Folklore with Surprising Twists

Wayne Gerard Trotman
Wayne Gerard Trotman Author Interview

Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest follows a young man who discovers he has an extraordinary ability and that he’s being hunted by a vampire. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?

The idea that people may not be what they appear to be, or that heroes may be the unlikeliest of individuals, has always appealed to me.

Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest draws heavily from Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and folklore with surprising twists. The titular Father of the Forest is Papa Bois, French patois for “father wood” or “father of the forest”. He is a Pan-like character who is thought of as the protector of Trinidad’s forests and its flora and fauna.

The vampire in Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest is a witch-like, shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character called a soucouyant. According to Trinidadian legends, she appears as a reclusive elderly woman by day. By night, she peels off her wrinkled skin and assumes her true form of a ball of fire. She streaks across the night sky in search of her next victim whose blood she sucks while they sleep.

Up until the 1970s, Trinidad and Tobago’s folktales were told, much like ghost stories, to the youth. However, the tradition and the legends that were told are being lost to history. Part of my aim was to revitalise interest in Trinidad and Tobago’s rich folklore. Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest also asks the question, “What if characters such as Papa Bois and Soucouyant aren’t what we thought they were?” “What if there is a logical, scientific explanation for them?”

Kaya is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided his character development?

More than any other fictional character I’ve developed, Kaya draws heavily from my life experiences as a teenager while growing up in Trinidad and Tobago. His love life and fighting ability are far more advanced than mine were at age 14. However, his interests in art and photography and his achievements as a sprinter are similar to my own at his age.

Kaya is bullied at school and has to endure heartache and death in his family. At 14, he falls in love. I wanted to portray a character that is fairly universal in terms of coming of age. At the same time, I wanted to suggest that extraordinary things can be achieved by the unlikeliest of people, living in the unlikeliest of places. Everyone expects superheroes from powerful nations. Heroes from the Caribbean are very rare.

Kaya’s development as a character builds on attaining maturity from having to deal with unique issues while overcoming personal insecurities. The idea that muscle is not the only determinator of strength meant that Kaya would be skinny. Throughout the story, his confidence grows as a result of winning small but significant interpersonal, physical, and emotional battles.

The story is set in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Why did you choose this location for the setting to your novel?

Where locations on our planet provide major settings, most science fiction stories tend to be set in technologically advanced countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Soviet Union or Japan. In fact, my first instalment in the Cosmic Sea universe, Veterans of the Psychic Wars, begins in London, England. However, for Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, I wanted to suggest that advanced alien beings may have interests in our planet that are not defined by our narrow concepts of cultural ideology, military strength or political influence.

There are certain plants and animals that exist only on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. And, in the book, an alien scientist is convinced that the cure for a virulent bioengineered virus could be found among the naturally-occurring organisms endemic to Trinidad. Trinidad is the second largest leatherback turtle nesting site in the world. Because of this, I could easily weave conservation themes into the story. Trinidad and Tobago has one of the most culturally rich and ethnically diverse populations in the world and this makes for unique and interesting storytelling. Stories set in the Caribbean, or featuring characters from the region, often dilute their unique manners of speech. In Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, I wanted to present raw and authentic Trinidad Creole and Jamaican patois. The book features an extensive glossary of terms for anyone not familiar with the more exotic aspects of Caribbean dialogue.

Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest is also my attempt to increase interest in Trinidad and Tobago folklore, which is gradually being lost. The book portrays teenage life that is unique and different from British and American portrayals that most English readers would be familiar with.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

For just over a year, I’ve been working on a series of illustrated children’s rhyming stories. These books present the themes of conservation and bullying at school, which I began in Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest, to younger audiences. My next release is Song of the Blue Whale, which will be available from 16th August 2020. In the wake of COVID-19, improperly discarded masks have added to the pollution of oceans and waterways. This is reflected in the artwork.

The book encourages children and their parents to sponsor whales, recycle, use less plastic, discard rubbish responsibly and be more mindful humans. Hopefully, it will make a positive difference.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Legends are immortal dreams made flesh…
Kaya Abaniah believes he’s an ordinary fourteen-year-old college student. He lives with his mother on the Caribbean island of Trinidad; he’s passionate about wildlife conservation and has a crush on the prettiest girl in his class.
However, one fateful day, Kaya’s life is changed forever when he encounters Papa Bois, a folklore character similar to the Greek god, Pan.
Kaya learns he has the talent. He’s a telepath, and he’s not alone. He discovers that men in black are constantly watching him, Soucouyant, the shape-shifting vampire wants his blood, and his packed lunch is never safe.
Will Kaya succeed in protecting his relatives and friends from the supernatural evils that lurk on the tropic isle? Can he reveal the shape-shifter’s secret identity? And, why on Earth is the most gorgeous girl, he’s ever known, so interested in him?
Follow Kaya’s struggles with love, rivalry, and academic life, as he confronts the terrifying creatures of Trinidad and Tobago’s folklore, and unlocks the shocking mystery of Papa Bois, the father of the forest.
About Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest:
Kaya Abaniah (Kah-yuh Abba-na-yuh) is a boy’s name. Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest is a unique story, set in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In this two-island Caribbean nation, inhabited primarily by people of African and Indian descent, Trinidadian English is the official spoken language, and Standard English is the official written language. However, Kaya speaks authentic Trinidadian Creole, which is similar, but distinct from Tobagonian Creole. Trinbagonians (Trinidadians and Tobagonians) use Creole in spontaneous conversation, while Trinidadian English is often reserved for more formal speech. Various combinations of English, Trinidadian English, and Creole are not uncommon.
Kaya Abaniah and the Father of the Forest was the most recent work academically reviewed in Supernatural Literature, a 3-volume encyclopaedia published by St. James Press, which covers literature of the supernatural across the canon, including such notable works as Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on August 8, 2020, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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