Yasmin A. McClinton is first generation Ghanaian-American writer. She taught English for grades 6-12 for many years before becoming an instructional coach for teachers. She's a mom of two daughters and stepmom of two sons in South Carolina. She's been writing since elementary school, has one other completed work—a women's fiction novel—and is represented by agent Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Press, LLC.
Yasmin is currently a freelance editor for Tessera Editorial and can be found on Twitter @YasAWriter. Yasmin's editorial website is www.yasedits.com.
In this post, McClinton shares her experience of winning the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, how she plans to move her writing goals further, and so much more.
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What is the premise of your novel-in-progress?
My novel in progress is now completed and is about a female Ghanaian assassin who works for an African business syndicate. She's their top assassin and comes across someone from her past, who murdered her family and destroyed her village when she was a young girl. This sets her on a course of revenge and redemption.
What prompted you to enter the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award?
I am a member of Crime Writers of Color and another member shared in the group that the contest was open for submissions. At first, I wasn't going to apply, but then I went ahead and looked it up.
When I read the mini-biography of Eleanor Taylor Bland and of what she's written, I just knew I had to apply—if only because I felt connected with Ms. Taylor Bland's purpose of having the underrepresented represented in all genres.
I loved the idea of the award, thought it would be an absolute honor to just be considered for it, and so I applied.
What chances did you think you had of winning the award?
Honestly, I thought I had no chance of winning the Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. This novel was my first real foray into writing a thriller even though the genre is mainly what I read and love, but my novel is from my heart, about a woman I have always craved to read about. I knew I was up against unbelievable talent from all the other applicants.
Plus, I hadn't had any luck with other contest or internship opportunities I had applied for. So I just said a little prayer, sent in the submission materials, and whoa!
Now that you've won the award, how do you expect it to help your writing goals moving forward?
Now that I've won the award, I feel more secure in my writing and in my goals for my writing career. I have tons of plans that I'm fleshing out now so stay tuned for those stories. I would love to write in other genres that readers typically don't see Black people in as the leads. I hope to get my book sold to a publisher.
Most excitedly, in the near future, I am going on a writer's retreat for just me so I can really get in my head and write with no family or work distractions.
If you could pass on one tip to other writers, what would it be?
One tip I'd pass to other writers is to—and I don't mean to sound cliché—but don't give up on your writing if it's truly something you want to do. Find something—a joy—that keeps you going even through the rejections and passes.
And also, write the stories you want to see out there in the world, ones that are true to you and have agency and a purpose for the reader. There should be books for all readers, books of all types, out in the world. And it's up to us to tell those stories and get them out there no matter how daunting a task it might seem.