The road to publication is not easy for anyone and comes with a number of hurdles. For black writers, these challenges are multiplied and because of institutional issues, the path seems almost impossible. But the resiliency of black folks always finds a way and for many black SFF writers that way was in the form of self-publishing.
At FIYAH, we do not snub our noses at those writers who chose this path. We salute them because they have decided to embark on a journey by themselves that in traditional circumstances would involve a team. So we wish to acknowledge those black indie SFF writers out there working hard and dropping a good product. Our Indie Spotlight feature seeks to amplify self-published Black writers with features of their work in our magazine and interviews featured here on the website.
This quarter’s spotlight feature interview is with Colby R. Rice. A segment of her novel THE GIVEN can be found in the AHISTORICAL BLACKNESS issue of FIYAH.
If you had to sum yourself up for a potential reader, what would you say?
Dark. Gritty. Noir(e). Witty. High-octane. Unapologetic. Ass-kicking. Magical. Urban. Fantastical. BLACK.
What advice would you give to writers looking to make a break into SFF self-publishing?
- Write like shit and have fun. No, really. It’s ok. Just WRITE and get a draft DONE.
- Remember that the point of the first draft is to tell YOURSELF the story, not anyone else.
- Write like shit some more and have fun.
- Write to think, don’t think to write.
- Outlines are great! But also: write to think, don’t think to write.
- Write like shit again, have fun, and THEN re-write to make your work less shitty. And have fun.
- Did I mention you should have fun?
- Read. A lot. Both fiction and non-fiction, and read both within and outside of your genre. Not only is it fun but it’s also educational and inspirational and allows you to “steal like an artist”, as Austin Kleon would say.
- Write like shit often, and have fun, as much as possible, and then re-write.
- Write what you want to see in the world. If you want to see more protagonists in wheelchairs who save the day, get the girl (or boy), and who become the baddest dude / chick on the block, then WRITE IT. And then tell me where to buy it!
What do you feel are the greatest benefits for black SFF writers that choose to go into self-publishing?
- The single greatest benefit is COMPLETE CONTROL OVER YOUR DESTINY. Too often Black writers (and Black people in general) depend on larger traditional outlets to acknowledge and promote them and their work. Newsflash: the publishing industry was not built with you in mind. At all. Traditional publishers still, even today, “struggle” to find and develop the careers of Black writers even though there are plenty of us out there.
- Don’t wait to be discovered. Give yourself the validation and the power of running your own creative empire. Be in charge of your own creative career and destiny. Write the book you want to see in the world, get a professional cover designed, get great editing, start an email list, and publish and market your book and repeat, repeat, repeat!
What are some of your biggest overall writing influences?
Definitely J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, SD Perry, SM Reine, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler. All of these authors have heavily influenced my perspective and writing style, for sure! Still, I have to admit, I’m sort of an SD Perry fan girl. Her writing is phenomenal, and has been the most major influence in my writing. When I read her Resident Evil novelization series, I KNEW I’d found my writing voice.
You’ve written numerous projects. What are some of your favorite ones and why do they hold a special place in your catalogue?
While I’m working on several series in the shadows, my debut series The Books of Ezekiel is my favorite thus far. It’s my most ambitious project with a planned forty 500+ page novels all set in a massive epic fantasy world… with some distinct urban elements.
BOE is super special to me because it was essentially my first step into creative entrepreneurship and self-actualization. It taught me that yes, I CAN do this, I CAN write, and gave me the determination to keep chasing my indie writer dream. And also, I just love the story, the characters, and the worldbuilding! It’s fun to write… MOST the time, lol.
You get to have one of your projects made into a film. Which one do you pick and who do you get to direct it?
This is a toughie! I mean, ultimately, I want ALL my projects made into film and TV, and I’d love to see all of them in those mediums, but I think The Books of Ezekiel would be my top pick. The world is big and cool, the character journeys are action-packed and meaningful, it’s a weird mix of genres (urban fantasy with regard to locations, but epic fantasy with regard to its scope, legends, and lore), and you have a badass Black women, Black men, and other people of color / disenfranchised folks we hardly see in mainstream media, in lead roles.
I actually want The Books of Ezekiel to be made into a TV series, not film. (All of my projects are designed, from the beginning, to be amenable to both.) And I’d want it to be produced by my own production house, Rebel Ragdoll Productions. I’d want it to be a TV series because the scope of the world is better suited to that medium, and also, that means I can hire an entire writing team, alongside multiple directors of color, female directors, and LGBTQ directors. The whole purpose of Rebel Ragdoll Productions (and of my nascent Rebel Ragdoll media f’empire in progress) is to employ artists of color and artists who hail from disenfranchised communities who find it hard to break into mainstream Hollywood.
So… yeah. All I need is the money, honestly. LOL!
You get to travel to one fantasy world. Where do you go?
The world of Harry Potter. I would definitely be in House Slytherin as a highly ambitious, but morally ambiguous character.
Who are some of your favorite authors currently working in the black SFF field, self-pubbed or otherwise?
C.C. Ekeke and Angela Ford take the cake thus far. And, of course, Octavia Butler.
Five years from now, where would you like to see your writing?
I want to publish an insanely large backlist of sci-fi, fantasy, sci-fi thriller, urban fantasy, and survival horror novels. I also want to create and direct a bunch of action, horror, and sci-fi movies with all-female crews! I’d love to be one of the most prolific creators to ever have lived.
What projects do you have coming up for us in the future that we should be on the lookout for?
- The Hitmen of Happily Ever After Series (2018) — urban fantasy / crime noir mashup
- The ASYLUM trilogy (2018) — cyberpunk / dystopian / survival horror
- The next books in The Books of Ezekiel series (2018) — dystopian / epic (urban) fantasy
- the horror film I’m writing and directing: SANDMAN