Authors Interviewing Authors | D.A. & T.J.
BY: T.J. LOVE
TJ: Let's start with your origins. Where are you from originally?
DA: I hail from sunny San Diego. But now I reside in Atlanta.
TJ: Word. How'd you end up on the other side of the country?
DA: Well, my grandfather started a church in California. It grew and became very popular in the city, but then he told us that God told him to move to Georgia to start a church there. Mind you we had zero family there. But we stepped out on faith and God blessed us. Five buildings later, we're doing well and now own a movie theater also.
TJ: That's really dope. Getting y'all Wizard Kelly on. I've been there though - moving across the country on faith. It's definitely harrowing. How has that influenced your work?
DA: Well, I rely on my family a lot and my faith is such a huge part of who I am, in general. I try to stay pretty balanced and center myself in the midst of the craziness. So most of my work normally has that same underlying tone towards having faith.
TJ: I feel that. I feel like you don't see a lot of that in Black writing. How does your faith shape you as a person? Why has it been so important to you?
DA: As a person, it has gotten me through some of the hardest points in my life. It has helped me smile when I wanted to cry. It pushed me forward when I wanted to give up. It covered me when I wanted to go wild. It's just always been a positive force in my life.
TJ: I feel that. So that being said, let me ask you something - a lot of pro-black 'woke' folk are claiming that Christianity is the religion of the oppressor. Where do you think this idea comes from and does this affect you as a Christian at all?
DA: Honestly, I don't concern myself with ideologies and claims from other people. I know what God means to me and what He's personally done for me in my life. That's all I stand on. I'm not living for the approval of anyone else.
TJ: I hear you. I love people with principles. So talk to me about The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad. What was the inspiration for that?
DA: Well, it didn't even start off as a book idea. I was sitting at IHOP with my mother. And, because I also draw, we've been talking about creating a coloring book for years. On this particular day, I was like 'Maybe I'll finally do that.' So I'm talking the idea over with her and I was like 'What if I do superheroes that are all women?' 'All with different nationalities?' Then, I was like 'What if I put a storyline to it?' And it just snowballed into the creation that it is now.
TJ: That's really unique - almost sounds like your own personal superhero origin story. Representation is a beautiful thing, especially in a world where the main protagonists have always been beefed-up white dudes. So what's next for D.A. Alston?
DA: Representation is major. For women and people of color. Currently, I'm working on the second installment of The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad. I just really started writing it and I'm really excited. I'm just trying to focus and knock this out. I also have a few speaking engagements coming soon. The ultimate goal is to get a table at DragonCon to present my book.
TJ: Things seem to be coming together for you - a theme of us at VN. What's DragonCon?
DA: That's why I love our team. DragonCon is the Atlanta version of Comic-Con. It's the epitome of a lituation.
TJ: 'Lituation' just made me feel mad old. So it's basically a gathering of my fellow geeks cosplaying as their favorite superheroes? How dope would it be one day to see Royal Elite Squad cosplayers?
DA: That's the goal though! Seeing people dressing up as characters from my book. That's the dream.
TJ: Baby steps, right? First DragonCon, then the world. I'm rooting for you.
DA: Thank you sir. I'm excited.
TJ: Of course. Keep making us proud and keep us updated.