Friday, 6 November 2015

TALKING BOOKS: Ralph Thompson readies his memoirs + Tony Vendryes preps fourth book + Marlon James on his writing life

MEMORY & HISTORY: Marlon James has been the toast of the literary world, in the wake of his latest fictional effort, A Brief History of Seven Killings, copping the prestigious Man Booker Prize in October. He’s been interviewed, ad nauseam, by journalists who are beyond fascinated by the book’s premise and source of inspiration – the 1970s assassination attempt on the life of Bob Marley, mixed with the complex and complicated nature of Jamaican history. Just this week, Marlon has a revealing chat with the BBC’s John Wilson during an interview that centred on the book’s source material, research, Marlon’s process as a writer, and his coming-of-age during the turbulent period in which the novel is set. “I had to stop thinking of myself as a fiction writer and more as a screenwriter,” James revealed. “I’m very big on plot, so I like to work out the whole architecture of my story.” He said he had a typical Jamaican childhood that included lots of exploration and occasionally “stealing people’s fruits.” On the subject of Marley the man and natural mystic in those halcyon years, James noted, “[He] was a very polarizing figure. The feelings about him were pretty mixed.” What was the research process like for such a massive undertaking? Assistance from his creative writing students proved vital. “They got extra credit for helping with the research,” he confessed. In the end, James noted, the experience of crafting a juggernaut like Brief History yielded a steep learning curve. “I’ve realized from writing this book,” he concluded, “how much I was participating in the cold war.”

HEALTH WISE: Dr. Anthony ‘Tony’ Vendryes knew that for his fourth book he wanted to explore a subject seldom discussed in modern medical literature: the state of Black health. “Over the years, my research has shown that the majority of illnesses affecting Black people are caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D,” he tells TALLAWAH. “The darker you are the more sunshine you need to stay healthy.” Compiling his findings for the upcoming book, Vendryes, a 2015 Musgrave Silver Medal recipient, columnist and holistic medicine expert plans to publish Black Health by mid-2016. “I think the research findings will fascinate a lot of people,” he says. “I think this will be my best book yet.” 

WELL VERSED: His poetry collections, including The View from Mount Diablo and the more recent Taking Words for a Walk, have earned lavish praise from Kingston to Kenya. Now, celebrated poet and educator Dr. Ralph C. Thompson is ready to flip the script and share a more personal narrative. Thompson’s memoir, Take My Word For It, is currently a work-in-progress and is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2016. “It’s been in the world for months and months now, so I’s looking forward to finding a publisher soon,” Thompson, a 2015 Musgrave Silver Medallist confides to TALLAWAH.

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