Two debut writers of young adult fiction and short stories meet in conversation about their approaches to lyricism, voice, and experimentation. Kem Joy Ukwu's short story collection Locked Gray / Linked Blue is notable for its unique approach to structure: these are stories not necessarily interrelated but strongly woven together by theme, while also working as a collection of standalone stories. She accomplishes this feat primarily with a strong and well-developed voice, as well as vibrant world-building in contemporary New York. Camille A. Collins, writing in Young Adult, employs lyrical devices within a near-historical Punk-music-driven book in order to structure what is a very emotional coming-of-age plot. Both authors are very aware of the traditions they write in, while at the same time experimenting with the boundaries of those traditions in terms of lyricism, voice, and the construction of interrelated pieces — all while delivering strong emotional arcs and satisfying character journeys.
Camille Collins has an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of the Short Fiction Prize from the South Carolina Arts Commission, and her writing has appeared in The Twisted Vine, a literary journal of Western New Mexico University. She likes writing about music, and has contributed features and reviews to Afropunk and BUST. She lives in New York City.
Kem Joy Ukwu's fiction has appeared in PANK, BLACKBERRY: a magazine, Carve, TINGE, Blue Lake Review, Jabberwock Review, Auburn Avenue, The Brooklyn Quarterly and Day One. Her short story collection manuscript, Locked Gray / Linked Blue, was named as a finalist for the 2016 New American Fiction Prize and is forthcoming from Brain Mill Press. Born and raised in the Bronx, she currently lives in New Jersey with her husband. More of her work can be found at kemjoyukwu.com.