Interview: Author L.M. Davis Discusses the Symbolism of her Black Panther Shifters

Interview: Author L.M. Davis Discusses the Symbolism of her Black Panther Shifters

 Can you tell me a little about your background for my blog readers? 

I have been a writer all of my life.  I have written short stories, novels, news articles, every possible genre, but for some reason fantasy always pulls me back. I have had several fantasy stories published in small literary magazines.   Interlopers:  A Shifters Novel is my first book length work.

Why is paranormal important to you?

I think that all types of fantasy represent the ultimate in possibility.  As a fantasy writer, I don't have to be circumscribed in any way--I can give my imagination absolute reign to create worlds that are as like or unlike the reality that we live in as I desire them to be.  As a reader, fantasy stretches the bounds of my imagination (it always has), and I think that is something that is so important--particularly for the audience that I write for--having the ability to imagine and experience utterly foreign worlds.

Do you feel that people of color are missing from the paranormal genre in both YA and adult?

 I think that stories about people of color and by people of color (which is really important) are out there, more and more every day, especially for adults with authors like Octavia Butler Tananarive Due, Brandon Massey, Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel Delaney, L. A. Banks, and the list goes on.  We are out there in the YA arena too.  Just like there are so many people of color that love to read fantasy, I think that we have always had a strong contingent of authors for whom fantasy/paranormal writing is their bread and butter.  What I know is that we have to actively seek it out.  Diverse fantasy, particularly in the YA arena, is not always given the same advertising push or media attention that a J. K. Rowling or a Stephanie Meyer receives.  So we, as a reading audience, have to seek out and support people of color--especially if we want the 'mainstream' to pay more attention to our stories.

Do you feel that people of color shy away from paranormal stories or are they wanting to read more but can't find ones that meet their needs? Please explain.

I think that it is a little of both.  I think, for older generations, there is this perception that fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal isn't for us, and that could--in part--be due to our relative absence from the genre both as characters and as writers.  However, I think that the tide is turning in that regard.  The global phenomenon that was Harry Potter swept up every body and, I believe, brought people of color to the genre like never before, and the types of stories that are possible in the realm of fantasy keep bringing us back.  I do think, also, that any reader wants to be able to see themselves reflected in the books that they read and a healthy portion of people of color look for and read books with characters that look like them.  Those kinds of options are not as readily available in the paranormal realm. 

Why Black panthers?  Can you share the symbolism?

Well, I can only say a little without giving away the story.  Nate and Larissa, their whole family in fact, shift into panthers with pitch-black fur--they have no spots.  What they discover over the course of the novel is that they are descended from a special and powerful lineage within the were-leopard world and that their peculiar coloring is a physical marker of that heritage and that power.  

I think that there are a lot of different ways that readers might interpret the fact that they are black panthers, and I like the idea of allowing readers to bring their ideas and experiences to the book and using those things as their guide to understanding these characters.

I will say, though, that one of the reasons that I decided to make my shifters big cats (there will be were-lions, were-tigers, and were-jaguars in the subsequent books) is because of the way that these creatures resonate with particular aspects of African diasporic experience--some of which I was not even aware of as I was writing the book.   So I definitely see Nate, Larissa, and the rest of their people as adding to those mythologies.


 Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

Interlopers is the first in a series of four books, and so that will be my writing agenda for the next little bit.  Right now, I am in the process of finalizing the second book.  It will be coming out in April of 2012.   I have other ideas percolating in my mind about what is next, after I complete the Shifters Novel Series--but for right now they are just percolating. 


How do readers purchase your books?

Interlopers: A Shifters Novel is available on B& and Amazon.  If they are a member of Goodreads, readers can purchase it as an e-book.  I am working on making it available on other e-book platforms.  To find out more about the book and to read an excerpt, readers can go to

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. 

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Alicia McCalla photo credit Dr. Howard McCalla

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my badass, spunky and smart Black heroines on Merchandise!