Day 9: Artist Arthur

I think in my next life I want to be a paranormal or horror writer because I’ve always loved reading those genres. Yet my mind simply has never gone there when I sit down to write. Guess some of us just have a knack for putting a supernatural or fantastic spin on things.

While YA paranormal has been successful and quite popular, no surprise there haven’t been a boatload of authors of color in the mix. Enter Artist Arthur and her Mystyx series.

Can we say, it’s about time? Go on. I’ll wait…

Look, a book is a book is a book. When authors write them they want a reader to pick it up. We don’t care about that reader’s background or genetic make-up, we just want them to read and enjoy. But facts remain that literature is a great portal for exposure. So if paranormal isn’t diverse, chances are, readers of color will ignore it in favor of a genre that includes them. The Mystyx series includes them. The series follows three characters as they learn to deal with their special powers.

Each character is of a different race, which is entirely beside the point and yet a great thing. Artist talks to us about why the paranormal AOC* club is so small and how she created her characters powers.

*That’s authors of color for those who forgot P abbreviates everything!

BBS: It’s so great to see your series in the paranormal mix. The genre is very popular, why do you think there aren’t more paranormal novels that feature characters of color?

AA: I think there’s a general stereotype that people of color do not like to read paranormal stories as they aren’t realistic. I don’t believe that. I think there’s a readership that’s thirsty for all types of stories, we just have to make them more available.

BBS: What led you to writing in this genre?

AA: I’ve always been a big fan of paranormal and my daughter is a huge fan, reading most of the books in the YA genre. When I decided to write a YA book there was no question that it would have paranormal elements.

BBS: How do you lend authenticity to the paranormal aspects of your novels? Did you base the characters powers on documented evidence of psychic ability or is totally fictional?

AA: I did a lot of research on supernatural powers and I love Greek Mythology, so I decided to blend the two. The characters, their powers and the world they are evolving in can be linked to documented events, especially the weather events. I tried to pull from our history as well as what’s actually happening in our world today, giving an alternative explanation for such things as global warming and the world’s fascination with UFOs.

BBS: Outside of the paranormal, each book tells the story of one of the main characters. Tell us a little about the themes each book covers.

AA: Krystal’s story touches on the mind of a teenager who has been through a divorce, moving to a new town, dealing with a power she cannot explain and experiencing her first crush. It’s a coming of age story with many different emotional twists.

For Sasha, my Latino protagonist, her troubles are a little different. She seemingly has it all, as people tend to believe rich families do. However, there’s a lot lacking in Sasha’s life, she’d trade all the money and prestige for just fifteen genuine minutes of her parents’ time. Stereotypes are a big part of Sasha’s world and dating an African American from the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks” doesn’t help.

Jake’s experiencing the ever growing problem of bullying. Anger and frustration can be like a drug to a teenage boy and Jake struggles to get a handle on his emotions and his power before it’s too late.

My thought for this series was to mix current and relevant issues with a touch of fantasy. To bring awareness as well as entertain.

BBS: Your daughter encouraged you to try your hand at writing for teens. Now you’ve tried it. What’s the verdict…will you remain in children’s literature? What more can we expect from you in the way of YA?

AA: When I was younger a schoolteacher of mine said there’s no greater reward than having an impact on young minds. I never appreciated that statement until I wrote Manifest. Traveling and speaking to children and young adults has given me a satisfaction that I wasn’t even aware I searched for. I am so enjoying the stories that I write and the intelligent discussions they have evoked with young people. I will definitely continue to write in the YA genre. I’m currently working on a YA romance, with no paranormal elements, but a strong sense of navigating the tricky waters of relationships from a young adult perspective.

BBS: You were shy about people reading your work, now that it’s out for all the world to read (and review) how are you managing the attention?

AA: I’m still amazed that people like what I write. No matter how many books I have published I’m still nervous when each one is released. As for reviews, I take the good with the bad, understanding that this is a subjective industry, but enjoying what I do nonetheless.

BBS: As an act of paying it forward put another new YA or MG author of color on our readers map. Someone you think is under the radar and whose work you wish would get a bit more attention and tell us why you chose that person.

AA: Earl Sewell. He also writes for Kimani TRU and does some adult fiction writing as well. What I like about Earl’s work is that it’s written by a man but it focuses on the life and growing pains of a teenage girl. I think it’s great for our teenage girls to see a positive black man looking out for their well-being.

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