Saturday, June 27, 2009
How to read aloud for and give advice to kids old enough to grow beards and bear children themselves?
MY TOP THREE TIPS:
1. BE REAL OR GO HOME:
The teen mission is to sus out when the adult world is duping them out of their natural "innersense" of Justice and Truth. If you are unwilling to reveal yourself first, to risk rejection it's unlikely you'll get more from a teen audience than patience and tolerance at best.
2. TAKE RISKS:
Speak about what you know yes, and show them how confident you are in your field yes, BUT show them an area in which you took a flying leap and fell flat. Share what you learned through personal death and resurrection! Adolescents spend more time feeling the uncertainty of life than not. Show them this is not a unique or shameful condition and that there is life, and in fact a better life is possible, even after failure.
3. SHOW YOUR CREDENTIALS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF LIFE :
Give ample evidence that you have lived what you know; offer varied examples that illustrate that you have earned the insights you wish to pass on. Direct experience is the best teacher. Draw from your life experience to express your expertise.
At St. Francois Girls School in Belmont, Island Fiction seres editor, Joanne Johnson and Trinidadian authors Lisa Allen Agostini (The Chalice Project), and Francis Escayg (Escpae from Silk Cotton Forest) took the Reading Revolution to the tweens -
and they loved it!
Courtesy the school and with the support of principal and visionary Mrs. Pat Mc Intosh, each student received
her own Island Fiction tween novella. All six titles were made available and each girl from the three Forms 3, one hundred and thirty-five in all, took one home, with a few remainders going to he school library, which now carries the entire Island Fiction series.
The girls were encouraged to swap with friends so they could read the series, not just one book
and to meet their favorite authors online via the Island Fiction community. Some expressed an interest
in purchasing all the books in the series and were directed to RIK stores throughout Trinidad or to Amazon online.
Having the author himself, Francis Escayg read excerpts from Escape from Silk Cotton Forest was a world class
opportunity. The students were introduced to his hero, the young goan Domino,
and his sly mongoose partner Peenuts, whose 'extempo' singing in Market Square brought the house down.
Lisa Allen Agostini followed up with a power point presentation on Creative Writing which drew on the relevance
of the Island Fiction series and her title The Chalice Project. Students and teachers alike were inspired
by the ideas and insights of this prolific, local author, poet and journalist.
Series editor, Joanne Johnson was sure to stand proxy for the other authors who do not live in Trinidad and so were not present. She read from Time Swimmer, Night of the Indigo, Delroy and the Marog Kingdom and Legend of the Swan Children.
Book Trailers for Indigo and Delroy, now on YOU TUBE delighted and excited the girls who gave the local authors
their rapt attention. The value of these trailers was very evident and worth the authors' efforts based on the buzz worthy response from this group.
It is intended that other school visit opportunities will become available in the coming school year, and may include
visits from the other (non Trini) Island Fiction crew.
Gerald Hausman, Island Fiction author of Time Swimmer and published author of over seventy books says this about Indigo:
Night of the Indigo is an excellent book for learning about self-realization -- that it's entirely possible to gain power while giving up willpower. In the novel, the 15 year-old Jamaican boy Marassa becomes a mystic warrior and carrier of the light. As an allegory -- a story upon which another story rests -- this poetical novel shows us how a boy turns into a man. But it also shows how Marassa vanquishes fear of self to become a selfless practitioner of inner vision. Perilous forces are present in the story but I found myself swept away by the passages on healing with heart and inner light. These moments are very real indeed. Anyone who wants to know more about overcoming personal obstacles will love Michael Holgate's Night of the Indigo.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Michael and Helen asked me to send some words for their first launch event in Jamaica for their Island Fiction titles: Night of the Indigo and Delroy and the Marog Kingdom ( respectively). Here is the speech I sent which was read by proxy:
(With Trek-like reverence), Greetings from Trinidad, fellow fiction lovers.
I hope you do not feel short changed on hearing the suggestion, but one could reasonably have expected a series editor of speculative fiction in 2009 to at least beam herself over via SKYPE video conferencing!
Truly, what IF I could project a hologram from my living room just after I've left the callaloo soup dinner to simmer?
What IF I could be there with you all having hit the road over the past few days across bridges and chunnels, leisurely island hoppng my way from Trinidad to Jamaica in my solar powered amphibious vehicle?
What IF instead, I am now using astral projection and my gorgeous, intelligent forty-something Trini-mix of a woman self inhabits this: (person reading describes him/ her self).....hmm!
So, WHAT IF! indeed.
That "I" - "F" capital IF is the impetus for Macmillan Caribbean's new "tween" novella series and its name Island Fiction.
Our first season is unprecedented not only because it is a "first-of-its-kind" series for our region, but also because it is rarely that so many previously unpublished authors make it into print in the same series at the same time - Five of the six first titles were crafted by first time authors, including Michael and Helen whom we celebrate tonight/ today.
In the works since 2006, Island Fiction is for me as much a privilege as a responsibility. Beyond the folk tales, popular music styles and shared carnival and culinary cultures there is something less transient that unites us. BUT it is my sincere belief that we must unravel, not discard these navel strings and use them as artistic lifelines which enable, not limit our creative freedom. The more West Indian-specific and intimate our storytelling, the more universally appealing and infinite our bounty.
Our Island Fictions are First World fare, and now our authors are free to spin yarns of WHAT IF firsts. And so the tables for once have been turned - non West Indian authors who dare to submit manuscripts for Island Fiction, ( and there have been many), are held to the highest "Come good!" standards - because our Island Fiction Caribbean is not merely a back yard play ground for other peoples - unless of course we choose to share our sand box beaches and turquoise pools with rum loving, invading aliens.
Two Jamaican authors made the cut from our first season call for submissions - Michael Holgate, Jamaican by birth, and Helen Williams, aka Billy Elm - Jamaican by choice. They now share the world stage with a rare and privileged breed of humans - published (NOT self published) authors. Their books enjoy the opportunity of competing for sales and attention from reviewers alongside their counterparts in the most viable and vibrant book markets.
I must say I am delighted to be included in any shape, way or form during this auspicious celebration of two Jamaican heroes - Marassa from the Night of the Indigo and Delroy from Delroy and the Marog Kingdom. Their author-gods fashioned these boys-turning-men to move freely in and out of worlds old and new. They share the universal quest for self knowledge but traverse unique territories, always reflecting the bold, imaginative thought moves of their makers.
In Night of the Indigo, we are as taken with Kundo, the dreadlocked warrior who mentors Marassa the Marshall himself. And Lobo the androgynous blue being remains with us long after the book itself. While we spin in and out of bizarre blue worlds and eerie smell-o-visions the WHAT IF of it all takes root in our human experiences - loss, power, fear, conflict. Like all good epic quests it is characters who people our mind scapes that determine the satisfaction. Only a Jamaican could have crafted this book, in this way and it is my sincere hope that it will be richly embraced at home.
There is nothing about Delroy that tries too hard to be West Indian - the plight and pitfall of many wanna be IF authors. I love the big picture pay back of this WHAT IF tale - What if a boy bent on boiling frogs for laughs actually found that he had turned into some kind of freaky frog-like amphibian? And What if we cared about that frog bully because we could feel that he felt not good enough? And What IF through the twists and turns of under ground worlds, zeta stones, and Bob Marley choruses we cheer for Delroy, to.... simply return to being just himself, flaws and all?
What I admire most about both authors and their books however is their growing maturity in the process of "invisibility" - As much as craft and style, voice and resonance may be heralded or critiqued, a good read really determines to keep our reading minds on the story and off its author and the behind the scenes effort of his or her work.
Although I have never met either author in person, the process of revising endless drafts to mutual satisfaction is as intimate and self revealing as any other human intimacy.
And while something as mundane as air travel remains economically challenging if not altogether inaccessible, the power of fancy flight never gets old or out of reach. So I ask that we allow fiction, and specifically Island Fiction on this occasion, to remind us that we are never more connected than when we inhabit the universal geography of Imagine Nation.
Time Swimmer author Gerald Haussman takes questions from fans at schools in North America via SKYPE which is fittingly hip for the Island Fiction "Tweens". But the heart to heart, face to face technology of meeting in person will never grow old.
"I presented the book at a school and the kids ran at the book table and bought all the copies we'd brought with us. A fifth grade girl came up to me five minutes after she'd bought the book and said, "I've read ten pages already, and I love it!" The cover catches them, the words do the rest."
Meanwhile on YOU TUBE hosts another Island Fiction author - Michael Holgate. His book trailer for Night of the Indigo, really illustrates the cinematic quality of the stories in this series. So log on, rate and share the trailer - then go buy the books!
"Last night I was dead center with the grandfather of Time Swimmer saying, 'Where are you going?' a great line for a child and fantastical yarn, and all this book literally swims by story and the language and even the type on the pages: a sort of oceanic syntax."
American poet Bob Arnold, author of some 50 books, about Time Swimmer:
HIGH TIDE for Time Swimmer!
Waves of praise come in for Gerald's "Time Swimmer" from David Greenberg, US author of the crazy, now classic, picture book Slugs, which has been a bestseller since the 1980s. According to Gerald, David's a really tough critic. "I'm quite surprised he likes Time Swimmer this much. Was a wee bit afraid he might not go for it."
I've just started your book, and I love it. Just love it!
Boy, can you sling words. I adore the way you start with the almost-suicide, and I adore the way you mix the mundane (failing the test) with the fantastic (the sea turtle) with the men who want to chop its head off with the
voyage out to sea and the fact that it can talk. Extraordinary word craftsmanship from the very start.....
DAVID GREENBERG, picture book author, SLUGS