Tired of books with romance in them? Desperately want to read about queer found families? Look no further that The Black Veins by Ashia Monet, YA’s upcoming edition to urban fantasy. This book will keep you up all night laughing, and you’ll fall in love with Monet’s truly wacky cast of characters. And – surprise! – today Ashia Monet has joined us on the blog to talk about her debut novel, her inspirations, and just how she made all those hilarious one-liners.
This post was written as part of the blog tour hosted by CW @ The Quiet Pond.
Describe your book in five words.
Haha, “concise” has never been an accurate word to describe me, but I’ll try my best! Neon, magic, journey, starlight, and love.
What inspired The Black Veins? Any books, TV shows, movies?
I find inspiration from an endless number of sources. And since TBV went through a ton of rewrites, each adding something different from the last, there are actually a ton of them.
One of the most notable is Persona 5, especially because of its energy, focus on relationships (including non-romantic ones), and seamless blend of fantasy and reality. Sense8 was another big one, especially when it came to the comedic ways that completely different people could interact—and weaving character arcs together! As for The Adventure Zone, I took inspiration from…uh…everything? From the plot, to the worldbuilding, to the way the McElroys balance humor, drama, and poignancy, that Dungeons and Dragons podcast taught me way more than it should’ve.
Blythe’s character resonated so much with me, and, no doubt, will resonate with so many others too. I love how confident she is and how she makes things happen. And it’s obvious she’s trying her best, with everything that’s happening. (Poor Blythe. My heart hurts for her.) From the beginning of your writing process, when you first started writing The Black Veins, was Blythe fully realized? Or did you discover more of her as you wrote her story?
I’m so glad she struck a chord with you! Showing Blythe’s complexity was very important to me—especially her vulnerability.
The Guardians have been with me for so long, it feels like they’ve always been fully-realized. But the truth is that it takes work to ensure that the characters I’ve imagined in my mind also show up on-page. Which means, in the novel, I push my characters to their limit to really reveal what they’re made of. I have to knock them down so they’ll get back up again. As a pantser, I don’t plan every event in my novels before I start writing. So, the process of revealing a character really is a “make it up as I go along” situation.
And I knew that, for Blythe to be compelling, we had to see her both as determined and lost, as strong and weak. So, I guess my answer is, both yes and no? Knowing she’d be complex was instinctual. Figuring out the details took time.
So Blythe has some Sailor Moon stuff. 😏 Is she a fan? Are you a fan? (I’m definitely a fan.)
Yes for Sailor Moon! Blythe absolutely adores it. She watched it almost 24/7 when she was younger and she’s still a huge fan now. Usagi is her idol.
As for me, I was super into magical girl shows as a kid—like Ojamajo Doremi and Winx Club—but Sailor Moon wasn’t accessible until I got older, got a Hulu account, and started watching it to destress. I’m not as big a fan as Blythe, but I really love that show. And, of course, the pastel aesthetic! Also, Sailor Uranus and Neptune are Couple Aesthetic Goals.
I have to say, out of all the aspects of The Black Veins, it was the character interactions I loved best. All of the Guardians have such unique and vibrant personalities and their conversations with one another were just so sassy that I found myself laughing more often than not. How’d you write so many amazing one-liners?
I’m so glad you found it funny! For me, humor is like the fourth pillar of writing, along with character, setting, and plot. I literally can’t write a novel without it!
The truth is that I can only think of one-liners that the characters would actually say. Fortunately, all of the Guardians have the potential to be comedic, especially considering their different styles of humor—like Caspian’s flat delivery, Cordelia’s biting sarcasm, and so on.
It was really easy to pair people up and just have their energy bounce off of each other. For example, Daniel’s nervous, literal understanding of the world paired with Antonio’s oblivious, unrelenting positivity and inability to be literal whatsoever.
What did your writing schedule look like when you were working on this book?
Most of TBV was written while I was still in high school! I refined it during my first year of college. My schedule was very different during those two eras of my life. In high school, I had a ridiculous amount of free time, whereas in college, I had to learn how to write under less-than-perfect circumstances (including while in class—but don’t tell my professors that).
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
I was lucky enough to receive a lot of good advice back when I was just starting out. It prepared me for a lot, but there’s one thing I wish I’d known sooner.
Writing is hard. Publishing—indie, traditional, small press—is even harder. Honestly, figuring out how you want to be published is difficult too. And being a marginalized author, writing stories about marginalized characters, that makes everything even harder. And it’s very easy to be consumed by envy—people may have more followers than you, or things may seemingly come more easily to them, or their book has more hype.
But being grateful, at all stages, for whatever you have, no matter how little, will get you through most of the jealousy and difficulty. The knowledge that you may not be where you want to be, but you’ve come a long way from where you started—and the knowledge that no one can stop you from going further.
At the risk of sounding entirely cliché: keep writing stories, keep putting yourself out there, and no matter what, find the energy to get back up again when you’ve been knocked down. Be open, accepting, and grateful for all of the positive energy that surrounds you—and don’t forget to spread positivity in your own way.
If there’s one thing you hope The Black Veins inspires in readers, what is it?
I always want readers to walk away with hope. Especially queer readers of color. We are rarely included in works, especially works created by queer authors of color. Ownvoices stories, for us, are few and far in-between. It’s very easy to feel erased.
I don’t have a huge audience, but if there’s even one person who reads my book and feels less alone, who finishes that final page feeling inspired and seen and loved, then I have done my job, and that is enough.
Final question: Which Guardian would you be?
Oh boy. Considering what I put these kids through, both in The Black Veins and in Dead Magic as a whole…none of them, I want to save myself!
I guess Antonio has it pretty good? And is generally happy? He feels like a safe choice, yeah, I’ll go with the sunshine boy!
About The Black Veins
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
Find The Black Veins On:
About the Author
Ashia Monet is a speculative fiction author whose work almost always includes found families, diverse ensemble casts, the power of friendship, and equal parts humor and drama. Some of her favorite things are The Adventure Zone, Ariana Grande, and the color pink. You can follow her on Twitter @ashiamonet and Instagram @ashiawrites.
Find Ashia Monet On:
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CW @ The Quiet Pond (Introduction + Review)
Are you excited to read The Black Veins? What do you think of it based on Ashia’s answers? Drop a comment below!
About the Post Author
Surina is an avid reader who spent most of her childhood buried in books, and who hopes to spend more of her life doing the same. She is perpetually tired and likes to spend her (nonexistent) free time complaining to her dog. Some of her favorite books are Aru Shah and the End of Time, Timekeeper, and The Priory of the Orange Tree. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.