When I first started writing, I was an avid reader and still am. As a reader my selections of books were based on an eclectic taste I still can’t understand. Of one thing I was certain, I loved mysteries. From my first John D. McDonald’s color coded mystery to Walter Mosely’s latest Down Under the Sea I’ve come to learn, I wanted to see a bit of myself in those stories. None were truer than my love of the Stephanie Plum Mysteries by Janet Evanovich. I LOVED THOSE BOOKS, until I…didn’t. No fault of the author. Her characters were funny, unique and my kind of people. What got me writing my Maggie and Odessa Mystery series, was I wanted to step into that world and feel welcome. I wanted to go to the Blue Moon Restaurant, order coffee and one of Odessa’s best cakes and eavesdrop.
As a writer of color and a woman, I know we come in various shades as writers than what is expected of us. I like to believe the world is learning that as well, if not slowly. I look at N.K. Jemison, Octavia Butler, Attica Locke, Tananarive Due as well as others. What these authors bring to the table is what makes me feel welcome. A view that sometimes is missing, especially with the traditional publishing industry being over 80% white and male. As women of color, their view of the world deepens my choices as a reader.
As I’m about to release my newest book in the series, I still remember the first time I finished the last page of Pennywise. I wasn’t sure if I did Ms. Plum any justice, but I filled a void I thought was missing, at least for me. Some new voices that follow continue to do the same. I’ve seen them, they are out there, growing and gaining strength.
My view, slightly different to some, but not to me, is a view from my room. A sometimes humorous, silly, culturally mixed bag of characters that I see every day. While I loved Stephanie Plum, I was looking for Maggie and Odessa. Our view of the world is often seen from different rooms. Giving each a slightly distinct perception of the scene before them. I like that, I like that a lot.