Unicorn Treasures Part 2
Yes. You do need to read Part 1 before reading this part. I shocked myself with how much I had on the inside to say about my reading preferences over my life. There was a lot more to unpack that I knew when I sat and started writing.
Who knew? I guess you and everyone else who has read it knows now. And more importantly, me.
I know now.
I was reading Ilona Andrews, and G.A. Aiken, J.D. Robb, Faith Hunter, Patricia Briggs, and a host of other female writers who were giving me life. I had snark! I had independence! I had romance, but not the icky squishy kind; it was love where the woman could still be her brave, action sheroe self. I thought this was it. This is the goal. This is what I have been waiting to read and have access to read all my life.
And honestly, I still love those authors. I comfort read their books, and I am always searching for authors like them. It is all AMAZING work.
They are not my unicorn treasures.
I am trying and failing to remember how I found and started reading my unicorn treasures. I am sure I am wrong, but two authors come to mind. Two who have shaped and guided me into unicorn land.
Nnedi Okorafor and Tomi Adeyemi.
My memory and the timelines it is giving me are probably wrong, but I can only write what I remember.
Children of Blood and Bone, and Binti. Those books shook my world. Because now I had action, adventure, high fantasy… in a black fictional world. A world that leaned into the African experience. African mythology. African energy.
The closest I remember coming to that before was Maya Angelou’s biographies, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and Elechi Amadi’s The Great Ponds.
All books I happened to be handed at various points in my life, when I could not access more like them. Then I got lost in mysteries and romance and well, we discussed the path to right now already, in part 1.
But here were young, black, women, writing about young black women, in fantasy worlds inspired by African beliefs and stories.
You know that emoji with the head exploding? That was me. Fully me. I went crazy! And now with greater access, I was diving head deep into similar authors. And where that was once a difficult, almost impossible endeavour, we now had people like N.K. Jemisin.
Additionally… these authors’ success blew open the door! The publishing world gave these authors and women and men like them a likkle crack of an entry and boy oh boy did those authors take advantage. I even found people like Nalini Singh and Sonali Dev that wrote stories with even more people and cultural circumstances I could relate to. From Hindu weddings to Bollywood drama, when I picked up books, I was now transported to realms that were familiar but yet different enough to haul me into their stories and leave me stunned.
Sonali and Nalini brought me fully back to romance novels. (Pure romance novels, I mean. Not just action/adventure books with romance in them.) They create magic. Magic and emotions that daze you for days on end. Sigh!
Somewhere in there, I found and firmly cemented my Unicorn Treasures.
What are my Unicorn Treasures?
They are the books and authors I could have never even imagined existing. They include Nnedi, Tomi, N.K., Nalini and Sonali.
But they also include Whitney Hill, Devonnie Asher (She is even Jamaican! From the Caribbean!), Cerece Rennie Murphy, Amanda Joy, Kimberly Lemming, Ciannon Smart, C.M. Lockhart, Selene Kallan, and just so many more.
I cannot tell you the last male author I have read. (Okay, actually, Ilona Andrews is a wife and husband combo, so okay yeah, I can say when lol) That is now a rare occurrence. I am not saying male authors are bad, just that very few of them really know and understand how to write characters that do not irk the person I am now.
This world of Unicorn Treasures has me. The grip is tight. Both ways. It on me and me on it LOL!
I mean, why would I ever want to let it go?
When I escape into book worlds today, I fit in. I am no longer staring through a looking glass and accepting that I could never be a part of those worlds. Since I would not be welcomed. That has all changed. Today, my inner safe space is colorful, vibrant, and full of a joyful self acceptance that you can only fully appreciate after years of being an ‘other’.
Whenever I think about it, and remember when I thought I was happy reading certain books, it makes me laugh. As I had no idea what was yet to come. I am not now saying those books were not good, or that they did not make me very happy at that time. Because they did. However, I was clueless to this feeling I have inside now when I talk about my Unicorn Treasures.
Realities and characters, super sheroes, and tribes that remind us we are meant to be loved with and FOR our differences, not just in spite of them. What a brave and legendary idea to write from. Taking the parts of you that make you stand out and stand apart and creating worlds, inviting worlds, for others to feel at home in. All of my Unicorn Treasures share that ability.
It still blows my mind that it is even possible. So much so I had to write two 1000-word-ish posts about it.
Which proves my point, though. Unconsciously and consciously, I have grown from thinking and seeing myself as an ‘other’ who should conform to fit in. To now being a proud weirdo who is shining her weirdo light to signal the other weirdos that this is a safe space for them. This makes me tear up. It is such a big deal.
It is also a big step. One I could not have taken without my Unicorn Treasures. Bless them. Hopefully, this Unicorn Treasure world will just keep growing, with more authors, more perspectives, and even more adventures with people who were once not allowed to explore space, become vampires, or save the world with their no longer hidden inner magic. Younger readers were born into such a world and will never have to even glance at an Enid Blyton book, or think that the only way to look was like one of the Nancy Drew girls.
Readings worlds have changed so much, and all for the better.
Ahem, but now you know what I mean when I say Unicorn Treasure :D!
Feel free to look up some of the names mentioned or ask me about them, or even better list some of your Unicorn Treasures in the comments! That way, we can all keep reading, recommending, and supporting more books and authors that help us see ourselves in the best light possible.
(And yes, I know these two posts were long. BUT you would not be here if you did not LOVE READING! So :P)
Happy Unicorn Treasure Reading y’all!