Imam Baksh’s manuscript Children of the Spider won first place in the 2015 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, it was published in 2016 by Blue Banyan Books. in 2018 his manuscript The Dark of the Sea won the CODE Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature again. He is the only Caribbean author to win this title twice.
Let’s Learn more about Imam with his author interview today.
1. Where were you born/grew up? Where is your home now?
I was born on the Essequibo Coast of Guyana, a South American country with an Anglo-Caribbean culture. It’s a farming area but I moved at age 10 to the capital city Georgetown to go to a better school and experienced urban life. These days I have moved back to Essequibo where I live full time.
2. When did you start writing?
For fun? I have a comic I did at age 6. I wrote short stories for fun at about age 11. Even tried to do an alien invasion novel though I didn’t get far. I tried writing short stories for magazines starting at about 21-22.
3. What is your motivation to write?
I enjoy the process start to finish. From the moment when a few ideas and images start to coalesce and become the nucleus or string that a story can be built from. And then I enjoy the crafting of that story by choosing words and laying them down like putting paint on canvas and I enjoy the sense of freedom as I throw open my imagination and I enjoy the reworking of the initial draft of the story into a leaner, more coherent, form and I enjoy going out and promoting the book and hearing from readers.
4. Tell me about the books you have written. How many are there? What genre is it?
I’ve got one published novel, a Caribbean Urban Fantasy YA adventure called Children of the Spider. It was the winner of the 2015 Burt Award. I recently won the 2018 Burt Award for a manuscript called The Dark of the Sea which will be published within a year. In between I wrote a book called The Demise of the Queen’s College Adventure Club which is as yet unpublished.
5. Which one of your characters is your favorite and why?
Mayali, the young hero of Children of the Spider has such a straightforward approach to dealing with problems that it can be quite astonishing the things she does because she has such little sense of Earth society and the conventions we live by. For instance, she sets a ship on fire at one point as a distraction so she can escape the evil sorcerers chasing her.
6. Tell us about your writing routine? What one thing do you need
before you write?
I have no particular routine. I do work best in quiet, so late at night suits me.
Before I write I need to have an idea of what the scene is going to be about. I can create dialogue, descriptions, even actions on the fly as I go along, but I must have an overall idea of the flow of the scene. I will often sit or go for a walk until I figure that out. Maybe I just need to do the dishes and think about it. But once I have the path mapped, I have great freedom to write in the moment.
7. What advice can you give to a new author or someone interested in becoming published?
I got very lucky to win the CODE Burt Award which provided a path to publication. I don’t know if I have much to say about being published that is useful. To an author who wants to become better, my advice is to join a critique group whether in person or online. The main benefit is that you become better through analyzing others’ stories as well as using the feedback of the group to make your own work better.
8. Which book are you working on right now?
A novel about a 2nd generation Guyanese girl living in Washington DC who returns home’ to Guyana when she finds herself part of a war between ancient magical forces and doesn’t know who to trust.
9. Who is your favorite author?/What is your favorite book?
Hard to pick a favorite author since so much of what I read is based on genre rather than author. But my favorite book is easy: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The writing is skilled without being showy and its themes subtle yet clear and all so entertaining and well balanced in its narrative pull and push.
10. Tell me something that no one knows about you.
I’m still scared of the dark sometimes.
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CHILDREN OF THE SPIDER
Mayali, an escapee from a world enslaved by spider gods, finds herself in Guyana, hunting for her father and a way to stop the monsters who rule her homeland from taking over Earth. She journeys from the jungle wilderness to the urban disorder of the capital city, finding allies and obstacles in the alien Caribbean society.