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Ignyte Interview Series 2021: #PublishingPaidMe- L.L. McKinney

McKinney BW photoThe Ignyte Community Award celebrates the Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre. Nominated in this year’s Ignytes, L.L. Mckinney is an author and an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing as well as the creator of hashtags #PublishingPaidMe and #WhatWoCWritersHear. We are delighted to have her as a finalist for the award and have interviewed her about her work.

You began  #publishingpaidme, along with Tochi Onyebuchi, as an initiative to provide needed transparency in the discrepancy of advances paid to Black and other historically underrepresented writers, and white writers.  Was there anything that surprised you about the response to #publishingpaidme?

Mostly the ‘how much.’ We knew we weren’t being paid equally. That wasn’t a secret. The ‘how much’ is what stuck me, especially since 8/3 was Black women equal pay day.

What are your thoughts on how the initiative has evolved?

There has been a little push to pay Black writers equally, but not enough IMO. We also haven’t really talked about the role agents played in all this, agents who were clearly okay with accepting less for their Black clients than their non-Black clients. Or, at the very least, agents who didn’t care to notice.

You have consistently advocated for equality and inclusion over the years and also created #WhatWoCWritersHear. When did your activism efforts first begin?

I…can’t really remember. It’s been a while. My first published book was in 2018, but I’ve been in the writing community and talking with other authors for over a decade now. It began even then, when I noticed how people talk and behave, that slight press at the base of your skull, the Black spidey-sense a friend called it that you develop when working and living in corporate industries.

You were part of DC’s Future State event this year. What did writing Nubia mean to you?

Everything. I’ve been hollering about Nubia since I was a kid. It used to INFURIATE me when people would say “Black Wonder Woman.” Like, no, she’s a whole other person and has a name! USE IT! I also felt a way about them taking Nubia’s powers and status as a Princess of the Amazons. She was Diana’s twin sister. Hell, she was the OLDEST of the two of them. If you look at the panels in her origin, she’s fully formed when Hypolytta is still working on Diana. So she’s the rightful heir and so forth. But okay, demote her to regular amazon, I guess. Tch.

What would you like to explore next with your writing?

I’d love to hang around in comics for a bit longer, work on more beloved characters, create my own. I’d also love to get into game writing as well. Being a nerd is a huge influence on my writing and writing style. I’ve got books planned about Black kids who are gamers, who are into D&D, all sorts of stuff.

You are also an accomplished Cellist. Has music been a part of your writing process? How has it contributed to your work?

Music has always been a big part of who I am. Music affects my moods, my energy, certain songs or sounds can take me back to moments in time and I remember what living during those days FELT like. So I use music while I’m writing, certain playlists for certain books or scenes. For instance, if I’m writing a fight scene, I’ll have certain songs playing, or a particular song on repeat if I’m trying to evoke a certain vibe. I like to think being a cellist is why I can listen to the same song on repeat for weeks at a time without getting sick of it later. After all, we had to practice the same songs again and again to prepare to play. You get used to it, I guess.

What has made you hopeful over the past year?

My sisters’ kids. They’ve been stalwart in this entire thing, and hanging with them has renewed my joy.

What does it mean to you to be considered for the Community Award?

Everything. I…don’t have many other words. Thank you.

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