Ruby Yayra Goka is a dentist by profession. She spent parts of her childhood in Ghana and Ethiopia. She attended Achimota School and the University of Ghana. She loves to read and spend time with her family, two dogs and two cats.
Geosi Reads Interviews Ruby Yayra Goka:
GEOSI READS: Congratulations! You were the third place winner for the first Burt Award organized in Ghana. How did that feel?
RUBY YAYRA GOKA: Thank you. It was amazing because as a writer, especially an unpublished one at the time, I had doubts as to whether people would enjoy what I’d written. So winning the third prize was a confirmation of sorts.
GR: In reviewing your book, I talked about the fact that the strength of your book lies in the choice of theme you chose to explore: Child trafficking or Kidnapping! How did the idea come to you?
RYG: I chose Child Trafficking because it’s a vice that is more prevalent than we think. At the time of writing the book, there were about three instances in which the police had intercepted child trafficking rings.
GR: Is ‘The Mystery of the Haunted House’ your first published book?
RYG: Yes it is. God-willing by the end of this year, two adult novels will be out: Disfigured and In the Middle of Nowhere. They’ll be published by Kwadwoan Publishers in Accra.
GR: Some critics have argued that Child tracking is no longer prevalent like some years back. Would you agree with them? Do you think the issue of Child trafficking has not yet been resolved?
RYG: The fact that cases have not been reported in the media in recent times might make us think the issue has been resolved, however, a more reliable indicator for determining resolution would be obtaining and comparing data from the police and human rights groups.
GR: How long did it take you to write the book?
RYG: About three weeks. I saw the advert in the newspapers about six months previously but I kept procrastinating. A month to the deadline I took leave from work and wrote the book.
GR: Do you set out the plot of your story before you proceed to write?
RYG: Parts of it. Other parts evolve during the writing process.
GR: Were there any challenges you encountered in writing the book?
RYG: Yes! I had to rush through the book to beat the deadline. You’ll probably notice that the last chapters were a bit hurried.
GR: One of the criteria for submitting stories to the Burt Award was to write a story appealing to Young Adults. Would you then consider your story readable to adults also?
RYG: Yes, I’ve had feedback from adult readers who said they enjoyed reading it.
GR: The Twelfth Heart by Elizabeth Irene-Baitie and The Deliverer by Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye won the first and second place of the 2009 Burt Award respectively. Have you read any of these two books? If yes, what do you make of them?
RYG: I’ve read them both. The Twelfth Heart is a pleasant trip down memory lane. It takes you back to Secondary School and you feel right at home with Mercy and her friends. The Deliverer was very educative and entertaining. The strength of Kwabena’s book is that though it’s set in the past, it doesn’t come off as a history book. It was very well-written.
GR: In your book, you highlighted the dark side of the internet in the global age. For instance, Sena meets Big Daddy on a chatting site and the latter insists on meeting her and in the end, Sena is captured. Do you think the internet is a disadvantage to young children like Sena?
RYG: The internet is a great tool for everyone, not just children, but certain sites should be restricted for children. Parents and guardians must be aware that there are predators out there, people you cannot put a name or face to, people who may never be caught by the police. It’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their children safe even when they are using the internet.
GR: Was it difficult arriving at the title of your book? How did you get to choose that title?
RYG: No, that was quite easy. I’d heard stories of houses that were supposedly haunted in Tema and in Accra, so I just let my imagination run wild.
GR: What was the main motivation for submitting your work for the Burt Award? Were you motivated by the prize-tag put on the award?
RYG: The prize was a great incentive but again I wanted to know if anyone outside my family and friends (who are obliged to say they like what I’ve written) would enjoy my story.
GR: Do you have any favorite authors that have influenced your writings?
RYG: When I was growing up, my friends and I couldn’t wait to get our hands on Enid Blyton’s books. Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys were also favorites. In this story, I tried to follow that style a little.
GR: How has your book been received by the reading populace? Have you been getting any good responses so far?
RYG: I’ve got a lot of feedback but most of them have been from adults! A few from the age- group it was intended for and the trend is people like what they read.
GR: What have you been working on recently? What are readers to expect from you in the near future?
RYG: I’m currently working on a third adult novel but it’s nowhere near finished. Disfigured and In the Middle of Nowhere will be out soon.
GR: Do you have anything else to say?
RYG: For those who want to write and don’t know how, remember you don’t really need any special skill. Find a computer or a pen and paper (whichever works for you), and write about anything you feel passionate about. A paragraph here, a page there and the next thing you know – you’re holding your published book!
See my review of The Mystery of the Haunted House here.