Comicmaniac Spotlight: The Black Parade Author Kyoko M.
It’s been a while but I’m back with an all new Comicmaniac Spotlight. And the spotlight falls on the Nerdy novelist who loves Batman, Castle, comics, movies, fanfiction, and books
The supernatural and sci-fi come together in Kyoko’s upcoming urban fantasy novel titled The Black Parade. I had the opportunity to interview her and we discussed the novel, self-publishing, her love of writing and fan fiction, other projects that she’s working on, and much more.
Tali Adina: Can you give readers a brief description about The Black Parade and what was the inspiration for the title?
Kyoko M: The Black Parade is an urban fantasy novel about an unfortunate girl named Jordan Amador who accidentally kills a Seer: someone who can see and hear ghosts, angels, and demons. As penance, she is sentenced to help 100 souls with unfinished business find their final wishes and cross over to the other side within two years or her soul will be damned for all eternity. Right at her deadline, Jordan stumbles across a gorgeous but smart ass poltergeist named Michael. As she starts solving his case, she unknowingly unravels a plot concocted by demons that could throw the world into complete chaos.
The title is inspired by “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. The black parade is a metaphor for death, as in dying means that one becomes a member of the haunting marching masses heading towards the afterlife. I chose this title because it encompasses the idea of my main character. Jordan is sort of like a drum major for the black parade as she leads people through the process of death and towards their final resting place, whether it be heaven or hell.
TA: They say that writers write what they know. What inspires you to write?
KM: Honestly? Weird stuff. My very first inspiration to write came from ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’ I watched the show religiously as a child and wrote oodles and oodles of fanfiction. I then moved on to ‘Batman Beyond’, which I still love even today, and then a huge bushel of different anime as I grew up. Besides Batman, though, is my own desire to create a world that I enjoy learning and talking about. Every new chapter I write is peeling back another layer of my brain and spreading it out. There are so many interesting avenues to explore when writing urban fantasy, especially the kind related to angels and demons and ghosts, and that is why I chose this as my first novel series.
However, the most direct inspirations for The Black Parade are Paradise Lost by John Milton and the feature film Constantine (2005) directed by Francis Lawrence. Both of these concepts collided in my head back in college and I absolutely had to run with the ideas once they hit. I wanted to put my own twist on the well-known figures from Christian mythology and explore the concepts incorporated in them as well as some of my own.
TA: Why write fanfiction? What about it do you love?
KM: Fanfiction is my home away from home. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s like taking a Jacuzzi break for me. The reason I find it so relaxing is because I don’t have to stress about all the rules associated with creating an original character. I just have to concentrate on what I already know about a well-established character and work from there. All I do in my fanfiction is create new situations for the characters to face rather than working from scratch. I love writing scenarios that a cartoon or TV show or anime never got around to, but could realistically have done if given the chance. As I mentioned earlier, I am particularly fond of ‘Batman Beyond’, which had a decent 52-episode run, but I wanted even more than that because it spoke to me. The show took a concept that should have fallen straight on its face—Batman in high school, basically—and somehow built a unique, creative, surprisingly deep interpretation of a character I already adored and then added someone equally lovable to the Batclan.
Fanfiction also keeps my mind sharp in terms of the mechanics of writing. I still focus on character motivations, action, pacing, plot, and all the other important parts of writing, but just with less stress involved. It’s a fun hobby and I recommend it to any writers who can multitask without going bonkers.
TA: The Black Parade seems to have a mix of sci-fi and supernatural genres. Are those your favorite genres to write about?
KM: Definitely. I am one of those awful writers who hasn’t seen most of the American classics—Gone with the Wind, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane—but I’ve seen so many sci-fi films that it is ridiculous. I think the sheer amount of imagination that goes into science fiction and supernatural genres is what intrigues me the most. I love creativity. I love seeing something unexpectedly brilliant, like The Fifth Element or Titan A.E. or Treasure Planet or Inception or Van Helsing (shut up, I like it!). I love how the visuals are always an important part of enhancing the story and how mythologies and legends from different cultures inspire them.
TA: I know that you also have a two more books that you’re working on to follow this one. What can readers look forward to in this series?
KM: ‘The Black Parade’ is going to be a trilogy. The second novel, ‘She Who Fights Monsters’, has already been written, but it still needs to be professionally edited. I can’t say much without spoiling things. I will simply say that there are a lot of trials ahead for Michael and Jordan that will simultaneously pull them apart and bring them closer together. It should be ready for release next year. I’m currently in the process of writing the third novel and it is slated to be finished by the end of the year, and released in 2015.
TA: What future goals do you hope to achieve with this series?
KM: I would really love to see this series do well because there are not nearly enough urban fantasy novels that are popular with a black female protagonist. There are so many of them out there, but unfortunately, they do not receive enough attention. I want to see other black female nerds bonding with each other and getting good press. The media does not get to see enough positive female characters of any ethnicity and I want that to happen because it should. It is not just about my novels. I want to shed light on other great series out there and help the public get interested in other writers like me, no matter what background they are.
TA: When did you fall in love with comics and what other geeky things are you into?
KM: I fell in love with comics as a munchkin, thanks to my father. The first comics I read as a kid were ‘The Death of Superman’ and ‘DC vs. Marvel.’ I used to sit in my brother’s room for hours pouring over them again and again because I loved seeing superheroes fighting for those without the power to fight for themselves. From there, I went on to read several dozen ‘X-Men’ titles, some extremely great runs on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Watchmen’, ‘Catwoman’ (excluding the awful new 52 version of her), and of course a ton of ‘Batman’ comics.
I’m also heavily into anime and manga, though my tastes are all over the place. I love all the classics—Cowboy Bebop, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, G Gundam, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z—but I’ve also fallen in love with some newer stuff like Kuroshitsuji, Ouran High School Host Club, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Beelzebub, Kaichou wa Maid-Sama, Great Teach Onizuka (GTO), Darker Than Black and Durarara!!! I seem to bounce between shoujo and josei and anything related to sci-fi or fantasy.
Additionally, I have a huge collection of Internet reviewers that I love to follow. That Guy with the Glasses deserves first mention, particularly Linkara, Spoony, and Todd in the Shadows because I met them in person and they are the nicest fellows you could ever hope to meet. I’m absolutely hooked on Two Best Friends Play and Rage Quit. Totally in love with the comedic duo Barats and Bereta, as well as Source Fed, Honest Trailers, and Cinema Sins on Youtube. I’m also friends with Michael Agrusso, aka ItsJustSomeRandomGuy, creator of the ‘Hi, I’m a Marvel and I’m a DC’ videos. I couldn’t be a bigger geek if I tried.
TA: Are there any other projects that you’re working on?
KM: Currently, I am working on a YA high fantasy novel that started out as just a little side novel and somehow turned into a George R. R. Martin-length epic fantasy tale. It is two-thirds of the way done and I am utterly excited about it because it is my first time ever writing in the high fantasy genre. It has been extremely challenging, but fulfilling all the same. It still does not have a permanent title, but I’ve been describing it to people as, “Avatar: The Last Airbender meets the X-Men, with a dash of Firefly.’ It has a long way to go before it is ready for publication, so I would say keep an eye out for it in 2014 or 2015 at the absolute latest.
After the Black Parade trilogy is wrapped up, I’ll be starting another urban fantasy novel about a teenage girl and her widower father hunting dragons. At this stage, it is just a lump of story and character notes, but I’m also eager to write it as well.
TA: What advice can you give writers?
KM: (1) Don’t write yourself off (excuse the pun, please). I did that for literally years. I wouldn’t admit to myself that I wanted to write novels for a living until sophomore year of college. Don’t do that, kids. If you have the love and the gift, accept it and don’t let fear rule your life. (2) Find a support system, writing related or not. You are not an island. You need people to help you and keep your head above water because this is by far one of the hardest ways to make a living and it is going to suck for an incredibly long time. (3) Read things that you love and then find something you hate and read that too. Both will make you a better writer. Read Jim Butcher, and then flip open some Stephanie Meyer right afterwards. You will immediately see the difference in quality, and that will help keep you from becoming a terrible writer. (4) Don’t be a dick. Chuck Wendig talks about this a lot and you should listen to him. One of the fastest ways to kill your career is to be a jerkoff. You don’t have to be an angel, but please, be mindful of others and don’t bully anyone.
TA: Who are the writers that inspire you?
KM: Good Lord, do you have enough space for all these names? Okay, you asked for it: Denny O’Neill, Christopher Nolan, Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie (RIP, sir.), Paul Dini, Jim Butcher, Chuck Wendig, Andrew W. Marlowe, Brian Jacques (RIP, sir.), Alan Moore, Nobuhiro Watsuki, J. K. Rowling, Jane Green, Geoff Thorne, and Jackson Pearce. I will also begrudgingly add Laurell K. Hamilton to the list, but ONLY for the first nine Anita Blake novels. These writers have all shown me something different and incredible at different points in my life and I am so grateful for being exposed to them. My father and my writing sensei both scold me for watching or reading things repeatedly, but in truth that is what keeps me going. I read and watch these things in order to remember why I want to be an author and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to catch a sliver of the greatness pouring off of these writers someday.
TA: As a person of color and a woman in the writing industry what obstacles do you face?
KM: It’s rough out there for any woman writing urban fantasy with a female character, and it’s even harder with a black protagonist. Unfortunately, black authors tend to get lumped in together because society assumes all black writers write is terrible smut or books about how racism will never be over. It will be difficult to get anyone to take my work seriously since I am not well known and am a first time author, but I aim to misbehave and make a name for myself anyway.
There is also potential backlash because of the interracial relationship that is the core of my novel, and I will face it with a grin on my face because I happen to fully support interracial relationships. I love seeing people from different backgrounds coming together and finding similarities and falling in love. I have always believed that love is love and it cannot be categorized by skin color.
Lastly, it is extremely hard to set yourself apart as an urban fantasy writer because the genre is so popular and in vogue right now. Self-publishing is a great option, but it is also unfortunately too easy. Anyone can fart out a terrible urban fantasy novel and so it can steer away a lot of readers because they all assume your work is lousy. The most common stereotype associated with the genre is the cocky Mary Sue protagonist who is trendy, white, sassy, and well off financially. There are dozens of them. So it will be an uphill battle for me to get Jordan separated from the sheep herd and to get people to realize she has layers and issues and is worth a read.
TA: When will the book be released and how will readers be able to obtain a copy of the book?
KM: The Black Parade is slated for release in late July 2013. It will be available as an eBook on Amazon and as a hard copy there and on Smashwords as well.
*You can now purchase the book on Create A Space and the book is now available on Amazon. So go forth and purchase this book!*
author, books, comicmaniac spotlight, fanboy buzz, geeks, interview, Kyoko M., nerds, novel, reading, sci-fi, self publishing, supernatural, Tali Adina, The Black Parade, urban fantasy, writer, writing
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