A Co-Writing Journey, Pt. 2: Berneta and Lornett Talk Characters and Story

In case you missed it, I recently sat down with my co-writer, Lornett B. Vestal (founder of Evolving Man Project), to discuss our upcoming novel, Eve and the Faders. In Pt. 1, we discussed the process of co-writing and why we chose to write speculative fiction. This week, we sat down to talk about Eve and the Faders, including our inspiration for the novel and our favorite characters. The novel officially hits stores on January 1, 2021. We will be hosting a virtual book launch on January 9, 2021. Click here to learn more and RSVP today.

Berneta: So last week, we talked all about our co-writing process. Let’s talk about the book, specifically the story and the characters. How would you sum up Eve and the Faders in a few sentences?

Lornett: An ordinary woman with extraordinary abilities tries to hide from the world. But someone like that can’t hide in the shadows forever. Now she must make a choice to fight back, to find out who she really is at the end of it all. 

Berneta: Is it funny that I heard that in the old school movie trailer voice? 

Lornett: Personally, I think it’s a shame that young folks don’t get to experience the movie trailer voice anymore. Anyway, before we go off on a tangent, do you have any favorite characters in Eve and the Faders? Or do you like them all equally?

Berneta: Eve, for sure. (She’s a queer black woman with superpowers. What’s not to love?!) She’s quiet, impulsive, and has a somewhat inconsistent sense of justice. In particular, I love her weird mix of idealism and cynicism–she expects people to be better than they are, yet she rarely ever trusts anyone. Her inconsistency is what I like about her. It drives the very logical yet illogical decisions she makes and encourages readers to question how they would respond in her situation. 

She’s a queer black woman with superpowers. What’s not to love?!

Besides Eve, my favorite characters are Mauricio and Agent Yu…I dig their complexity and the fact that you don’t know how to feel about them or whether to trust them. They do things that make you want to slap them, but then they turn around and do something that makes you appreciate their role in all the chaos. You find yourself wondering…are they good or bad, or do those categories even matter? I particularly admire Agent Yu’s cunning and tough attitude in the face of such crazy circumstances. She’s mission-driven and knows how to suck it up and keep moving when things don’t quite go her way. 

Lornett: Agent Yu is a tricky character. 

Berneta: What would you say surprised you about any of the characters? Were there any times where you found yourself rooting for a character you previously hated?

Lornett: I was surprised by Eve’s evolution throughout the story and her willingness to fight for those closest to her. At the start of the story, she’s hiding from the world. Besides being a teacher and caring about her students, she wishes to be left alone. She’s struggling with money and unsure about her relationship. Her alienation and feeling of powerlessness are palpable. She goes from that to eventually trying to save her friends and take down a powerful government agency. She grows as a character throughout the story. She’s more confident, less self-involved, and more sure of herself by the end. I can’t wait for people to see her evolution. People love a good character arc.

Now, about Agent Yu…I found myself not trusting her. But her beef with Agent Grobeck and her family background helps humanize her as a character. There’s a lot of gray with her character. 

Berneta: I like to think Agent Yu is the character that sort of keeps you guessing. What will she do? What is her line in the sand? As you said, she’s tricky. 

Lornett: What gave you the idea for the story’s settings? 

Berneta: I tend to set my stories in Chicago or Philly. Something about those two cities resonates with me. I like to uplift the type of southernfied blackness that you encounter in those cities. I tried to showcase that in my first novel, Landrien Moriset, that goes back and forth between Philly and Arkansas. So, it was a no-brainer to me that Eve and the Faders would be grounded in these two cities. I did something different in this book, however, by also including more of the midwest–Iowa and Indiana. I chose these locations because of my familiarity with them, having lived in Iowa, Chicago, and Philly. I think there’s something a bit unsung about all of these places, an underdog aspect to them. They’re like the overlooked middle children of this country–yes, I’m including Philly in this because it’s forever in the shadow of its bigger and/or flashier sisters New York and D.C. Maybe I’m a sucker for an underdog, for the misunderstood and forgotten middle child. 

Lornett: Although you’re the oldest of your siblings. 

Berneta: Lol. True. We could talk all day about Eve and the Faders. I hope that the novel resonates with readers, especially those who don’t often see themselves represented in the sci-fi, fantasy, speculative fiction, and superhero genres. As a queer black woman, I center queer black women in my novels because I feel we are so unsung and invisible in fiction. I mean, look, it’s not every day that you find a story centering a queer black woman with superpowers.

Lornett: Let’s not forget Thunder in Black Lightning, which is, unfortunately, going into its last season in 2021.

Berneta: Who could forget Thunder and her weird breathing. Lol. Is there anything else you want to say about what people should expect next from you or in Eve and the Faders

Lornett: I think Eve and the Faders will hit home with many people because the universe we created is a world inhabited by real people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Also, I think a novel featuring heroes of color is a good thing, especially one centering black women. I think about all my beautiful and intelligent nieces and great-nieces…this series is for them. We don’t often see black women and girls portrayed as the heroes of stories, especially in sci-fi and fantasy. It’s changing with movies like the Black Panther and shows like Star Trek Discovery, Black Lightning, and Luke Cage. Still, I think the West needs more stories centering Middle-Eastern, indigenous, Latino/a, black, and Asian heroes and heroines. 

Berneta: True. Very true. 

I think about all my beautiful and intelligent nieces and great-nieces…this series is for them. We don’t often see black women and girls portrayed as the heroes of stories, especially in sci-fi and fantasy.

Lornett: We also created a universe where our heroes make mistakes, act stubborn, and sometimes just screw up. In other words, they’re human. I think readers will appreciate that about the story.

Berneta: Anything else you’re working on right now?

Lornett: I’m working on a sci-fi novel called Human Beautiful. It’s an exploration into my love of quantum psychics, artificial intelligence, and my childhood fondness for role-playing games. I’m interested in seeing how it evolves from manuscript to final edit over the next year. Not to mention I’m looking forward to seeing how I fare as a solo author, especially since this is a story that’s very personal to me and was inspired indirectly by the Faders and Alphas series and my military experience. 

Berneta: I’m looking forward to reading it! 

Lornett: Okay, last question…if you could meet any character from Eve and the Faders in real life, who would it be and why? I’ll go first…I’d want to meet Niles. He seems like a man trying to figure things out and who gets things done. He seems fun to hang out with, too. 

Berneta: Niles is the type of guy I’d catch an improv show with and then go out for drinks. That guy is just about going with the flow and having fun. But I think I’d want to meet Mauricio, just so I could hear his side of the story. Like, I understand his motivations generally, but it would be cool to grab a drink with him and hear more of his backstory. And I’d maybe hug him. He needs a hug. 🙂

Want to learn more about the book and follow the authors?

Official Site | Berneta’s Twitter | Lornett’s Twitter

Where to buy the book:

Indiebound | Books2Read | Amazon | Bookshop | Book Depository

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