Before The Origin follows Amy who is hurled into a world of mystery and magic that is deeply rooted in ancient African folklore. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
I have always wanted to write science fiction that is set in dystopian Africa. My tribe (the Hausa’s of Sub-Saharan Africa) is the biggest inspiration for the set up. Hundreds of years ago, before religion and colonization, they believed in spirits, they were partly nomadic in nature and had a whole lifestyle around that, unfortunately, it has been gradually erased and forgotten. My book just explores what could have been if a part of that was still alive.
Amy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Due to her role in the story, Amy’s character development was a well thought out process. I feel like there is always a part of the author in the main character, and that is where her imposter syndrome comes in, but it was very important to have the reader experience the events of her first day at work through her eyes, which is why she is such a blank slate at the beginning of the story. Her relationship with other characters in the story is also a backdrop for the events in the next book.
I enjoyed the African folklore embedded in the story. What kind of research did you do on the topic to ensure it was accurate?
Thank you! I am always happy to hear that a reader particularly enjoyed the folklore aspect of Before the Origin because I completely made that up. Being African, I grew up listening to stories passed down from generations to generations very much like Xari in the story, but I never heard anything that explained different races or how the continents came to be. African folklore is always rich in the battle of good against evil, so I guess that is something I held on to.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on the sequel to Before the Origin which is grander in scale and characterization, book one was just a set up to our main characters’ journey as they find themselves in a battle against time and it will be available next year.
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Emmarssom is a descendant of a highly knowledgeable African tribe that prided itself in the way it approached and understood life. His adventure as a kid leads him to a mysterious box that changes his life. Following the discovery of this box, Emmar begins to host a strange man who shares astute words of wisdom with him in his dreams. With this man’s teachings and the lessons from the stories about his ancestors, Emmar emerges as a young man with deep insights about life. This attracts people to him as he shares his knowledge with them and also learns from them. In Emmar’s world, wisdom isn’t as hard to find as it is in ours.
Book of Chaos by Yin Dolmah is a fictional tale set in contemporary times. The author assumes the posture of a sage who dispenses insightful takes on various life issues through the characters and events in the book. Usually, topics on values and philosophical life views can sometimes be boring and elitist, but by embedding these thoughts in a vibrant story, the author makes them intriguing and relatable.
With his decent narration skills, the author uses symbolism and peculiar but meaningful analogies to give fascinating meanings to concepts like strength, influence and leadership. Dolmah also plunges into the business world and looks at the dynamics of big and small corporations and why the top dogs tend to lose sight of their values after becoming great. I find the author’s views concerning the failure of top businesses interesting. They reflect the type of deep reflection and pinpoint questioning that’s rampant among philosophers.
Dolmah calls this piece “Book of Chaos.” Chaos there appears to be a metaphor for life as the book delves into many other aspects of human existence apart from the concepts mentioned above. As the main character Emmar tells the story of his ancestry, the author calls our attention to the individual and communal hypocrisy that exists within our communities. To explain this phenomenon, Dolmah sets the lens on African societies where the mentality of eternal victimhood is prevalent. According to Dolmah, these people blame the foreigners for stealing from them when their leaders were in fact, stark looters and plunderers. They accuse other races of treating them like lesser humans when they also treated people within their communities who shared different religious persuasions, origins or sexual orientation as “outcasts.”
The Book of Chaos is a mentally stimulating piece that had me questioning several views I held and helped me see critical matters from a fresh perspective. I also liked how the author kept the language simple, direct and crisp. So if you’re looking for a philosophical book that addresses several of life’s issues in story form, grab yourself a copy of Book of Chaos.
Ameher is a woman of strength, compassion, and a faith like no other. From a very early age she endured hardships in Nairobi only to pursue the American dream as an immigrant and face immeasurable abuses and prejudices in her new home. When she struggles to find a safe place for herself and her children, she is met head-on with one challenge after another but chooses to hold her head high and never give up as she battles a system designed to protect citizens but fails in all too many cases. Nowhere is faith more explicitly exemplified than in Ameher’s life as immigrant to the United States.
Ameher’s No More Crumbs Chronicle of a 4-D Woman Rising from Hate to Hope is the author’s own story of harrowing experiences as she tries desperately to find someone she can trust. Her story in an important one and one that bears repeating until a broken system is finally repaired.
At 400 pages, the author has enough striking material to make a short series of three separate books based on her life. The many abuses and the detail to which she goes into regarding her life with Todd make for an entire work on their own. The author takes great care to explain the entire process to which she was subjected, and this section of the text would make for a moving book all by itself.
The author recounts the expectations placed upon her as one raised in a religious home. She addresses the stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock quite well. Throughout her ordeal battling the system in the United States, she is able to lean on her faith and holds strong as she relies on friends who seem to exhibit a shared strength of faith. As I see it, Ameher has the makings for a fantastic self-help/devotional book centered entirely on her own faith. A book of this nature would make a fascinating read.
Because Ameher is an amazing example of persistence in the face of adversity, she is a prime candidate to pen a book on the discrimination faced by a woman of color in the United States. The challenges she faces are a sad but true testament to the daily struggles faced by people of color across this nation.
Ameher’s work is explicit enough to be engrossing, but not graphic in nature. The author takes care to explain the horror of her trials without turning readers off with vulgarities.
As effective as Ameher’s work is in capturing readers’ attention, it could use some additional editing. At times, it reads a bit like a rough draft with more care placed in the emotion of the wording than in the accuracy.
Ameher has bared her heart and soul to the world in order to help other women with her book. Any reader who picks up her story will be inspired to keep the faith and rise up in the face of adversity.
Pages: 400 | ASIN: B079438P7M
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Jai the Albino Cow is a lovely children’s book that teaches kids how special it is to be different. What was your inspiration for this book?
During a holiday in Austria while hiking going uphill, I felt exhausted and lay down on a grazing pasture. A brown calf approached and licked my face. That loving gesture was indelibly printed in my mind.
Once back home in Germany, I had an idea to write a story about cows. I vividly remember that the story lead was going to be a female and her name is Gundula. The idea landed on a list I keep for children’s story topics. I wrote, “Once upon a time, there were three cows Gold Bell, Spotty and their sister Gundula. They lived with their mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Moo, in the alpine meadows of Nocky mountains. Gold Bell always wore…”
On another occasion visiting my home country Tanzania, I observed more cows in the pastures of Usambara Mountains. Soon after, the story idea developed further with themes from my motherland. I desired to create a main character who is female, different and also have her story address the topic of human diversity.
In some African countries, people with albinism have suffered and are still suffering from discrimination and other horrendous acts including being hunted for their body parts for magic potions by witch doctors. We can help solve this problem through stories which teach love and respect from an early age, such as in this book which uses a cow as the protagonist.
The book is told in both English and Swahili. Why did you want to tell this story in both languages?
My mother tongue Swahili is spoken not only in Tanzania but also in the neighbour countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. The intention to have a bilingual story was with a hope that the message will have a great impact and reach many more, particularly in areas where albinos are maligned.
I loved the art in this book. It was both artful and bright. What was the art collaboration like with Nikki Ng’ombe?
Nikki is a daughter of a friend. Besides being acquainted with each other, she is very professional and delivers concrete results. We have worked together in another book project and already knew each other’s pace of work. She grasped quickly the vision I had for this book. I will certainly work with her again if not occupied by studies.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently proofreading a manuscript for a children’s Swahili book co-authored by Tanzanian writers. We intend to publish this year.
Can an albino cow possess abilities to be admired by other cows?
Anjait (Jai) is Ankole cow who lived with her family in Kole Hills. Jai suffers from albinism. Other cows thought she was cursed. One day, Jai shocked other cows for doing something that no other cow did before. She also surprised them with a magical skill.
What is it that Jai did as the first ever cow? Will her actions and skill help bring love and respect to albino cows?
Get your copy now to find out the answers and reveal to your children the importance of showing kindness and respect to everyone, even if they look different.
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Jonathan Hatendi weaves a tale of abduction, terror, and young lives forever changed. The most frightening aspect of Hatendi’s writing lies buried deep in the fact that his words are true and lay before the reader the events of his own life prior to Zimbabwe’s successful acquisition of independence in 1980. As a civilian surrounded by guerillas and day-to-day routines fraught with danger and the ever-present element of the fear of the unknown, Hatendi survived to tell a tale like no other. The fact that Hatendi is here today to share his story is a testament to his strength and the determination of the people of his country.
Hatendi’s account of his life during secondary school and the torment he endured is titled The Zimbabwean War of Independence. Hatendi jumps right into the striking events and leaves the reader no time to breathe. While trying to process the fear and overwhelming barrage of emotions he and the other young people may have felt on the night of their abduction, I was left wondering how he and his classmates were able to psychologically survive in the months and years that followed. The author’s style of writing and plainspoken manner translates well into text and helps readers visualize the blatant abuse and the true horrors of the times.
The abduction itself is, by far, not the only striking aspect of Hatendi’s story. He relates several events prior to his abduction and following his return. Hatendi writes openly of the way children were forced to witness death and destruction and describes both the realization for the need of counseling and psychological help and the lack thereof. He shares the atrocities page by page as they relate to the young men and women forced to endure lives of fear always questioning their next move.
Hatendi provides little in the way of dialogue as his book is written in first person and reads similarly to a journal account citing events and detailing remembrances of his journey to adulthood. The manner in which Hatendi records his memories is unique and provides readers, as much as is possible, with a relatable account of his experiences. I was, at times, shocked at how easily he seemed to be able to express some of the most horrifying scenes in such basic terms.
Hatendi has given the world a unique and private account of a life lived under duress and a life survived despite insurmountable obstacles. To have made it through a war for independence as a child and be willing to share the story of that fight with the world is admirable and, quite frankly, nothing short of amazing. Hatendi is to be commended for the unique eloquence of his writing and his willingness to share with the world his life as one of Zimbabwe’s survivors.
Pages: 110 | ASIN: B07F1XHN5J
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Honor Among Outcasts continues the story of the Dark Horse inhabitants that joined the Union Army as soldiers in the Missouri State Militia Calvary. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from book one in the series?
In the first novel of my DarkHorse Trilogy, The Lies That Bind set in the antebellum South, I wanted to debunk many stereotypes and myths about blacks, whites, rich and poor, regarding slavery and gender. Southern literature is generally about powerful aristocrats who make fortunes, and often ignores the slaves who actually did the work or gives them little credit. So I created a situation where the protagonist, Durksen Hurst, a hustler/drifter, forms a secret partnership with a group of escaped slaves to build their own egalitarian plantation in the fictional hamlet of Turkle, Mississippi. But, rather than the white man, one of the slaves, Big Josh Tyler, who had run his former master’s plantation, is the natural leader of the group and is greatly responsible for their enterprise’s success. (Such was often the case, historically.)
Developing the novel into a trilogy allowed me to show the full historical arc and the resultant changes of the time period: from antebellum South/slave society (The Lies That Bind, book 1); to the Civil War years (Honor Among Outcasts, book 2); and end in post-war Reconstruction (Something in Madness, book 3). You see the arc.
Together, the three novels depict the historical developments and their effects on the men and women, black and white, of all social stations.
So to answer your question, in book 2, Honor Among Outcasts, the milieu, conflicts, plot, and themes all had to be completely different from book 1, as will those in the third.
I felt like you did a great job with the historical details and facts. What were some things that you felt had to be accurate and what were some things you took liberties with?
Although I am a big Civil War buff, I didn’t want to write a typical battle-type novel. Fortunately, the guerrilla war in western Missouri was like modern-day Syria, with terrible murders and depredations like the massacre and burning of Lawrence, Kansas, by Quantrill’s Confederate bushwhackers. In Missouri, combatants of both sides took scalps! I felt it important for the characters to face these major events in order to illuminate humanity’s potential for brutality and cruelty.
Also, in the spring of 1863, President Lincoln began to allow “colored” regiments to be formed, but these required a white officer to lead them. Naturally, having the DarkHorse partners form their own regiment was a nice parallel to their dreams of the democratic enterprise depicted in The Lies That Bind.
Throughout Honor Among Outcasts, I tried to remain faithful to the difficulties and unique dangers these regiments and the local populace actually faced. In rare cases, I had to move minor events around to aid the narrative. For example, a train raid massacre like the one in Honor did take place, but at a later date and at a different location. Nevertheless, in writing book 2, the actual history did very much shape the story.
The characters were very well developed in this story, which led to some heartbreaking scenes when some characters met their end. What was your decision process like in deciding who stays and who goes?
Heightened emotions give your themes greater impact. I hated to kill off some of the characters I’d become attached to, but in doing so, the reader is able to feel the senseless terror and cruelty of the time, which required more than the characters merely observing the conflict.
For example, wise Big Josh is the backbone of the DarkHorse partnership, despite the many loses in his past that he carries in his heart. So when his mate, Ceeba, found late in life, is one of the three women killed in the train massacre, the poignancy of the event is increased. Plus, Josh’s emotional state throughout the rest of the novel is deepened. Similarly, in the Lawrence massacre a relatively unarmed colored regiment training there actually was massacred. How could I ignore that in my novel? And with the loss of a favorite DarkHorse character during the Lawrence raid, I hoped to bring out the horror of that event. (I, myself, had to recover after writing that wrenching scene.)
Where will book three in the Dark Horse Trilogy take readers and when will it be available?
In the final novel, Something in Madness, at war’s end the surviving characters return to Mississippi, only to confront new indignities restricting the rights of freedmen in the South.
Researching the Black Codes, lynchings, and other humiliations perpetrated on blacks during Reconstruction made writing book 3 tough, and I expect it will be tough on the reader, as well.
History is not always pretty. I only hope the DarkHorse Trilogy does its part to see that such cruelty and hatred doesn’t re-occur. Something in Madness is planned for release in 2019.
After their harrowing escape from Mississippi, abolitionist Durksen Hurst, his fiancée Antoinette DuVallier, and their friends — a group of undocumented slaves — land in guerrilla-infested Civil War Missouri, the most savage whirlwind of destruction, cruelty, and death in American history. Trapped in a terrifying cycle of murder and revenge, scarred by Quantrill’s cold-blooded Lawrence massacre and the Union army’s ruthless Order Eleven, Durk and everyone he cares for soon find themselves entangled in a struggle for their very survival.
Honor Among Outcasts takes readers on a pulse-pounding journey of desperate men and women caught up in the merciless forces of hatred and fear that tear worlds apart, and the healing power of friendship to bring them together.
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“While Kenyatta initiated corruption, and made it a pastime for well-placed government officials, Moi institutionalized it and made it routine within all ranks of society.”
Looters and Grabbers, 54 Years of Corruption and Plunder by the Elite by Joe Khamisi is a detailed account of the historical and contemporary corruption plaguing the African country of Kenya. It details corruption from the highest levels of government down to average citizens. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific theme of corruption spanning from 1963 to 2017 and encompassing four presidencies; Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta.
I started this book thinking there would be some kind of a silver lining at the end, but there isn’t one. What you’ll find is a detailed account of the pervasive corruption that is literally everywhere in Kenya. Time and time again it’s shown how corruption is despised by all but is undertaken at every opportunity. It seems that anti-corruption is the political rallying call, but profit is always the underlying goal.
This is a historical book in that it does describe the rise of four of Kenya’s presidents, Kenya’s independence from Britain, and the development of Kenya’s modern government, but it does all of this with a focus on corruption; from it’s inception into it’s many manifestations in every part of Kenya’s government. One thing that I learned is how corruption in Kenya is not a local affair, but a global enterprise. European, Asian, and Western countries have had their turn profiting from corruption in Kenya.
One thing I did enjoy was how we get to see the country develop, through stories of corruption, into modern times. We go from President Kenyatta who is the first president when Kenya receives its independence from Britain, to president Uhuru who its noted as having a large Twitter following. At one point even mentioning Paul Manafort and his company helping the Kenyan President resuscitate his global image.
This is a good book for those interested in history, African culture, political science students, and most of all corruption. If you’re interested in learning how corruption is instituted, contributed to, and perpetuated, then this book is a master class in delivering specific examples.
What concerned me the most after reading account after account was that, as the author states, these are the corruption cases that we know about, and have been documented or reported on by the media. I’m sure there are plenty more that we don’t know about.
This book is exceptionally researched with a wealth of references. Joe Khamisi has done a fantastic job turning a list of corruption cases into a linear narrative that is compelling and thought provoking.
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