What You See When You Look At Me
I am a writer. I cannot be any more specific than that because I write across genres. My first major publication is paranormal fiction. I have other novels in various stages of edits, saved away on my hard drive and in stacks of pages in my office. They are urban fiction and chick-lit, thrillers and young adult. I don’t classify myself as one type of writer.
I, therefore, shouldn’t be surprised when others do. During one of my many spiels about my forthcoming publication, this particular person looked on in astonishment while I described the general plot of Sweet. He shook his head in amazement.
“It’s funny because you don’t seem like someone who would write that. You don’t look like that’s what you’re into.”
I had nodded slowly as I took that in.
“Well,” I informed him, “I do.”
I assume it was because of the color of my skin. Supernatural content is for nerds, which I am. I guess you mostly picture pasty-skinned, greasy-haired, bespectacled stereotypes raising their hands in Trekkie salutes whenever possible. I do have glasses but believe me when I say I’m no nerdy stereotype.
Even so, I do enjoy supernatural fiction. From television shows to movies to books. There is just something about suspending your beliefs in this grounded reality of ours and becoming engrossed with what if? Books really are a gateway through which to escape the mundane and often mad world we live in.
For me, if I really enjoy something that I am watching or reading, I will envision myself kicking ass alongside the main characters. I find it much easier to insert myself into supernatural fiction, especially if there is action abound. That doe-eyed little kid who actually believes in the implausible still lives inside of me. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t so hard for me to give it a stab, no pun intended.
I can agree that I may not share the attributes of my fellow paranormal writers. With my curly Afro and laid-back persona, it’s no wonder people are surprised to find that I am a writer. I tell you this: it’s just that, a persona. There are many sides to me that I am able to express through words. It’s easier that way. Many of my main characters turn out to be young, Black females because of that slightly conceited part of me that wants the action to happen to me directly. This is what life would be like if I were dating a vampire. Or if I were on the run from an assassin. Or living in a housing development in Boston. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
With writing, my real voice is able to shine through. I’m quite aware how reserved I appear in everyday life. Only a few are afforded a peek of my more silly side. The one who dances and laughs out loud and lip-syncs (and real sings) songs as she bops around the house. Self-consciousness and daily fears usually stand in the way. I worry that I will be stuck at the same job for another year where I feel like a very tiny piece in the cog and am only acknowledged when someone needs something that they won’t do themselves. I have to be reminded of my less than stellar love life that is nothing to write home about. I don’t eat healthy enough. I don’t exercise daily. I’m told to look to the positive that is happening to me, in order to see past the negative. It doesn’t work. What can I say? Scorpios are born-pessimists. My only real release is through writing, where I get to swear like a sailor, write intense fight scenes, and describe naughty things.
So, how does it feel to hear someone is surprised to find I enjoy supernatural? Well, it is surprising. As I go around, trying to drive interest in my book, I find there are a lot more people who look like me that are into the supernatural. Of course, my own brother is a prime example as he was probably the first to introduce me to vampires and things that go bump in the night. But when talking with people, I found I came across two types: the ones who were excited by the prospect and the ones whose eyes glazed over at the thought of yet another vampire book. They’d had enough of the hype. Over time, however, I have discovered that the former far outweighs the latter. People are still into a good sci-fi story. What is it about the supernatural that appeals to readers? Personally, I like the idea of creatures with superhuman abilities. Who wouldn’t want to become invisible at will or teleport or move objects with their mind? You would never have to work for money again! I kid!
The point is: we’re out there. The dorky stigma associated with fantasy and supernatural is no longer as prevalent as it used to be. People are proud to be Team Edward or Team Jacob, Gryffindor versus Slytherin (I’m Ravenclaw, by the way), fangbangers and the like. This can be explained by the evolution of literature and trends. As time passes, these stories become more ingrained with our own realities. They take place in modern settings, with relatable, flawed characters, dealing with issues that you and I know about firsthand. These trends all merge together to make it easier for a wider audience to feel included in this form of fiction.
As with real books, where you can’t always judge it by its cover, the same rule can be applied to people. That brown-skinned, Afro-ed lady behind her computer may just be into the same thing you are.
So what about you? What do people see when they look at you? Do you show your true self to the world, or is it only fully revealed in the words you write?
UZURI M. WILKERSON graduated from Wellesley College in 2005. There, she studied film with a concentration in screenwriting. After finishing school, she eventually moved back to novels, where she found more freedom for her expression. Sweet came into fruition after a lifetime love affair with the supernatural. It was only a matter of time before she took her own stab at the genre. She currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.
To learn more about Uzuri Wilkerson and to read more about her upcoming novel Sweet please visit her website. To reserve your autographed copy of her debut novel and to enter for your chance to win a $25 VISA gift card, visit www.azizapublishing.com and learn about the Sweet photo contest or to reserve your autographed copy of “Sweet”.