What if I told you that to this day, albinos are hunted and killed in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Why? Because of the belief that they're magical, or cursed.
Not so much.
"From Tanzania and Burundi in the East, to Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire in the West and South Africa and Swaziland in the South, people born with this genetic condition live in fear every day. There exists a lucrative black market in albino body parts used to make what is promoted as powerful 'muti' medicine. The hand, arm or any albino organ is combined with other ingredients and then sold for thousands of dollars: $3,000 for a hand or over $100,000 for an entire set of organs. Sometimes body parts are even shipped across borders." (1)
This is what inspired my YA Fantasy novel TOUCHED BY FIRE about a seventeen year old girl named Szerschen (Schen) Vale, a thief and an amputee, who lost her leg in a ritual--and has no intentions of losing any other body parts. Or her life.
But when she and a Saa Zitah (Touched by Fire) boy are exposed (identified by their red hair and dark skin) -- she'll risk everything to protect him, even if it means sacrificing not only the girl she loves, but also facing her greatest fear.
TOUCHED BY FIRE is a YA Fantasy that is EMBER IN THE ASHES +THRONE OF GLASS + GAME OF THRONES, and is set in a Afro-Latinx world featuring diverse characters, LGBT romances (lot's of girls kissing girls), and a bad ass matriarchy (unfortunately led by a tyrant queen who's a bit Cersei Lannister post *shame, shame, shame* meets Voldemort, but without the magic).
Schen is biracial and bisexual (like me!) and if I had to sum her up, I'd say she's impulsive and hothead, also compassionate with a big heart and that makes her dangerous when crossed.
Did I also mention she's a total bad ass with a whip? (Move over, Indiana Jones!)
Schen's girlfriend, Nor Tazmir, is the calm and rational thinker to Schen's 'jump first, look second' personality, and totally a teenage Michone with purple dreads, fights with two swords, and flies on a griffling! (Side note: Nor's character was meant to fade out after the first few chapters, but when I wrote a daring escape scene - she stole my heart and is now a key player in the books to come!)
Raine Das Loehner is the tortured hero of this tale. He's Robb Stark meets Conan (without the penchant for bloodshed) but virginal, and afraid of physical touch. Yes, I'm Jason Mamoa obsessed. You should be, too. #ShekhMaShierakiAnni
And Majesty, well - what can I say other than the woman has issues.
* I've always had an unhealthy obsession with swords. I blame that on my childhood watching Ninja Turtles and Xena (I might've even tried to master her pressure point maneuver -- alas, with no luck). So it's no surprise that my fantasy world includes a lot of kick ass girls who know how to handle a blade, or two. (Legit - there's a female only militia and men are not allowed to carry edged weapons!)
* I started writing when I was twelve - thanks to a school project - and never looked back. All these voices that were clamoring inside my head finally had a way out. They've compelled me to write ever since, and I am always sad when I finish a book, because it's like saying good bye to friends.
* I'm mixed ethnicity (black, white and Spanish) and bisexual. TBF was the first book I wrote at seventeen where I wrote about a heroine who was me on the page. This book stayed in a drawer for over a decade until November of last year when I decided I was ready to strip it down and do the world/characters justice. So, ripping out it's beating heart, I shoved it into a brand new body, and gave it life! (IT'S AAAAAALIVE!!!!! MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!)
* In 2016 I became a Wattpad Star, was twice reviewed by RT BOOK REVIEWS, featured in COSMO online magazine, and was a Top 3 CATHERINES finalist.
*Recent authors I've discovered and ADORE are Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Zoraida Cordova, Claudia Gray, Lindsey Summers, Leah (L.D) Crichton, (and Nora Roberts will always be my Queen!)
Why I'll make a great mentee:
* Because I own swords and will use them to kill all the darlings :) I'm not afraid of criticism, feedback or change. Yes, this book is near and dear to my heart. More than any other that I've written because this goes back to when I was 17 - BUT - I know that pain is change, it is necessary for growth and development, and part of the publishing journey.
* Because I WANT to learn and grow, and will do the work. Seriously -- I was a bikini fitness model who hit the gym out seven days a week for three hours a day while holding a full time job, and raising my daughter. After three competitions in one year I qualified to compete with the elite! So, believe me when I say I can commit, handle stress and will kill myself to hit the stage--er, make the deadline.
* I'm a team player. Probably my greatest strength is my ability to support a community and to work well within a team dynamic. I think its from years of playing sports as a kid. :)
Well, that's all folks! I look forward to getting to know my fellow Warbringers and Mentors as the day quickly approaches. Good luck to everyone, and if I don't make it - know that I will be cheering for ALL OF YOU from the sidelines! :)
Warbringer, and Khaleesi in the Making
1) Ash, Peter (7 June 2013) Human Rights Council: 23rd Session Item 5: General Debate. Oral Intervention East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) http://www.underthesamesun.com/sites/default/files/Speech%20to%20UN%20June%202013.pdf Accessed 24 April 2014