Carrie here, with an ongoing feature on the blog, TALKING TROPES. These will be fun interviews with some really great authors, where we discuss their books, their favorite stories, and also tropes they love, and tropes they hate. One of the things I’ve noticed as BroodingYAHero is that people sometimes fall into the thinking that all tropes are awful, and that’s not true. Some certainly are, and some are overused to the point of absurdity, but some tropes are useful tools!
Today’s guest author is the amazing Imani Josey!
Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA.
Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction. The Blazing Star is her debut novel.
Imani’s novel, THE BLAZING STAR is a really amazing historical novel that utterly pulled me in. I highly, highly recommend it.
CD: So, first of all, I adored THE BLAZING STAR and cannot wait for the sequel! Can you tell me a little of your inspiration for it?
IJ: Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m excited about the sequel also. You could say that the series has been on my mind in one way or another since I was a child. The Blazing Star is a much better rendition of the first book (if you could call it a book… it was 60 pages of craziness) that I wrote when I ten-years-old. I actually still have a copy somewhere. The story was about three friends who journeyed to an alternate dimension and discovered they were faerie princesses. It was very much something a preteen in the 90’s would write.
I decided to really dive into my writing around 2011 and the fantasy genre is a great form of escapism, which is what I needed at that time. I found a terrible job after grad school (underpaid, over-skilled, underwhelmed), and had to take my mind elsewhere. It was then that I decided that the bones of that old faerie princess story were actually decent, and would fit well with a YA adventure swirling in my head. Add a dash of historical fiction and ancient Egyptian mythology, and six years later, here we are.
CD: One of the things I loved about THE BLAZING STAR the lush, vivid setting. How did you manage to make a historical time period feel so real???
IJ: Shhhh, I have a time machine I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient world, especially Egypt. My mother also gave me a portrait of Nerfertari when I was young. I took that picture to my first apartment, and wrote under it. I recently went to the Djerassi YA workshop hosted by bestseller Nova Ren Suma, and she asked the attendees about our muses. I said history. My grandfather is a historian, so perhaps it is in the blood. But I’m as fascinated by history as I am by magic. I love how there’s nothing new under the sun, that people’s motivations thousands of years ago still motivate them today.
CD: What other books/tv/movies have you enjoyed this year?
Movies: The Planet of the Apes series is a favorite. We love Caesar in my house, and we thought “War” was such a satisfying closing for the trilogy.
Books: I loved A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir, and I can’t wait for A Reaper at the Gates. And did you see those new covers?!
TV: Dear White People is pretty awesome. I’m a huge fan of Coco’s character.
CD: Let’s talk tropes. What types of characters do you love, and what ones do you hate?
IJ: I love a friends–to–lovers trope. I also love a Chosen One trope, as cliché as it may be. I hate love triangles. I was actually going to put one in TBS until I remembered I hate them. And this isn’t a trope per se, but I love a balcony scene. Swoon. Weak in the knees.
CD: Any favorite Brooding YA Heroes? 😉
IJ: Gimme that Will Herondale and Elias Veturias. The more brooding and historical, the better.
CD: If you could do a retelling of any story, what would you pick?
IJ: LOL the TBS series actually is a retelling, so I’d have to say that I’m working on it. It’s a retelling of the original Egyptian mythology that explains why the Nile rises every year. It’ll become clearer through the next books.
CD: What’s one piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?
IJ: Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep editing. Get critique partners and if you can, hire professional editors. I enjoy professional editors because I like line edits (even though they’re like suffering the Dementor’s kiss) more than big picture edits. Have a thick skin, or get ready to develop one. Be hands on but learn to let go. Save your money and make connections. Know what you’re up against. Don’t give a shit anyway.
CD: Thank you so much, Imani, for this incredible interview! Now go read THE BLAZING STAR and find out more below!