A.D. Thank you for agreeing to interview with me. I’m so excited about your work. When I read Dark Genesis, I became enamoured with the story and plight of the lovers and the family. You did an amazing job at weaving ancestors, slavery, family history, vampires, and a to-die-for love story.
Can you tell the readers a little bit about your writing career and what you write?
I've always loved books and have had my nose stuck in a book for as long as I can remember. Being a writer was always a dream of mine but I didn't start writing seriously until 2005 when I became unemployed. I've chosen not to limit my creativity by sticking to just one genre. I have two novels out at the moment, "Dark Genesis" and "Peace." "Dark Genesis" is classed as a Paranormal Romance but it is more of a Dark Fantasy novel as it has some very dark subject matter. "Peace" is a Contemporary Urban novel set in London and deals with a young woman who is addicted to heroin.
A very important aspect of your novel was respecting “lost” African traditions, religion and the ancestors. The cultural and ethnic descriptions were interwoven well. Please give the readers an idea of why you place African religion and heritage at the center of this series.
I suppose it's because it is something that is important to me. My parents are Ghanaian but I grew up in London so I am quite westernised and it was sometimes difficult to reconcile those two cultures, as in England I was seen as Ghanaian, but in Ghana I was seen as English. I also don't speak any of my parents' languages, something which I didn't think about too much growing up but is something that I mourn now that I am older. So the theme of lost heritage and tradition is something that is bound to sneak into my writing as cultural identity has always been a source of pride and empowerment for me and the loss of aspects of my culture through migration is something that I think about. It was important for me to honour "lost" African traditions in "Dark Genesis" and I used the practice of scarification to show how these traditions can be a source of empowerment for the characters. For example, in Chapter Three, when Luna is thinking about Mama Akosua and her facial markings she states that:
"Those scars that I had previously been repulsed by and seen as part of the savage ways of her past, had given her strength. They had been a way to take ownership of at least one part of her body and make it forever hers."
When Luna changes her view of those facial markings and begins to see that they were a way for Mama Akosua to reclaim a part of her body, she feels empowered enough to make a decision to try and take back some control in her life, and although the decision she makes is a drastic one, it is probably the first time in her life that she has tried to do something to end the abuse she suffers at the hands of Master John. Luna's changing attitude to Mama Akosua’s scars reflects my changing views on scarification. As a child it was quite common for me to see people of my mother's generation with facial markings, and in my ignorance, I used to feel pity for them when I saw their faces marked in that way. But like most body art, be it piercings or tattoos, I can see the beauty in it and it is important for me to respect those "lost" African traditions that are no longer widely practiced.
I was enthralled with the explanation of African witchcraft and slave magic especially in the “Mama” character; can you share why you chose to label it witchcraft and why it is important to the structure of your paranormal novel?
I labelled it witchcraft for two reasons. It is how the mainstream society at the time would have viewed Mama's magic. Also when we first meet Mama we see her through Luna's eyes and since Luna was disconnected from herself, her heritage and rejected Mama's religion in favour of Christianity at that stage in the novel, she would have held the mainstream view that slave magic and African religion were something negative. The only other character who discusses Mama's magic at length is Avery, who although understands her magic because of his preternatural gifts, is still viewing it from the perspective of a white male who grew up viewing that sort of thing as witchcraft. I also chose to label it as such because Mama's magic does not necessary come from a positive place. For someone living under slavery and enduring the degradation and cruelty that characterised that institution, it is only natural that the power she has will be taken to a "dark" place and she uses her magic to punish her oppressors and avenge the people she cares for, something that often has negative consequences as in the case of Master Henry who was replaced by his son who is a much more sadistic slaveholder. This theme of witchcraft is important to the structure of my paranormal novel as it is a source of empowerment for Luna and Mama Akosua. Although Mama takes it to a "dark" place, it enables her to have some power within an institution that gives black females no power whatsoever and in Chapter Six it means that she can stand up to Mr Jenkins as she is the only one who has the power to stop the demon. And Luna is only really able to empower herself when she taps into her latent supernatural gifts which enable her to fight back in Chapter Twenty Two and eventually find her way back to the man she loves.
When I got to the part of the novel where it was obvious that this was the romance of a Black woman slave and a White male, I had so many pre-conceived ideas of what this relationship might become. When you created this romance did you foresee that it was epic? Why a witch and a vampire? I’ve got to know. Tell us what made you develop this gripping love story.
It started with the vampire, a tragic figure who had his humanity stolen from him when he was turned into a vampire, and when we meet him, he has pretty much forgotten who he is. The only person that I could envisage being able to understand the soul of this vampire – and fall in love with him – was a young woman who had also had her humanity stolen from her – a slave called Luna. That's where the novel began. I didn't originally intend for Luna to be a witch but as I developed the "Mama" character it seemed to follow on that Luna would also be a witch. It also gave me a way to explain how Avery (without giving too much away) first came to see Luna's face. "Wuthering Heights" is one of my favourite novels and I've always liked the notion of a beautiful haunting love that is so powerful that not even death can conquer it. I also believe that if an immortal being falls in love, it has to be the kind of love that will last an eternity – so the love my two protagonists have for each other had to be epic.
I know that one of your missions is to share the “brutality of human bondage”, can you speak more on your decision to be detailed and descriptive about the ills of slavery?
When I first started writing "Dark Genesis" all the white characters were like Father Geoffrey. I decided to introduce characters like Master Henry and his son because I realised that I was writing about my reality and not the reality for a slave living in that period of time. I don't think you can write about slavery and not be descriptive about how brutal and soul-destroying it was, especially for women. To try and gloss over the savage reality of that institution would be a disservice to the millions who had to live through that period of time. I think it honours the memory of the slaves who lived and died in slavery as well as the ones who eventually overcame it. I also believe that describing the ugly reality of slavery can also be uplifting as it shows just how indomitable the human spirit is and that people can rise up above anything.
OMG! I’ve got to ask. You chose to center the contemporary part of your novel in the ATL. Have you visited? What made you decide to base the location of your story in the South?
Atlanta... :-) I'm actually in love with a place that I've never been to. I chose to center the contemporary part of my novel in Atlanta as a close friend of mine has family there and all she does is talk about how great ATL is. So I will definitely find my way out there in the near future.
I am invested in this series, please share when you’ll have book two available or what else you have on the horizon.
There have been a lot of delays with Book 2, including a house move which pretty much put everything on hold. But I intend to publish book 2 in early 2014 at the latest. I'm also working on a screenplay which is a modern take on the war in Heaven. At some point I will write a sequel to my other novel "Peace," but that will only be when the Darkling Trilogy is finished.
A.D. thanks so much for your interview! I appreciate you and your work!
AD Koboah is a writer who is based in London. Her first loves are reading,writing and travelling. Visit her: http://www.adkoboah.co.uk/