Eleven Questions with Kenesha Williams
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
1). How did your writing journey begin?
I have always wanted to be a writer and wrote stories and poems since I was a child. In college, I majored in English Literature and Language with a concentration in African Diaspora Literature. I didn’t choose writing as my major because my parents were concerned with my future employment opportunities and they thought that English was a more viable major. After college, I worked as an event planner, and then later as a financial analyst for the Department of Defense. While working I wrote in my spare time and I knew that I wanted to be a writer someday, but I thought it was something I’d do when I retired from my career.
Then when the indie publishing revolution started, I began publishing short stories through Smashwords. Before that I had a few articles published in online magazines and had performed my poetry around the DC Metro Area. Then at the end of 2015 I started a literary magazine and started publishing other Black speculative fiction authors. Since 2016, I’ve written short stories, had short stories published in various anthologies, essays published in magazines, written an award-winning screenplay, and now will publish my first Horror/Urban Fantasy novel this year.
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
My first writing inspirations were Toni Morrison, J. California Cooper, and Alice Walker because I loved the way they depicted Black life. Those books I found on my mother’s bookshelf as a young teen and they weren’t like anything I was reading in school or found in my school’s library. Later, when I started reading horror, Stephen King was a big horror inspiration because my mother had so many of his books that I would steal from her and read. My later writing inspirations were Tananarive Due, Octavia Butler, Brandon Massey, and Walter Mosley seeing Black authors working almost exclusively in speculative fiction was a revelation to me. Although, Mosley mostly writes mystery (my second favorite genre) he has speculative fiction works as well.
3). Are you an outliner or a panster?
I’m a planster, a hybrid of the two. I usually plan what I will write, but not at the granular level of an outline. I start with a logline, a one-sentence summary of the story that includes the protagonist, their goal, and the stakes (what will happen if they don’t accomplish their goal). I then take that and write a paragraph long summary of about three sentences that encapsulates the beginning, middle, and end of the story. I will then sometimes further flesh that out into a paragraph for each part of the story. It’s a way of planning your writing called the snowball method. It gives me enough structure that I know where I’m going but isn’t so rigid that I can’t change my mind about my plot points. With this I have a roadmap, but I’m not afraid to deviate into other ideas that might be amazing, and that I might not have thought about in the outline phase.
4). What are your favorite books?
Geez, ask me who my favorite child is why don’t you! My favorite book of all time is Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar. Some other favorites are Kindred by Octavia Butler, My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due, and White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty. After that it would be a different answer every month because I read so much, I average about a book a week or a book every two weeks when I’m deep in my own writing.
5). Describe your writing process.
I kind of started that answer with the outliner vs panster question. But my day to day writing process is that I have a daily word count goal and I try to reach that every day. Sometimes I fail depending on what’s happening around me. I don’t have a set time that I write, which I know might be helpful, but my life as a stay-at-home mom, especially now homeschooling, means that each day is different. So like many people who have day jobs, I try to carve out moments to write when I can. I also think I’m a more productive writer at night versus the day.
6). Why did you choose to write speculative fiction?
It’s what I love to read, so I knew I had to write it. If you looked at my Kindle you would see that it heavily skews towards “genre fiction”. I think both of my parents have been major influences in my writing speculative fiction because they both read and watch in the genre. My mother was a fan of horror and watching horror movies with her as well as reading the horror novels she collected was an enormous influence. My father has always been into science fiction and fantasy and he influenced my love for those types of stories.
7). Tell us a bit about Blood Debt: The Daywalker Chronicles.
Here’s the blurb:
100 kills or 100 years. That’s the contract. That’s the deal. But this kill is personal.
32 years ago a rogue vampire murdered my best friend in front of my eyes. I’ve spent the last three decades wracked with guilt over my friend’s death. Why was I spared and she not? But I wouldn’t wish this life of the undead on anyone.
Black vamps are natural daywalkers. For that reason, our numbers are controlled, and we are contracted out as assassins or servants. And it still doesn’t guarantee our freedom.
A Master Vampire has been murdered and one of his progeny is suspected. My mission, to find the killer and eliminate them. The prime suspect, the vampire I thought was put down all those years ago.
If the price of my freedom is retribution, I’m ready to pay all debts in BLOOD.
8). What inspired you to write Blood Debt: The Daywalker Chronicles?
Vampires are my favorite monsters, so I wanted to take them on and make them my own. I also like the idea of a main character who is a vampire that was turned in the 1980s, which is my favorite decade in terms of music, aesthetics, and fashion. The hook of having Black vampires that are daywalkers that serve the ruling class of vampires as assassins was something I wanted to explore. Blood Debt is also set in Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia cities that I know, love, and feel a connection to.
9). Will there be more stories about this character?
Yes, definitely. The Daywalker Chronicles will be at the very least a trilogy, but I will also have at least two other books in this world as well with different main characters, all women with supernatural abilities.
10). How do we keep up with all things Kenesha?
You can check out my website, www.keneshawilliams.com . I’m also on Facebook, my author page is https://www.facebook.com/keneshawilliams.writer/ . I’m not on Twitter as much, but I’m @keneshaisdope there and on Instagram. To find updates on Blood Debt, you can go to https://www.keneshawilliams.com/blood-debt
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
Read. Read widely, not just in the genre you write in but in many genres. Make time to write even if it’s only a sentence a day it will still get you closer to your goals than writing nothing at all. Make other writer friends and join online or in-person writing groups. Lastly, make your writing a priority, schedule it in your planner or phone like you would any other important meeting or event.
For more information on Kenesha Williams upcoming novel Blood Debt, click here: