Zuni Blue lives in London, England with her parents. She’s been writing non-fiction and fiction since she was a kid.
She loves telling stories that show how diverse the world is. Her characters are different races, genders, heights, weights and live with various disabilities and abilities. In Zuni’s books, every child is special!
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Thank you for inviting me to this interview. I’m an English author, so I just want to let your readers know that I write in British English. There are some differences from American English e.g. “favourite” instead of “favorite”, so please don’t think I’m making spelling mistakes. I just wanted to state that.
I’ve written stories since I was a child, so I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I’ve considered other jobs, but I never gave up on being a full-time writer.
Writing is so much fun. It’s definitely my favourite part of the book publishing process. I love reading the second draft the most. That’s when I get to see all the hard work I put into the first draft.
Editing frustrates me the most. Typos make books look less polished, so I worry about any mistakes and errors I’ve missed.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
My most popular books are a children’s mystery series starring Mya Dove, an eight-year-old school detective. She loves solving light-hearted mysteries. Mysteries teach her (and readers) important lessons about people and life.
Another popular book of mine is How to Write Amazing Stories. It’s a short guide book for children who want to start writing stories. It’s a simple, easy read so children aren’t confused by the information.
A full list of my books is available here: https://zuniblue.com/books/
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I’m almost ready to publish my first children’s mystery adventure The Blue Crocodile. It’s about two brothers Jafari and Kendi, their cousin Fay and her dog Zoya. They go on an African adventure to uncover a secret blue crocodile. Do blue crocodiles really exist? They’re about to find out…
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
My most significant achievement is getting emails from readers saying how much they loved my books. I respond to all their letters because I want them to know how much I appreciate their support. I’m on my way to living my dream (becoming a full-time writer) because they read my books, review them and tell all their friends.
Over the next five years, I’d love to expand my other pen names (Zia Black, Zhane White and Zada Green). I’ll work towards that dream slowly over the next decade. It’ll take many years because each pen name is for a different genre. It’s fun writing different characters in different worlds! Another reason building all my pen names will take a long time is because I live with chronic body pain, so I have to write and publish slower than I’d like.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Rejection is a part of life. Writers are rejected from the start of our careers. At first it hurts a lot, but then you get used to it. I try to accept rejection and learn an important lesson from it. That lesson helps me do better next time. If I do better, I’m less likely to be rejected again. If I am rejected again, it’s okay. It just means I’m one step closer to acceptance and success.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
I aim to plot, write, edit or work on publishing 6 days a week. I can’t work for too long without a break or I’ll aggravate my chronic body pain. Unfortunately, it affects my hands the most.
I use spreadsheet software to outline my novels. If I don’t plan them in advance, they don’t turn out as well as they could. Planning also helps me figure out if an idea works or not. It’s much quicker to fix a broken plan than it is to fix a broken book.
My chronic pain can slow me down a lot, so it can take months to a year to finish one book.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. It’s never too late until you’re dead. I remember a female author who self-published her book while she was terminally ill from cancer. She experienced the joy of holding her book before she died.
Authors can be successful at any age. Some of the biggest selling authors started publishing in their thirties. Being an older author probably helps because they have more writing and life experience.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
When I was younger, I loved reading. Nowadays, I enjoy a variety of books: Comic books, short stories, short and long novels. I don’t mind what format the book is published in. As long as it’s a great story, or helpful non-fiction, I’ll enjoy it.
The first book to touch me emotionally was The Island of Blue Dolphins, a children’s book by Scott O’Dell. There was a really sad moment that made me cry
I don’t have a favourite author. I enjoy work by many authors including Brian K. Vaughan, Jacqueline Wilson and Les Brown.
I’m currently reading the Junji Ito collection. It has some creepy, short horror stories in a manga (Asian graphic novel) format. It’s fascinating how the author transforms normal situations into something monstrous and terrifying. I love the twists and turns of the unexpected!
9) How has the current state of the world affected your writing? Because writing is an isolated practice, do you find it easier to deal with quarantine? Has it stifled your creativity or has it made you even more driven to get things done?
At first, I spent time being very lazy. The British lockdown came suddenly with very short notice, so it was hard to adjust to. Fortunately, I work from home all the time, so I didn’t have to make any changes. Then my book sales increased. I believe it was a sign that I needed to get back to work!
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
The industry has changed so much over the past ten years. Now authors can choose the path that suits them. If we aren’t happy with a situation, we can leave. We aren’t limited by options anymore.
When I was younger, I wanted to be traditionally published. I didn’t get very far because my writing still needed lots of work. Years later, I heard about self-publishing. It offered flexibility to publish whatever I love. It gave me the freedom to write black characters without worrying about possible discrimination. I love the complete independence to write anything even if it doesn’t sell a million copies. Not that I wouldn’t love to have a million readers!
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
My stories feature underrepresented and ignored people, for example, one of my children’s books The Mean Girl Who Never Speaks features a character who has social anxiety. I have social anxiety and wish I’d read a social anxiety story when I was younger. I could’ve been diagnosed and helped sooner.
I like to include situations and conditions that people know little about. Writing means I can raise awareness of different problems so people learn more about them. Hopefully it’s the gentle nudge they need to help themselves and others.