I recently ordered a copy of neo_prodigy
's book Hollowstone
and I'm looking forward to reading it! Even though I very rarely read YA books, I'm impressed by his description, and also by his innovative use of marketing to promote it. As we approach promotion time for our own novel, I'm playing very
close attention. The Virtual Book Tour he's been doing is really a fantastic idea and I'm glad to be a part of it. AJF: Who are some of your favorite writers and how do you think they’ve influenced your writing?
Joss Whedon, in my opinion, has been a game changer in regards to speculative fiction. Even today you can see his influence in a plethora of works. He's definitely been a storyteller who taught me to defy convention. Whether it's the pop culture references, tackling social justice, breaking the fourth wall, the razor sharp wit, surprise twists or simply killing everyone off. LOL!AJF: Aside from writing style, which writers do you admire for their advocacy efforts?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is another personal favorite of mine and he's been another major influence. There's a reason why Sherlock Holmes is truly a timeless masterpiece.
AJF: We’re both Southerners, like it or not, and Hollowstone sounds like a very Southern book. Does it have any dead mules? And this is a big question, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately... how do you see the cultural and demographic landscape of the South changing over the next twenty years, and will it become more or less multiracial and multicultural?
In addition to Whedon, the late Perry Moore was a good friend and a personal role model. He was a kind soul but was very outspoken (one of his favorite words LOL) about LGBTQ rights and social justice. Gail Simone, another good friend, is someone who I've learned a lot from as well. She's always looking for opportunities to step her game up in regards to advocacy. The late Dwayne McDuffie is someone who I don't feel doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He consistently stood tall for women, POCs and LGBTQs when he was with us.
Russell T. Davies is someone who has proven time and time again that you can be inclusive of POCs and LGBTQs and be successful and create brilliant art. This is the man who gave us Queer As Folk, the best seasons of the New Doctor Who, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures.
I don't think it has any dead mules per say. Cletus the slack-jawed yokel doesn’t make any cameos. I didn't write a story about why the South Sucks And Why It's a Hellhole, Particularly Chattanooga, that's the next novel I'm penning. While I'd be lying if I said preserving the image of the South was my top priority (or a priority at all), because a lot of Hollowstone is based on my personal experiences, I portrayed the characters and the culture as honestly as possible for the sake of the story.AJF: You’re one of the few people to talk in depth about The Vanishing Son, which was a pretty amazing and groundbreaking show, and sadly, I don’t think there’s been a major television drama since then with a solo Asian-American lead. I haven’t seen it since it aired (though I’d like to do a rewatch at some point) but I remember the ghost and supernatural elements. Was that an influence on Hollowstone?
That being said the novel does call out much of the racism and bigotry that continues to pervade Southern culture and I make no apologies about that. Whether it’s the waving of he Confederate flags or the harassment Noah receives for committing the sin of existing while black.
But on the flipside I also explored/celebrated black southern culture and showcased how we thrived in spite of the South. Most notable example of that is the anomaly that is Atlanta. In the story, Cal visits Noah and his grandmother while Noah’s home for the holidays in Atlanta. While there, Cal participates in an open mic at a coffee shop and he gets a glimpse of seeing blacks as well as other POCs thriving and celebrating their culture and simply doing them.
In regards to the rest of the South evolving or changing, I’m not holding my breath. At all. In spite of having an incredible black president in office, I think it’s also resulted in a backlash from bigoted whites in this country because they feel as if their country has been taken from them. The South has always been behind the curve in regards to progress and change has never occurred without bloodshed.
Frederick Jermaine Carter and Bernard C. Burden are sobering reminders that the South is adamant about not only not progressing but devolving. Let’s not forget Tennessee just made it illegal to say the word gay in schools.
So if anything, I honestly see it getting worse.
You know I was initially going to answer no, but now that I stop and think about it, Vanishing Son had more of an influence than I realized. While the series was great, it was the four preceding made-for-TV movies that were epic and made me a hardcore fan of the story and Russell Wong.AJF: Thanks for taking part in the interview, and for inspiring me to do a Vanishing Son rewatch! Good luck with Hollowstone!
The Vanishing Son was one of the first times I saw a non-white male character in a sexy leading role. As a fellow person of color, I could relate to the struggles and bigotry Wong’s character endured. It also taught me, that as a non-white male, I don't have to be the token or black best friend. I could actually take the lead and be the alpha.
Noah being a musician was actually inspired by one of my good buddies from high school who was an incredible violinist but more and more I do see where Vanishing Son has had an influence, if for nothing else than providing a template of how to have a POC as a lead character in a leading role and to break a lot of stereotypes and tell a compelling story in the process. Now I’m going to have to make a run to Netflix and Amazon to see if I can track down those films.