1. Congratulations on winning Camp Nanowrimo! I heard this wasn’t your first time with NaNoWriMo. What were some challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Thank you so much! You’re right, I attempted November NaNoWriMo last year but I failed. Writing 1667 words every day for 30 days is not impossible, but it’s not easy either.
Camp NaNoWriMo, however, is different, because writers set their own targets; for me, it was to write 25,000 words in a month, which is half the goal of the standard NaNoWriMo. It was challenging, but this time I succeeded because I had a support system of other writers cheering me on, and we all kept each other accountable. Almost every day, we had writing sprints, that is, we set a timer of 20 or 25 minutes, and wrote as many words as we could during that time frame. And that’s how my manuscript went from 3000 words to 28000 in 28 days!
2. Can you share a little about your work-in-progress?
Sure! I am so excited about it, and I am currently sharing snippets of it on Instagram. The working title is “Decagon“. The premise is that Earth is decaying, so a small part of humanity – the privileged ones – moves to Novio, the only planet that can host them. Once they get there though, the enslave the native population, the Kanis. Every five years, young people go through the Decagon Selections, a process that will assess their abilities and establish their Role in society. This year, for the first time ever, slaves are to participate in the Selections for a chance at freedom. But our protagonists, Nakira and her friends, have other plans…
3. That sounds absolutely exciting! I can’t wait for it! Was there an event that inspired you for this story or is there a person you had in mind when you were writing your protagonist?
I can’t point to a specific event or source of inspiration because there was so much going on in my head! But I do remember that I had a very strong urge to come back to writing when I was reading Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. So when I finally decided to stop torturing myself and just start writing a novel (and finish it!) I started looking for inspiration on Pinterest. I knew what I was looking for: art illustrating black females in fantasy or sci-fi. When I saw the picture of a young black female tribal warrior, I knew I had found my main character. As for the genre I’m writing in, dystopian science fiction, it’s simply because it’s my favourite book genre to read. If I had to mention a few books and movies that inspired the mood of my story, I would say Black Panther, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Testing and The Maze Runner.
My main character, for example, Nakira, is definitely inspired by the women of Wakanda: strong and proud of who she is.
4. Do you have a favourite character so far or do you love them all equally? Can you share a little about them?
As much as I love all my characters, I have to say Nakira is my favourite. After all, the whole story came to me because of her. Nakira is the kind of person I aspire to be; in fact, when writing her, I let her do the exact opposite of what I would do in certain situations. She is a has a rebellious attitude, and one thing that makes her stand out from the other characters is that she is Crossed – half human and half Kani. As such, she doesn’t seem to fit in with her people or humans either. This is the one thing about her that reflects me; as an Afro-Italian, I have found myself to not fit in 100% with either black people or white people, and I have often been called out for it. That is why racial discrimination is at the centre of my novel – I want to give a voice to people like me, and Nakira is my weapon.
5. I love that you’ve been supporting and motivating authors with your blog! Is there anyone who inspires and motivates you?
Thank you! And yes, I would say my younger sister, Keziah, inspires me and motivates me. She is only 16, and just like me, she wants to be a writer; little does she know that her passion is what is really pushing me to move forward. I want to show her that dreams do come true when you work hard towards them. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but it’s the truth. When you’re a young black African, it’s not easy to tell your parents that you want to become a writer, because you’re expected to become a doctor or a lawyer (a career I am pursuing); but unlike me, she did exactly that!
6. What is the biggest message that you’d like to share through your work?
That being different is good, and the more different we are from each other, the better teams we can create.
7. You’ve made huge progress in your work. What is your next goal?
The next goal is to finish writing the first drift of Decagon, so I can start rewrites and edits, and hopefully, publish it next year. You can join my mailing list by visiting elirabarnes.com, or follow me on social media for news and updates on the writing and publishing journey.
Here are the other platforms Elira Barnes is on! Go ahead and check her out, give her a follow and stay updated with her work!
SKAVANSIEUR is now offering author interviews (questions regarding the author) and book interviews (questions regarding your book). Email email@example.com for any inquiries.