By Quraatulayan Muhammad
I only read about a dozen books this year, a first for me. I was that girl who checked out the max number of books out of my library every week. But despite the many books I consumed it was nearly impossible to find a book I could relate to as a reader or a young burgeoning author. I had ample windows into other lives and other worlds but a lack of mirrors to reflect my own.
That is until 2011 when I stumbled upon the author Dia Reeves and her book Slice of Cherry.
It wasn’t so much that I related to the characters of Fancy and Kit, two daughters of a black serial killer who start to join the family business, but to Dia herself. Here was an author, Black like me, who dabbled in the kind of fiction I loved to write; the slightly off-beat characters mixed with a dark-paranormal undercurrent and a dash of unapologetic sexuality.
As a teen it was hard for me to find a Young Adult book with a black heroine sporting even one of those characteristics, much less all three. Here was a mirror that showed me that if her book, dark and wonderfully strange could get published then so could mine. If she could be an author then so could I.
I devoured any work of hers I could find, but unfortunately Slice of Cherry was her last book for a long time though I would check regularly and recommend her to everyone I knew.
Then in 2016 during National Novel Writing Month I managed to connect with Dia on twitter. Every day we would meet at 9pm and do word sprints. She worked on her own stories while I worked on a sequel to Blood and Breath, the book that snagged Kelly as my agent.
I was ecstatic. I never told her how much of a fan I was because I’m shy around my idols, but just getting to write with her was enough and I was excited for a chance to read her new work which happened in 2019 when I found out she was now self-published. Miscreated and Heartsick was on Amazon and it made me realize how much I missed reading in the chaos that is adulting.
Unfortunately as I am writing this I learned that she passed in September at 41. I was devastated, one selfishly expects their idols to live forever. Her books were a brilliant mirror for me as a weird black girl and I will always treasure that moment in 2016.
As of now Blood and Breath is not yet published, but when it is I plan on dedicating it to her and all of her wild, bold, amazing words.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Quadrangular Muhammad moved down South when she was 11, where she was bitten by the writing bug as well as other, less friendly insects. Qurratulayn lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, and when not writing she enjoys reading, listening to K-pop, and photography. She previously self-published a YA dystopian series under a pen name.