With a sigh of relief, we are seeing our production line coming up with the goods. It has been a while. As you read this, two titles will have been published, or are on the verge of being published: Numen Yeye, by Biola Olatunde, and Unlikely Hero, by Geraldine Fitzsimmons. Coming very soon will be Loria, by Jesse McMinn - the manuscript is with the proofreaders as I type this editorial. Several others will quite quickly follow them.
Numen Yeye has been the most delayed title of ours since we started as a company, mainly for good reasons. I admit to underestimating how long the project would take, but we learned a lot from the experience: you can't gloss the process while working with something excellent. You don't use carpenter chisels to cut diamonds. Biola is a poet at heart (I hope she agrees with this statement) and her strong ties with her Nigerian heritage combines into powerful narrative pieces. We first had dealings with her when we published her shorter work, Blood Contract - an adventure set in Nigeria and which, on the surface, was an exotic adventure. But no, it became abundantly clear early on reading the manuscript, it was first and foremost a critical treatment of modern Nigerian society, including corruption and violence, and touching on the darker side of spiritualism.
Numen Yeye is a very different story, with strong fantastical elements that knits well into our publishing house's specialization, and digs very deep into Nigeria's spiritual heritage. We were gob-smacked by the messages inherent in her manuscript, and the beauty of her words. What made the project difficult was our need to be sensitive to the work's language, as it was written in the Nigerian idiom of English, and to be frank, would have been confusing for anyone else to read straight off the cuff. A copy editing exercise turned into a translation sub-project, and the proofreading cycle had to work to that same treatment. It added months to the publishing schedule. But it was worth it. I was honored with the job of editing this manuscript, and Sophie Yorkston did a sterling job of proofreading (and lending a second copy edit cycle to boot). We are very proud of this work, and Biola should be honored for writing a work that will challenge readers, conceptually, as well as with some degree of retention of the Nigerian idiom - enough to keep the spirit of the Nigerian culture within the pages, and allow Westerners an appreciation of a very different world (worlds, in fact).
Geraldine Fitzsimmons is also not new to IFWG Publishing. We had the pleasure of publishing her and Andy Stephenson's crime thriller, The Devil Came East, which in my view is still one of our early shining lights. Geraldine has a gritty style and a mastery of vivid characterization, and presents in Unlikely Hero, a pastiche of characters in a well constructed, complex plot. She captures the Northern Ireland, France, Israel, New York City of the 1970s vividly, and delves the reader deeply into international espionage (and with another sweep of her deft hand, local crime) with acumen. Like Biola's newest work, we are proud of this one. A must-read for those who have an interest in the time of The Troubles, but also those who like political/crime thrillers.
I will write more about Jesse McMinn's Loria in the next newsletter. Not only is the story unique in many ways, I am delighted by Jeffery Doherty's artwork for the cover and I feel I am doing these talented people a disservice until I can reveal the full cover.
Until next month,