What was the inspiration behind your book?
I decided to write it because, as a kid, I read science fiction and fantasy a lot. But I never saw myself or people who looked like me and my family. My sisters have kids that are also falling in love with science fiction and fantasy and I don’t want them to go through what I went through in never seeing yourself as more than a side-character (who likely dies) or being regulated to stories of slavery and Jim Crow. Black kids deserve to go on adventures to, and I wanted to give them, young Elle, and everyone else reading that chance.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
It’s gonna take a minute, but it’ll happen. Keep going. You’ll get there.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Networking with other writers at conferences and retreats. Going to be with likeminded people who understand what’s going on in that world and what it’s like being part of it. As supportive as family and friends can be, if they aren’t in publishing there are frustrations and things they aren’t going to understand. Also networking with other industry professionals, making connections, building relationships. No one does this on their own.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Depends on the day, the book, and how I’m feeling. Some days, I get up and get started in the morning, then work through to the afternoon or evening. Some days I don’t get started until the evening then write into the early hours of the morning. Some days I don’t write at all and instead play video games or binge-watch TV. You don’t have to write every day to be a writer, you just have to write as much and as often enough as it takes for you to get it done. What works for me may not work for someone else and vice-versa.
I don’t have one. Sometimes books I enjoyed as a kid don’t live up to the hype, or standards, in present day. And none in particular stick out to me. Like I said, I didn’t really see myself much at all, and not nearly enough to be like “that’s my favorite of all time.” I can say that my favorite story was Sailor Moon, even though it was through the medium of television and not pages. But it is what it is.
Bio — Links included: Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, writing as L.L. McKinney, is a poet and active member of the kidlit community. She’s an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing, and the creator of the hashtag #WhatWoCWritersHear. Elle’s also a gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan. She spends her free time plagued by her cat–Sir Chester Fluffmire Boopsnoot Purrington Wigglebottom Flooferson III, esquire, Baron o’Butterscotch or #SirChester for short. The critically acclaimed A BLADE SO BLACK is her debut novel with the highly anticipated sequel A DREAM SO DARK slated for release September 2019.