SPFBO 8 Author and Book Spotlight: Kyoko M. with The Black Parade

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 8 Author and Book Spotlight continues! Today we have Kyoko M. (which is a pretty name) with her SPFBO entree, The Black Parade, an urban fantasy with a down-to-earth protagonist and angel lore.

Cover for The Black Parade by Kyoko M. an urban fantasy; harsh vibes with black and gray colors, and a splash of red hair and lips

Jordan Amador. 21. New Yorker. Waitress. Mild alcoholic. Murderer.

Two years ago, Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can see, hear, and talk to ghosts with unfinished business. Her crime came with a hefty price, too. She has two years to help a hundred souls cross over to the afterlife or her soul is bound for hell. Tough break.

As if that weren’t bad enough, two days before her deadline a handsome pain-in-the-ass poltergeist named Michael strolls into her life. His soul is the key to her salvation, but the cost just might be more than she can handle. Solving his death puts her right in the crosshairs of Belial: a vain, bloodthirsty archdemon who won’t rest until she’s his slave. Can she rescue Michael and save her own soul, or will they both be dragged down into the clutches of the eternal black parade?

Onto the Questions!

As a Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) Entrant, you’re not just independently as opposed to traditionally published, but self-published. Can you start by explaining a bit about why you chose that route and how it’s been for you?

I actually started out going the traditional route when I finished the first draft of The Black Parade back in 2010. I queried agents for over two years before getting rejected enough times that I was losing faith in my work. My father suggested I research self-publishing, so I did that for an additional two years before getting The Black Parade together and publishing it in 2013. I certainly have nothing against traditional publishing and I’d happily say yes to a book deal from another publisher if it were beneficial, but I do admit the appeal of self-publishing is that I can do the story my way. The Black Parade turned out to be an interesting book and I didn’t have to make any major compromises (aside from not being able to include lyrics from “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance like I wanted to originally when I named the book) and I think the book has a lot of integrity and honesty as a result. I’ll be frank—self-publishing is a miserable, grueling job. You have to claw and scratch for even the smallest victories. But it taught me a lot of skills I wouldn’t have had otherwise and so I’m grateful to it.

What job doesn’t have its miseries? Or is never grueling? Lucky (maybe?) are those who can find such a one, but it’s not most of us! It’s certainly great to have a supportive parent 😀

On a related note, why did you enter the SPFBO contest? A number of people have related that they find it pretty stressful.

I decided to shoot my shot because I’ve got nothing to lose. If my book gets kicked out in the first round, hey, at least I was bold enough to even enter the contest and allow someone to critically dissect my book. The SPFBO is also a new crowd for me. I only heard of them after my other first-in-series for my science fiction dragon hunting books, Of Cinder and Bone, was a semi-finalist in the 2021 Self Published Science Fiction Competition. I figured it would be a good way to get my book in front of new potential readers.

It is definitely a way to get your book in front of potential readers. The next thing is whether they will be actual readers, lol. I wish you the best!

Book titles. Why did you choose the title you did for your book? Tell us a bit more about the inspiration for that and how it ties into Jordan’s story.

The Black Parade is named after a song from my youth, “Welcome to The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. The title is referring to a specific lyric: “Because one day, I’ll leave you, a phantom, to lead you in the summer to join the black parade.” This is a reference to death, and the main character, Jordan Amador, is basically a Seer who leads lost souls to the other side of death. Her job is to find out what it is that caused them to stay behind instead of ascending to the astral plane to be sent to Heaven or Hell and solve it so they peacefully move on. The song itself is great and it’s kind of this amazing combination of morbid but uplifting, as it calls for us to carry on even after loved ones leave and that’s definitely a motif in The Black Parade.

I wonder what kinds of things cause souls to stay behind….

I won’t ask for your favourite scene since I know some people don’t have those (wink wink), but can you share a scene you really like and you just can’t believe how awesome it is every time you go back to re-read it, that you don’t consider to be a spoiler? Or something about a character you love. Or both, together?

There is a scene where Jordan Amador faces off with the archdemon Belial. I like it because Jordan’s entire deal is that she refuses to give up even when she knows the odds of her own survival are nil. She actually engages him in a fist-fight and I really like that scene because Jordan is the epitome of “FIGHT ME” energy and that’s exactly why Belial wants her to be his second in command for the demons; he likes that spark in her and he likes the audacity she has to challenge a supernatural creature like him to fisticuffs. I always pictured the music for that scene to be “A Kiss with a Fist” by Florence + the Machine, too.

I don’t listen to a lot of music, but Jordan definitely sounds … tough? Certainly, not lacking in courage or audacity!

Same sort of thing as with the last question, except this time what about a quote? One to five lines or so, but this isn’t math. lol

I’m not gonna give the context, but this is one of Jordan’s mental one-liners that is a popular highlight from readers: “Gabriel stood there in all his cock-blocking blond glory with a dead serious look on his angelic face.” I love that line.

Hmm. I wonder how angelic faces are different, or is that not the point? 🙂

What would you like to share? Take this in any direction you consider to be related to your book and your writing. It can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a guest post.

I just wanted to say that one of the reasons I wrote The Black Parade has to do with the fact that for a while back in the 2010s, it was very difficult to find an urban fantasy or paranormal romance novel with a woman of color as the leading lady and that was part of my motivation for writing it. Jordan Amador is biracial: her father is black and her mother is Spanish. I also wanted a protagonist who was struggling and wasn’t the perfect 36-24-36 overpowered urban fantasy female lead with fifteen love interests. I wanted her to be more down to Earth and have clear flaws instead of being perfect and it’s because I think that was a character who wasn’t around at that time. Brown girls need representation period, but even moreso in speculative fiction. This book is just a tiny drop in the pond, but I hope that people enjoy it and that other brown girls like me out there know they’re not alone.

Nice! I think the combination of struggling and “Never give in, never say quit, never back down,” (the scene you described!) can be awesome!

Kyoko M is a USA Today bestselling author and a fangirl. She is the author of The Black Parade urban fantasy series and the Of Cinder and Bone science-fiction series. The Black Parade has been reviewed by Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews. Of Cinder and Bone placed in the Top 30 Books in Hugh Howey’s 2021 Self Published Science Fiction Contest. Kyoko M has appeared as a guest and panelist at such conventions as Geek Girl Con, DragonCon, Blacktasticon, Momocon, JordanCon, ConCarolinas, and MultiverseCon. She is also a contributor to Marvel Comics’ Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (2021) anthology. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia.

You can find Kyoko…

On Twitter

On her website

On Goodreads

And you can get Jordan’s story with The Black Parade

On Amazon

On Barnes and Noble

On Smashwords

On Kobo

Other SPFBO 8 Author and Book Spotlights

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