What do I love about The Eye of the Panther? Duh, everything! But if you held a knife to my throat I’d write a blog post like the one below to tell you.
Where do I start? How can I finish? I mean I wrote it so of course, I love it. But what do I absolutely love about it? That’s a tricky question because it’s my creation, how can I not love everything about the damn book? It’s been haunting me for the past two years and taking over my life. It found its way into my dreams and everyday conversations. Hell, people know the book more than they know me by name.
…but if you’re going to make me choose… I will say… it’s the characters! They took a lot of development, a month to be exact. From their names, physical description, and personality, I groomed and developed them.
Brainstorming a book to me is similar to trying to contain a disease. There is always a patient zero who needs to be found. In all my books, I always start with one or two main characters that I classify as character zero. Their names are Lanaya or Jeremiah every single time. Typically everything revolves around them. Once I develop their personality and physical description, I name them. Then every character I create after them is based on the information created from Character Zero.
In The Eye of the Panther, the character zero is Sireen Lucas. Originally her name was Lanaya, but it changed. The crazy thing about Sireen is that she has made multiple appearances in all the books I’ve planned or started.
In The Eye of the Panther, I love the depth in each character. They all come from different background and different experiences. The differences in the characters are the soul of The Eye of the Panther. It also creates a lot of conflict between the main characters. The oldest member of The Eye of the Panther is 40. The youngest is 17. There’s a businessman, ex-military personnel, a high school student, ex-teacher, and an ex-con artist.
In movies or books, black women are typically portrayed as the sidekick or the prop in the story. In creating The Eye of the Panther, I wanted to create strong female characters who were not defined by men or the normal stereotypes that define black women in the media. I wanted the main characters to be women of all different calibers, so my female readers could find themselves in at least one of the characters. I followed Toni Morrison’s rule…
I know I will catch some backlash for filling the leadership roles in The Eye of the Panther with women but I want to see a strong black woman on TV who isn’t dating a white man or who isn’t unbelievably ghetto. That’s not to take away from the creative minds who craft those narratives, but they don’t reflect my world. I also have a problem with respectability politics in regards to sex and race. That’s a double whammy for black women, so I created four different types of black women with their own set of flaws and issues in their own right. However, those issues and flaws don’t their character or who they will choose to become in the future.