Monday, April 29, 2013


I'm so excited to introduce a very special person to the blog today. I was giddy (still am) when Kelbian Noel accepted my invitation to share why she writes. Her source of inspiration mirrors my own, but she expresses it in a way that touched my heart.

A Dose of Reality For a World of Confidence

Thanks for the invitation to Sharing Our Voices, Angie! I'm honored to be here :) When I first read about this series, I was so inspired by the posts of all these amazing authors. It's incredible how different we all are, yet so much alike. We all have a story and I'm happy to share mine!

When people ask me why I write, why I chose this of all things to do for a living, I give them two reasons: motivation and inspiration.

I can literally write for hours. For me, being in my characters' worlds is soothing. I enjoy time spent there. An entire day can melt away and I'll barely notice. If I have a big enough breakfast, I often even forget to eat. Writing makes me happy. Whether it’s fiction, proofreading or grant writing, it never feels like a job. Even in the midst of editing and revising I’m still having a good time. 

When I'm not writing my characters I'm thinking about them. What motivates them?  What inspires them? And when I put the finishing touches on a manuscript, there's usually more of a sense of regret than relief. I don’t schedule my writing. It’s automatic. The biggest part of my day. The very act motivates me, how I know it will fulfill me one day and be there for me the next.

Who I write about and for is my inspiration. 

When I first decided I wanted to be a writer I was eleven. My inspiration came from reading. But it wasn't the characters on the pages of Love Comes Softly and Anne of Avonlea that inspired me. What spurred me was the idea of the characters who could have been. Even as I moved on to more modern fiction from authors like R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike these characters still weren't there. Not prominently anyway. 

But don’t get me wrong. I wasn't offended. Or angry. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories, despite how the characters were described. Despite the fact that they looked nothing like the face staring back at me in the mirror. These writers were talented enough to engage me, and inspire me. 

Back then, I don't think I was socially conscious enough to see the lack of multicultural characters in fiction as a serious issue. In fact, in my eyes, it wasn’t a problem at all. It as an opportunity. 

 I grew up in rural Canada. When I say rural, I mean back-country-small-town-in-the- middle-of-a-place-you’ve-never-heard-of rural. Scot’s Bay, Turtle Creek, Lockeport, Morristown. Right now you’re probably Googling. And if you are, you get where I’m coming from. For many years, our family was the only black family--for miles. So, to be perfectly honest, reading an all white cast, book after book, wasn't all that unusual. It was all I knew the world to be. When I started writing my first novel (on lined paper, with a pen, sitting under that cliche old oak tree) I wrote what I saw, what I knew, with a little bit of color sprinkled in for good measure. That little bit of color, was me. 

Many years have passed since then and what inspires me hasn’t changed. I want my daughter (now eleven) and other children like her--visible minorities--to see themselves in the pages they read. So, when I write, I make a point to include them--front row center. That's why the characters in the Witchbound Series are so eclectic. I believe truly representing the world as it is, is a vital component to the positive development of future society. Our children. Confidence is the key to success and if I can inspire a little confidence in a story read before bedtime or before their days begin then, why not?
L.M. Montgomery wrote what she knew. I’m betting Janette Oke, R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike did as well. I’m going to assume the last three didn’t regularly interact with people of color. So adding them to their imaginary worlds, in a time when a simple online search wasn’t possible, wouldn’t have been easy to do. 

Times have changed. I don’t know everything about every culture. Even though I live in Toronto now, one of the most multicultural cities on the planet, I still have to do my research. And I do. Every kid, not just black like me, should see themselves in the pages. They should expect it, even demand it. And if they don’t get what they ask for, then hopefully they’ll be inspired to create it. 

Roots: Seventeen-year-old Baltimore Land just wants to be normal, but magic has other plans.

Sprung: Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson's life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.

To help you find me in those pictures: In the horse picture, I'm the one in the front (my older sister is sitting behind me), in the birthday party picture, my dad is holding me, and in the picture in front of the van, that's me right in the center.

Thank you so much for inviting me! I hope everyone has a great week :)

Kelbian Noel
Author of The Witchbound Series


  1. Hey Angie!

    Thanks so much for hosting :) It was a pleasure being here. I look forward to reading more about what inspires others! Good luck with your writing!!


    1. I feel honored to have been able to host you today:-) Thank you for such an eloquent post. I also want my children to see themselves mirrored in the pages of the books they read. It's why the characters that I write about are multicultural. Not because they have to be, but because this reflects the world my children live in.

  2. Great insight on an important subject, thank you! As a "pasty white" writer I know writing characters of color is something I'm hesitant to do sometimes. Not so much because it would require stepping out of the comfort zone of writing what I know, but because I'm afraid of inadvertently offending someone with a perspective that is inauthentic in some way.

  3. Awesome post Kelbian! You're such a huge inspiration...and I love that you're writing stories for "everyone". You write some of the most diverse cast of characters and appeal to so many people. My daughter and I read, and loved Roots.

  4. I love your motivation, Kelbian. I share some of the same, but you wrote it so eloquently.

    I especially love how you weren't aware of the serious issue when you were a child. What children do? When I look back on my childhood, I feel/felt the same way. The thing is that even though children may not be able to state the issue, they're still absorbing it. On some level, they know they aren't in most of the books out there. Although I imagine that nowadays there are some children that are very aware of this, depending on if this matters to their parents.

    Awesome post. Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. When I was younger, I wanted to escape into those books, Kel!! I lived in a historical village growing up and unfortunately, the one minority friend I made in 9th grade I knew all of six months before she moved back to Cleveland. In college, I was able to invite more into my life and oh, how they helped me to open up to new worlds. That's why I love to include people of all colors in my stories. I feel it makes life richer. Today, I live out in Amish country and although there are more chances for my children to make friends with another race, the percentage is still really low so I'm hoping that as they age, they'll stay open and pursue that open door that brings all of us together. My maternal grandfather was Cherokee so that's been a BIG influence in what I write. It's been wonderful getting to know you on YAFF and reading your stories!!

  6. Great post. As a teacher, I've seen firsthand how important it is to kids to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. Angie, thanks for featuring Kelbian and her awesome insights!

    1. It was a pleasure having Kelbian on SOV. Thanks for your support, Ruth.

  7. I just want to thank everyone who stopped by to share their views on this subject.


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