I had the pleasure of interviewing Malachi Bailey, the author of the novel Her and its sequel Her: Gods and Monsters. During this interview, we touched on several aspects of his books, the motivation behind them, current projects, as well as up and coming projects. This young and charismatic author kept the laughs coming as well while being very much focused on his goals as an author and comic book creator. The spark to become a writer has always been within him. It was given its kindling to burn bright with his father’s love of comic books and his mother’s encouragement. It also helped that at a very young age he always had some type of book in his hands, ready to take him off on an adventure.
If you’ve read the Her series like me, you are probably curious about the motivation behind the main character Safronia. Bailey explained, “It’s like a combination I want to say. You should know by now I’m a huge Storm fanatic I would say. Storm is mother. She is everything. When they first came out with the X-men cartoon back in October 31, 1992. At that point you’re used to Batman, Superman, and out of nowhere is this black woman with this huge hair.”
“Bigger shoulder pads, these stiletto boots and she has this commanding presence. Very elegant and you find out, later on, she is from Harlem…. As a young child, I am like “Who is she”? She is so cool. A lot of my inspiration comes from that character. I like a strong female lead because I was raised by one. In many ways even with my company name Mother One. That was my nickname for my mother. So now that she’s gone, I want to continue to honor her. I want to showcase her.”
Every writer has their own inspirational author that provides them with the motivation to keep writing. Bailey is a huge X-Men fan, so it’s not surprising that Chris Claremont made his top three writers of all time. Two others from his inspirational author’s list include N.K. Jemisin, the author of The Fifth Season, and Neil Gaiman, popularly known for American Gods and Good Omens. These authors motivate him to keep writing and to continue sharing his work with the world.
Delving more into the books themselves, the Her series acts as a re-introduction of the Orishas to the world. When asked what inspired him to add the Orishas into this novel, the author explained that it was due to a photo shoot that went semi-viral a few years back. The photoshoot involved real people dressed like the Orishas. He mentioned how beautiful their dark skin was and how they were stunningly posed for each image.
In his novels, Bailey has provided the Orishas a global stage to exist on by beginning this journey in Australia and San Francisco. Bailey is originally from New York, writing the first novel while in North Carolina. When asked if he had ever visited Australia, surprisingly he stated that he hasn’t yet. He did extensive research on Australia and San Francesco as well, giving readers an authentic insight into both locales. From the feedback which he’s received from fans of the Her series, it seems the extensive research has paid off.
Bailey is starting to become a recognizable stable within the Con circles. Seeing a cosplayer dressed up as Her left him literally speechless. Bailey said, “I was so touched, and she (the cosplayer) sent me a message saying that reading the book helped her become stronger. I could never truly channel what it is to be a woman because I am not a woman. I could see what my mom put in front of me. What my twin goes through and the other strong women in my life goes through, but you guys make it look easy and I know it’s anything but.”
For this he thanks every strong black woman out there, sharing a very powerful quote exemplifying his thanks. As paraphrased from the famous Malcolm X quote, “The black woman is the most disrespected person in the World.” As stated by Malcolm X, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
When Bailey is not writing inspiring novels, he still finds creative ways to keep himself busy. Currently, he is affiliated with comic book publisher Wingless Comics, where he is contributing to their ongoing Nightfall crossover. You might want to check out their recent Kickstarter campaign for Her related cameo appearance. Wink! Wink!
He also has plans to launch a Kickstarter for a Her standalone comic book series. For this project, Bailey has teamed up with artist Dino Agor. If you want to get a sneak peek there is a Her issue #0 floating somewhere out in the comic book world. Shining some light on the production side of the Her novel series, the books are published via Mother One Publication, the creation of Bailey. The wonderful cover artwork for Her: God and Monsters was created by Trevor Ngwenya, representing a perfect example of how the talented people around the author assist with manifesting these great ideas.
When I asked Bailey how he feels about his contribution to the BlackSci-Fi community, he explained, “Well, it really is a contribution if you look at it. I feel honored. I feel like I’m actually doing something like I’m giving back in some small way. I love the fact we came a long way in the last five years. I never dreamed I would be writing novels or writing comic books or doing interviews, doing Blerdcon. To me, it’s something I didn’t allow myself to dream about.”
“I remember when I was much younger my mom would tell me ‘You got this. When you get your first book, I want you to autograph it. I’m going to be the first person in line.’”
If you truly loved reading Her and Her: God and Monsters, save the year 2024 when Book 3 of the series is released. The first two books of the series are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can follow Bailey on Instagram as mal_the_writer and on Facebook as @MalachitheWriter. You can also follow Wingless Comics on Facebook at @Winglesscomics.
Judith Joachim-Swanson is an aspiring writer. She is an independent, freelance blogger, and you can find her other work here. She is also a self-published indie writer of Cigarette (The Catcher Series Book 1) which incorporates a steampunk Sci-fi theme.