Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye was born to a nurse and an industrial chemist. He grew up with a strong passion for drama, art, essay writing and reading largely due to the influence of a particular primary school teacher. He graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 2006 where he was the Editor-in-chief of a number of student organizations over his period in the university. He lives in Accra with his wife and pet dog called “Duke”.
Geosi Reads Interviews Kwabena Ankomah – Kwakye:
GEOSI READS: Your book, The Deliverer, was the second place winner for the first Burt Award organized in Ghana in 2009 but let me officially congratulate you here.
KWABENA ANKOMAH – KWAKYE: Thank you, Geo.
GR: What inspired you to write ‘The Deliverer?’ Did you pick up the pen because of the mouth watering price-tag placed on the award?
KAK: Ha ha ha! The Deliverer was written to address two needs. One was to give young adults a hero the average or even disadvantaged child can relate to. One who rose through difficulty to serve his tribe. The second was to show that our history can be sweetened to appeal to the taste-buds of the youth of today, just like the Greeks have romanticize their mythology or the English also have.
GR: Your biography tells of how a particular primary school teacher influenced you to read largely. What in particular did this teacher do to influence you to read?
KAK: What did he do? That man is a complete teacher o! I may not be able to answer fully but I think somehow he lighted a spark within me that said “The ability to read, comprehend and express your thoughts exactly how you want them to appear on paper is probably the greatest asset.” One thing I know, he made me write an essay on every topic imaginable. Hahaha! This is funny! I remember him giving me English phrases to go and impress my friends with!
GR: I am wondering why a Mechanical Engineer or perhaps an expert in Engineering Project Financing has decided to write stories?
KAK: So am I! I love writing and reading fiction and biographies. It’s a passion.
GR: ‘The Deliverer’ is a historical narrative. Is this a conscious route you have decided to stick to –say – to write only historical narratives?
KAK: Not at all. I plan to write on topics as diverse as the different shapes of noses. Maybe someday, I will settle on one.
GR: Where did you write ‘The Deliverer’? In the general sense, does the environment in which you write matter to you?
KAK: I think writers differ in every sense. For me, it doesn’t.
GR: Your book came second to Elizabeth-Irene Baitie’s ‘The Twelfth Heart’ and Ruby Yayra’s ‘The Mystery of the Haunted House’ which won the first and third place respectively. Have you yet read any of these two books? If yes, what is your remark on them?
KAK: Yes. I have read both books and they are wonderful. Different styles of narration but absolutely fantastic works.
GR: Have you ever thought that your book should have even picked the first prize?
KAK: No. The twelfth heart is a masterpiece from an accomplished writer.
GR: The Burt Award set out some rules for all participating writers to follow. One of the rules was to write a story for young adults of between twelfth to fifteen years old. Did you feel restricted in any particular way? Were you conscious of the storyline and the vocabulary use?
KAK: Yes, very much so.
GR: How much of research went into the writing of your book? In other words, did you read so many history books before you proceeded to write?
KAK: I would say, I actually drew on the pieces of history that I knew of and then verified a few. But The Deliverer is supposed to be a work of fiction and not a history manual, so there, I didn’t really need to authenticate everything.
GR: The ending of your story looks to me like there is going to be a sequel. Am I making the right judgment or perhaps the right prediction?
KAK: Absolutely. I have began piecing together the sequel. I want to take my time to get a good blend.
GR: Why do you decide to go back to the past, to tell a tale of some three hundred years even before the coming of the white man? I was not born then and I believe neither were you. Do you think it is necessary at all to read about events that have long, long passed?
KAK: Who said “From the examples of the past, the man of the present learns so as not to imperil the future”?
GR: How long did it take you to complete the book? And is ‘The Deliverer’ your first published work?
KAK: The Deliverer is my first published novel. I have done a number of articles and short stories for newspapers and magazines. The idea was mooted over a long period of time, but writing the manuscript actually took about three months.
GR: Do you read your own published work?
KAK: I do. I try to read it as objectively as I can. That is the challenge.
GR: What were some of the challenges you faced in completing your novel?
GR: What book(s) are you likely to be caught rereading? In other sense, what is/are the book(s) you are likely to recommend to anybody apart from your own book?
KAK: Books by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie! Hahahaha! I enjoy biographies a lot, oh and Grisham.
GR: Was it difficult arriving at the title given to your book? Why the ‘The Deliverer?’
KAK: Went through a few titles though. The Deliverer was copying Grisham’s style of giving book titles.
GR: So far, are you getting any responses from readers? What is the most welcoming response you’ve gotten from a reader?
KAK: A lot of responses. Looking forward to my next book.
GR: Your novel was written for young adults as the Burt award demanded. Would you prescribe it for adults also?
GR: Interestingly, I tend to like the cover design of your book? Were you an influence of the choice of design you wanted on your own book?
KAK: I was actually torn between this and the photo of The Golden Stool turned on its side. My publisher thought this was better appealing to young adults.
GR: I am wondering if I have exhausted all the questions I have for you. Maybe not! But if even so, do you have anything to add?
KAK: You have! Hehehe! Thanks.
See my review of Kwabena Ankomah – Kwakye’s The Deliverer here.