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Q&A with Dr Nat Tanoh

NEW VENTURE: Dr Nat Tanoh was inspired to write by a friend

Life & Style: When did you first move to England and what were the circumstances of your move from Ghana?

Dr Nat Tanoh: I first came to England on July 22, 1964 at the age of three. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to attain independence from the British.

After a few years the government in power declared a one-party state with a president for life thrown into the undemocratic mix.

My father, who was politically very active, was part of the opposition to the creation of a dictatorship via the instrumentality of a single-party state.

Government then proceeded to arrest and detain vocal opposition luminaries under the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) which provided for detention without trial for up to 10 years.

Word came from friendly quarters within the regime that it was very necessary to flee as our family had been directly targeted and that was how we ended up in London.

L&S: When did you first start writing and what inspired you to keep writing?

DNT: I started writing last year. I wrote a lengthy WhatsApp message to a cousin of mine describing a particular incident. She replied saying she found the message quite gripping and thought I ought to try my hand at writing. Work was slow at the time so I said, ‘Why not give it a go?’ and I did. And once I started, it all began pouring out.

And the more I wrote, the more I felt the inspiration to share the stories that I had in me. My sister, who is an avid reader, then read the first few chapters and gave me an encouraging thumbs up. I have been writing ever since.

PICTURED: Dr Nat Tanoh's book

L&S: The Day of the Orphan is a fictional, contemporary novel set in Africa. How many of the vivid descriptions and situations included within the book are based on your own experiences and time in Africa?

DNT: Indeed a source of inspiration for writing The Day of the Orphan was the thought to share a few coming of age experiences I had together with those of friends, family and colleagues and weave these into an exciting fictional collage with contemporary relevance. Thus, it is true that I personally experienced some of the things I wrote or variations of it.

L&S: The protagonist in The Day of the Orphan is a teenage boy – why did you choose him? How much of your teenage self did you pack into the character?

DNT: In truth I chose to use teenage representation as the main protagonist for two main reasons. Firstly, teenagers are in the true bloom of youth. They are at that spectacular coming of age period. In a sense they are at a crossroads. That is when they are best poised to liberate the better angels within themselves.

Saga and Zara in my novel were decidedly privileged. Zara’s family was actually stratospheric within the highest echelons of wealth and power.

And yet they both chose not to simply relax, wallow and remain ensconced in their privileged existence. Rather, they stood up and worked against what that kind of inimical stratospheric power represented.

L&S: What are you currently working on?

DNT: I am currently working on a science fiction/fantasy novel in which the world, or what remains of it after a nuclear holocaust, is given a chance to create a new world order devoid of the gravest mistakes of erstwhile Earth. In honour of the #MeToo movement, my superhero and leading protagonists are mainly female, representing the principles of creation, life and its everlasting continuity.

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