Do you remember when you were a kid? Did you used to play pretend? Pretend that you were another person, in another place, in other worlds? When I was a kid, I had a very active imagination. Being an only child, I had to find ways to entertain myself at times and my mind was one of my greatest toys. I’d pretend I was a Power Ranger (the blue and black ones were my favorites) and fighting putties. I’d imagine that I was a superhero stopping a supervillain. I’d jump around my house, flinging my arms about, slaying monsters. It might seem like those childhood games were just a way to pass the time, but they can actually have a profound impact on the course of your future. Heavy, I know. That’s what ended up happening with me.
I’ve been asked how I came up with the idea for The Black Diamond, and truth be told, it started with those childhood play sessions. I have a love of the fantasy/sci-fi genre. I was introduced to this style of storytelling by my dad and my mommom. When I was a kid, Dad got me interested in superheroes. He was a comic book fan and had a collection of comics that he passed on to me. I spent many an hour reading the books and getting engrossed in the colorful worlds they contained. My favorite books were the X-Men books. I think those were my dad’s as well because those were the ones he had the most of. My mommom was into magic and monster stories. She was always reading books about monsters or watching tv shows like Hercules, Xena the Warrior Princess, and Charmed. I would watch with her, and we’d bond over them (among many other things). With those two huge early influences, I began to create stories in my mind about these things and pretend I was in them. As the years went on, bits and pieces of these stories remained nestled in the recesses of my brain.
After I graduated from college, I’ll admit that I was a little aimless. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, it was that I didn’t really know the best way to get there. While I was trying to figure myself out, I ran into my old Spanish teacher from high school on Facebook, Ms. Pierce. I found out that she had recently published a children’s book. That inspired me to write a book myself. Two things went into my decision. One, it was a way to pass some time and challenge myself. I didn’t consider myself a very good creative writer. In school, I felt I was always best with technical writing. The idea of writing a fiction book was a little daunting. Two, if I wrote my own book, I could make it any way I wanted. As a fan of fantasy/sci-fi, I was well aware that as good as the genre was, it rarely featured people that looked like me and my family/friends. There was a dearth of stories written from our perspectives and cultures. That didn’t stop me from greatly enjoying the genre, but I did notice and longed for stories where I could see myself in it. I think that’s why I gravitated towards characters like Storm, Static, Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Black Panther. Instead of asking other authors to write us into their stories, why couldn’t I just make the story myself? Be the change I wanted to see?
So, I set out to do just that. Remember those bits and pieces of childhood pretend stories I mentioned coming up with? Well, I started to recollect those stories, flesh them out further, and coalesce them into the beginnings of The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse. I decided to set the story in Delaware because that’s where I lived and you never see Delaware featured in these types of tales. It’s always New York, or LA, or New Orleans, or something. I created the characters as amalgamations of people from my life. Just as I expected, it was, like, really hard but I got through it and about a year later, I had my first draft of The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse!
Next Month: The Writing Process