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Beyond The Bio: L.L. McKinney

Hey there! Welcome back to another amazing round of #BeyondTheBio questions here at PickMyYA. Today’s guest interviewer is Brian. He’s a high school freshman who's a proud member of vocal group and is the tallest person in his family. He loves jazz, and his all-time favorite book is Laurie Halse Anderson's The Impossible Knife Of Memory.

Our second guest today is L.L. McKinney, author of A Blade So Black. In addition to being a poet and author, Elle’s a gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan. She lives in Kansas with her cat, Sir Chester Fluffmire Boopsnoot Purrington Wigglebottom Flooferson III, esquire, Baron o’Butterscotch. Both Elle and Sir Chester are proud members of the BTS Army.

Let’s get to today’s interview!


Brian: Hey Elle! Your book A Blade So Black was absolutely thrilling! Can you tell our readers what it’s about?

Elle: Sure! It's a re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland that both asks and answers the question: What if Buffy fell down the rabbit hole instead of Alice? So we follow my Alice, who's a Black teenager in Atlanta, and her after-school job is crossing into Wonderland and slaying these monsters called Nightmares, which are physical manifestations of humanities fears. It's dark, twisty, full of action and Black Girl Magic.

Brian: So Alice is a great fighter. If the two of you got into it, who would win?

Elle: HA! Alice. Totally. She's trained for this and decidedly not. Now, if she wants to fight me in Smash Bros. Ultimate or Mortal Kombat 11, I stand a much better chance.

Brian: Addison’s got a lot of piercings. I always thoughts piercings sounded cool but also a bit painful. Are you a fan of piercings?

Elle: I am! I actually have piercings along each ear, just like Addison. They ARE painful, but worth it, IMO. I got all of mine at 18.

Brian: Alice faces multiple obstacles in her life, but the hardest may be the death of a close family member. I have faced this pain myself, and so have many of my friends. What would you tell grieving teens?

Elle: I recently lost my Granny, who was a huge part of my life. I miss her every day, the book is dedicated to her. I'd want to tell them that the hurt doesn't go away. You don't get past it or over it or through it, but you do get better at living with the new normal. And now, a lot of the time when I remember her, I smile and laugh with friends who knew her and family. Be present with that pain. Don't stopper it. Process it. It will get easier. I promise.

Brian: I love to travel and recently received my passport. One place that has always been on my list to visit is Atlanta, Georgia. Why did you choose to set the book in Atlanta?

Elle: I have family in Atlanta and love to visit it! Also, I'm a huge geek and have gone to Dragon Con multiple times and loved it. Alice and her Dad are both huge geeks as well and I always thought it would be cool to go to a big con with none of my parents. So I sent them there!

Brian: A Blade So Black is seriously one of my top 5 favorite books now! What are five of your favorites?

Elle: Oh my gosh, that changes all the time. Right now, right this moment, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Anything by NK Jemisin. Just saying.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Brian: So I know that you are writing a second book called "A Dream So Dark.” Can you tell us anything about it?

Elle: Let's see... It picks up right where we left off, we spend more time in Wonderland, we meet more characters, and the past sort of comes back to haunt everyone. No spoilers, lol.


That’s it for today’s interview with Elle. If you’re a teen reader who wants to submit questions for your favorite author, we’d love to help. Click here to find out how.

Also, we’ll be skipping our regularly-scheduled #BeyondTheBio interview next Sunday because we’ll still be suffering from a book hangover after YALLWest. If you’re going to be in Los Angeles, be sure to stop and say hi! We’ll be doing another book scavenger hunt so give us a follow over on Instagram for clues.


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