Friday, October 23, 2009

An Open Door

By Lawrence Darmani

An African proverb says the future belongs to those who prepare for it. And I say LittWorld constitutes an open door for those who look for a door through which to enter. I attended one LittWorld looking for one such door.

When I met Mr. Tony Wales in a consultation session, he listened as I rambled about this novel I had written and how I believed it had something meaty in it and how I wondered if a publishing house in Oxford, England, would want to have a look at it? Did they publish works of fiction containing events from a remote African village that might have a wider appeal? How about if the novel, though Christian in storyline, could comfortably be read by nonChristians in the marketplace?

Till this day I’ve wondered why Tony Wales smiled when I concluded my rather feeble discussion on a novel that was set in an African village, but that smile pumped confidence and courage in me. Yet, all he said was, “Let me have a look at it.” He made no promises except that he would carry the manuscript to England, have it evaluated, and get back to me on the matter—which he did.

All that is history now. The manuscript landed on the table of Pat Alexander, co-founder of Lion Publishing (now Lion Hudson Plc) and a passionate editor. The correspondence in my files attests to a memorable LittWorld-style working relationship through writing and re-writing that finally produced the novel, Grief Child. Going on to win the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Africa and now selected as a Ghanaian textbook in English Literature along with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the novel has accounted for itself, I believe.

Hundreds of such open-door stories abound with LittWorld attendees over the years. Every LittWorld, I repeat, is an open door, and open doors are for those who look out for them.

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