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New book explores what 'colonialism would look like in a fantasy world'

Northern Ontario's Melissa Blair revealed her identity as the author of 'A Broken Blade' through a series of clues dropped on BookTok
2021-12-21 A Broken Blade

Classified as a paranormal fantasy romance, a 400+ page book titled A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair has taken on the internet this month after she introduced it without revealing to readers that she was the author.

Half a month later, BookTok readers (a division of TikTok) eventually established the author's identity as an Ontario Anishinaabe-kwe woman who posts content about her favourite pieces of Indigenous and feminist fiction, non-fiction and writing styles. 

"The book definitely centres a lot of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) characters and the world. I was very much inspired in creating the world from what happens here on this continent. Like to my people the Anishinaabe and Indigenous people more broadly," said Blair.

"Definitely a huge part of that book is like colonialism, what that would look like in a fantasy world," she went on.

She wrote the first draft of the book in 20 days and the editing and production work was completed in six months.

Blair spends her time between Hornepayne and Ottawa and has a full time job which fills up her life along with the countless hours she spends in the writing, proofreading, editing, and marketing of her works of fiction.

To launch the book, Blair started by circulating a letter to creators on BookTok on Dec. 1, offering clues to her identity along with wax seals and copies of A Broken Blade.

The mystery of the author's identity was solved on the app on Dec. 15 from the series of clues provided.

The publishing business has evolved considerably from the days when Canadian book publishers often printed 10,000 copies of a new book, shipped them on consignment to bookstores, then waited for the returns and the nearly inevitable unsold product, copies of which, at best, might be liquidated at cents on the dollar.

If they were lucky, the first printing would sell out and more could be ordered. In the 1980s, 10,000 copies was considered a Canadian best seller.

Fast forward to 2021, the rule is "print on demand," especially for many self publishing authors like Blair.

Blair's Nibi Books has released her first product on BookTok, a place where readers share their favourite books, characters, authors, and stories with millions of followers.

Blair has a following of over 30,000 on her BookTok account, and growing. The book is action-packed, but also explores deeper and darker themes of colonialism and systemic violence.

"There are other options for this book that I'm definitely going to try out. Facebook is really good for book groups," she said.

"You don't need to be on TikTok to order books. E-books are available at any place where one wants to get an e-book. The paperbacks are available for print on demand at Amazon. If someone wants to support their independent bookshop they can order it to them too."

A Broken Blade has sold 4,000 copies in its first two weeks and has garnered over 1.4 million views on TikTok. It's Blair’s first novel and is now available online at all major retailers.  

There are two following books, sequels to A Broken Blade, completed and ready to launch after her first work gains maturity.

For more information, please email Nibi Books at comms@nibibooks.com

– ElliotLakeToday