Friday, 16 January 2015

A New African Fantasy Story Series from Brittle Paper

 "It is true that the book is really the only benchmark we and the West use. But let me propose that there are great stories on the Internet written by new African writers that are being ignored because they do not breathe between book covers." - Ikhide Ikelola 
I chose the quote above from literary critic, Ikhide Ikeloa, well, Because the Internet ... Honestly, we are only a couple weeks into 2015 and already there is so much awesomeness available for lovers of African literature (especially those into genre fiction) courtesy of the Internet. A couple days ago Jalada released its second anthology Afrofutures, while last week the amazing Brittle Paper launched an African Fantasy Series - In the Shadows of Iyanibi by Eugene Odogwu.

Illustration by Reez Ruiz. Image via Brittle Paper
In the Shadow of Iyanibi is a three-part story, which runs over the course of six-weeks and will be accompanied by beautiful custom illustrations from Mexican illustrator Reez Ruiz (can also find him @REEZruiz). Here’s a synopsis courtesy of Brittle Paper:

In the Shadow of Iyanibi is a story about a brave and gifted girl named Ihumbi, who is swept up in a series of frightful encounters involving the search for a missing sister in a forest of deep, dark shadows.

The three-part tale follows the confrontation between young Ihumbi and Urunma—a forest-dwelling demigoddess always hungry for the souls of lost children. Urunma is a mother’s worst nightmare and a child’s greatest fear. Preying on a child’s desire for sweet and colorful things, she steals the souls of children lost in the forest and holds them in enchanted captivity.

The story vicariously transports you to the enchanting gloom of an old forest and a brave girl’s attempt to confront the ancient horror that lies deep within its shadows.
In the Shadow of Iyanibi is a richly-imagined and suspenseful tale of bravery and the steadfastness of a sister’s love.


The first part of the story was published on January 12th. Read it here. Happy reading!!! Stay tuned for the second part, which will be published January 26th.

PS. Brittle Paper will be releasing three story series in 2015 -  In The Shadows of Iyanibi, is the first. 
In the Shadow of Iyanibi is a story about a brave and gifted girl named Ihumbi, who is swept up in a series of frightful encounters involving the search for a missing sister in a forest of deep, dark shadows.
The three-part tale follows the confrontation between young Ihumbi and Urunma—a forest-dwelling demigoddess always hungry for the souls of lost children. Urunma is a mother’s worst nightmare and a child’s greatest fear. Preying on a child’s desire for sweet and colorful things, she steals the souls of children lost in the forest and holds them in enchanted captivity.
The story vicariously transports you to the enchanting gloom of an old forest and a brave girl’s attempt to confront the ancient horror that lies deep within its shadows.
In the Shadow of Iyanibi is a richly-imagined and suspenseful tale of bravery and the steadfastness of a sister’s love.
  It’s a three-part story, accompanied by custom illustrations, that will run over six weeks. 
Monday the 12th of January is the date to save on your calendar so you don’t miss the first story. 
I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

6 Responses to “Brittle Paper Launches an African Fantasy Story Series” Subscribe

  1. cosmicyoruba 2015/01/09 at 2:29 am #
    Yes! I’m really looking forward to this
  2. Ainehi Edoro 2015/01/09 at 11:39 am #
    Awesome!
  3. Kiru Taye 2015/01/11 at 10:33 pm #
    Looks intriguing. Can’t wait.
  4. Su'eddie Agema 2015/01/14 at 7:40 pm #
    Okay, so, can we reblog this and all? Looks like something really cool… Following the trail already!
  5. Ainehi Edoro 2015/01/14 at 8:18 pm #
    @Su’eddie:
    Feel free to reblog!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. In the Shadow of Iyanibi, Pt. 1| by Eugene Odogwu | An African Fantasy Story Series | Brittle Paper - 2015/01/12 […] Are you new to the series? Click here to learn more HERE. […]

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- See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015/01/brittle-paper-launches-african-fantasy-story-series/#sthash.noY4OikS.dpuf
Eugene Odogwu’s In The Shadows of Iyanibi, a fantastic tale that is sure to keep you glued to your phones and ipads. - See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015/01/brittle-paper-launches-african-fantasy-story-series/#sthash.noY4OikS.dpuf
Eugene Odogwu’s In The Shadows of Iyanibi, a fantastic tale that is sure to keep you glued to your phones and ipads. - See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015/01/brittle-paper-launches-african-fantasy-story-series/#sthash.noY4OikS.dpuf
Eugene Odogwu’s In The Shadows of Iyanibi, a fantastic tale that is sure to keep you glued to your phones and ipads. - See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015/01/brittle-paper-launches-african-fantasy-story-series/#sthash.noY4OikS.dpuf

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A New Year, A New Anthology: Jalada Africa’s "Afrofutures"

Happy New Year!!!! Hope the festive period was amazing and wishing only the best for 2015. Apologies for the silence on the blog. I was travelling over the Christmas and New Year period - a really good friend of mine got married so I was (and still am) in India. Pre- and post-wedding I did some travelling around the country. Now, I'm here for a bit longer as my holiday has become a work trip.
Amer Fort in Jaipur - and yes, my first time seeing elephants (ever). Although they kinda looked sad, so it was a bitter-sweet experience for me
This post, isn't about my time in India (although as a young, black woman who did some solo travel in this country I have many observations and stories to tell). It's about what was announced earlier today. 

Loving the cover
Yes, Jalada Africa’s Afrofutures Anthology will be published tomorrow - January 15, 2015 at exactly 00:00 Kenyan time. Great way to start the New Year!!! So I had to come out of hibernation and share. 

Their facebook post states that 'It’s an impressive piece of work with stories and poems carved from the silences and chaos across the world.' Such exciting times for African Speculative Fiction. 

It goes live on their website in less than 5 hours and you can also join the discussion at #JaladaAfrofutures. Happy Reading!!!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Holidays!!!!


I just wanted to send warmest wishes to you all this holiday season. Wherever you may be and whatever you may do, I hope you have a lovely time with your loved ones this festive period. 

I'll also be taking a mini-break here on the blog - I am off to India for a wedding (super excited!!!) - but I'll be back to blogging in the New Year. So also sending my wishes in advance for a happy new year and an awesome 2015. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Meet ... Joanne Macgregor


The 'Meet' Series is my chance to interview anyone I would love to meet that is involved in African literature. This month is extra special as I have had the great pleasure of meeting two wonderful authors. Today, I bring the second author in my two-part special. 


Back in March, I delved into the world of a crazed gynaecologist and a psychologist trying to bring him down. It was a terrifying novel, which still gives me chills whenever I think of it. Which is why I am so excited that in my extra special 'Meet' series, I have the pleasure of meeting Joanne Macgregor - the author behind the chilling psychological thriller, Dark Whispers. Enjoy!!!


Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous blog!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, what you do, any fun details)?
I’m a born and bred Joburger, deeply rooted in the frenetic adrenaline-rush of this amazing city. I have lived here among the Hadedahs and mine-dumps all my life. Johannesburg isn’t a beautiful city – though we do have fabulous trees – but there’s something about the vibe and the pace that’s exciting. Or maybe we all just have altitude sickness.

By profession, I’m a Counselling Psychologist in private practice, dealing primarily with adult victims of crime and trauma. It’s tough work and to combat creeping burnout, I started writing fiction several years ago. Now I consult and write on alternate days, and in completely different head- and physical spaces.

I started my professional life as a high school English Teacher, but at different times in my life I have also worked as an IT trainer, a waitress, a theatre dogsbody, a management consultant and I once had a job handing out helium balloons in a shopping mall, while wearing a bathing suit and high heels!

What was the first piece you ever wrote?
I had a poem published in our city’s newspaper at the age of 7 years and I’ve tinkered with writing ever since, but I started writing my first book – or trying to – about nine years ago. It was a biography of the sole survivor of the 2003 “Sizzlers Massacre” of nine men working in a Cape Town massage parlour. Although it was never published, I learned an enormous amount about writing and that gave me the confidence to begin writing books that have, thankfully, been published.

What draws you to writing?
I think it’s that the work is so varied that even I can’t get bored. Each time there’s a rhythm to getting the idea, fleshing it out in pleasant daydreams, getting it down on paper, editing and rewriting, and these days, of course, marketing, but it’s never the same. Each new book is like a new baby, and you can’t quite be sure what it might become! Also, I have just always been in love with words, so becoming a wordsmith has felt like coming home.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I work at my day job, mother my kids and read in every spare moment. I’m a pretty good cook, too, so you’ll likely find me in the kitchen instead of at parties :).

On Novels

You are a successful writer of YA novels in South Africa, so before I go into the questions I am dying to ask about your latest novel, Dark Whispers, could you tell us a bit about your ‘books for under 18s’?
I have two books for younger YA readers which have been published, and many more already in the pipeline. Turtle Walk and its sequel Rock Steady tell the story of three girls at a high school in South Africa. In every book, they’re a year older and in a higher grade, and in each they tackle some broadly ecological issue which is a metaphor for their inner growth and development. In Turtle Walk it was illegal long-line fishing which decimates our marine Leatherback Turtle population; in Rock Steady it’s the illegal trade in San Rock Art. In the third of the series, which I’m currently writing, the girls come face to face with fracking – external and internal!

Of course, back at school, the eco-warriors have to deal with the usual teen issues – first love, parental pressure, really mean teachers, etc. Samantha, the main character, also suffers from anxiety and it’s been fun to explore that in the books.

What was the inspiration behind the YA series? 
My inspiration for the series came from the books I saw on the YA bookshelves at book stores – almost exclusively written by foreign authors, set in Europe or the US, telling stories very often based in fantasy, with a preponderance of male protagonists and feeble girl sidekicks who served as loyal friends, victims to be rescued, or passive foils to the boy’s actions. With this series, I wanted to write realistic fiction (a break from wings and wands and fangs), telling South African stories set in our beautiful country, with smart, funny, resourceful, kick-ass heroines. In short, the kind of books I’d love my teen daughter and her friends to read.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Meet ... Zukiswa Wanner

The 'Meet' Series is my chance to interview anyone I would love to meet that is involved in African literature. This month is extra special as I have had the great pleasure of meeting two wonderful authors.



Photo Credit: Fungai Machirori
I am extremely happy to announce that first in my two-part extra special 'Meet' series is Zukiswa Wanner - journalist, essayist and author of several novels, including the shortlisted K. Sello Duiker 2007 novel The Madams and the shortlisted Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2011 novel Men of the South. Wanner is also one of the Hay Festival's Africa39 authors. Hope you enjoy!!!!


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, what you do, any fun details)
I was born in Zambia to a South African father and a Zimbabwean mother and I now stay in Kenya. I am a full time writer but when I’m not writing, I am reading or hanging out with friends.

What was the first piece you ever wrote?
I studied Journalism in school so I can’t recall. The first piece I ever wrote when I considered myself a writer would be my second novel, Behind Every Successful Man (when I wrote my first novel I considered it a collection of thoughts and was pleasantly surprised when I showed it to someone and they wanted to publish it).

What draws you to writing?
The need to tell a story.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot. I hang out with my partner and son. I travel. I have a little project that I’ve been pulling with my nine year old son since he was 3 where I take him to a different African country every year.

On Novels

You have written a number of books covering various themes, from Men of the South which was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Award (Africa Region) and looked at the lives of three men in Southern Africa to Behind Every Woman, about a husband and wife’s relationship, but I wanted to focus a bit on your latest novel, London CapeTown Joburg:

What was the inspiration behind it?
I think of LCTJ as my socio-politico commentary of a country I love from 1994 to 2010 (the two common high points in my nation’s history). It was important to me that that there’d be an outsider looking in perspective thus the narration of Martin and Germaine.

LCTJ is told from 3 perspectives - the returned exile, Martin O’ Malley; English artist, Germaine Spencer; and their mixed race son, Zuko - how did you find writing from different perspectives? And dare I ask, who did you have the most fun writing?
It was a bit of a challenge but I had had practice with Behind Every Successful Man (which I think I didn’t do as well as in LCTJ) as well as with Men of the South. Martin often surprised me. He is generally a chilled out guy but every now and again he’d say some really crazy witty stuff. I used my son to give authenticity on Zuko. I would get him to read some parts so that I could know whether a boy his age would be able to speak in that voice so that was fun too (I didn’t work with him all the way to the sad part though).

This is a love story, yes, but it’s more than that and you deal with a lot of heavy stuff – race, family relationships, abuse - and I’m going to come out and say it, I was extremely sad after reading the opening sentence to LCTJ and felt I couldn't go on. What was the thought process behind that and how was it writing about Zuko’s suicide and a parent losing their child?
I was challenging myself as a writer. I wanted to write the sort of book that’s linear but not quite. So, a reader finds out at the beginning that Zuko is dead, how then do I work through the rest of the book to ensure that the reader is entertained enough throughout the book and somewhat forgets that Zuko dies so that when they get to the end it’s again a bit of a punch in the gut to remember the beginning.

Interior Relations by Ian Van Coller
Okay, I fibbed a bit, I did have one question about another of your books - Maid in SA. First, let me say I have only read extracts of it, but when I first heard about it I got really excited about it (my PhD thesis focused on domestic workers in Lagos). I also recently found out that your novel ‘The Madams’ also tackled the relationship between a black domestic worker and her black employers:

What made you want to write about domestic workers in South Africa?
The African continent has an emerging middle class which often has liberal credentials. Often they write and talk about justice, fairness, equality but too often too, their relationships with their domestic workers does not embody all these ideals. This has always fascinated me thus my seeming obsession with domestic workers and their madams :).

On Publishing, Being an Author and African Literature

As an author, what’s the toughest criticism and best compliment you have received?
The toughest criticism was from a fellow South African writer, Richard de Nooy, who thought an affair between the domestic worker and her male employer in The Madams was ‘unrealistic’. It was tough because although you and I know it happens, it showed how much of a cultural chasm we have in South Africa. Black South Africans were on some, ‘yes, we have seen this,’ but to Richard it was inconceivable. The greatest compliment would have to be from a Singaporean friend’s mother who speaks mostly Mandarin. She read Men of the South and thanked me because she said she understood it and liked it.

You not only write novels, you are also a journalist and have written for magazines and newspapers, which is the most fun medium to write in?
It definitely is novels. I find them liberating. I can say the sort of unPC things I can never say in articles as voices of my characters :).

Refilwe - Wanner's re-telling of Rapunzel
I’m a great fan of Lauren Beukes’ and also love her weekly guest blog, ‘The Spark’. It was through it I learned you also write kids books. What draws you to writing for children and how do you find it different than writing for adults?
Lauren is an absolute gem and is not only a great friend but an amazing and generously spirited writer. I wrote for children because I was asked to by an organization promoting children’s literacy with an emphasis on our own stories in SA called Nalibali. I love challenges and getting out of my comfort zone so I did two books. Writing for children is different in that you have to get the language right and put oneself in a child’s mind. So I observed my son and my neighbour’s children a lot on mannerisms, language etc.

Lists are a huge part of the literary world and Twentyin20 and Africa39 are a couple of the lists you are on, what are your thoughts on ‘list culture’ and also as an author, what is it like to be on these lists?
I am honoured to be on the lists as it makes me more marketable but I don’t take them that seriously as I know many writers who are as good or even better than me who didn’t get onto those lists. Angela Makholwa and Thando Mgqolozana come to mind.

You are the founding member of ReadSA literary campaign and a judge for Writivisms’ Short Story Prize, so what are your thoughts on the state of African literature today?
Literature from the African continent is at the most exciting place it has ever been in history.

I am a great lover of African literature, could you suggest a book, new or old, that people should read?
Flip, I can suggest tons but I’ve just finished Ghanaian writer Ekow Duker’s White Wahala and that is a definite must read. Duker’s writing is fast paced and has some keen observations.

On Being a Booklover (Questions I’ve always wanted to ask authors)

What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading Zakes Mda’s Rachel’s Blue which was just launched at Open Book.

Is there any particular author (living or dead) or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult - and why?
Every writer and every book I have read has influenced me. The good books yell out to me the type of writing I would like to aspire to do and the bad works teach me how not to write.

Which, novel or character in a novel do you wish you had written?
Benjamin the donkey in Animal Farm. He has the sort of cynicism that appeals to me.

Have you ever judged a book by its cover (i.e. bought a book based on its looks)? Which?
No. But I judge a book by it’s blurb and first page…and it is almost every book I have bought not written by authors I know.

Hard copy or e-book? Bookstore or Amazon?
Hard copy and bookstore. I’m just old fashioned like that (plus, I tend to take books to bed and wake up with my hand in an odd position – something I can’t do with a Kindle).

Final question (I promise)

What’s next – can we expect a new book soon?
Not soon but in the next two years. I am currently doing research for a book I think I may call Stony River. I have a rough idea of what I wanna do with it in my head but I suspect it will come out very differently after all the research gathering and the writing begins.