Abena Sankofa interview
A little introduction:
Hi, I'm Abena Sankofa, the author of Up North, and the daughter of two old-school, ivy-league-educated Jamaican parents who made my sister and I begin thinking too early. 😂 Everything became our library—eventually including some of Mum’s college anthropology books! Tallahasseean by birth, Jamaican by parentage, I’m a millennial, and a huge fan of classic jazz and reggae, historical fiction, vintage fashions, and comfort food. And I look forward to travelling to places I’ve never been all around the world.
When did your love of books begin?
As early as I remember, my parents used to read picture books to my sister and me. My Mum tells me that even before I could read, I would spend the time while listening to the stories, silently tracing the letters on the side of our storage boxes. I've always loved calligraphy, and how the fonts we choose make us feel about the words they design. Soon enough, my sister and I were helping our Mum select armfuls of books from our local library every Saturday, and then reading them off too fast during the week, so we'd have to do it all over again the following weekend. And even in the last few years as ‘we four’ have been riding out the quarantine together, Mum has still sometimes read entire novels to us, and we gather and listen as if to an old-time radio drama. I find it all just as entertaining as watching a film.
When did you start to have the wish to become an author?
Around ages 8 and up, we started selecting our own novels as well, chiefest of which were the Redwall series. I was around 11 when I decided I wanted to write my own adventures one day. Those books were absolutely formative to my current writing style -- "Paint Pictures with words," as my late literary hero, Brain Jacques said. That still brings me inspiration today.
How have you found the process for becoming an author?
What would you say to those wanting to become an author?
Tell us about your book/books:
What do you love about the writing/reading community?
What do I love about the writing and reading community…that they’re there, to begin with. I just find it so comforting that people still read, you know? And the sharing of tips & encouragement on Twitter is just fantastic! You can read the tweets of someone who’s going through just what you are—maybe querying as well, and one can empathize, relax and think, “it’s not just me.” It’s wonderful!
If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?
I would say, my fondest wish is that it feels like a movie when you read my story. For that reason, I hyperlink the titles of songs in my online excerpts, so you can enjoy classic jazz-era while reading.
Where can people connect with you?
Well, first of all on Twitter, where my handle is @abena_sankofa – it’s a good place to stay up-to-date with my querying journey, with the occasional loony GIF, or thoughtful word -- but more background material is on my site, UpNorthaNovel.com, with my own writer's blog, upnorthanovel.com/blog! Happy reading! 😊