Growing up, Kitchener-based writer Ella Moore never saw herself represented in fantasy novels. As a Black biracial girl with an incredible imagination, she longed for these narratives to showcase someone who looked like her. Fast forward a decade, and now Moore, a Wilfrid Laurier University student, has written a young adult fantasy novel showcasing a young Black female character.
Her debut novel “Elements of the Earth” comes out on Jan. 28 and can be purchased at Indigo or on Amazon. In the following Q-and-A with Cambridge Times, Moore talks about racial representation in her novel, the Black Lives Matter movement and what young people need to know about modern day activism.
WHAT IS YOUR DEBUT YOUNG ADULT NOVEL ‘ELEMENTS OF THE EARTH’ ABOUT?
Ella: It's about an 18-year-old girl named Raya, and she has to go back to her father and to his empire of revolution. But this time she decides to go undercover and work for Hideaway with her best friends at her side. She has to learn her father's secrets in order to see the world from his vision. But the longer that she stays with him in the revolution, the more difficult it becomes to see what's actually good and what's actually evil. Raya finds that she's really blind in her heart, and the confidence in her mission slips. But she also questions if the elements of air, earth, fire and water are just myths. Her father has told her, as well as the dreams that she's having in her head, that there's more to it as well. So the book is about following this journey.
YOU MENTIONED THAT THE BOOK DEALS WITH RACE. HOW DOES RACE FACTOR INTO THE NARRATIVE?
Ella: In the book, Raya’s father is Black. A lot of the main characters are Black, and the father started the revolution because of the long years of racism he's faced. He’s tired of nothing being done about it, so he takes it into his own hands and does it through violent means. He destroys people that take part in the corruption, and if people don't want to join his cause, he gets rid of them.
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHEN IT COMES TO MODERN DAY MOVEMENTS LIKE THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT?
Ella: Like the Black Lives Matter movement and all these organizations and people doing the work, it's totally inspiring and it's a beautiful thing to see. But it's also sad to see how much work has to get done to stop injustice and to move forward and to have liberation and equality. I notice in my generation people are more invested. So my message would be just keep doing the work and don't be scared to do it. I think just seeing all these organizations, they're not scared, they're risking their lives and they're paving the way for us.
WHAT’S THE MAIN THING YOU WANT YOUNG PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?
Ella: I hope that when they do read the book that they really look into, what I’ve said before about who the villain is. Just like in real life when it comes to racism, the system itself is the villain. I want readers to listen to people of colour, and take a second look at the world we’re living in. To remember that even when you see all this injustice, there’s always hope. It can become hard not to become desensitized to seeing the same story over and over again, and when you’re not having justice, and people aren’t always listening. But I hope that people take away that there’s always hope.
Genelle Levy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cambridge Times