MY WRITING INSPIRATION (PART TWO)
THE LATE GREAT, L.A. BANKS
Growing up I liked to read all kinds of genres, but I particularly loved all things paranormal and fantasy. Part of me felt that since real life was so boring why not escape into the pages of a book in which you knew the fantastical things could never happen. And that is what I did. I read Terry Brooks, the late Anne McCaffrey, Anne Rice. When I got older new authors made their way to my bookshelves like Lillith Saintcrow, Amber Benson, Kristina Douglas, Jenna Black, Nalini Singh and Mercedes Lackey. The day I discovered L.A. Banks my reading world changed forever.
I was in Barnes and Nobles, browsing, smelling the books, just enjoying being in a bookstore like I normally do when a cover caught my eye. I picked it up. It was The Hunted. The book was white and on the front was a woman that appeared to African American wrapped in white covers sitting on a bed. In the distance a man in shadows watched her. I thought, "Oh snap now this looks interesting." I read the back cover of the book and was immediately intrigued. I also realized that this was the third book in The Vampire Huntress Legend series. I quickly searched the shelves for the first two books in the series. I quickly found Minion and The Awakening. I bought all three books and went home happy and ready to read.
I read through the first three novels in record time and immediately fell in love with the series. Here was an author that had started a fantasy series with minority characters. The heroine, Damali Richards was African American and her love interest bad boy Carlos Rivera was Latino. Finally! For so long I'd read stories of fantastical worlds in which there were no minority characters and if they were, they were not the main protagonists of the story. The years rolled by and as each novel in L.A. Banks' series came I out I bought and enjoyed every last one of them.
I am a fan of The Vampire Huntress Legend series for so many reasons. Above all it is a fantastically well written series that interweaves all the mythologies of the world, all the religions, people of all backgrounds, the love of a man and woman and the epic battle between good and evil all rolled into one. This series is EPIC! It is a work of art. Not only did Ms. Banks create a fantastic series, she also was a groundbreaker for minorities when it comes to the genres of fantasy and paranormal in writing. For so long there has been a stigma that African American authors can only write one thing African American fiction, whether or not it's Urban or Women's Literature. L.A. Banks broke the mold when she created The Vampire Huntress Legend series. She proved that African Americans shouldn't be pigeon holed. That we could write anything. She inspired me to want to take a stab at writing something different as well.
When the series ended I was sad. After all I'd gotten used to looking for a new book every year and after Ms. Banks created the ultimate bad boy who is tamed by the love of a good woman, I was missing my book boyfriend Carlos Rivera as well. But Ms. Banks was not done with the world of fantasy. She created The Crimson Moon series, that had a half Native American and half African American protagonist dropped into the world of werewolves. Once again she was doing something different.
L.A. Banks was diagnosed with late stage adrenal cancer and she died August 2, 2011. It was a sad day when I heard the news. Ms. Banks had completed The Crimson Moon series and was two books into a new series for adults The Dark and The Neteru Academy young adult series. In addition, there was talk of The Vampire Huntress Legend series being made into a movie. Ms. Banks had the whole world ahead of her and her premature and unexpected death robbed the world of one of the greatest writers ever. I personally feel that Ms. Banks never got all the accolades and recognition that she should have. When I mention her name, many have no clue who she is. Ms. Banks should be mentioned in the same sentence as many popular writers of today such as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Mercedes Lackey and Kim Harrison. She was just that good.
So I am left to treasure the works that she created and remember her being a role model for me in the writing world. She showed me I could write anything and I didn't have to stifle my creativity just because I wasn't writing what was expected of me. I can write in any genre I choose and be just as good at it as anyone else. RIP Ms. Banks. You are missed.