Every other Monday, we introduce you to a writer from the Writers’ Mastermind. Today we are thrilled to have Black Historical Fiction, Poetry, and Urban Fantasy Author, Yecheilyah Ysrayl.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where are you now? What has your life been like?

Sure, thanks so much for having me. My name is Yecheilyah (e-see-li-yah), and everyone calls me EC for short. I am an Author, Book Blogger, Poet, and Publisher from Chicago, where I was born and raised. In 2009, I left home for Louisiana and then, in 2017, transitioned again to Georgia, where I now live with my husband. As you can probably tell, I love to travel and look forward to doing more International travel when the world opens up fully. Life has not been easy, especially with the loss of my mom last year, but I can’t complain. I am thankful for the good that encourages me and the sufferings that shape me.

  1. What kind of stories do you write?

I write Black Historical Fiction, Poetry, and Urban Fantasy. I have also written Inspirational Non-Fiction.

  1. What sets you apart from other writers in your space?

Everything I write has a black historical theme embedded, and I believe this sets me apart. Black history is my passion, and I write to restore black historical truth regardless of genre. This summer, for instance, I am releasing my first Urban Fantasy novel. The plot focuses on the mysterious killings of black men by supernatural forces attacking them for their power. In Greek Mythology, Paschar (push-shar) is the God of Vision. In my story, though, Paschar is a Black Woman Goddess. So, while the book has traditional fantasy themes, it is not without Black/AFAM representation. The depiction of Paschar on the cover is of a very dark-skinned woman. This was intentional.

  1. What drives your writing? What do you mean to accomplish with your stories?

What drives my writing is my love for truth, historical accuracy, and self-expression. When I sit down to write, I hope my words will free someone from the limited ways the world teaches us and programs us to think and feel. Whether it is poetry or fantasy, or historical fiction, I hope people can walk away from my stories with a fresh way of seeing the world. I want people to know it’s okay to be different and to think differently. I hope we become brave enough to defy the norms, regardless of public judgment and persecution.

  1. Who are you favorite writers and books? What are your other creative influences?

Some of my favorite authors and books are a mix of both new and old-school writers, such as Underground Railroad and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and the Logan Family series including Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor. I am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington, The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, and I could go on forever, so we’ll stop there.

I love music, so my other creative influences come from my favorite soulful R&B artists like Lauryn Hill, Musiq Soulchild, Whitney Houston, Kenny Lattimore, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, and more.

  1. Do you write in silence? Background noise? Or music? What kind?

Silence. I can listen to 90s R&B if I am working on something that is not writing, say researching or updating my website, but I can’t listen to anything while I write, so it’s the quiet for me.

  1. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?

When I am not writing, my favorite thing is reading, traveling, and binge-watching my favorite TV shows. A fun fact is that though I am a movie buff, I watch little TV during the day. Most of my TV time is in the evenings with the hubs and on the weekend. This makes it much more exciting when I watch a favorite or new show, which I only end up writing about as a review.

  1. Who is your current celebrity crush?

Hmm. Let’s see here. One of my favorite TV shows now is This Is Us, so I would have to go with Randall. I mean Sterling K. Brown, lol.

  1. Why do you think it’s important to write fiction?

Writing fiction is important because it’s one of the most exciting and effortless ways of informal teaching outside of movies, film, and theater. We learn a lot from reading, and fiction explicitly takes the form of edutainment, educating through entertainment. We write what we do not say out loud.

Reading novels makes us curious and can force us to change in ways we never imagined. I don’t think fiction encourages us to escape the pressures of our reality more so than it does to help us understand it better. Although we are reading something that is part of someone’s imagination, the truth is often stranger than fiction. That is to say, the truth of the world can sometimes be much wilder than anything that we can read in books. But it is through reading fiction in the first place that we pay attention to the world enough to see that.

So, it makes the authors of fiction that much more critical because we are not merely throwing words to the wall; we are potentially shaping and changing how people think. This can have powerful or detrimental outcomes depending on the information being put out there.

  1. Who would be the best writer, alive or dead, to tell the story of your life?

With her experience with trauma and success, with her mastery of language and delivery, with her intelligence and compassion, with her love for people and poetic wisdom, I think Maya Angelou’s voice would be influential in my life story’s narration if she were alive.

  1. What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am preparing to release my first urban fantasy novel, “The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen.” The story is about the mysterious murder of only black men and one woman’s discovery that the serial killer is beyond this realm. Readers can learn more about the book and preorder it now at yecheilyahysrayl.com.

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.


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