Author Interview: On Worldbuilding and African Identity; A Discussion With Rena Barron, Author of YA West African Fantasy, KINGDOM OF SOULS

interview with rena barron, author of kingdom of souls

Last you spoke to Xiaolong, she said that it was important – absolutely, vitally, incredibly important – that you stop by the Pond today. “We have a really important visitor and she is my newest friend so you have to meet her!”

And so, today, you’re here on your way to the Pond, finding yourself pretty excited to meet Xiaolong’s newest friend.

Rena Barron as a cheetah with dark brown locs (hair) with golden beads.When you arrive, you find Xiaolong sitting at her favourite spot by the water, and sitting next to her is the most elegant and regal cheetah you’ve ever seen.

You call out a hello to Xiaolong, and the two look up at you. Xiaolong gives you her usual enthusiastic wave – she’s happy to see you! – and the cheetah gives you a shy smile.

“Friend!” Xiaolong greets. She gestures for you to come closer. “Come meet my new friend! This is Rena! She is the author of Kingdom of Souls and I invited her here today because I wanted to ask her all about her new book!”

Kingdom of Souls? How exciting! And so you sit down next to Xiaolong, ready to listen and learn about Rena’s new book.

Hello friends, and welcome back to the Pond! 💛

Xiaolong the axolotl, gesturing with her arm up, holding onto a copy of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.There is a significant dearth of stories about Black characters by Black authors, and there is a distinct lack of fantasies featuring and centering on Black characters and African culture. Therefore, you could imagine how excited I was to hear that Kingdom of Souls, a YA West-African fantasy, was announced. And when the cover was announced? I think I gasped when I saw it for the first time. A Black woman front and center in the cover! Sitting on a throne that is unapologetically African and Afro-futurist! My excitement amplified tenfold.

Today, I have the honour and privilege of having Rena Barron join Xiaolong and I at the Pond today! Read More »