Published by Angry Robot Books, Where it Rains in Color is a newly released sci fi novel by Detroit’s own Denise Crittendon, former editor of BLAC known earlier as African American Family Magazine. Where it Rains in Color chronicles the character Lileala’s struggle to preserve ancestral traditions while battling enemies who oppose the powers of melanin on the planet Swazembi. Largely a statement about Black women and their collective self-image, the novel contains messages of empowerment.

“All my life it seemed that I was having peculiar dreams, and I wasn’t in the dreams, but there were these characters,” Crittendon says. “I’d wake up and jot the ideas down and I’d go to work at the paper or magazine. The book is a way of our taking our power back by celebrating our skin tones. My protagonist, Lileala, is not considered beautiful in spite of her being Black; she’s considered beautiful because of being Black.”

Where It Rains in Color cover

A Career in the Newsroom

Newsrooms were literally worlds away from where Denise Crittendon imagined a gift for storytelling to take her. The founding editor of BLAC Detroit’s predecessor, African American Family Magazine, Crittendon also held posts at The Detroit News, the Kansas City Star, and she was named the first woman editor of the NAACP’s civil rights magazine, The Crisis. But none of her award-winning journalistic achievements satisfied a creative yearning to bring characters of supernatural breeding in paranormal adventures to life.

“I said when I wrote my first novel I was going to create the most spectacular Black planet possible.”

Denise Crittendon

A self-described “Trekky,” or fan of both the “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Crittendon’s career at newspapers and magazines brought accolades that she says never replaced the thrill of giving life to her creative instincts in a manuscript. Both long before and throughout her decades as a journalist, ideas and inspiration nudged Crittendon toward the ultimate goal of a book that sprung from her imagination, like those of her literary heroine Octavia Butler.

“I believe that, as people of African descent, we need to control the narrative,” she says. “Are we going to go into the future allowing others to define who we are? Are we going to go into the future with the same stereotypes? How do we want to be seen?”


While she estimates there are about a dozen Black women who write speculative or science-fiction, Crittendon saw a void in stories that explored the real-life issue of Eurocentric beauty standards and their effects on women of African descent throughout their lives.

Read more on Crittendon here.

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