Today I have a special guest on my blog. I’m very excited about this because this is my first author interview and its with my good friend, S.A. Gibson and it’s all about his new book, “Asante’s Gullah Journey.” I absolutely loved this book. It’s such a wonderful world and the characters are so vibrant. The writing is just great and I really learned a lot about our own history and a part of the country I haven’t had the opportunity to visit while reading this post-apocalyptic middle school to young adult story.
Mr. Gibson took some time out to answer a few of my questions about his new book and his own experiences as a writer.
First off, tell us a bit about yourself. What inspired you to begin writing books?
I am a voracious reader. I’ve probably averaged a book a week in my life. Most often I read science fiction, but I have been known to sit down and read a physics book, math book, or computer science book, like a novel. I grew up in Southern California and have worked for years in computer support and for non-profit organizations. When I returned to school to obtain degrees a few years ago, I decided the time had come to try writing the kind of books I love reading. That is the goal of my fiction writing. I want to write the books that I want to read.
Particularly, what inspired you to write this book? Was it a particular place you visited or a bit of history that you read?
I did visit Charleston and Savannah more than a decade ago. But, it was reading about the Gullah dialect used by some African-Americans in the Lowcountry of the Carolinas gave me the idea to imagine what the life would be of these people if they survived the loss of modern civilization.
Where did you get the idea for a librarian swordsman? That’s a really cool and unusual concept.
I have a “thing” for libraries. It feels like I grew up in the stacks of the local libraries. Before the internet, I traveled the world through library books. So, in the post-apocalyptic world that I imagine for my characters, the Librarians and libraries are the power in the world. I suggest that with the end of most modern technology, the information to keep civilization going resides in books in the libraries of the world. In this violent world, after the collapse, enforcers are needed to protect the libraries, enforce their rules, and collect overdue books. These library scouts are skilled swordsmen and swordswomen.
A lot of writers are choosing first person present tense these days. What made you choose to use it for your book?
It feels natural to me. While most fiction I’ve read over the years has been third person past, I feel a sense of immediacy and immersion with present tense. I also like the clarity of not having an omniscient narrator. My narrators only report what they know or can sense around them.
Beneda is a strong and fearless girl. Did you have some source of inspiration for her in your own life? Is there a girl or a woman that you know that reminds you of Beneda?
I admire strong female characters. My mother is probably the main reason. I believe women should protect their young charges and not be afraid of dangers and obstacles. I like Xena, Wonder Woman (Princess Diana of Themyscira), and Catwoman.
Asante is also a very brave sort. How about him? Where did he come from in your mind?
Asante is the everyman hero I want to look up to in the world. He doesn’t have any superhuman abilities. He achieved his expertise with hard work and practice. He is not unnaturally good, he just knows what his priorities are and cannot allow the weak to be hurt by the strong, if he can help it.
A lot of writers said that they draw inspiration from music when the writing. Did you have a particular playlist or song that came to mind when you sat down to write this book? What kind of memories or mood did it inspire for you?
When writing I often listen to the Pandora channel, Yael Naim. Her music is described as “a touch of folk and a touch of jazz.” When I listen, I often feel a bitter-sweet emotional state. Such music inspires me to believe in great deeds to be accomplished by ordinary, flawed characters.
You’re marketing this book as a YA novel. What do you hope that young people will get out of this story when they read it?
I hope my messages are subtle and not hitting readers over the head. I actually think about educating readers about old technology, like the use of pigeons for communication (they were the smartphones in the past), dip pens and food harvesting. I believe violence should be the last resort and if we expect the best in people, we will sometimes find it.
If you could say one thing to your readers about your latest book, what would you most want them to know about it?
This story can transport readers to a world that does not exist, but could. A world where Africans and African-Americans work together in a future south to rebuild society.
Say your book gets made into a movie. What actor would you choose to cast as Asante?
Of course, I would like Idris Elba. But, perhaps he would look older than the character, as written. There is a young actor named, Elijah Kelley, who would do an excellent job. He was in Red Tails and The Butler.
If you’re interested in reading Asante’s Gullah Journey, there is an opportunity for you to win a free copy! S.A. Gibson is doing a giveaway that will allow readers in the US to enter for a chance to win an electronic copy of the book. You can enter the giveaway here.
Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today! I really enjoyed your book and very much appreciated the opportunity to interview you about it. It was wonderful to see where your ideas came from.