Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Twinja Book Reviews 3rd Annual Diversity Month Day Twenty-Four : Interview with @KevinWayneW + month long #giveaway

Anyone looking for a zombie book fix? 

Or rather a different take on what kinds of characters make it through to a zombie apocalypse?
I admit, I'm a little frightened by children in a zombie apocalypse! Which is what makes this next author's debut novel so chilling.

It's hard enough being an adult, but re-imagine such events through the eyes of children, and of color no less. That's what makes it so scary. It's hard to imagine children in a situation like that!

I've been looking for anything to cure my The Walking Dead fix(Not looking at Fear The Walking Dead though XD) and books are just the recipe for boredom!

He's even been a Blerd Book Club of The Month winner in the past!

Without further adieu...

Twinja Book Reviews Annual Diversity Month Event Day Twenty-Four:

Author Kevin Wayne Williams 

Thank you for stopping by the blog! Why don't you introduce yourself to readers!
I'm Kevin Wayne Williams, author of "Everything I Know About Zombies, I Learned in Kindergarten". I try to write intelligent adult horror: frightening stuff that makes the reader think while they are being frightened, interesting to adults and the occasional older teen.

What can you tell us about your journey being an author?

I began writing at a low point in my life as a way to stay sane: my business was nearing bankruptcy, my wife was living in a different country just to earn enough money to keep us afloat while I cleaned up the mess I had made of our lives, and I needed something that was all mine that no one could take away from me.

I remain self-published at this point, primarily because of a view about diverse literature that I see as self-defeating. When I was trying to get publishers interested in my novel, the feedback I got was that while the book was well-written, no one had any idea how to sell it. To them, the only market for a book about black and Hispanic children was the middle-grade and YA market, and that book had to be inspirational: it had to make those black and Hispanic children feel better about themselves. My book, in which young black and Hispanic children struggle, die, and transform in unpleasant ways in a desperate effort to simply stay alive was depressing, grim, disturbing, and anything but inspirational.

My first problem with their attitude was that it deals with being black or Hispanic as some kind of ailment that we need to treat, that somehow being black made a child feel bad and that we had to fix it.

My second problem was that it treated the need for diversity as something we outgrew: that adults couldn't possibly be interested in a novel about black and Hispanic children. My book was described by one reviewer as "straddling the line between gory genre and literature", and I agree with that assessment. I tried to write an intelligent novel for adults that an older teen may be interested in, but at no point did I think that containing diverse children meant the book needed to be targeted *to* diverse children.

What can you tell us about your experience growing up?

I've spent a decade of my life in countries where being white made me a distinct minority: originally in Japan, which is unsurprisingly 96% Japanese, and in the Netherlands Antilles, which is predominantly black with most of the remainder being descendants of the Carib and Arawak tribes.

As a teen, I attended Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, the first year that forced busing had turned it from 95% white into a 65% black school, and remember the first Homecoming against George Washington Carver High which had become 60% white that year. A lot of my base opinions on race were formed that year, and 14-year-old Kevin Wayne Williams said the same thing that I will at 55: if the parents would stop making a fuss about it, the problem would go away. Kids exposed to each other will form friendships and rivalries that transcend race-based boundaries.

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

Middle-aged white men tend to be extremely well-represented in books and media. My only quibble is the tendency for TV comedies to display us as somewhat dim people that are constantly surpassed by our witty wives and sarcastic teenage children.

How can we make the conversation about diversity where it needs to be?

As above, I think we need to focus on making works reflect realistic diversity. There is certainly a place for all-black, all-Asian, or all-white novels: if I'm writing a novel about Minnesota, it's going to look distinctly pale compared to a story that takes place in Tanzania or Mongolia.

Those are corner cases, though: most of us live in environments where races mix, and that mix varies from place to place and story to story. My story is about the South Bronx, and that pretty much set the proportion of Hispanic and black characters. Someone writing about my work life in engineering would be writing a book about a cast that was 60% white, 30% Indian, and 10% black, with a trivial Hispanic component. Different stories and different places demand different mixes of characters.

There's a market for progressive and inspirational books: books about the first female this or the first Hispanic that, but we aren't doing the world a favour by making it appear that every time a woman or Hispanic person succeeds that it's an exception. We need to focus on making sure our works don't fall into the trap of treating non-white characters as exceptions, either positive or negative. Most of the world isn't white, so most of our characters shouldn't be either.

What inspires the content you create?

I'd be a fool and a liar if I tried to claim the zombie genre as my own creation: obviously my work builds on and fills out the work of others. I tried to set it apart both in terms of the POV and in terms of providing a little bit of rigour to the universe I was building, working hard to make the apocalypse itself plausible and the characters believable.

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

My main blog is at www.motthavenbooks.com/kwwilliams

Kevin Wayne Williams has been an engineer for much of his life, beginning with GTE in 1980. He rose through the ranks and eventually became an executive in Silicon Valley. In 2004, tired of it all, he fled the country with his wife, Kathy. They opened a hotel on Bonaire, a small Dutch island north of Venezuela. In 2009, for reasons he still doesn't quite understand, they returned to the United States.

He has since resumed his engineering career, but writes novels to help dull the pain.


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