Wednesday, November 16, 2011
FEATURED AUTHOR: Naa Shalman
My passion for writing about relationships is equalled by my passion for reading novels that reflect real life. I can create an entire world in my head where I live with many fictional couples, suffering their trials and experiencing their triumphs. Like them our life journey is never carefree and rosy, but it is real and every challenge along the journey that we have taken was ours to accept and ours to overcome. I believe that every experience in life provides an opportunity to re-mould ourselves and our spirits; my experiences have certainly been so and I look forward to a future filled with more of them.
As a writer I hope my words will build a bridge across the cultural lacuna that grows deeper as our world continues to shrink. Sharing stories from other continents through characters steeped in centuries old traditions and beliefs as they make their way through our modern-day global community. I look forward to my future continually exposing my readers to different cultures and some new and old social issues. Most of all, evoking a real sense of emotion, making them fume at injustice, share in sadness, understand and relate to new perspectives, laugh in appreciation of human nature and where possible end with a smile.
How did you start out your writing career?
I was asked by four people in two days “when are you going to take your writing seriously?” that same week I won a laptop. I took that to be a message from my marker and opened word file, I have never looked back since.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I went back to my roots, learned about our forefathers and how they lived. I am a strong advocate for women’s rights and will be the first to challenge any dated tradition binding women in their native lands. However, the journey has thought me that to lose some of those traditions will be to lose our identity and that equates to losing our souls.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I wanted my readers to be exposed to new perspectives and appreciate life. If they take away one positive response from reading New Dawn then it has served its purpose.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
Adiago, he was a complex character, a warrior with a sensitive soul. He touched me; I felt his pain and understood his struggles. I wanted him to find peace after so many tragedies in his life.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The positive response from my readers. I had a speaking engagement at a book event held in a library in London after the talk a gentleman came to me and said he had no idea that female circumcision was still practised in this day and age until he read a piece I had written on the subject. He left promising to donate to one of the charities fighting this dreadful practise.
I am surprised and pleased about how my words can help change the suffering of young women who stories are mostly untold.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love it when my characters are forming in my head, developing their own individualities, when they are telling me their story and they become in a way my friends.
I hate that I can’t type fast enough, sometimes my fingers can’t meet the pace necessary for telling the story and I wish my brain was doing the typing instead.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
The hard work it will take to achieve this dream.
How my outlook on life will change.
How my writing will evolve from what I thought it will be in the beginning.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Write because this is what you want to do, write because even when you are sleeping the words are finding ways to escape and make their way onto paper.
If you choose to go down the self-publishing route, then remember the writing and publishing is the easy part there are hundreds of companies out there promising the unrealistic dream of making you a successful author (even with the error filled manuscript you have given them). This isn’t what is important because you can do it all yourself, what is fundamental for your journey is investing in a good editor and spending money to have your work proofread. Avoid the “disease” associated with self-published novels, lack of content, full of errors. Achieve this...then even with the hard work ahead there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
That traditionally published authors aren’t necessarily the best storytellers. A lot of readers will stick to purchasing novels by 1) writers they have read before and 2) those who have publishing houses representing their work. It’s a big world we live in readers should be open to picking up novels by unknown authors; you never know the journey you will take with the author might be a fulfilling one.
It is sad to see the stigmatisation in the industry, I am proud to write about my heritage and culture but it doesn’t mean I want to limit my audience rather I am introducing others to new perspectives.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
Rama (Sounds of the Drums) a woman who is willing to sacrifice her very soul to make sure that she can provide for her children. In all her adversities, she draws on her strength and faith that one day their lives will be better.
Immaculée (Left To Tell) a young woman’s strength in her struggle to survive the Rwandan Genocide. Her faith and spiritual development. Her forgiving heart, an attribute we believers must muster but are likely to forget in our search for vengeance.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
LOL. It seems as if I have no spare time, there are just not enough hours in the day and night for that matter. I read an article by a successful author that said if you wanted to be the dad (in my case mum) of the year then you didn’t miss your son’s ball game. If you wanted to be a successful author then you missed ball games and didn’t sleep until the early hours of the morning only to wake shortly and start again. This signifies my life; however, even though I wouldn’t win the wife of the year award I know how fast children grow up. I struggle but if I get a moment I invest it into sharing it with my children.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I try to respond to all emails I receive, to show my appreciation for their words of praise, support and pointers. I have social media sites where readers get to interact with me most of the time and I also use the opportunity to interact personally at speaking engagements.
Our theme for this month is MEN IN LITERATURE. What male author are your reading?
I reading the late Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not to Blame.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
This journey has just begun and I know that I will write for many years to come if God has ordained it so.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
My next book is Coronation, this time my readers are introduced to Bako the heroine a queen who battles with her destiny in the beginning but will leave a legacy for the generation unborn. It also tells the love story between Bako and Bartolomeu, two people who would never consciously select the other for a life partner but treachery and calamity pave their way into a forced union: a joining that denigrates the Prince’s reputation until his life is in danger and the very person he most despises is the one who holds his survival in her hands.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
They can send me an email: email@example.com
Via my website: http://naashalman.com/
Or on Facebook and other social media sites.
In the days of ethnic strife and struggles for Kingdom-wide control in the African Gold Coast village of Asempa’Krom, the beautiful young Ima eagerly awaits for her marriage to the village’s lustiest warrior, Batum. Batum’s air of cockiness and physical strength are nearly a perfect match for Ima’s impetuous spirit, and both have a fire burning in their belly for the power of their promising young lives. But, when Batum carries out a wholly unprovoked attack on the neighbouring village’s Chief Warrior, Adiago, to feed his greed for power and glory, his uncontrolled actions prompt his desperate flight from Asempa’Krom.
To avenge the attack on Adiago, the offended warrior’s clan sets out to kidnap Ima, and unintentionally begin her journey to womanhood. Over a week’s journey by foot away from her home, Ima is kept in the house of the man whose family was slaughtered by Batum. Referring to her only as “Batum’s intended wife”, Ima must learn to stave off her loneliness, and prove herself as an individual and not the reflection of Batum’s evil doings. While there, she discovers her compassion and resolves her growing desire for the very man who is now her captor.
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