Today is the official release date of Jade! Woot! To celebrate lets do a few character dossiers.
Real Talk, Jade (who’s original name was Akasha) was created as a matter of convenience. I needed a back story for Coal, which was mostly finished, and I needed to make the antagonist from Black Beauty (which was only halfway finished) something other than a voodoo priestess because that’s boring, unoriginal, and offensive to the practitioners of voodoo. Eventually, I decided to connect two totally different stories and changed Akasha to Jade and added references to Coal and Chalcedony towards the end of Black Beauty.
This is partly why the books have two different feels. Black Beauty is a horror and Coal a fantasy, but I had a lot of fun merging horror and fantasy.
Writers are always talking about how surprised they are when characters grow and end up major characters in future. Well, I gotta say the same about Jade. I had no idea when I started the second book that she would play such a big role in Jade. The third book was supposed to be Elizabeth, but there was too much happening in Chalcedony, and I had to break it up into two books.
Teaser: Elizabeth will get her revenge and her own book, but it won’t be until later. She has to mature.
Random Fact: When I can’t think of bad girl’s name, I always go with Akasha AKA the HAWT villain in the Queen of the Damned. (RIP Aaliyah).
Coal was original seed for the entire series. The story was told to me like this “a boy with skin the color of coal is taken by an evil queen to live with the fairies”. Of course, you know the evil queen turned into a selfish princess, and you know the rest, right? That was even a surprise to me. I love how Coal and the entire series has really surprised me.
Shemeya The Snake Woman
Shemeya, Shemeya, Shemeya. I heart so much because she was the original catalyst for Black Beauty. I imagined a girl with dreds running off a school bus to avoid bullies, and the story grew from there.
I love how she’s grown from this high schooler to this slightly twisted (cause all my heroines are twisted) confident woman. She’s a little haunted, though. She doesn’t know if she loves or hates the snakes.
Zora is named after Zora Neale Hurston the first black author I remember reading. I didn’t find a book by a black author until middle school, which speaks to the lack of diverse books in my mostly white elementary. I hope it’s different now.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty scarce with my character descriptions. I believe you should give as few details as possible and let the reader fill in the details. So if you ask me on any given day who do I think my characters I’ll look like, I’ll probably give you twenty different answers because I think of them more in their actions and not what they look like. I did take lots of time to drop descriptions of Zora. Her nails, her wigs, her lipstick. She likes to play with beauty standards. She’s smart but she likes looking dressing up, also.
Zora is introduced in Chalcedony, but her role in the book is a bit of a trope. Of course, when you enter the new world you have to have two sidekicks a girl and a boy i.e. Zora and Joseph . For this trope, I wanted my characters to be carefree black kids to combat the negative images in media of black teens. Unfortunately they aren’t so carefree by the end Chalcedony.
The girl sidekick trope is also thrown off in Jade, and she’ll come into her own. Teaser: She will play a pivotal role in the last scene of Jade.