Celebrate Black Speculative Fiction Month (#BSFM): Meet Chudney Defreitas-Thomas

 

ChudneyHello everyone. First off, I have to say thank you to Alicia for having me here and second thank you to everyone that stopped by to read it. When Alicia asked me to talk about my book on her blog, she asked that I keep one topic in mind, diversity in fiction. And so when I began to write this post, it dawned on me that I needed to define what diversity in fiction meant to me.

 

As with this case and any mystery that needs solving, I would like to begin with where I came from. I grew up in the Caribbean. From a large multicultural, multiethnic family. My family is spread out living on different continents, sometimes in places where you would never expect a person from St.Vincent to live. Their occupations are as different as their temperaments, but what they all have in common is the drive for education and adventure.

My grandmother insisted that all of her children be educated and they have passed that down to their grandchildren. My education ,when it came to fiction, was well rounded due to the West Indian education system which was then supplemented by my mother and my aunts who were voracious readers. When you live on an Island reading is a cheap source of adventure.

By the time I hit my teens I had read Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, V.S Naipaul, Ismith Khan, Mark Twain, Alex Haley, Johanna Lindsey, Danielle Steel, Georgette Heyer and Lucy Walker. Each author told a different story equal in importance to our common story as human beings. Some people might sneer  at that statement but I believe that if it gets someone to consider another opinion, interest someone in a new topic, a new place, a new experience. Then it’s valid and worth it.

600x900FCMy first published novella First Circle was born out of a conversation I had with a friend about heroines. Specifically that we were noticing a trend towards heroines who kicked ass and took names and seemed to need know one. While I love to read women who can out shoot, out run anyone and solve any problem. Just as in real life, where the world is made up of more than one personality,  there are other heroines out there.

Characters who don’t always get recognition. Even more, specifically heroines who wouldn’t want to be in the thick danger but wouldn’t hesitate to take you out if you messed with someone they loved. That was my heroine, Ria. She is this maternal, loving, a slightly damaged woman who has a hard time believing she’s loved. It doesn’t help that she inhabits a world where dominance games exist either.

This is how I think of Ria as  human being, fully developed. A being, willing to love and give but a being who was fighting to make a place for herself within her family. This is what I wanted the readers to connect with. We all have families and we all can relate to sometimes feeling as though we don’t fit in.

Ria started out in these terms in my mind. I didn’t know what she looked like until I sat down to write and a picture emerged of a slender, browned skinned girl with curly hair and dark eyes. As she began to speak I began to realize she had a definite way of using words.The words “never mind” in particular popped up. It’s a phrase West Indians used frequently.

And as she began to take shape it didn’t occur to make her anything else.  She wasn’t anyone else. And the same goes for my cast of characters. I write my characters the way I see the world.

We are a mix of people. We all come from somewhere. Very few of us live in homogenous world. Which would also explain why I love writing about paranormal  beings. I get to play with our world on a whole other level. In my mind Werewolves, vampires and other beings, have problems just like us, except they have things like immortality or fangs and fur to deal with.

Growing up the Caribbean you’re exposed to ghost stories, Jumbie stories as they’re called at an early age. You sit in the dark and allow your family members scare the crap out of you and you either love it or hate. I loved it. I loved it so much so that when I read Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned I was hooked. And if I can do that for just one reader then I have done my job.

Chudney Defreitas-Thomas was born in the US, raised in the Caribbean. She has been an avid reader from the age of three and she writes because she loves it. Visit her at http://chudneysplace.blogspot.com

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