Over the years, I’ve worked with several editors, book coaches, artists, and teachers—all well-meaning professionals who help authors birth stories into the world. I’d always believe that my decision to self-publish this series would cushion or pad me from the small-mindedness or racist viewpoints of traditional publishing but I found, even in my indie world, that it’s not always safe to be black even when you’ve paid for someone’s expertise.
The question that I’ve consistently received from these industry professionals revolves around this notion that the West African mythology I highlight within my African Elementals series is either unnecessary, too hard, or too confusing for readers. One book coach I hired, was very clear with me that she was angry at having to go do research in order to read my books. She thought that I’d “made it all up” and then searched Google to find that there was a vampire named “Obayifo.” She wanted me to remove this “confusion” from my books and replace “Obayifo” with “vampire” because it what “everyone” would understand. She moved on to say that I’d created roadblocks for my readers and it was her preference not to work on this “African Elementals” project because it was too hard.
Or another editor that I hired told me that the West African Mythology could easily be swapped out with Greek or Roman mythology—it was “all the same.”
Or the cover designer who told me to remove the prominently displayed Black girl from my Breaking Free cover to behind the blond white boy. The white boy upfront could gain more sales.
Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up…
Well, the short answer to all of these is simply “No.” I won’t be prominently displaying the white supporting characters on my book covers and well, the mythology is not the same and it’s not interchangeable. My images, culture, history, and mythology can’t simply be swapped out with a white one to make it more “sale-able”, “readable” or “understandable.” But I do get it, my mixture of African mythology and Africana womanism is a struggle for some readers but for the right readers, the ones who thirst for their own images, culture, history, and mythology to be highlighted—it’s perfect. Those readers love African Elementals and want more of it. They email me and say things like:
“I’ve learned so much from this series” or
“I love to see my culture represented” or
“I love how you’ve taken the time to weave-in the elements of Africa and Black women’s thought.”
Those comments warm my heart and soul. They fuel me and keep me pressing forward. It’s my mission to create a unique reading experience that highlights the rich tradition and heritage of Africana diaspora along with my Black American sensibilities in the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror genres. If you want get your read-on and try something new, check out my African Elementals supernatural horror series… It is a serial killer thriller.