"At times Black womanhood feels fantastic."
Read an interview with classes instructor Wayétu Moore about new novel SHE WOULD BE KING
Jennifer Baker: Because yours is a historical novel there are certain rules to it. So, how do you create characters in this world while balancing a fantastical premise and at the same balancing the rules?
Wayétu Moore: Liberian history is so closely linked to American history and it’s something I knew I wanted to explore. I think being a Black woman in America and having emigrated as a young girl there are some things that have happened to me over the course of my life and things that are said to me even now — things that are done that do sometimes feel surreal — and I feel like some other marginalized groups could possibly relate to that. But I know that for me my experience here, navigating the world in my body, there is a recognition that “Hey, this isn’t how things are supposed to be.” It almost feels as though I live in another reality. At times Black womanhood feels fantastic. [It] feels like you’re living this other world that isn’t based in reality because you are having to juggle so much. You are having to negotiate so much just to survive.
And so, I think that then when I choose to navigate and negotiate that reality on the page then sure it’s going to have fantastic elements. In addition to that I would say being from a West African background, specifically Vai, it was very rare that I heard a story that didn’t include someone flying or shapeshifting or disappearing. That was just a part of what I understood as the architecture of the story. So when I decided that I wanted to become a writer, magical realism or fantasy was something I naturally was drawn to because that was my introduction to storytelling.
To read the rest of the interview, head over to our friends at Electric Literature!
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