The following excerpt is the first in our new interview series where we talk to members of the lesbian literary community. A longer version of this interview will appear in an upcoming issue of our literary journal, Serendipity.
A North Carolina native, Krystal A. Smith (i.e. K.A. Smith) is a Black lesbian writer of poetry and speculative fiction. Her work has been described as “lyrical” and “intriguing.” Her poems have appeared in Tulips Touching (UltraVioletLove Publishing 2011) and recent short stories have appeared in Ladylit Publishing’s Summer Love: Stories of Lesbian Holiday Romance (2015) and Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Fiction (BLF Press 2016). Her debut collection of short fiction Two Moons: A Collection of Short Fiction (BLF Press) will be released in 2018.
When did you start writing speculative fiction? Who are your major influences in this genre?
I had imaginary friends growing up. Little Bruno, Bubba, Shubby. My older brother was in on it too. We used to have so much fun running in and out of the house going on adventures. A few times my older brother and I made up stories about sacred burial grounds with spirits who called out to scare people. We were always creating things, so maybe that’s my speculative fiction origin story. I don’t think I knew what the genre was called until high school. I think Octavia Butler has had the most impact on my writing. Some other writers include Jewelle Gomez and Nalo Hopkinson.
Which of your characters do you identify with the most? Why?
From Two Moons? I’d probably say Korinthia. She’s doing what she’s always done and she’s not satisfied, she’s not happy. But she’s not sure about next steps and she doesn’t want to let anyone down. So, she’s trying to find a way. I’ve been there. I am there.
If you could sit down with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Alice Sola Kim. I’ve been reading her stories lately and I like this idea of monster girls. I’m always interested in other people’s writing processes, so I’d probably ask how she comes up with her stories and how she builds characters.
What have you read within the past year that made you feel differently about fiction or about your own writing?
“Who Will Greet You At Home” by Lesley Nneka Arimah. This story had me from the first word to the last. Like my mouth was literally hanging open as I read it. I was so captivated by its originality, creativity. I felt an immediate connection with main character Ogechi. She is almost a study in character desire. She wants with her entire being. Then when I read it a second time I realized that this is THE type of short story that I wish I had inside me. It’s both the story that makes me want to keep writing and quit at the same time. It’s the best story I’ve ever read with my eyeballs.
How do you overcome writer’s block? If you’ve never experienced it, how have you avoided it?
For me, writer’s block isn’t a “block.” It’s a fear. It’s being afraid that what I write won’t be right, or good, or interesting. It’s falling prey to that mean little voice in my head that makes me doubt myself. “Nothing will ever be as good as the last thing you wrote.” That’s the song she likes to sing in my head. The “block” is the fear of not living up to my own expectations. It can be hard to shake, especially if you’re on deadline. But as someone who has decided writing is what I want to do, what I have chosen to do, I push through. I get up and go outside to look at trees and walk around. I work on other things, talk to my characters, doodle, read. I do anything I can to get my mind off that nagging feeling that the voice is right. Then I write. I sit down and write.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Figure out why you write and who it is you write for. Know that those reasons/people can and will change from time to time. You can still write what you want to write.
To learn more about Krystal, visit her website or reach out to her on Twitter @authorkasmith.