophy for this one.
Which fictional world would you want to live in and why?
The Encante is a paradise featured in Sun Kissed and the rest of my books in the Encante Trilogy. It holds shapeshifters, tropical islands, sky cities, and swampy mainlands. The shapeshifter societies are a blend of Latin American, Meso-American, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and East Asian cultures and geography.
Readers have literally begged me to buy them a plan ticket to Encante. If that doesn't prove how amazingly awesome it is, I don't know what will. Guess you will just have to read and find out!
Who is your favorite Book Bae?
This is a sad question for me because I don't really have any friends to fangirl/boy over books with. I literally have no one. At least not in the real world.
If you can have any superpower or supernatural ability, what would it be and why?
Talking to dolphins! There is a reason why I write about dolphin shapeshifters. I literally wanted to be a dolphin as a kid. Heck, I still do.
What is the book(or books) that have the biggest impact on you and why?
Easy. That would be The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Watership Down by Richard Adams, Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende, Shogun by James Clavell, Aztec by Gary Jennings, and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I'm not sure why, but these books have had the greatest impact on my writing style and voice.
What type of advice can you give to those starting out?
Write the story that you want to read.
What sites would you recommend for those trying to educate themselves better on the conversation about diversity in books and media?
Finally, where can folks go for updates, and to learn more about your projects going on?
My Wattpad Profile
Follow me on Twitter @literallycoco
Check out my Official Blog!
Chat with me on Goodreads!
Check out my Debute Novel "Sunkissed" on Amazon!
Official Youtube Station(soon I will be posting vlogs on writing tips and book reviews!)
Reblog me on Tumblr!
Follow me on IG
Coco Nichole writes Multicultural YA lit and other short stories. She has a degree in English Education from the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. When Coco isn't writing or telling stories, she is spending time with her fiance, Eli, and her dog, Coconut.
Some of Coco's likes and hobbies include reading, drinking tea, playing Frisbee, yoga, organizing and reorganizing her bookshelves, cooking, and playing video games.
Coco is a featured author on Wattpad.