It’s a Different World: Black Secondary Worlds in Fantasy
Authors Dhonielle Clayton and Kwame Mbalia, moderated by L.L. McKinney, give us an inside look at how they build their otherworldly realms, peppered with Black myths while critiquing elements of the real world through a Black lens, in between bouts of bickering. Why they like this…
I am so glad that Elle made sure that there was a panel on fantasy because do you know how freaking amazing it is to see Black people in fantasy without being secondary characters?! To have Black people and Black cultures at the forefront, and creating these Black secondary worlds that really just show that we as Black people DO belong in fantasy novels. That was always something that seemed so far-fetched to me growing up because there wasn’t anything out there, or if there was it was never written by a Black person. Now that’s changed, and while publishing still needs to do better at allowing all BIPOC authors to write their own stories, getting to see Black fantasy novels in both the YA and MG age levels is absolutely amazing.
I love that Dhonielle’s process for coming up with a fantasy novel is to create the world, and then “find my troublemaker”. She explains more that when she was younger, she would get teased about her acne, something that she couldn’t change about herself, which ended up being part of the inspiration for The Belles. From there, figuring out which character would be the most interesting to follow and who would make the most trouble is where she goes next to create her story.
For Kwame, he said he was the complete opposite! He writes his way through the problems, and compared his writing process to a video game. Thinking about first player adventure video games where the map is grayed out in the areas that you haven’t explored yet or don’t have access to, this is the kind of thought process that Kwame has when writing out his novels. I really liked that analogy! It kind of made me want a Tristan Strong video game to be made…. wouldn’t that be super freaking cool?!
Hearing Dhonielle and Kwame talk about their writing process for fantasy novels – from world building and character building and everything that is involved with it – was great! Highly recommend watching this one as well – I mean I recommend watching all of it of course but this was definitely one of my favorite ones!