How do you pronounce your first name?
My first name is phonetically pronounced "eye YAWN uh," with stress on the middle syllable!
What is BEASTS OF PREY about, and why is it called a "Pan-African" inspired fantasy?
BEASTS OF PREY is a young adult fantasy novel following two Black teenagers who enter a magical jungle to hunt down a monster.
It is often referred to as a Pan-African inspired fantasy because ‘pan’ means ‘all,’ and this story celebrates lore and mythologies from all across the African continent. There are also references to
Pan-Africanism, which is an ideology originating in the 1960s that encourages and acknowledges unity among people from the African continent and people of the African diaspora. This story draws from the inspiration of cultures across the African continent, but also from my directly-lived experiences as a Black woman of Afro-descent.
What inspired BEASTS OF PREY?
Short Version: In my third year of undergraduate study, I took an honors colloquium on political violence that made me begin grappling with how easily concepts of “good” and “evil” can be manipulated. Six months later, I studied abroad in Ghana (West Africa) and was struck by its beautiful landscapes, complex history, and the connection I felt to it as a person of the African diaspora. The amalgamation of those experiences inspired me to start writing the story that (eventually) became BEASTS OF PREY.
How did you get traditionally published?
Short Version: I wrote a story for four years (2015 - 2019) and asked trusted friends to read it and give me feedback. Then in April 2019, I participated in an event on Twitter called
#DVPit where I “pitched” my book idea to literary agents and editors. From that event, I connected with my now-literary agent, Peter Knapp of
Park & Fine Literary and Media. He and I worked together to revise the book, then he submitted it to editors at traditional publishing houses.
A few days later, we received notice that a publisher was interested, and hours later, we learned even more publishers were interested. Everything happened very quickly after that and, shortly after, I sold my book to Penguin Random House!
Is there going to be a sequel to BEASTS OF PREY, and when does it come out?
Yes! BEASTS OF PREY is the first of a trilogy, and the next book in the series, BEASTS OF RUIN, will publish in the US and the UK on July 26, 2022. Book 3 is slated to publish sometime in 2023!
How long is BEASTS OF PREY?
As a writer, this was a question I was always interested in, so I thought I'd be transparent and share it here. In publishing, books are measured not by their page counts but by their word counts. BOP was 96,000 words when I queried it to literary agents; it grew to 99,000 words when I took it on submission to editors; the last version I sent off to the printers was ~118,000 words, give or take!
Can you critique or provide feedback on my writing?
Unfortunately, due to the volume of my ongoing commitments, I am unable to provide feedback on your writing. For resources and assistance, please visit the ‘For Writers’ section of my website.
Can you give any advice to writers and aspiring authors?
Read! You’d be surprised how much you can learn about how to be a good storyteller just by reading. Read and reread things you enjoy, taking note of the things that you love most. Likewise, try reading things you don't necessarily like, and take note of the things that might make you put a book down. Every book is a lesson in someway to a writer who wants to learn. And don't try to be a perfect writer, especially on the first draft. As a friend once told me, "let yourself write badly," you can always revise and make a story better after you've written it all down!
Is BEASTS OF PREY going to be available in my country?
Authors have very little control over where their books end up around the world, but I can share where BEASTS OF PREY will be available as of now. Please keep in mind that publication dates in each territory may vary.
Australia - Puffin UK
Brazil - Galera Record
Canada - Putnam Books for Young Readers
France - TBA
Hungary - Cartaphilus
Ireland - Puffin UK
Italy - Sperling & Kupfer
Mexico - Planeta
New Zealand - Puffin UK
Poland - Muza
Portugal - Galera Record
Romania - Bookzone
Russian Federation - Eskmo
South Africa - Puffin UK
Spain - Planeta
United Kingdom - Puffin UK
United States - Putnam Books for Young Readers
Is BEASTS OF PREY going to be a movie, and how do I get a part in it?
BEASTS OF PREY is currently being adapted by Netflix for feature film in partnership with Melody Cooper and Clubhouse Pictures. We are not casting any parts at this time, but will update social media channels when there is more information.