Mwandishi Spotlight.

Hello bookaholics, welcome to the new year. This is the first author interview of the year, and I couldn't be more excited because he is also the first African author I have interviewed.

The author I am hosting today is Venancio Gomani. He is a student, author and entrepreneur who as you'll see, obviously had better fan fiction ideas than most:) Well he had better ones than I did anyway. Read on to find out more about this impressive author and his work.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: My name is Venancio Gomani and I am a 25-year-old Zambian currently living in Lusaka city. Professionally, I am an Engineer, and Entrepreneur. I currently own and manage my own Technology startup called Active, and I am a final year engineering student at DMI-St. Eugene University studying for my Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Engineering. Creatively, however, that is a whole other story.

 I am a storyteller and an art-enthusiast. I am the author of the Dystopian Fiction, short novel, Quantos Rising and the historical fantasy, historical fiction novel, Ghost Tribes. It is my sincere hope and goal to completely change the African cultural mindset through my projects, innovations, platforms, books, arts, and tutorials.

Q: Have you always wanted to be an author?
That’s an interesting question. I would have to say yes, and no. I’ve been writing stories as far back as I can remember. The earliest memory I have of a story I created was when I was 6-years-old. It was titled ‘Multitalented Disorder’ and it was a story about a little boy who grew up having multiple personalities each of which took control of his body under different aliases and different talents. So I could say I always had an inherent desire to be an author.

But at the same time, however, I equally love fine art, music art, as well as performing art and I tell stories just as passionately in each of these avenues of creative inclination as I do in writing. To say I always wanted to be an author would be looking at it from one side of the spectrum and neglecting other creative art forms I imbibe. I guess it boils down to the fact that I have always simply wanted to be a storyteller.

Q: If no, what did you want to be?
A: It’s hard to say, really. I always wanted to be so many different things growing up and even as it stands, I still retain the desire to be many things than just an author. My favorite example is in the context of ‘Multitalented Disorder’. With each of the creative inclinations I imbibe I hope to be the best in that creative art form, be it making blockbuster film, or creating comic book characters that inspire people, or a music artist who touches the lives of people with great music. 

If I could, I would say I always wanted to be a showrunner—someone who becomes whatever it takes to finish a creative product, whether at one point I need to be a music artist, or performing artist, or a writer.

Q: How did you first start writing?
A: My writing journey only truly began independently a little over 15 years ago. I needed an outlet for the many conflictions I had because I often felt out-of-place. So I started to write what I felt through different characters that I put in the exact same uncomfortable situations I sometimes found myself in. And that gradually turned into creating and writing stories I would think up because many of them were loved by a few of my friends who loved to hear and read more of them.

Q: Have you ever written any fan-fiction when you were starting out?

A: I did :D. It was based on The DC Universe’s Super boy. However, in my rendition of the ‘boy of steel’, Super boy attained his powers much like I attained mine (being writing in this case)—by being sucked so far deep into his own mind where he spent lifetimes understanding the mysteries of the universe. The twist to that story was that when he eventually woke up from his journey into the mind (which in the real world, was only like a couple minutes but felt like lifetimes to him), he couldn’t remember a thing but his body could do those superhuman feats instinctively. That later on became the first comic book I ever drew as a child. I would have been no older than 12 at the time.

Q: Tell us about the last/latest book you’ve written and where did you get your ideas from?
A: Ghost Tribes takes place in a semi-fictional verisimilitude of the continent of Africa wherein all the tribes are ruled by kings, smaller breakaway tribes are ruled by chiefs, and all are governed by the council of paramount—a legion of the noble tribes of the continent.
The principal story follows the tale of Likando and the war of the brother kings. Likando is the Lozi tribe’s princess, heir-elect to the throne, and the only legitimate child of the Lozi king, Simasiku Lumeta. However, growing without the presence of her mother, and her father never having told her the story of who her mother is or where she is or if she is even alive today, causes her to begin searching for the truth against her father’s permission and consent.

 She stumbles upon darker truths that result in her learning that her birth may not have been a result of love or mere chance, but a carefully considered and planned series of events. This leads the princess into taking courses of action that bring her tribe, family, and overall kingdom to the brink of near-extinction.

The second part of the tale which begins eight years before the events of the first novel follows the story of Kaleya, the lost son of nothing who, after waking up alone in the jungle with no memory of his identity or his past, goes on a quest to discover the truth behind his stolen memories but entangles himself in a series of circumstances that result in him having to fight for his survival more often than not.

 The second part of the story simultaneously chronicles the Ghost of Africa, an enigma thought to be a demon that terrorizes tribes around a territory it claimed as its own three years before the events of the novel. Before the Ghost of Africa occupied the territory, there lived a thriving tribe with an organized structure and an army of possessed soldiers, ten thousand strong. However, when the Ghost of Africa first emerged, it led an army of exiled tribesmen-turned cannibals, who formed the population referred to as the Cannibals Tribe less. 

 After wiping out of existence the tribe that existed in its territory, the demon goes on to fence that very territory with the skulls of the tribe’s populace on barbed wooden stakes all around the territory as a warning to anyone who dared to trespass.

The first book in the series, The Ghost of Africa, opens with Likando, the heir-elect to the Lozi throne, preparing for the maturity ceremony when she gets ambushed by a gang of purported ‘mixed-breeds’. This series of events leads her to come face-to-face with the Ghost of Africa.

I got the idea of Ghost Tribes in November of 2012 when I felt heavily inclined to write a short novel about myself as a somewhat cultural misfit. This is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but my country is comprised of 72 tribes most of which have grandly dissimilar languages. And of those 72, I can only truly speak two and that too is being generous to say the least. So I thought to write the story of a boy who didn’t really know what culture he belonged to. However, Africa has a rich pool of really exciting stories.

 We grow up being told about spirits, and elders, and the divinity of certain animals and my aim for Ghost Tribes was to capture most of those untold stories and package them in a way that made them as exciting as they possibly could get.
So Ghost Tribes is mostly a romance/fantasy adventure story about my own life, thoughts and interactions with cultures that I identify myself with.

Q: Did you have a writing ritual of any kind?
A: Weirdly enough, I did. Because writing the novel would often feel exhausting and like I was never going to finish, I would occasionally subject myself to watching only historical fiction and fantasy based films or content in my free time so that I almost always thought about my novel.

Q: Do you have any unpublished /unfinished scripts and where do you keep them?

A: I have loads of them actually. I have a ‘perfectionistic’ tendency thus, for me to get to a point where I truly feel my creative project is ready enough to be published would take a lot of effort from my end as well as (for the most part), the people around me who push me forward.

Q: What types of books do you read?
A: I read historical fiction and fantasy. I also read a little bit of everything else too, but not as much. My favorite genre is mystery because so many stories have been told overtime by so many different authors and from so many different perspectives, it’s often hard to find an ‘original’ suspense-filled twist to a mystery story and that’s the reason I love them. I get to see so many different and creative ways authors use to tell already-told stories but in a new and exciting way.

I should mention though, that as of the past few months, I have taken a keen interest in educational textbook content in the fields of physics, geology, chemistry, and business so my reading list is very diverse.

Q: What book are you reading right now?
A: I’m currently reading the Hydro Plate Theory by Walter Brown, and have been doing so for a little while now. This book aroused my curiosity in reading more scientific content.

Q: What are your 3 favorite books of all time and why?

A: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Q: Do you/have you ever read a copy of your book after it has been published?
A: I do that obsessively over my recently published novel, Ghost Tribes. I think to some extent, it becomes a problem for me to constantly read my own book over and over again. I think it’s due, in part, to how much I relate to my own characters because of the many aspects of my own personality that I molded them after.

Q: What do you think is the best way to cultivate a reading and writing culture in today’s young people?
A: That’s a tough one. We’re moving more and more away from reading and focusing more on the short-term dopamine-fueled pockets of dumbed-down content that doesn’t challenge how critically we think anymore and that’s increasingly problematic when viewed from two perspectives.

First is that the content creators making these dopamine-fueled pieces often do so to appeal to a target demography that inclines more towards less intellectual stimulation, thus confining these content creators within the framework of that very dependency trap. 

Secondly, it’s an evolutionary transition. We live in a world where the more intellectually-stimulated are constantly creating technologies, and content that makes life easier for us. Our bodies were designed to resist change—the brain isn’t any different. When we read, we strain our brain to retain that information and it’s obviously never going to be as easy hence the need for constant studying in schools. 

We respond to stimuli, thus if the conditions around us are good then we choose to find that sweet-spot between total relaxation and things not falling apart while we do so. So with things being made easier for us, we get comfortable to the environment.
Solving the two is far more complex. Technology shouldn’t stop moving forward and content creators shouldn’t have to stop creating content. However, I do think that each of these two aspects should offer a little bit more intellectual stimulation than they currently do. 

That means content-creators should focus a little more on adding more intellectual stimulating things in their products and so should advancements in technology today.

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author who is just starting out?
A: Rome was never built in a day. Writing shouldn’t only be a talent or a passion. It’s an investment too. Each word you write; each senutence and paragraph and chapter is an investment in what is to be possibly considered as an expression of who you are as a storyteller. So keep writing through whatever the circumstances and I promise you that at the end of the road, you’ll be glad that you overcame everything you did in order to get to that finish line.

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