Author Interviews: CIRCLES and Excursion in my Mind

Nana Damoah: The articles used for Excursions in my Mind were written over a period of four years. I have a mailing list, so I sent out the articles as I churned them out. At a point, I could write an article each week. My readers, mostly friends and friends of friends, and colleagues at work, gave me feedback on the writings, usually via email. Some of my direct recipients forwarded my mail all across the globe, and I sometimes got them back through more forwarding. Sometimes, I have to scroll down to confirm it was my initial mail. At times, some of those on my mailing list would send me mail or call to ask whether I had taken them off the list, since they hadn’t read from me for a long time. That way, I knew I was catering for a readership out there. At a point, I guess it assumed the form of a ministry for me, sharing thoughts with people. From 2006, I started nursing the idea of putting the articles together as a book, and I must say the idea wasn’t original – a number of friends I respect so much, so very elderly, encouraged me to do just that. For Though the Gates of Thought, it took me about a year. I need to add that with a couple of the articles I wrote them after years of reflection. One chapter in Excursions, titled ‘Loss taught me’ was so personal it took me two years of reflection before writing it.

Boakyewaa: Mine was a little different. Writing mine was like writing a TV series. I wrote a chapter a week. There was no way I could write more than that. And each Sunday, I sent the complete chapter to my cousin Jonathan, and my friends Estella, Teki and Seton. It was over a period of four months, maybe more. But it was every single Sunday! I guess similar to how I do the blog now. Oh but I think I was late a few days and then my cousin would text and say, ‘hey where’s my chapter?’ I think that book really got completed because of the response I got from them each week. It made the process really fun. I’d send it and then we’d chat about it. It was almost like we were gossiping about a TV show. I had a good time that way, and it didn’t feel stressful. They laughed with Rabbie, they cursed at her, and they sympathized with her – the whole nine yards.

Nana Damoah: Support is seriously crucial, definitely. I had major support as well; from my wife Vivian, giving me the space and time to indulge in my passion. I owe a lot to her. She is my primary editor (she was in Ridge school too, you know, so her English is much better than mine). My parents – whenever my story appeared in The Mirror, my late dad would buy a copy and walk the entire village claiming fans! Knowing that I was making them proud after all their sacrifices was a great boost for me. I was so proud to have my mum at my book launch and my voice broke when I acknowledged her. And then from friends and colleagues at work; just lots of people. I have come to know, Boakyewaa, that once you know what you want to do and go for it, there appears a host of helpers you couldn’t have imagine existed just to partner you on that journey.

Boakyewaa: Oh I can’t even begin to quantify or talk about the support I’ve had! Jonathan, Teki, Estella and Seton were seriously incredible. So many people have had a hand in supporting this book – my brothers, mother, cousins, friends, friends at work – a lot of people have been really supportive. Has it been an equally good year for you? I mean your book is already in stores! What’s been the best moment of the past year, the launch, or seeing the book for the first time or seeing it in stores?

Nana Damoah: Lots of happy milestones, Boakyewaa. The moment I got the letter from the publisher Athena to say they will publish. The day I got the initial typeset. The day I received the book cover design, and saw my name on it. The day the first copies of the book arrived in Ghana! The courier company called to ask whether they could deliver by close of day. I said I will come myself! I borrowed my friend Stephen Larbi’s car and drove straight from work, haha. When I had the book in my hands, the feeling was almost orgasmic! My proudest moments of them all was the book launch, seeing so many friends and family gathered to celebrate with me, and as I said, being able to dedicate the book to my mum and late dad, that was special! When I walk in a store and see my book on the shelves, I am proud to know that I am contributing my thoughts to humanity and that these thoughts will outlive me. That is the essence of life – to live so you can affect your generation and posterity.

Boakyewaa: Exactly, being able to contribute something, no matter how small. I see you’re very deep eh, hahaha. You should be a professor or something! Oh you know what, you’ve reminded me. I forgot to add. This blog has been one of the best experiences ever. No joke. Having people read what I write, read stuff that came from me, from my mind, and enjoy it – that’s on a different level. I write for me, I write what I want to say, how I want to say it. And having people relate to that style is awesome. And through the blog, I’ve built more depth to my writing and gotten more confident about what I do. Even if only one person reads it each week, I still appreciate it. I’m really grateful anyone reads my stuff. They don’t need to, they don’t owe it to me, so for them to actually do it, especially the ones who check week after week AND comment? I’m like wow. But you know what I mean, right? You have like 3 blogs! What’s your plan with the blogs? I love the African quotes one though. Hilarious!

Nana Damoah: Ah, I love your blog too, Ms. B! I try to visit it every two days or so, and also when I get your updates through your group on Facebook. You write frankly and boldly, you write about some things that I can only think about, haha. Very pertinent issues that we need to discuss and reflect on and take positions on. And yes, as you interact with your readers, you get better; our readers’ feedback refines us. I will join you to say thanks to them all, for people to make time to read our works in this global time-crunch (my own phrase), we thank them!

I kept three blogs for a long time and recently added one to cater for my short withy African quotes. (See end of article for a list of Nana’s blogs).The blogs serve as a one-stop shop for the difference stuff I am involved in as a writer. I am learning from what you have done with your blog to make mine more active. Lately, I have been doing a lot of publishing on Facebook too, and that is also very interactive. I believe I have made more contacts via Facebook but there is more scope to explore with the blogs. Will come for more tutorials.

Boakyewaa: I’m struggling to maintain one blog. How can I help you manage three? But you’re very funny – I write about some things that you only think about, that’s funny. A lot of people say I write like I’m talking. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I personally don’t like really ‘heavy’ material. I really appreciate you reading the blog and commenting when you can.

So you’ve done the first book and now you’re already in the middle of publishing a second one. Are you that confident about the Ghanaian book industry?