Middle Child Press: 2011


The Craft: Author vs. Writer

During a discussion with Denny Upkins, author of Hollowstone, the subject of what we do came up, as it tends to since we’re both published authors. The text of the conversation is as follows...

Me: “I understand how refreshing it is to connect with like minds. It's rare. Ankh and I are storytellers, which is why we get along so well. Through her, I met you, and you're a wordsmith just like us. It's so great because we can talk about certain things. I wish I knew more real authors like us. I know plenty of writers, but very few authors.”

Denny: “Girl you ain't never lied. One of my friends was talking about this. She's critiquing my next novel and she stated something that really struck a chord. She said she loved critiquing me because my objective is to tell a great story and not be known as a great writer. Because there's a huge difference. I think with us, we're working towards something more meaningful in our narratives which is why we strive to be great authors because we're serving an ignored audience that is black women, women of color, POCs and LGBTQs.”

Me: You're so right. So right. Soooooooo right. I'm more concerned with telling a balanced, solid story than I am with being portrayed as a good writer. The second can't happen unless the first does.”


Book Review ~ "The Woman from Cheshire Avenue"

Dear Ms. Mié,

Why the hell didn't you send this to me, LOL? I'm always looking for books that push the envelope, books that make me say "damn, I wish I'd written this"! Seriously, The Woman from Cheshire Avenue was one of the most AWESOME books I have read all year and frankly, I'm getting pretty envious at Middle Child Press. It's not the fact that you made a neo-Nazi into a character I came to care about, nor was it the fact that Lilith had the kind of class, balls and sass that I don't see too often in a lot of books. It's not even the fact that Michael Hirosawa and his family of scary, yet elegant criminals reminded me of some of the best Japanese crime dramas--it's how you managed to pack so much action and emotion in a mere 90-something pages. And that's another thing--you have left me chomping at the bit and I am not happy, LOL.


Amaya Speaks: Review ~ The Woman From Cheshire Avenue

Art by Michael Gibson
This is the fourth book by talented author, Ankhesen Mié.  No, I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend and business partner; she is talentedThe Woman From Cheshire Avenue (a book I lovingly renamed Chessy Ave), isn’t a book for the faint of heart.  I did not know what the book was about when I first read it, and I admit to feeling like I’d been smacked across the face.  Once I got my equilibrium, I enjoyed the story.  It’s dark and different, and as a fellow goth writer, I can respect and appreciate it.

Ankhesen’s latest effort gives readers a sneak peek into a place that they may not want to see.  Chessy Ave introduces us to a violent, murderous Neo-Nazi named Eric who has identity issues and a conflicted, tortured soul.  Let me reiterate: Eric is a Neo-Nazi and he rolls with Neo-Nazis, and therefore readers will be privy to language, thoughts, words and deeds that are not warm and fuzzy.  Consider yourself warned. 

Chessy Ave focuses on Eric and his encounters and dealings with Lilith Wells, a beautiful black woman who is so way out of his league that she is the Sun to his Pluto.  But just like that tiny former planet, Eric can’t help but be sucked into Lilith’s orbit, and the two embark on an unlikely relationship.  Lilith is also conflicted and struggles with her self-worth and something in her responds to Eric, regardless of whom he thinks he is.


On Sale Now: Corruption (2011)

Title: Corruption

Author: Amaya Radjani

Genre (s): Fiction, Erotica, Romance

Categories: Blasian, Straight

Audience: MATURE


Mahogany Carroll is a unrepentant cougar; Jordan Yoshito is a precocious cub. Jordan's struggling with finding his way in the world, and Mahogany's struggling with needing more than just great sex. Mahogany likes her men young and Jordan prefers his women experienced, thus the relationship they enter is supposed to be no more than temporary.

But people have a way of leaving their mark on one another long after encounters have ceased, and these two are no exception.

Publisher: Middle Child Press

ISBN#: 978-0-9831375-2-8

Edited by Amaya Radjani

Cover design by Amaya Radjani; cover art execution by April Martinez.


Amaya Speaks: Hollowstone--A Review

Hollowstone, a story about a young man’s experiences at a prestigious Tennessee prep school, is Dennis Upkins’ debut novel.  Before I deliver my thoughts on this book, I need to provide a bit of context.

I love books.  Love them, love them, and love them.  Stories have weight and texture and scent and flavor, and nothing illustrates that better than a novel.  I’ll always buy books.  But in these times, books have gone digital and eBooks are extremely popular.  As co-owner of a small “tree-friendly” publishing house, eBooks are all Middle Child Press does.  So to embrace this trend, I bought a Kindle.  Part of my soul died, as I felt like I was betraying the decades-long love affair I have with books.

Drawback of the Kindle:  You can’t easily flip back and forth through earlier pages to clarify what you’ve read.  This annoyed the hell out of me.


Author's Roundtable

A few weeks ago, authors Denny Upkins, Hayat Ali, Ankhesen Mié, and I got together to have a roundtable discussion.  The focus of this particular roundtable was the challenges that authors of color face in the publishing industry and in the media.  The roundtable was refreshingly honest, as each author represented different levels of experience and areas of expertise.  It was awesome to connect with like minds, as it is not something that happens on a daily basis in an author’s life.  Writing is a lonely process, as it should be, but it does help to know that we are not the only PoC authors toiling in the name of telling our own stories.

You can read the entire discussion here.

Denny Upkins is the author of Hollowstone.  A must read.

Hayat Ali is the author of The Alpha Promise.

Ankhesen Mié is the author of Purple Jars of Rice, Folklore & Other Stories, Violet Dusk, and The Woman From Cheshire Avenue.  Chessy Ave is her latest.  You can find her most recent works at the Middle Child Press eBookstore.


Book Trailer: The Sultry Court Anthology, Vol. 1 (2010)


The music featured is "Exhale" by British chanteuse and trip hop legend Skye of Morcheeba. Her solo album Keeping Secrets is available from Amazon for $6.99. 


Showing Some Love

A year and a half ago, a brilliant young woman named Ankhesen Mié and I came together and formed Middle Child Press, an independent publishing house for WoC authors.  We specialize in publishing works by women of color authors.  The time has come for WoC to tell our own stories: stories that run the gamut of human experience.  We don’t all write hood lit or streamlined interpretations of our culture.  We don’t all write romance or stories that even slightly paint PoC in a negative light.  The problem is that we’re rejected from the mainstream publishing world by TPTB because we refuse to fall in line with their narrow-minded standards.

We all have a particular slant on the world and it’s time we step up and share them with other PoC.  For instance, Ankhesen typically tackles unusual subjects with diverse characterizations, sometimes with a dark edge, and she sometimes caters to audiences who enjoy that kind of work.  She also writes poetry, and does other amazing things with words and images.  You can find two of her books in our E-store: Violet Dusk and her latest, The Woman from Cheshire Avenue, a novel I lovingly call Chessy Ave.


Help Us Reach 1,000 Copies

When the moneyed collide
with the mad, malice ensues.
A year and five months ago, Amaya Radjani and I decided to start our own publishing press for authoresses of color.  The Woman from Cheshire Avenue (2011) is our third release in almost a year, and we have a fourth on the way (*crosses fingers*).

When we first got into this venture, we invested literally thousands of dollars and reached out to several female authors of color spanning multiple styles and genres.  I understood that such a endeavor takes time (and money) and I was willing to invest the necessary patience.

I still am.

I believe in what we are doing, most importantly because it's not something I'm seeing widely done, yet is so very essential for the literary needs of the modern WoC.  At Middle Child Press, we wear our weird on the outside, and we want all of you to see.


Review ~ The Woman from Cheshire Avenue (2011)

From author Dennis R. Upkins:
The Woman From Cheshire Avenue is the story of Lilith Wells, "a successful young black woman, and the daughter of a prominent local politician. After a bizarre first encounter, she becomes the object of obsession to a Neo-Nazi from the streets."

I won't lie. I had serious reservations about this novella. Reading about a psychotic Neo Nazi stalking a black woman is not my idea of quality entertainment. In the hands of a lesser writer, this plot would've been a disaster. However author Ankhesen Mié not only makes it work but takes the narrative and the characters to unexpected places to keep you wanting to find out more.


Ankh Speaks: Hollowstone (2011) ~ a Review

I had the honor of being asked to do a review of Dennis R. Upkins's debut novel Hollowstone.  This is my first ever official book review, and I was very glad it was this book, particularly because I am a huge, huge fan of this man.

Upkins tells us the story of a young nerdy black man named Noah Scott who plays the violin and goes to church (earning him the nickname "Altar Boy").  Noah is also a brilliant student whose grades land him in a prestigious, exclusive, elitist school of spoiled, selfish rich kids who get away with everything - drugs, rape, even murder.  And for Noah, what starts out as simply dealing with annoying classmates eventually turns into a literal life-and-death struggle.

At first I was surprised by the characterization of the students and the choice of setting, but then I realized it made perfect sense.  In order for Upkins to discuss issues of violence, substance abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism, he needed a place where they constantly came to light yet often ran unchecked.  And when writing young people, Upkins often captures their voices perfectly and quite humorously.

But one of the most fascinating aspects of Upkins' writing style is a glaring lack of filler.  It's as though he never takes a rest; every paragraph is made to count, every chapter carries the momentum forward still.  His pacing is astounding; he keeps the reader on the edge and oblivious to the passing of twenty to thirty pages in a row.  Moreover, mystery/suspense is definitely his genre; I never ceased to be amazed at how writers like him can so definitely handle the numerous details which weave together a cleverly tangled web.

Deftly blending the realistic with the supernatural, Upkins presents a delightfully entertaining read and an overall impressive debut.


Ankh Speaks: Plotline No-No's for the New Decade

Ladies and gents, 2010 has been over for some time now; the first decade of our new century is complete and we need to talk creative strategy for the next.

To say that our popular media - and even independent media, unfortunately - has become formulaic is a gross understatement.  We have an almost pathological lack of outside-the-box-thinking going on.  And when people genuinely make an effort to do something new, either one of two things always happens:

One - the audience realizes after the first third of the film or the first season of a show that they've been bamboozled and whatever diversity/creativity they were enjoying was strictly there for luring, not longetivity (Heroes comes to mind).

Two - the moment the audience recognizes the creators' daring and brilliance, the audience also realizes the show is going to be canceled ASAP, or the film will have several crappy sequels.

We've simply developed a sense for these things.


Checking in with...Lady Aislynn Sanchar

Today, I’d like to welcome Lady Aislynn Sanchar, author of “Lovesick,” “Banquet,” and “Sacrament.”  The Baroness is a nocturnal femme fatale and a prolific author.  She writes poetry, short stories, novels, and all styles in between.  I am fortunate that the Baroness (as she prefers to be called) was passing through my part of the world and took some time to meet with me.  

AR:  Hello, Baroness.  I must say, I admire your style of dress.  You have a very distinctive look; both alluring and dangerous.  Are you dangerous?

The Baroness:  Yes.

       AR: I normally ask for three personal descriptors for your fans; you’ve already given me one.  Can you tell me two more things about yourself?

The Baroness:  I’d rather not.


Checking in with...Lady Chantilly Lace

I’d like to welcome Lady Chantilly Lace, affectionately called Lady Lace, and author of “Underworld Assassin.”   The Viscountess is a practitioner of the black arts, an expert swordswoman, and an all-around badass.

AR:  Hi, Lace.  Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, so to speak.  It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, and I’d like for your fans to know how you’ve been doing since the book was released.  First off, I always ask for the Ladies to tell us three things.  What would you like for your fans to know?

CL:  When I’m not writing, studying the dark arts, or learning complex knifework, I’m a 39-year old mother of four.  I’ve been married for 18 years.  I go back and forth between my alter-egos, and there are days when they can mesh.  Kids, you know.


Checking in with...Lady Vasi Davin-Thorne

Last summer, I had the grand fortune to work with some phenomenal women who contributed to MCP’s debut anthology, The Sultry Court.  As part of MCP's marketing push for The Sultry Court, I thought I’d check in with the Ladies.  It’s been almost a year since the conception of the book, and I thought it would be good for the fans to see how their favorite Ladies are doing.  It’s not an easy task, as we have to meet at places where time converges, but I’m up to it.

Today, I'll be speaking with Countess Vasi Davin-Thorne, author of "Siege."  "Siege" is the story of an Ethiopian queen's battle of wits and wills with a Greek prince determined to make the warrior woman his bride.  “Siege” is Lady Davin-Thorne’s first foray into erotica.  The Countess is currently abroad, but was kind enough to offer me a few minutes of her time to answer a few questions.

     AR:   Tell us three things about yourself.
    VDT:  I’m a passionate provocateur, a risk taker, and I’m not afraid to be deviant.

      AR:  What motivated you to become an author?
     VDT:  I’m obsessed with stories and I love telling stories; I’m a fanatic.  The next obvious step was to write them down.

       AR:  What inspired you to write “Siege?”
     VDT:  As a woman of color, I know for a fact that our history is rich and detailed and untold, and I wanted to tap into that. 

Interview with Joey Pinkney

Recently, Amaya Radjani, MCP's Creative Director, was interviewed by Joey Pinkney, a popular book reviewer.  Some of what they discussed is the genesis of Middle Child Press and The Sultry Court.  Here is a portion of the interview:

JP: What sets The Sultry Court apart from other books in the same genre?

AR: The Sultry Court was envisioned as a mystical girls night in, where the Ladies of the Court come together in a supernatural realm to swap stories. Since each Lady is from a different era and/or plane of existence, these times must converge in one unique transcendent hub in order for them to get together and share their stories and poems.

Each Lady has an innovative, hand-drawn avatar included in the book, and the cover is also an original piece of art. I think the imaginative artwork adds an exceptional touch.

You can read the full interview here...


Ankh Speaks: Debunking the Universal Narrative

In her recent interview with popular book reviewer Joey Pinkney, Amaya Radjani was asked: "As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The Sultry Court getting out to the public?" To which she replied: "Listening to the market is very important to us here at MCP; our target audience comprises women of color, and that’s a group which doesn’t get listened to very often here in the West.

"We roamed through online communities, started blogs, read blogs and initiated discussions all because we wanted to hear what women of color want and don’t want. Even now, we encourage readers to come to our blog and talk to us about The Sultry Court so that we’ll know what direction to go in for future volumes."

This reminds of me when I was a senior at Marshall University, studying World Literature under the very strict, very blunt Irish professor Dr. Lachlan Whalen.  While we read postcolonial literature from Africa, he pointed out that Western scholars were always lining up to praise African writers for sharing their "universal narratives."  Needless to say, Dr. Whalen called bullshit, flat-out stating these narratives were not universal.  Not everyone could understand where the writers were coming from, much less who they were and what they'd been through.  In short, their stories were not for everyone, and not everyone could understand them.


The Sultry Court Vol. 1 Review

From author Nichelle Gregory:
A selfish lover gets his comeuppance in Lady Aislynn Sanchar's story Lovesick...

A beautiful supernatural assassin teaches a lawyer a lesson to die for in Lady Chantilly Lace's dark tale, Underworld...

One lover betrays another in Lady Allatu Trevigne's, The Last Night...

Age is nothing but a number in Lady Aislynn Sanchar's erotic May/December story, Banquet...

A gorgeous, formidable Egyptian Queen finally meets her match in Siege by Lady Vasi Davin-Thorne...

And you won't soon forget Sacrament, another wickedly sexy tale by Lady Aislynn Sanchar, where a aging ice queen discovers her perfect life has been carefully orchestrated by a darker force with a voracious sexual appetite she finds herself surrendering to.

The Sultry Court, edited by Amaya Radjani offers a collection of hot, twisted, entertaining stories sure to tantalize erotica readers! You'll also love the gorgeous artwork and there's even a love poem for poetry fans!

If you're into sizzling erotica, you'll enjoy The Sultry Court!


Violet Dusk Review

From The Chronicle:

So I recently had an opportunity to read Violet Dusk by author Ankhesen Mié.

Violet Dusk
is the third release from Mié after a three-year hiatus. While I've followed K's blog for quite some time this was my first opportunity to read her literary works.

K's prose has a nice blend of the Gothic, African mythos, personal experience, the mundane of everyday life which is anything but ordinary. Her work is hauntingly beautiful and even in the sunniest of situations such as a July family cookout, the reader sees through K's eyes the world a ghostly and ethereal temperament.

Many of her poems reminds me of the artist that is gifted/cursed with the second sight as it were. While most people can't see beyond what's in front of them, artists like K view the death, the darkness that seeps into this world. It's as if she wanders through the supernatural among the everyday world. She sees beyond the surface beyond the mundane and speaks on a deeper (and often darker) truth.

As mentioned earlier, African imagery pervades through her pieces but also her journey as strong woman and how that's often an unenviable burden in modern society be it pertaining to career or relationships. Especially relationships.

Perhaps my favorite poem is "The Zombie's Lament" as it no doubt speaks to every 20 something year old who is stuck in a cubicle or a dead end job. Zombies who live for the next Benjamin, going through the motions of a thankless full time job, going to school, relationships the casualty of war, living from paycheck to paycheck and for all intents and purposes is the living dead. If this poem wasn't the story of my life during my 20s (and to a large effect it still is), then I don't know what is.

I highly recommend Violet Dusk. It's a great collection and our voices need to be heard. It's published by Middle Child Press and you can grab a copy here.


Violet Dusk

After three years, author Ankhesen Mié finally returns with her third book, Violet Dusk, titled after a poem inspired by a picture of a Maasai model.

This will be her first volume of poetry.  "I never thought I'd actually see the day I'd release a book only of poetry,"  Miss Mié reports, "but after some of the responses I got to the I've put up here, and the grooming I underwent last semester, I guess it was just inevitable.  I'm still working on my novels, but in the meantime, this just came out."

While Miss Mié intends to release future volumes of poetry, she's still toiling away on her prose, namely her in-progress novel The Midnight Bride.  Readers can expect to read samples of her work right here on the blog.