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#Interview with GL THomas (@dos_twinjas)

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GL Tomas Author picGL Thomas

Who is your biggest literary influence?

It depends on what genre we’re reading from. Some of our biggest literary influences write in a much more complex fashion than the two of us combine, so even though they’re our favorites, I don’t think we necessarily strive to emulate their style completely.

Octavia Butler (I know, everyone is tired of having only her as a reference, but come on! She’s Octavia!) is one of the most complex, thought-provoking writers in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Weird Fiction and Horror, but we’re ashamed to admit we don’t delve as deep as she does.

Some of the hardships, based on her generation, opened a bunch of doors some writers don’t have to deal with. Like being a Black woman and being taken seriously in SFF. Her work is scary, and sometimes too disturbing for tame readers. But we’ve equally connected to most recent works from authors like Malorie Blackman, and Justina Ireland.

This sounds weird, but the biggest push to write diversely came from reading An Na’s “The Fold.” Before then, neither of us actively sought out diverse reads. We were often fine with scraps, because that’s just how we’ve been taught how the world works. “The Fold” centers around a Korean-American teen, and explored culture both American and Korean, and what it’s like to be stuck in between. It also exposed the idea of Eurocentric beauty being considered the norm, and before that, neither of us read anything so honest, especially a YA book.

I wish we could say we just had one influence, but if we had to just pick one, I’d say Malorie Blackman, because of her ability to highlight the Black experience in a new way, that wasn’t a default American experience.

What is your writing process like? What inspires your writing?

Girl it is just crazy. We have a ton of respect for writers who write solo, because it’s hard together, so we imagine it’s even harder alone. The tricky part about being a duo, is we hardly ever agree on where to go with a plot twist, or ending, especially if we came up with something together. Most projects we have are either Libertad born, or vice versa, and then we help each other make more sense of things.

Meaning, if the direction she wants to go with a project is corny, I’ll definitely tell her! Sometimes that discourages the both of us, until we’re brave enough to tread the waters of the project once we know whatever isn’t working, is because we’re holding onto details that don’t work. Sometimes what takes her days to write for, takes me weeks to months, because she obviously knows better on where she wants her Libertad-born projects to go.

But we try to blend our ideas enough to the point we can’t tell who wrote which part.

We both tend to let everything inspire us. Sometimes seeing a woman with a big afro inspires us, or a main character. Sometimes seeing a really great episode of a really corny show can also draw inspiration. But I think we can both agree that HOT GUYS are our main inspiration! =D

The Mark of Noba CoverWhere did your creative spark begin? Can you trace the path/timeline that got you where you are today?

I honestly think…it came from writing Sailormoon fan fiction as kids =D It sounds super silly, but we totally cannoned characters much different races than the are on the show(Assuming they’re all Japanese)with all these crazy back stories, and all these insane new stories!

Writing has always been a hobby. Any family member that knows us will say from the time they existed, they were always writing something. It wasn’t always good! In fact, all of it was terrible! But it brought out the passion we think!

We’d always wanted to write, but I think we wanted to be screenwriters much earlier on. We’re Communication majors, and unrealistically as it sounds, we wanted to do movies for a really long time. I don’t think we’re ignoring that goal, but I think a lot of factors we have work against us to really be successful as a screenwriter.

We’re really considering Web Series’ because you’re mainly limited by the money you can raise, the actors and the time spent. Marketability is still important, and we’re not suggesting that it’s easy. But the quality of Web Series’ are well beyond some television shows on primetime cable right now.

It’s definitely a bucket list career path to pursue, but writing novels definitely explores human emotion(and sometimes not so human emotion) much deeper than something on screen can.

It took us a long time to realize this, but now that we’re exploring this medium, we wouldn’t go back in time and say “Oh let’s just write our stories as books”, because we would’ve went about it much differently if we hadn’t waited.

When did you know writing was for you?

We’re no one special, so our answer isn’t special. Most people who enjoy writing have always enjoyed it. There was no turning point in our lives, because we’ve never not written for fun. Sometimes you just enjoy exploring a narrative you don’t belong to, or a narrative you do belong to, but in a much more positive light!

Why Speculative Fiction? What other genre(s) do you write?

Speculative Fiction is just…fun. Can’t we all just admit that? It can be food for thought prose, or sometimes it can just be straight up silly, and folks can still enjoy it. I can’t speak for other Black folk, but for us, growing up in a Caribbean household, we already kind of taught that there’s a little magic in everything.

It’s not always demonized in the same ways Western culture has chosen to portray magic.

It’s really important that we address racism, or classism, sexism, cishetism, homophobia, ablism, and other important topics our generation is forced to deal with because of White Supremacy, but sometimes you just want to write a world that doesn’t limit Black women they way our current world does.

Speculative Fiction is one of the few umbrella terms that is inclusive to women of color to be taken seriously in terms to writing fiction. We can give a million other reasons, but that definitely tops as number one.

Other genres? Definitely Contemporary Romance. Believe it or not, even though our first release is Spec Fic, and we have a few other cool Spec Fic ideas, Speculative Fiction takes up less than 10% of our WIPs. I think we just like love, like, lust, attraction…For a long time Romance wasn’t taken seriously as “real” writing, because mainly women read it.

That’s slowly changing, and we’d love to change with it!

How can people connect with you?

We’re mostly on our blogs Twinja Book Reviews, a book blog that celebrates diversity in YA/NA and or Spec Fic books. But we have a sister blog called Rebellious Cupid Book Reviews that highlight diverse Romance. It’s in its infancy so our audience isn’t big, but we one day hope to have it be as awesome os Twinja Book Reviews!

We also have an author website! GL Tomas, our author name. We’re also on Twitter at @dos_twinjas, sometimes more than others depending if the writing is going good!

We love recommending books to people hoping to diversify their reading. Since we’ve been blogging, that’s been our mission. We’ve only ever wanted diverse books to have the same chance as the books readers and publishers put most of their money in. Where one day, we won’t need to call a book a “diverse” one.

We’re super friendly, and we love helping folks out!

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