Interview with Kwame Mbalia
Updated: Feb 5
Brief bio: Kwame Mbalia is the author of the upcoming MG book Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky. It is scheduled to be released October 15th, 2019.
Hi, Mr. Mbalia! I'm super excited for your new series and I can't wait to explore it a little with you, as well as delve into your life as an author. So, when did you first realize that you wanted to be an author?
I've always written stories. My mother is an author and it naturally appealed to me.
Ah, so it runs in the family! That's cool! Where do you get your ideas for writing? Do you get it from everday life or like some authors, or someplace else or...?
Everyday life, splashed with a touch of weird and a pinch of Blackness.
Is that what inspired you to write Tristan?
The idea of exploring a world with African-American folk heroes, to show their
beauty and power -- that's something I couldn't resist. A lot of thanks goes to Cake
Literary for this project.
I can't wait to read your series! There are not enough books exploring diverse cultures and people! We always need more. So, without giving too much away, what are five words that you would use to describe your book?
Sad, strong, funny, sticky, and creative.
Oh no! If sad is the first word you would think of to describe Tristan, I might need tissues! I won't pry though - I want to find out why you chose "sad" when I read it. Focusing more the characters, which character do you connect to most?
Walter "Granddad" Strong.
When you think of your book being published and characters like "Granddad" being out in the world for people to appreciate, what do you hope for? Like, what type of reaction are you hoping for from readers?
I want to see fan art! I hope children out there are inspired to create their own
stories involving these characters.
That's so sweet! I'm sure there will be plenty of kids out there that will love to interact with the characters you have created. I think I know the answer to this next question, since I know Tristan is the first in the series, but I still need to ask: what's next for you?
Tristan 2! That's due soon, and I'm hoping everyone will love the new adventures
Tristan and Co. embark upon.
Well, we need to read about their first adventures before we move onto their next ones! Moving on to questions about the writing process, do you believe in Writer’s Block?
Absolutely. Sometimes I refer to it as "the well of creativity running dry." Sometimes you have to let it refill before you can draw from it again.
That makes sense. And does writing energize or exhaust you?
That makes sense too, haha! It's always interesting to me to find out how writers react to writing. And then, of course, there is the big "planner" versus "pantser" argument within the writing community. Which party do you fall under?
I am the Black Pantser.
Oh my goodness, that's great! I love it! Okay, to wrap up this interview, I'm going to focus more on other books instead of yours. While we wait for Tristan, what other diverse books should be put on our reading list? What's your favorite diverse read?
Wow, this is really putting me on the spot. Umm. You know what, I'm going to say
Slam! by Walter Dean Myers.
And what are your favorite books overall?
For questions like this, I give three answers: Novel, Graphic Novel, and Audiobook,
because all are valid forms of books.
Right now, my favorites are:
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder
3. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White narrated by
I'll have to look into all of those books! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Mr. Mbalia!
And that's it! Thank you to Kwame Mbalia for being so willing and helpful in answering the questions I had.
If you want to check out Kwame Mbalia's website, click HERE
Look forward to more interviews from authors, editors, and the like soon!