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UNT graduate student prioritizes representation in her new fantasy adventurous novel

UNT graduate student prioritizes representation in her new fantasy adventurous novel

UNT graduate student prioritizes representation in her new fantasy adventurous novel
March 13
11:00 2021

A new novel which takes readers on a fantasy adventure full of winged beasts, dragon shifters and an evil king will be published next month. The book, titled “Lady of Fire & Lord of Ash,” is journalism graduate student Dominique Weaver’s first novel of the Dragon Lords saga.

Weaver, who is a fantasy fanatic, said she wanted to write an epic high fantasy novel like “Lord of the Rings,” but with a more diverse range of characters.

“Reading mostly young adult fantasy, I was kind of getting irritated that most of the main characters were white characters because the one [person of color] character was like a whole savior complex, protector,” Weaver said. “It was always the male [character] to be looked at like this sexual gaze, and being mixed, I was like, ‘I just want to see a character that looks like me in a fantasy setting just, you know, doing her thing.’ I think that’s where that [idea] kind of came from.”

The nearly yearlong process started in November 2019, and Weaver completed the book in mid-August 2020. Adversity struck when she spent several months trying to connect with book publishers who had a hard time understanding her vision.

“I got fed up with a couple of the rejections, so I was just like, ‘You know what — I’ll just self-publish it. We’ll see if that works,’” Weaver said. “It’s a lot cheaper to publish through big name publishers because I had to pay for a book artist and editor, and my artist itself cost me a little over 600 [dollars and] the editor cost about 500 [dollars]. With traditional publishing you have people doing advertisements and promotions and all this other stuff.”

Despite the dent in her bank account, Weaver said she does not regret spending her own money on the book because she was able to have full creative control throughout the process.

Weaver connected with Italian illustrator Gabrielle Ragusi from an online platform that profiles authors, editors, designers and other professionals working in the book industry. Ragusi said as soon as Weaver contacted her about illustrating her fantasy book cover, she immediately took interest.

“The creation of this book cover was a collaborative effort for sure,” Ragusi said. “[Weaver] had a certain style and mood in mind, inspired by other fantasy book covers, and I did my best to come up with several sketches, aesthetic and character-driven that reminded me of those designs.”

Donna Sliter, Weaver’s mother and Dallas resident, said writing a book was something her daughter has wanted to do since high school.

“I’ve read the first few chapters and it exceeded what I expected,” Sliter said. “She did a great job. I want [people] to have an open mind when they read it, and if they enjoy it, let other people know so they can get the word out.”

Kaycee Hubbard, president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at UNT,  said Weaver’s involvement in NABJ represents the magnitude of the organization and its members. Hubbard hopes people who are interested in writing find inspiration from Weaver to pursue their dreams.

“I think it’s pretty extraordinary that she was able to finish it,” Hubbard said. “I believe she’s 22 years old — she’s still in college and she has her own first published book. Her being a part of [NABJ] probably helps people. I would hope [she] inspires members and inspires people who aren’t members who are curious about becoming members to write for us and to interact with us.”

With the novel’s release date quickly approaching, Weaver hopes more people realize the importance of diversity in fantasy fiction.

“People of color can exist in these fantasy settings,” Weaver said. “I love fantasy settings with Nigerians settings and Nigerian mythology, but I also just want to see people of color in western fantasy settings because they’re not there. There are elves [and] there are dwarfs. Why can’t we have people of color as humans, dwarfs, elves? That’s really what I just was trying to do.”

“Lady of Fire & Lord of Ashwill” be publishing on April 22. Those interested in learning more or receiving updates can visit her website

Courtesy Dominique Weaver

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Daijah Peterson

Daijah Peterson

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