Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Story of a Book by Lynne Garner

In 2003 I was asked to work on a project to help promote a local cultural venue called Aklowa. It was an African village in the middle of the Hertfordshire countryside, within minutes of Stansted Airport. A friend's friend, Felix Cobson had set it up some twenty years before. Originally born in Ghana Felix moved to the UK and had spent his life teaching children about African heritage. This included traditional clothing, cooking, music, crafts and stories. This is where I came in. I started my writing career writing for craft magazines. So I was asked to write a book that would appeal to children about African crafts.

Knowing little about the subject I jumped at the chance to visit Ghana. I spent a wonderful week with friends visiting villages known for their pottery making, Adinkra block printing and Kente strip weaving. I also visited markets and talked to the makers of musical instruments and carvers of masks. Based on this trip I created a synopsis and approached The British Museum Press. To my delight they liked the idea and in 2005 they published 'African Crafts: Fun Things to Make and Do from West Africa.'

Always the entertainer Felix relished telling traditional stories featuring the trickster character Anansi. Being a collector of words I scribbled these stories down. Felix was also kind enough to lend me a couple of old books containing traditional African tales. From these scribbled notes, borrowed books and Internet research I began to write my own retellings of these stories. As with many such personal projects other things took over. So these stories sat on my computer, almost forgotten. However this year I had time to return to them. Finally after eight years my collection of Anansi stories was published as an eBook and is now available on Amazon.

Unfortunately I will never be able to show Felix the fruits of my labour as he passed away before I had time to complete my book. However, knowing Felix he'll be looking down, with that wonderful broad smile of his, trying to decide which story to treat me to next.

Lynne Garner



Anansi The Trickster Spider