Monday, February 27, 2017

Author Interview: Miri Castor

Miri Castor is the author of Opal Charm, a series about a black middle school girl with magical powers. Castor is working on her PhD in biochemistry while working on the second book in the series, which comes out March 19! She has also had other works published in Black Girl Magic Lit Mag. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and several other sites, and you can find where to buy her books here.

Tell me about yourself. What made you start writing fiction?

My love for Kingdom Hearts, and other fantasy RPGs. Adventure and fantasy books were my life as a kid. They incited a creative spark in me. What I really wanted to see were black girls like me as the main characters of these stories, being all magical and special. So I thought, why not make my own stories?

What in particular attracted you to writing urban fantasy?

I love the idea of magical happenings in the real world. I mean, magical realism fills that criteria too, but urban fantasy has more of a fantastical element to it.

Do your characters and plots draw any inspiration from your own life?

My characters have little bits and pieces of me in them, sure. Adaeze is a biochemist, Opal’s never had a smartphone until she was 13, and Aaron is a bundle a joy as am I haha! The plots are definitely too fantastical to be from my life, especially Book 2’s. They draw from a concoction of my interests: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, afrofuturistic books, and a wide spectrum of anime. But at the same time, they do tend to be exaggerated from bits of my life.

Tell me about the obstacles your main character overcomes in the Opal Charm series.

The first major obstacle she overcomes is herself. She has a lot of self-made negativity that’s affected how she sees herself, her family, and her friends. Without getting too much into Book 2, Opal’s always had an issue of being confident and optimistic. She’s encouraged to be hopeful, and now has to learn what it means to be hopeful when faced with despair.

Have your recent works been influenced by any particular novels or movies?

Oh yes, a particular Japanese light novel that I can’t name right now.

You're currently working on grad school right now - how the heck do you make or find time to write?

You know, before I started this program, I would’ve said something like “I have no idea!! How am I gonna do this??” but now that I’m halfway through my first year, I can say it’s not as daunting as it sounds. I make time whenever I can: weekend nights, on holiday breaks, and while I’m waiting for experiments to finish in the lab. But I make sure my studies are done first. I can say college has taught me how to manage my time well, and it’s really paying off with organizing my writing time, my study time, and my relaxation time.

Do you see yourself writing fiction long-term?

I think I do. I like writing fiction; it’s a nice break from life and lab work.

Do you manage to maintain any other hobbies outside of writing?

I love practicing karate! I have since I was six-years-old. I enjoy all sorts of video games, though I do prefer RPGs. Although I don’t do it often, I enjoy touring art exhibits and museums. I also try to squeeze in at least one concert a year when I can.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little of both? I outline my books, but then I just do my own thing when I’m writing. The outline serves as a super rough draft.

Any advice you'd like to give other authors?

Do research on characters you’re not sure about. Do a lot of research on them. Research the world you’re making, the rules, the culture. Do your homework. Learn how to analyze writing styles and techniques in books other than your own. Be open to criticism, and don’t argue with anyone who has constructive critiques for your stories.

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