With the collective shift that has been happening in the cosmos as of late, I find myself yearning to dive into another world.
However, with a current world full of colonization from the houses we live in to the films we watch, finding a worthy book that includes Black people, witchcraft, family drama, life lessons, and romance?! It’s been a journey. But as the Universe goes “ask and you shall receive,” and more often than not, the answer is right under your nose. My coven sister wrote a book, y’all!
I had the pleasure of meeting Neka Marie when we were former content creating coworkers what feels like centuries ago now–okay, it was more like 2017. Since then, Neka has been making consistent strides in the publishing space with her debut novel from the Gatekeepers Saga, tapping into her whip-smart, charismatic Leo prowess reviewing other fellow literary works, and calling people the fuck out on BookTok.
Her debut novel, The Inevitability Of tells the story of Rikaria (aka Rika), a late blooming witch hailing from a powerful family with morbid duties. With the guidance of the voice in her head, Rika will not only have to grow into this new version of herself but also contend with the secrets that loom around her family and their conspirators.
Inspired by Neka’s own relationship with her sister, the first book wraps you in an adventure that hits close to home in these times. As many of us have embarked on a journey of self re-discovery in the past few years I realized I hadn’t even spoken to my dear friend in a few myself. Life is interesting and funny like that and I’m honored and grateful we reconnected at a time where we’re truly embracing our authentic selves and embodying it through works like this!
An enigmatic yet relatable heroine, a slew of hilarious supporting characters, a new world of magic, and a story of what it means to evolve into your unapologetic self, The Inevitability Of is a strong opening novel that is sure to pull you in and not let go until it’s drained you of your self-doubts and filled you up with the yearning to not only better yourself, but to read more. But don’t worry, there are three more books in the works!
For now, enjoy this refreshing interview on how The Inevitability Of came to life through the trials and lessons of its author, Neka Marie.
Lo: Tell us something that you discovered about yourself during this book-making process.
NM: So, this story started when I was about 24 when I thought I knew everything, lalala, I knew nothing. And that’s when I realized, neither did my character. So, you know, honestly, I had to wait six years to really touch this book again, because you can’t write about a woman learning when you have not yet learned the lessons that you need to learn, right?
And even now at 33, I’m still learning lessons and reconnecting with my family and what it means to be Black and a woman and whatever else is in that genetic hodge podge that makes me up. It’s been really fun. So a lot of what I learned through this book is connecting and another huge part is family dynamics. Between connecting with my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, our past and our ancestors
Lo: In a separate conversation we had touched upon how racial themes in this book would upset some of the masses. When you started this series was there something that you felt you needed to get off your chest and how did you go about approaching that? How did you go about standing and writing in your truth knowing that these discussions would eventually arise?
NM: The thing that I had to learn was loving me and everything I said. The other thing that I think people need to really get comfortable with is having an opinion that is backed by everything that you can possibly back at by, right? And you have to stand ten toes down in that opinion. And then you have to love yourself enough to say you will not be shaken. So I love being proved wrong, but when it comes to certain things, you cannot prove me wrong, right?
So it was getting really comfortable saying things like that to people–saying, it’s really hard for people to look someone else in the eye and be like, “I love me more than I love your disrespect”. Because when we say stuff like that, people take that as, “Oh, well, now you’re disrespecting me by not taking my disrespect like,” you know what I mean. And this is the point where you have to say, “no more. I love me too much.”
Lo: I love that, It’s incredibly powerful. I would also love to get into the characters! Who is your favorite? And what’s your favorite magical power that’s used in the book?
NM: I can tell you my favorite character, because she’s right at the beginning. And her name is Rebati, and she’s the matriarch of the family. Just this old, sassy lady and she has these beautiful silver locs, and she always has on a clinky, clattering caftan. She’s my favorite and other people have said she’s their favorite and I’m so glad for that. More people have been asking me for her backstory. Like “write a prequel” and I’m like “can you let me work [on the other books], y’all.”
Lo: Haha, okay, so that actually brings me to another question – will we get a prequel?
NM: I would certainly do a prequel. There’s a specific word that’s used in the book–I won’t say which word–but it’s a sort of different magic “section”. So you have the Spirit Users, you have the Elementalists, you have the Teles, who are the Telekinetics and the Telepaths, and then you have this word, I’m refusing to say, and they have their own sort of system. I really want to do a bunch of books with them. They’re really cool.
Lo: You touch upon a lot of layers in this book from race to sex, family trauma, gender and more. What do you want readers to take away from this story?
NM: [The badassery and loving yourself ] is really what it’s all about. You have this main character who starts the book basically being like, “I planned this and this is what’s gonna happen”. And life goes “no, it’s not,” and I think we can all relate to that moment of everything you thought is not happening. So what are you gonna do about it?
And I just hope that when people read it they can not only connect with the main character–and if it’s not the main character then [I hope] you connect to some other character in the book. But ultimately, you figure out that the story is about self love and progressing through that lens of always relating it back to loving yourself and loving the people who have your back. And that’s really the most important message.
Lo: What can we look forward to in the next three books? Hold the spoilers, of course.
NM: So, book one was Death’s gate. So we met the Hobbs family, we met Death, himself. Book two is all about the War Gate. And then we meet Pestilence [in book three] and then, Conquest [in book four].
Lo: As self-love is a central theme in the book, how are you going about that? Are there any methods you use when it comes to your writing?
NM: I’ve been stretching every morning. I’m really making sure to move my body this time and go see the sun and go see people. [When it comes to writing] there’s a method I recently started using that’s really helping me find where I want book two to go and it’s called the SPOOC method. You start with Situation, Protagonist, Objective, Opponent, and Climax.
I’m also just always in a chaos mindset, babe, okay. I will throw everything that my brain thinks at a document and then I will start picking information from there. I call it “the brain dump”. You do draft zero and then make an outline from draft zero and then do draft one. So you’re already four steps in by that point. Even if you’re starting all of this from a dream [you had], wake up, and pull out a word document and then start adding around it. Maybe you have this scene, and this scene, and this one, and then just write the most disgusting trash-fire draft zero you can possibly do. Just let it all happen because when you start pulling all that out and make a little outline from it and then you can do a draft one. And it’s going to go so easy if you do all the chaos work first, and then you can make organized wonderfulness.
Lo: I love that! What are some other activities you like to do that put you in a creative space that isn’t writing?
NM: Dance! It’s just the best way. There’s studies about the more you shake ass, the better you will feel. So do it!