Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2nd Annual Diversity Month Day 25: Author Interview w/ Justina Ireland +Kindle Fire 6" and Book Giveaway!

Happy Holidays everyone! If you celebrate the holidays, we hope you're having a Merry one! Today we have an awesome Xmas gift!

We were soon excited to get this next author! I read her book(after Libby's obsession with the Percy Jackson series, and the consistent spoilers she gave me)in hopes to read a character of color in a Greek mythology setting.

What rocked the most about "Promise of Shadows" was the it's heroine! She was a blue haired, dreadlocked black girl, with the power to change her people's situation. How cool is that?

As a essential voice in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, we got to chat with her about diversity, her books, and obviously her awesome-ness!

You probably already know her, but we always introduce accordingly!

Twinja Book Reviews readers...Meet Justina Ireland!
So Justina, we know you're not from Earth, because you're just too awesome. But what could you tell us about yourself that we don’t already know about your journey to become a published author?
Ha!  Thanks.  Well, I will say that being an author was never really on my list of things to do, mostly because it took me a really long time to believe anything like being published was possible.  It was always one of those “Wouldn’t that be cool?” things I said to folks.  For me, authors were those people who sat in cafes debating nihilism, like a Hemingway novel. 
Until, you know, I actually wrote a book.  And then it was more “Damn, I can TOTALLY do this.”
I guess it’s pretty safe to say that my journey is still ongoing.  Mostly. 
I recently read your book and I was floored. I'd been searching for PoC characters in any type of mythology based fantasy/science fiction novel. What prompted the initial idea for "Promise of Shadows?" Did you face any challenges writing and/or pitching this particular novel?

The story actually started with Zephyr.  I’d played with the idea of centering a story on a disgraced Harpy for a while, but the plot never really worked.  This was back when I somehow thought I was writing adult books, before I realized that my authorial voice is solidly YA.  Anyway, I finally decided that it might be fun to put this character that I had, this failed Harpy who is really a coward, in a Chosen One narrative.  And luckily, the story came together.

There wasn’t anything different about this book other than the usual book growing pains.  I’m lucky in that my editor was very supportive of writing a book with a very diverse cast, to the point that I forget just how diverse the characters are until folks comment on it.  I was more focused on building a cast of what I figured were authentic characters.  

That’s one of the nice things about diversity: it isn’t hard.  It’s actually more difficult to find an all white heterosexual cast in the real world. The US just isn’t like that anymore, with the exception of some very rural areas.  But if you have a book set in a city or a suburb of a major city, you should probably have some diversity.  After all, how many times do you leave your house and see nothing but able-bodied redheads and boys with blue eyes like the sea?  You don’t, and it kills me that it’s easier to find a book featuring faeries than real diversity.

If you’re writing a book set in the current day and you don’t have a single diverse character, you should probably analyze the authenticity of your cast.

Do you think diversity in books is more challenging for diverse authors?

Yes, because I think we’re more sensitive to getting it wrong.  Not just that, but you start to worry that portraying a character of color in a negative light is going to make readers think “Oh, so all black people are like this.”  You don’t want to get it wrong, but you also don’t want to paint your folks in a bad light for fear of reinforcing existing stereotypes.

But here’s the thing: writing is hard, yo.  

No matter whether you have an all white heterosexual able-bodied cast or if you have a cast full of characters that reflect reality, writing is still going to be difficult.  So you might as well take the road that’s authentic, and for me that’s writing characters that fit the story and the setting.  If I fail, well, at least I tried.  I’ll fail better next time.

In your opinion, what are effective ways of making sure diverse books reach a larger audience?
Marketing and word of mouth.  Part of the problem is that the books that get the biggest push are usually the products of book packagers, like Full Fathom Five and Alloy Entertainment, and those folks aren’t exactly falling over themselves to come up with diverse ideas, with the exception of Cake Literary. But readers can definitely give diverse books a push, by telling their friends about them and by leaving positive reviews.  

It’s amazing how beneficial taking five minutes to leave a positive Amazon review can be.  

Every little bit counts, and if diverse books sell, publishers will see the market and acquire more.  After all, publishers just want to make money.  And if people actually buy and support diverse books instead of just giving them lip service, then they will get bigger pushes, and that means a bigger audience.
Where can current fans and future go to get updates on book releases, cover reveals, blog or twitter posts, or just anything Justina Ireland?

I hang out on Twitter a lot @tehawesomersace and on tumblr as justinaireland.  You can also swing by my website Justina Ireland to see my books and link directly to my tumblr and twitter.
About The Author:

 I write books about dangerous girls. I like cake, coffee, and books. If you give me a cupcake I might be your best friend...or just ask you for another one.

Purchase Links:

Justina was gracious enough to offer her novels Promise of Shadows(Which was amazing, trust us!) and Vengeance Bound


  1. @Mclicious Awesome! I highly recommend her!

  2. Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine was an excellent book with a great diverse main character, and I loved that it was a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.

  3. @Elisquared. We have been hearing about that book. It comes up a lot through our bloglovin feed, Had no idea it was a Phantom of the Opera retelling!


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