While I have Acknowledgements listed at the end of my books, I wanted to make this page to acknowledge influences in my writing even if I didn’t draw from them directly. I’m not telling anyone else’s story; their stories are for them to tell. But I am telling the stories in my heart—stories about fear and pride as wedges shoving people apart, and about the fight people wage to come together anyway.
My goal in writing is not to be anyone else’s voice, but simply to show the beautiful diversity of the world around me. I strive to show that in my stories without detracting from anyone else’s stories, the stories they need to tell (and be allowed to tell!) about their experiences. My fictional races intentionally are not meant to stand in for any real peoples—each of them is meant to appear of mixed ethnicity or very clearly not-human, as part of that, because real peoples have their own real stories to tell and I want to listen to those stories, not try to tell them.
However, creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum so I definitely want to acknowledge books and authors and resources I’ve been inspired by.
In editing Between Starfalls (during which time I wrote and edited Windward), I did a ton of learning (I’m always learning). I also scrapped my worldbuilding and built it up again from scratch using NK Jemisin’s Iceberg method in a bid to avoid cultural appropriation. I’m incredibly grateful for the Iceberg method (there’s even a MasterClass now!). It was so much fun and created a world for the Children of the Nexus series that felt much more cohesive and true to itself, more solid, than what I had before.
While my books are not based on real events or real cultures, I have had the pleasure of playing Capoeira with some amazing mestres and instructors. My mestres and other teachers have encouraged us to write about what Capoeira has taught us and to use those lessons to better our lives: whether that’s essays, graphic novels, or novels, either simply for ourselves or to share with others through publishing. So I embraced all the lessons I have learned in the roda and at practice, from all the teachers I’ve had the pleasure of learning from at batizados, and I used those lessons to inspire my Rinaryn culture. You might see that (now that you’re looking) in the circular shape of the houses, communities, and even central fires, and in the importance of music. I think it comes through most heavily in Between Starfalls when they talk about how trying is the most important part of life–it’s a lesson I try to hold close to my heart, ever since my first batizado, where I was terrified but I tried anyway. And, of course, as with every batizado, I fell (playing with a mestre, this is a given), I got up, and I played again. Because that’s important–failing, learning, and trying again. So thank you to Cordão de Ouro and to Força Rara, for all you’ve taught me. I’m eager to play again once I can, and learn further.
Growing up, I was also immersed in the concept of cyclical time as well as linear, and the idea of elders–there exist nondenominational Christian churches that don’t have pastors but instead have a group of elders. Obviously, this inspired me with my Rinaryn as well, and with the use of head scarves in the City of the Lost (and elsewhere). And cyclical time played a role too, not only in my worldview but in my stories. There’s a reason Between Starfalls and Let Loose the Fallen end approximately where they begin.
Nature was a constant companion in childhood. You’ll see this, too, in my world, especially in Heartwood, which was inspired by my childhood environment. The forests, the creeks, the tall-grass prairies, the bluffs–I adore nature and I hope my love for these ecological wonders came through in my writing even though it’s not the focus of my stories. I constantly daydreamed of animal companions–no surprise, I’m sure, if you’ve read my books, and took lots of courses in ecology and biology in college.
Special thanks always to my friend Alex. Together growing up, we came up with a novel tabletop roleplaying game and that system forms the underpinnings of my magic system. We also came up with the Ifreesians, Stormseekers, Kelm, and Galoedin, which I’ve used (with permission) with some alterations. Definitely check out Alex’s latest creation: Earth Tau.
The following list contains books that use similar elements as I have in my world. It will be ever-growing as I discover more non-western fantasy and sci-fi books, and if you enjoy my books, you should definitely check out these others as well! (Those that I know are written by authors of color are marked with a star.) Since I haven’t intentionally drawn from real-life cultures or peoples, I don’t have a targeted list, which means I get to shout about all the diversity!
- * Cradle of Sea and Soil by Bernie Anés Paz
- * Broken Earth series by NK Jemisin
- * Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
- * Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
- * Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
- * The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
- * Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
- * Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
- The Community by Jacob Klop
- * Daughters of Nri by Reni Amayo
- * The Daevabad Trilogy by SA Chakraborty
- Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
- * A Song of Wraiths and Ruins by Roseanne A Brown
- * We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
- Sairō’s Claw by Virginia McClain
- My Hand and My Heart by Isabel Huntoon
- The Iron Crown by L L Macrae
- * The Brightest Shadow by Sarah Lin
- * Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar
- Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
- The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- * Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- * The Gatekeeper’s Staff by Antoine Bandele
- * The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
- Inda by Sherwood Smith
- The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
- Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
- They Mostly Come Out at Night by Benedict Patrick
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Janus by Andre Norton
- Windswept by Kaitlin Bellamy
- Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
- Forerunner Foray by Andre Norton
- The Giver (the whole series) by Lois Lowry
- The Pern novels (all of them) by Anne McCaffrey
- The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
- Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
And as always, thanks go to you, the reader. Thank you for letting me share my stories with you.