Local author Keshia McEntire is set to host a book launch and signing at the Martindale-Brightwood Library Branch Sept. 2.

McEntire, author of the “The Eden Saga” series, will host the signing and book launch event to promote her latest novel, “A Dance of Blood and Destiny.” The young adult fantasy novel, which places women of color at the center of the story, is part of “The Eldritch Trials” — a shared fantasy world written by eight Black women fantasy authors from across the U.S., McEntire said.

“I feel like no matter what you write … there’s still always going to be a little bit of yourself and a little bit of truth about the world around you in the book,” McEntire said. “One of the things I always tried to put — I feel like it comes through in all my stories — is coming together to overcome different types of oppression that may be happening and just fighting to build a better world.”

“A Dance of Blood and Destiny” follows 18-year-old Kaia, who turns down an arranged marriage to a powerful elven prince in favor of the forbidden romance with her vampire boyfriend. Now an exiled princess, Kaia enters the Eldritch Trials in an effort to learn the truth about her missing father, prove her worthiness to be queen and save a broken kingdom.

McEntire said each book in this world, including her own, follows a different main character — a character of color — as they navigate the Eldritch Trials. Each book can be read as a standalone or all together to paint the story from several different perspectives that demonstrate that Black girls can slay dragons, lead kingdoms and be “worthy of being the main character in all sorts of adventures.”

Keshia McEntire will host a book launch and signing for her latest novel “A Dance of Blood and Destiny at the Martindale-Brightwood Branch Library on Sept. 2, 2023, at 1 p.m. (Photo provided/Keshia McEntire)

Although this is McEntire’s first time publishing a fantasy novel, it is not her first book. She previously self-published a young adult dystopian series called “The Eden Saga” — the original draft of which McEntire said she wrote as a teenager.

One of the reasons McEntire decided to get into writing fantasy is because there was a lack of main characters who looked like her that wielded magic and defeated monsters. 

“I always loved fantasy, but there weren’t a lot of characters that looked like me, or had life experiences like myself,” she said. “I want people to know that Black characters can save the day, and they can slay dragons, and they can be mermaids, or do all these types of things that any other character can do, especially in a world where sometimes it’s not as highlighted.”

Inviting readers into this new fantasy world is exciting, as McEntire said she cannot wait to show them that fantasy really is for everyone and that these stories can be representative of many unique cultures and identities.

“The characters are a little older, and the story is a little bit more mature, but it is a story that teens and adults alike can enjoy,” McEntire said in an email to the Recorder. “It has the Black girl magic of ‘Legendborn,’ the Fae fantasy adventures of ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses,’ and the deadly trials of ‘The Hunger Games.’”

Keeping in tune with uplifting diverse fantasy, McEntire also runs the online community “Diverse Books With Magic,” which features a collective of women of color authors from across the country writing characters of color in diverse fantasy worlds.

The collective previously published an anthology of Black fantasy short stories entitled “Girls with Might and Magic,” which is available at IndyPL and the Ujamaa Bookstore.

However, for McEntire, being able to participate in a book launch and signing at the Martindale-Brightwood Branch Library is like a dream come true, especially since McEntire might be better known to the community as the public relations specialist for IndyPL.

“I’m so excited to be doing my talk at this branch because I grew up going to the Martindale-Brightwood branch back when it was The Brightwood Branch,” she said. “My mother would take me to do the summer reading program as a child, so doing an author talk in that location kind of feels like a full-circle experience, especially as a YA author who writes books for teens.”

McEntire’s book launch and signing takes place Sept. 2 from 1-2 p.m. at the Martindale-Brightwood Branch Library. The event is free to attend but guests are encouraged to register at attend.indypl.org/event/8794273. There will be a free gift for attendees.

“A Dance with Blood and Destiny” will officially be available for purchase on Amazon.com and at the Black-owned bookstore The Garden of Readen’ book closet, 1387 N. Shadeland Ave. Ste. D, on Sept. 8.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.