Eleven Questions with B. Sharise Moore
1). How did your writing journey begin?
I knew I wanted to write stories after I finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I was eight years old and I was in love with speculative fiction before it was even referred to as such. Ha! I started writing poetry after reading the poem, “Yet Do I Marvel” by Countee Cullen in 8th grade. I didn’t write my first short story until high school. No one taught me how to write stories and I was intimidated. Better late than never I suppose.
2). Who are your writing inspirations?
Road Dahl is creatively clever. Judy Blume is funnier than I’ll ever be, though I try. Octavia Butler is raw. She makes me think. I want people to obsess over my work the way others do hers. Tyehimba Jess is a wizard of words. Olio and Leadbelly are both masterpieces. I’d give anything to be mentored by him. Jason Reynolds is authentic. Young people believe the voices he’s created. They know and can identify with his characters. Tananarive Due is deliberate. Every word she writes, means something. J.K. Rowling has managed to bottle up wit and magic in a bottle of wonderful. LA Banks brings me home.
3). Are you an outliner or a pantser?
I wish I could just fly by the seat of my pants, but I can’t for the life of me. Over the course of my eleven-year teaching career, the schools I’ve worked in have adopted different initiatives. Thinking Maps were by far the most memorable. I revisit Thinking Maps to flesh out my characters and organize my stories.
4). What are your favorite books?
This is such a difficult question. I love books so much I’ve started a You Tube Channel that highlights books by diverse authors for young people. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e73tQPA-Q1I&t=3s) Right now, I’m reading quite a bit of YA and novels in verse. Leadbellyand Olioby Tyehimba Jess, Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, The Living Blood by Tananarive Due, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl are my favorite books.
5). Describe your writing process.
I get my inspiration from various places: history, travel, music, conversations with others. Once I get an idea, I begin outlining and organizing using Thinking Maps. Then, I begin researching and writing. I try my best not to edit as I write, but it’s difficult. To be honest, it slows down my process. But, old habits die hard I guess.
6). What inspired you to write Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars?
This is hilarious, but I was initially inspired by that old “Say, Say, Say” video by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. The video follows two snake-oil salesmen (Jackson and McCartney) during the Vaudeville era. I am borderline obsessed with the 1910s through the 1940s and I don’t think I’ve read an abundance of speculative fiction set during that time period. I initially wrote a short story called The Bet about a strongman and a magician that I wanted to turn into a short film. In 2015, I took a fantastic online screenwriting course with Tananarive Due. She helped me develop the story into a script and provided feedback. She told me that though she loved the world I’d created, she didn’t feel like the story was complete. This led to research and the discovery of the book,Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America by Victoria W. Wolcott. In the book and through other sources, I discovered that there were once Colored only amusement parks due to Jim Crow. In fact, there were 2 not far from where I love in Baltimore. The parks were founded and funded completely by Black people. That research led to Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars.
7). Tell us a bit about your book.
Dr. Marvellus Djinn’s Odd Scholars is a YA historical fantasy novel. It’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Dungeons and Dragons meets Kindred.The novel begins in 1920 with Dr. Djinn’s Odd Scholarship competitions. The scholarships will allow four teens exclusive access to The Motherland, a one of a kind Colored amusement park filled with magic, mythological creatures, and African-inspired rides and exhibits. Once the scholars (a strongman, sage, inventor, and chemist) are chosen, they begin what will become the adventure of a lifetime. From negotiating with a Grootslang (half elephant, half snake) to the discovery of an Era Port that transports them forward and back through time, the scholars end up witnessing an event nearly a century in the future that will not only alter their lives, but the lives of their descendants.
8). What do you hope to accomplish with Dr. Djinn’s Odd Scholars?
It’s my hope that I can influence people to read more about the Jim Crow era, Marcus Garvey, and African mythological creatures. There is so much history and lore to uncover. Our history is a treasure chest, really.I hope I've created an illusory thrill-ride for my readers just as Roald Dahl, Tananarive Due, and J.K. Rowling created for me.
9). Will there be more stories in this world?
Though I’ve written this as a stand a lone book, I foresee more stories spiraling from it. I’ve already written a one act stage play featuring Dr. Djinn as the main character.
10). How do we keep up with all things B. Sharise? Please follow @bsharisemoore on FB and @bsharise on IG. Please check out and subscribe to my weekly Youtubeshow, Moore Books w/ B. Sharise.
11). What advice would you give to new writers?
Write every day. Read every day. Writer your ideas down. Save your iterations. Set goals and deadlines for yourself.
"First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice." - Octavia E. Butler.
B. Sharise Moore's latest novel, 'Dr. Marvellus Djinn Old Scholars' will be published by MVmedia. Stay tuned for more details.