I’ve been diligently working on the Soul Eater book for Nanowrimo. Each morning, I’ve been waking up to write 1700 words. The Soul Eater gushes out in a deep purge. Most mornings, I have no idea the direction that this story will take. The process is mindboggling. In fact, this entire African Elementals series has taken me for a ride. As I unveil the Soul Eater cover, here’s some of my thoughts about this dark urban fantasy series that just refuses to let me go. Let me know what you think:
My baby sister asked me about Iniko. She wanted to know if I really meant that Shakespearean ending where everybody, literally, dies and evil wins. She could deal with the violent head chopping and ritualistic killing but what she couldn’t understand was the pseudo male rape scene. There was no escapism in that… Did I have a message? Was I trying to say something? And, what about Kuumba trying to turn his daughter into a slave wife? In our talk, she came to the conclusion that Iniko was powerful, issue driven, and literary like Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It should be taught in a freshmen lit class… Errr.. Scratching the chalk board. Literary?
I love Toni Morrison’s work but when I first encountered Beloved in college, I remember getting to the part where Beloved stepped onto the pages. It freaked me out so bad that I screamed and threw the book across the room. I was terrified. Beloved scared the “heck out of me.” The mixture of historical oppression, brutality, slavery and a haunting ghost story was a painful read but I soon realized that that story needed to “be told.” It took me 10 years, an Oprah movie, and graduate work in Africana Women studies to dissect Beloved but I came to a place of understanding Black women’s oppression in literature.
Graduate school was the place where I became fascinated with Mawu. I am enamored by this earth mother. Mawu’s bonus chapter is where I dig into the foundation of West African elementals. Yup, the West African gods and goddesses all die. Mawu is forced to fight her uncle who, of course, tries to stomp her pregnant belly as they fight to the death using the elements. It’s a tenuous, spidery evil that has grabbed hold of this pantheon and have made them become extinct but without them how will our universe survive?
My short story Flee touched on similar Africana womanist or feminist issues. Domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and a victimized heroine who is tormented by a paranormal serial killer. My writing voice doesn’t make things easy for anybody, especially me. I find that there is something untamed, sinister and dark lurking within my storytelling. Add controversial issues and well, my paranormal stories border on being more literary than commercial. When my supernatural writing voice grabs me, it scares the “heck out of me” and I can do nothing but watch the story unfold. That’s what is happening with this African elemental series.
As I write the Soul Eater this month for Nanowrimo, I am unsettled. This series pushes the limits of good versus evil. Will evil win? Who is good and who is evil? Readers will find themselves taking a stand and then being conflicted. Deacon may have to chop off his grandmother’s head. Shania becomes infected with the same evil that took Iniko down. Will she survive?
I have to give myself permission to allow this story to burst onto the pages. I must allow this purging process to run the course. It’s troublesome, disturbing, and horrific. But, I’m ok, if some readers throw their e-readers across the room, are unsettled, or it takes them years to come to terms with this series. Why? Because this series must “be told.” If you’d like to get a glimpse of what’s happening with the Soul Eater, here’s a draft of Chapter 1 and don’t forget to sign-up for my subscriber’s list to receive updates on this series. The Soul Eater will be available soon in e-book and print. I can’t wait to see if you get caught up in this series, too.