Author Interview: L.L. McKinney

Hello, little foxes! Today I’d like to introduce you to L.L. McKinney, author of the upcoming A Blade So Black through Macmillian.

A Blade So Black CoverThe first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

— Goodreads


What was your inspiration for A Blade So Black?

Overall, I wanted to write a book about a badass Black girl, but the story of A BLADE SO BLACK came about specifically when I was at my mom’s house. I was on her couch, watching a rerun of Supernatural, and they were making Buffy references. For some random reason, that’s the moment I remembered an article I read about Disney in preparation to start filming a live action Alice in Wonderland, and I wondered “what if it’s a modern Alice? What would that look like?” Thus, the story began.

When I first read the synopsis, I noticed that it mentioned Alice’s mother. Why did you decide to avoid the absentee or dead parent(s) trope?

For me, it’s a little bit of an easy out if the character—and thus the writer—doesn’t have to worry about any parents or authority figures that would definitely be all up in they business, throwing wrenches in things and what not. Plus, I didn’t want to deny Alice this important relationship.

As I read A Blade So Black, I found myself relating to a lot of the cultural things you wrote. Did you intentionally set out to do that or did it just happen like that?

Both? I mean, a lot of it happened just because that’s life, you know? Things that happened to me, my sisters, my cousins, my friends worked their way into the book. But I also wanted to draw on some Black experiences that weren’t necessarily mine, via privilege or whatever. Those were intentional. Alice can’t and doesn’t represent all iterations of what it means to be a Black girl, but I wanted her to touch as many people as possible.

There were a lot of nerdy references scattered throughout the book. I like that you included that nerdy side instead of just making Alice the typically badass. Where there any other references that you wanted to include, but they got cut?

There were a few. Some were just altered a little bit. I really wanted to figure out a way to work in Avatar the Last Airbender, but that would’ve been a lot. Plus I would’ve had to try and hone in on one character or book or happening and I just couldn’t! There’s too much awesome to leave anything out. Which is funny, considering I left all of it out. I’d hoped to include more gaming references, but it just didn’t come up organically. Maybe in book 2.

What other projects are you working on that you can tell us about? Is there a sequel to A Blade So Black?

Ha! What I just say? Yes, there’s a book 2, and it is a direct sequel to A BLADE SO BLACK. I’m also in a couple of anthologies, laying down some more Black Girl Magic. There are….other books in the works as well, but I can’t say much about them. Yet. ~_^


A Blade So Black comes out tomorrow so go and get yourself a copy on Amazon or Indiebound!

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