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Update: You can read our review of Girls of Might and Magic here.

Today sees the release of Girls of Might and Magic, a short story anthology set to celebrate the magic of strength, resilience, and hope. We’re delighted to have a few questions answered by one of the organizers of the project.

Q1. First of all, could you tell us a little about yourself? Who are you, where do you come from, where are you going?

A1. My name is K. R. S. McEntire I was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. For as long as I can remember, I was drawn to science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian books. I remember when my fourth grade teacher assigned us Tuck Everlasting in class. It’s a magical little middle grade book, and one of the few books I’ve read more than once. I was given the Narnia series not long after, which inspired me to try to write my first story. I’ve been writing ever since. You can find news articles and press releases I’ve penned, but I’ve never stopped writing fiction.

Q2. You’re one of the masterminds behind the online book club/community/discussion group Diverse Books With Magic. What is it, and how did it come about? What’s your vision for the group?

A2. It started with a desire to build an authentic community of like minded literature lovers. I didn’t want the group to be all about me, so I created a group alongside four other authors: C. C. Solomon, Amanda Ross,  Lala Leo, and D. L. Howard. In addition to sharing our own work and giving authors a platform to promote themselves though group events, we work to highlight diversity in the science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian genres. We share books with characters of colors, LQBTQ+ characters, and characters with disabilities. We welcome everyone who is looking to diversify their TBR list. We have had panels about various topics related to diversity in books, and we are putting together an anthology.

Q3. That anthology is Girls of Might and Magic, and it’s time you tell us a little, or a whole lot, about it. Who’s involved? What’s the theme? What are the stories about?

A3. I am so excited about this project! The DBWM admins invited members of the group to submit stories. We voted on our favorite stories and are busy getting the book edited and formatted for publication. Some of the authors have a lot of work under their belt. For others, this is one of their first publications. We are all at different stages and we are helping each other out. Girls of Might and Magic is a young adult and new adult speculative fiction anthology that celebrates diversity in fantasy and science fiction.  We have stories about dragons, sea beasts, elementals, magical kingdoms, witches, fae, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and jinn.  We have asian-inspired fantasy kingdoms and dystopian worlds ruined by deadly viruses. I’m excited to see how it will come together.

Q4. I recently joined the DBWM group on FB. There’s a passion for fantasy and it’s sub-genres, but there’s also a craving for fair representation, both among readers and writers. At the same time, there’s a desire to not just follow in the footsteps of traditional fantasy, but to create something new. Would you say that’s accurate, and is it something you’d like to comment on? Do you notice any trends within the group? Are there tropes or sub-genres that seem more popular than others?

A4. Representation matters. Growing up as a teen, my favorite genres were fantasy and dystopian. I devoured books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Uglies, Twilight, and The Mediator. I don’t think most of those books had main characters who looked like me. When I wrote The Eden Saga I wanted the world to be diverse and have people from all backgrounds, but I wanted to offer readers main characters of colors and to have their background play a part in their journey of self discovery. I think a lot of people of color are craving representation in ways that they haven’t been offered it before. Heck, on Facebook there is an event, Black Fae Day, where Black people will dress up as fairies and other fae creatures and post photos on social media. So I think it’s a mix of wanting to create something new, but also wanting to just be able to exist in fantasy worlds without it being seen as odd or as some type of political statement.

Q5. To tie back to the previous question, I often see young and beginner writers “ask for permission.” They have this idea for a story they want to tell, or a world they want to create, and they’re worried that it won’t fit into the established norms of the fantasy genre. Is this something you’ve noticed, and what’s your take on it? Is mainstream fantasy too dominant, making it hard for the treasures outside the box to be found?

A5. Two of my favorite recent reads, The Unwind series by Neal Shusterman and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, don’t really follow popular trends or tropes.  When you step outside the box it can be harder to find your audience, but when you do I think they will be even more appreciative of the work you have created. I do think a lot of writers struggle with “the book I want to write” and “the book that will make me the most money.” I think the trick is trying to combine the two into one. It’s something a lot of us are still figuring out.

Q6. Those treasures outside the box, the flowers far from the beaten path, how do you find them? Where’s a good place to start looking? Do you have any recommendations?

A6. Other than my shameless self plug of the Diverse Books with Magic Facebook community, I’d say be intentional about seeking out authors who are not at your local bookstore. Challenge yourself to check out the works of indie authors, authors from various backgrounds, and authors who write in genres that you usually don’t read. That is how you find a hidden gem.

Q7. And finally, a few quick questions.

What’s your favorite…

  • …book, in recent time? The Unwind series by Neal Shusterman still haunts me. I like how it explores complex issues without taking a side
  • …game, in recent time? The Elder Scrolls. I love lore and worldbuilding.
  • …writing advice? The only way to get better is to keep reading, writing, and sharing your writing. Always be open to feedback.
  • …advice for someone who wants to publish their own book? Invest in an editor and cover artist. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice. There are so many authors out there who would love to support you.
  • …source of inspiration? My book Saving Eden was actually inspired by a song.
  • …way to clear your mind when everything gets a bit much? Spending time in nature always works for me.

Q8. Do you have any last words?

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share more about the group. Feel free to join Diverse Books With Magic on Facebook.

I’d love to stay connected with you. You can follow me on Facebook here, or join my newsletter here.

And finally, make sure to check out Girls of Might and Magic, here:

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