RA: You have a lot of titles featuring diverse main characters, so you clearly think it's important. Can you share with us a little bit of why that is?
RAE: I do indeed! I grew up around a diverse group of friends with so many fascinating cultures. It's become second nature to include it in my writing because it's been my life and it's a reflection of the world we live in. When stories focus on one group, I can't help but say 'you don't know what you're missing out on!' because the real world with so many beautiful hues, backgrounds and diversity of people is something that should be reflected and celebrated in the media.
Growing up, I wasn't happy with who I was because I saw so many images that didn't celebrate my features. Growing up, I began to love myself and celebrate it and I want other young girls and women of color to experience the same. Sadly that isn't true in YA lit. It's one of many reasons why I wanted to dip my pen into the world because I want to empower those young women to be comfortable in their skin with positive images of heroines that look like them. I'm hoping I can achieve that.
RA: Was there anyone who inspired you to become a writer, a mentor or an author? Or is this something you’ve done without the benefit of a role model?
RAE: I had a mentor and a few English teachers that said I should be a writer. I loved writing because it was an outlet for my imagination. When I was younger, I'd watch different movies, shows and plays. I'd get story inspiration from them with more diverse characters and I loved writing them out with different scenarios and endings. Eventually I shared them with classmates and teachers and in high school I met my mentor who would help me with story structure, characterization and all that. So I guess it was something I've done since I was really young but eventually became a better writer with guidance and crit partners.
RA: It's great that you had people encouraging you along the way. I'm sure they're happy to see that you've gone on to do great things. For our readers, would you share a little about your favorite character creation? Who is he or she, and what do you love about him or her?:-)
RAE: Surely! I think the encouragement definitely helped because I was always unsure about my stories. I first wrote them for my amusement and it was really rewarding to have readers that were entertained by such stories!)
As for my fave character creation, that would have to be Raven Blackheart my first full length novel character. I wanted her to be a strong yet vulnerable character who still had an integrity about her even through all the adversity she had been through in her life. There is a lot of myself in her and a lot of what I always wanted to see in a heroine that kicks butt. She had a lot to overcome as far as trust in herself, her abilities and falling in love again after her losing the love of her life and family.
RA: Wow, she sounds like an interesting character. Can you share some links with us so we can find her and your other work?
REA: Thanks! :-) And surely! Readers can learn more about Raven, her world and her love interest Russell Li at the webpage.
My works (current and upcoming) are listed at my book page.
RA: Cool! Thanks for joining us!