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Four Questions with Eboni J. Dunbar

Four Questions with Eboni J. Dunbar

Author: Emmanuel Henderson

June 7, 2023

Lambda Literary is delighted to announce Eboni J. Dunbar as the winner of the 2023 Randall Kenan Prize for Black LGBTQ Fiction.

The Randall Kenan Prize for Black LGBTQ Fiction, in memory of the celebrated author Randall Kenan, honors Black LGBTQ writers of fiction. The award goes to a Black LGBTQ writer whose fiction explores themes of Black LGBTQ life, culture, and/or history. To be eligible, the winner of the prize must have published at least one book and show promise in continuing to produce groundbreaking work. The award includes a cash prize of $3,000 and is made possible by founding sponsors Cedric Brown, Darnell Moore, Dr. L. Lamar Wilson, and Steven Petrow.

Eboni J. Dunbar (She/her) is a queer, black woman who writes queer and Black speculative fiction. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner. She received her BA from Macalester College in English and her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. She is a VONA Alum, and the former managing editor for the Hugo Award-Winning FIYAH Literary Magazine. Her work can be found in Stellium Literary Magazine, FIYAH Literary Magazine, Drabblecast, Anathema: Spec From the Margins, Nightlight Podcast and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She also has a novella, Stone and Steel published by Neon Hemlock Press. Eboni has also been nominated for an Ignyte Award in the Novella Category for Stone and Steel. She can be found on Twitter: @ebonidunbar and IG: ej_beezington.

How has access to queer literature/ stories impacted your life as a queer person and shaped you as a writer?

I think access to queer stories and literature is life-affirming. I grew up in a religious household, my people are mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses, and without stories around me that showed what queer life was like I’m not sure I would have understood myself as much or felt some affirmation for my feelings. As a young writer, my stories were a safe place to explore queer identities that didn’t need to be shared with anyone else. As I have grown as a writer, I want to be part of making work that tells people (kids, adults, whoever might need it) that their existence is a gift and they deserve to be happy.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process (besides finishing)?

My favorite part of the process is the first time that I hit flow in a project. When the characters are clear enough to keep the momentum going and I know what’s coming next at least for the next few paragraphs. There is no better feeling than looking up and realizing you’ve written a bunch of words in no time. 

What’s your emotional support writing habit?

I think it’s being in community while writing. I used to be a solo writer who woke up every morning early and pounded out words before the day began but my life has changed and that’s not my ministry anymore :). These days I find I work best when I write with my writing group of one (Hey Robin!) or in something like the Writer’s Hour, where I can feel a greater sense of accountability. It doesn’t mean I don’t write solo but I like being with others when I do it if I can. 

What’s next for you?

I’m always trying to work on something even if its slow. I have some novel projects as well as some shorts that need editing. I’m hopeful to put new work out and even more hopeful to get an agent :)

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