I’m gonna give you a bit of background because I love this cause and its means so much to me to have a platform and know there are so many other people out there down for the cause.
I’m going to tell you why Chalcedony and the Everleaf Series is so uniquely my voice.
The first book (the prequel) Black Beauty is an urban fantasy that takes a urban fantasy twist on black beauty issues teenagers and women face in America. Also, the characters have names like Shemeya, Andre, Latreece and Jade because I wanted to see the names of people I grew up with represented in speculative fiction.
The Second book, Coal, is all fantasy. Most of it even takes place in the fantasy realm. Ten years ago in my first venture in fandom, I was bullied out of an online forum for suggesting the main character of R.A. Salvatore’s popular Dark Elf Trilogy actually be played by a black actor. ‘Elves don’t have negroid features’ they told me along with some other racist bul**it.
So I wrote Coal in honor of the racist who had problems with seeing black people as elves.
Chalcedony, the third book in the series, is the fusion of both books: Urban black characters in a fantasy setting with black villains and black heroes, and black elves and dangerous magic. all of the things, I wish I could read as a kids neatly packaged in one series. The exact book I wish I would have had as a kid In My Own Voice.
Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through writing fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of speculative fiction to the masses. She is she is a nerd, a mother, and a wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City. You can find her online at www.constanceburris.com/blog or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/constance.burris
“Remember me?” the man asked, like they had accidentally bumped into each other at a restaurant instead of at a crime scene where an entire family had been murdered.
Chalcedony did remember him. She had been young and on her first trip to the human realm, but she still remembered him. He was one of what her mother had named “the Abominations”, a trio of humans turned into monsters by magic.
He had barely changed in the eleven years since she had seen him: tall and thin with arms almost too long for his body. A gray hooded sweater hid part of his face, but she could still see the cinnamon-colored skin underneath its hood. Dark, baggy jeans sat low on his hips. Instead of drawing her sword, doubt made her hesitate. He looked like a normal human. How could he have done something so hideous? This man was no monster, was he? Had the years with the weavers eaten away at the man, leaving a monster in his place?
He lifted his long, gangly arms. Like a giant wave rising above the ocean, a black swarm of bugs flew out of his sleeves and the collar of his sweater and rushed towards her.
Chalcedony turned and covered her face as the tide of insects bombarded her back. Biting down her disgust, she straightened and ignored the bugs crawling over her and making their way up her neck.
The Abomination stood before her. Only the top of his hood and his face was visible. The rest was covered by creeping, swarming cockroaches, ants, termites and beetles. There were so many insects that they were three, five, ten deep, crawling over each other in an endless chaotic cacophony.
She kicked, aiming for his face. She enjoyed a small flash of relief when her foot connected with something solid. Abruptly she felt nothing but air. Bugs. Hundreds of them clung to her leg and began crawling up her thigh.
Biting down her revulsion, she looked for the man, but he was nowhere in sight.
Chalcedony drew Mayhem, taking comfort in its familiar leather handle and the sight of cold, hard steel. She walked to the front of the house. Her pace was slow and cautious as she stepped on the yellowing grass and occasional leaves from the surrounding trees. Her instincts told her he was somewhere close. The bugs scampered across her body. She denied the urge to kill them, and unless they were on her face, she refused to wipe them away. They could not kill her. She needed their master. The Abomination. The Bugman. If she could kill him, they would no longer be a threat.
He was waiting for her in the front yard underneath the maple trees. Three struggling bodies, completely covered in bugs, lay between him and her. Djamel and Avonnah she recognized immediately. It took a second to see the tuft of blonde hair barely visible underneath the bugs as Tetrick.
“Let them go,” she said, seething and unable to control her anger. She lifted Mayhem, the sword willing and ready to tear away at the Bugman’s flesh.
“Hey now,” the Bugman said, his face completely covered with insects. All she could see was the white gleam of his teeth as he talked. “It looks like you brought a sword to a bug fight.”
Chalcedony phased, using her power to close the distance in an instant. She swung Mayhem at his chest, hoping that if she found his heart, he would die, relinquishing his command of the bugs. On impact he simply disappeared, leaving in his wake another wave of bugs.
Before she thought to turn away, they landed on her face, covering her forehead and mouth. When they blocked her nose, she opened her mouth to breathe and the insects crawled inside. She gagged as they tried to crawl down her throat. Mercilessly, she began chewing, biting them, killing them as she tried to breathe. At the same time, she tried furiously to wipe them off her face. But nothing helped. As soon as she wiped one bug away, it was replaced by ten more. She would bite down on one and dozens more squirming bugs would take its place.
Using magic, she phased again. She reappeared a moment later, ten feet away. She hoped to abandon the bugs once she disappeared and reappeared, but they still clung to her.
Tears came uninvited as she fought to breathe. Tetrick, Avonnah, and Djamel had almost completely stopped moving. She dropped Mayhem and fell to her knees before giving up completely and lying down.
Madoc will be so mad if I die without an heir, she thought as she lay on the ground gasping and watching small waves crash weakly onto the shore.
Using the last bit of her strength, she looked toward Tetrick, Avonnah, and Djamel. She could no longer tell who was who. They were all just formless lumps teeming with insects. But she focused on the body she knew to be Tetrick and phased near him. As soon as she was able to dig her hands through his bugs and touch flesh, she phased with him.
Chalcedony opened her eyes to see the murky blue water of the lake. The muted sound of being underwater was a pleasant change from the scampering of thousands of crawling insects.
Bugs floated past her face. Most were dead, but some still moved. The sight of the creatures dead or fighting for life brought a smile to her face.
No longer able to hold her breath, she bolted to the surface. She took great lungfuls of air while she looked for who she hoped was Tetrick. Had she been so weak that she had not brought him in with her? Something grabbed her shoulders. She turned to face Tetrick.
The carcasses of bugs floated around them. Silently, they stared at each other. His eyes told her this was the closest he had ever been to death.
“Djamel and Avonnah. We have to go get them.”
Tetrick nodded and disappeared without saying a word. Soon after, Chalcedony followed.
She grabbed the remaining body, not knowing if it was Avonnah or Djamel, and once again she was in the safety of the lake.
Andre the Bugman stood on the shore, his arms crossed, staring towards the lake with a crooked grin of triumph.