1). How did your writing journey begin?
I actually had been writing for most of my life, from a little girl onward, and never really considered it to be anything more than a hobby until midway through college. I went to a lecture on writing and publishing given by a Georgia author named Jackson Pearce. After attending this lecture, I realized that writing was actually not just a passion, but it could be a career choice for me, so I gathered everything I had together and wrote my first novel, The Black Parade. After that, I continued writing professionally and never looked back.
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
I have a metric ton of writing inspirations and influencers, but I’d say from the point of when I began writing professionally to now, some of my biggest inspirations have been Brian Jacques, Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Bruce Timm, John Milton, Junot Diaz, W.B. Yeats, and W.H. Auden. There are a lot more, trust me—I have Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, after all.
3). Are you an outliner or a panster?
Pantser. I acknowledge how useful outlines are, but my brain doesn’t seem to work that way. However, most of the time, I write about a third to a half of a novel, and then I write an outline of the events to give me some perspective and organization.
4). What are your favorite books?
How much time do you have? My top two favorite series are The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Some of my stand alone favorite books are Mr. Maybe by Jane Green, Paradise Lost by John Milton, Earthrise by M. C. A. Hogarth, Game Set Match by Nana Malone, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Helltown by Dennis O’Neil, Inheritance by Devin Grayson, and The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. I also have to mention there is a huge mountain of various comic books and manga that are too many to name, unfortunately.
5). Describe your writing process.
I get an idea. It can come from various sources at various times. I write out the premise in a document and then I sleep on it. I return to said document and reread the premise. If it sticks with me and I’m devoted to it and excited about it, then I decide to begin. If it doesn’t, I keep it shelved.
I write a first draft, send it out for feedback to a few trusted sources, and then do developmental edits. I then self-edit, and complete the second and third drafts. I then send it out to an editor and complete the final draft for publishing.
6). What inspired you to write “My Dinner with Vlad”?
I was delighted when Milton Davis asked me to write an urban fantasy story set in Atlanta, and so I immediately began thinking about one of my favorite things about the city: the food. Yes, I am a foodie, and Atlanta has some of the best places from greasy-spoon dives to fancy, fine dining. I decided to use The Vortex as my jumping off point just because it’s so delightfully quirky and weird and vulgar, and the burgers truly are to die for.
As for our protagonists, I have always enjoyed stories about vampires and werewolves, and so I wanted to blend a few of my favorite tropes together for this story. Most urban fantasy stories like to have one normal protagonist who gets introduced into the supernatural world, and one already supernatural creature to introduce them to it, but I wanted two powerful supernatural creatures with a history and a fun rapport to just have a night on the town.
7). Tell us a bit about your story.
“My Dinner with Vlad” stars Cassandra Moody, the black twenty-something daughter of the original Wolfman, and Vladmir Tepes, aka Dracula, the father of all vampires. Vlad had flown in (ha, ha, get it?) to Atlanta, GA see her and her parents, with whom he is close friends, but Cassandra’s parents are out of town, so they asked Cassandra to entertain the Count in their absence. Cass and Vlad have known each other since she was a kid, and they have their own unique relationship with beats and rhythms that are familiar, but are beginning to change. Then we find out that Cass is in a spot of trouble, and Vlad is just the help she needs to stop a small pack of rogue werewolves trying to move in on the Atlanta area’s pack, and consequently, her family.
8). How do you feel about Atlanta being a Black Speculative Fiction hub?
It’s fantastic. The whole reason I wrote my first novel, The Black Parade, was that I was dying for more diversity in a speculative fiction setting, and it’s excellent to see that Atlanta is a beautiful, growing source for these kinds of stories. It’s the perfect place to help that movement expand.
9). Will there be more stories about this character?
Yes, Milton asked me to write a sequel story to this one for a future anthology and it’s already done! The working title is “Hunted.” We pick up about five years after the events of “My Dinner with Vlad” to see how things have progressed between Cass and the Count.
10). How do we keep up with all things Kyoko M?
You can find me at http://www.shewhowritesmonsters.com.
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
This job is a thousand times harder than it looks, and you have to be willing to put in the time and be ready to fail. A lot. Constantly. Don’t believe the stories you’re going to hear about runaway bestsellers and instant hits. Most of us grind. Most of us lose sleep and money and confidence. Is it worth it in the end? Most definitely, but you have to be willing to make tremendous sacrifices and just know that your work towards trying to be successful is indefinite.
Read Kyoko M's story My Dinner with Vlad in Terminus. Visit our State of Black Science Fiction booth at the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend for a signed copy.