Archive for May 2014

[VIDEO] Why I wrote my new novel “Berlin Vanilla”   Leave a comment

These are some thoughts behind the inspiration for my new novel “Berlin Vanilla” set in Kingston Jamaica. The book comes out May 25th, 2014. Cheers!

Book description:

In a Kingston where every night you compete for the attention of young women with world famous athletes, reggae superstars and millionaire businessmen, a young promoter named Indie battles with traumatic issues from the past while trying to stay afloat in the choking social atmosphere of endless parties and casual hookups. As he falls deeper into a growing malaise, he meets a girl who seems to be his only salvation out of the Kingston fishbowl. Or is she? Berlin Vanilla takes us into a dark, edgy modern day Kingston far removed from quaint beaches all-inclusive hotels and countryside hideaways.

 

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My New Novel: Berlin Vanilla   Leave a comment

My new novel, Berlin Vanilla is finished. Here is the book description and cover (designed by yours truly) :

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In a Kingston where every night you compete for the attention of young women with world famous athletes, reggae superstars and millionaire businessmen, a young promoter named Indie battles with traumatic issues from the past while trying to stay afloat in the choking social atmosphere of endless parties and casual hookups. As he falls deeper into a growing malaise, he meets a girl who seems to be his only salvation out of the Kingston fishbowl. Or is she? Berlin Vanilla takes us into a dark, edgy modern day Kingston far removed from quaint beaches, all-inclusive hotels and countryside hideaways. 

As I work on building my reading audience, I really try to keep people in the loop as I go through my different projects. Sometimes the demands of writing are more difficult than they need to be, as you try and balance how much emotion you need to put into something and how much you let it affect you. I think I will release a series of videos talking about my books and why I chose to write them, starting with Berlin Vanilla simply because I get a sense that often the subject matter of my books might not be very clear to people who just see the blurb. This is why I have my blog and so forth, but I must say that writing this book was more demanding than I thought it would be.

Why?

Writing a book set in Kingston (while being in Kingston) means that many of the things a character may face in my novel might be happening to me in realtime. Meaning, some aspects of the book feel “more real” than they need to be. This can make writing stressful and delay the “excitement” that comes with writing because the lines can blur between fiction and reality. However, that was not the main challenge I had writing this novel. It involved a girl, some painful scenarios and stuff I won’t get into here, but after a while the novel felt more like a chore to write. I left it alone for weeks because I was mentally taxed. But I decided to finally wrap it up (it is short, maybe 125-140 pages) because I plotted the story from start to finish and I wanted to move on to some other projects.

Why write this book?

I wrote this book because the cyclical experience of living in a small town where a lot of people know you can be a bit stifling and I took an aspect of that and amplified it through the life of my main character, Indie. There are many aspects of Kingston people can write about, and this focuses more on the party scene and the replaceable nature of things and people around town. Generally women in Kingston have many choices of who to see and be with, and attractive women have such an explosive array of men willing to wine and dine them it creates a very fractured system of socializing that (depending on whom you speak with) is hyper superficial and can be quite depressing. What I work to show in this novel is that in the face of this constant socializing and running around in tightly nested groups of people who are familiar with each other,  individuals still have problems and issues they somehow need to balance while still trying to feel like themselves and feel a purpose in life. This is where the book’s character fits well I think, because I give him a duality that allows us to live in this fast-paced world of parties and superficiality, but at the same time you know there is all this traumatic stuff behind him that you are gradually learning about and you as the reader also have to try and balance your opinion of him as the book progresses.

A big part of my writing so far has involved living in cities and the impact they have on young men. I tend to try and make the city as much a character of the book as the people in it, and I think this time because I wrote this book in present tense, things will be more visual in a different sort of way. Regardless, it was an interesting exercise getting so “deep” into a character, because the writing style requires constant notations about environment, feeling, thought and texture as the story progresses. In my first novel, Sex, Drugs & Jerk Chicken there is a brief part of the book set in Barcelona but I think in Berlin Vanilla people will be interested to know that there is an entire section of the book set in Berlin (where exactly I won’t tell you). This is my second novel written in Kingston (I’m supposed to release the first one soon) but it feels almost like the first time I am writing about the city again because I went to so many different mental places with this novel.

But at the end of the day this was a story sitting inside me that I wanted to get out, and eventually I did. As a writer so far I’ve just accepted that novels are simply stories that want to be told. I dont’ look at any particular novel as “The one” or my “magnum opus” necessarily. I just get these powerful ideas I want to expand upon through the written word and I try to make it happen. The inception of Berlin Vanilla came from the idea of meeting a girl who can shock you out of your personal situation so much that you feel the need to change both yourself and your environment. I hope I captured the essence of what I was trying to do, and I guess when people read the book, I will know. So for now, this is just me writing a little bit about the book while i’m doing some light edits and getting the first draft read.

cheers

2014 Kingdom of Characters Exhibition   Leave a comment

Passed through this exhibition and shot a video. Good vibes! I’ve been posting videos to youtube like crazy but I realize I haven’t been putting them here. So each time I post a new video there i’ll also post it here. I’m doing too many things at once! Cheers

 

Going Back To Berlin Visually: #ThrowBackThursday   Leave a comment

I’m putting the final touches on my latest novel. The last part of the book is set in Berlin and like my previous post on Going Back To Tokyo Visually, i’ve had to travel back there both in my mind and through a visual recollection of experiences from when I visited the city in 2008. I can’t say it is the easiest process trying to re-imagine a place and then write about it, but after looking through a few dozen photos things start to trickle back into memory. Stuff like a sense of space, certain smells and people you met, the energy at certain places and so forth. Thankfully the Berlin section of the book isn’t very long but these are a few images i’m  looking at to take me back.

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Dream Battles and Emotional Shackles   1 comment

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This is how I see the world at times. I am a man, standing in a place, some kind of limbo, with nothing but a dark beast in front of me. It stares and snarls, ready to tear me into pieces if I am not at my best and my sharpest. If I am not strong, it will kill me because of my weakness, it will take advantage of my shortcomings and all that I know about myself will fall into its guts, dissolving into things people never want to see.

I write about this because I am a human being. Sometimes I do not possess the perfect capacity to deal with things life throws at me. Often times I wonder where I am, if the world I see in front of me is real, or if the world with the beast is the “real world”.

I am battling for my dreams and also battling for my life. To dream is to live, to dream of more is to want to be more. If I do not fight for my dreams, I am sentencing myself to permanently be in a place with no lights and no bars. I am no one if I do not keep trying. To fight for a dream is to fight for life.

I am writing this from a place of some weakness, but I know strength is there. It has to be.

Or the beast wins.

There is a strange duality to things these days. The world is faster than ever and we are all more distant even though we are more connected. We ask less questions, we assume more and we care less. A glance at a facebook page should say everything about you.  A brief glimpse at a resume equals a life. Real conversations are shadows of what they once were. People have less to believe. They have less time to believe in anything and anyone.

Less people care.

Thus, the world is both feeling and unfeeling.

I think i’m writing this blog post because i’m drifting somewhere else, to a place that isn’t pretty, but as an artist, I can only vocalize my emotions through writing and images like the one I created above.

In my 2010 Tokyo Design Week speech, I talk reference the battle with the beast, the beast inside. It has been such a long, tiring battle, and I fear, of late he is gaining the upper hand, but i’ll stand tall and keep blocking the blows he throws my way, until I can’t anymore.

But i’m getting tired. My resolve isn’t the same and this red place, this quiet limbo, where the beast roams freely and howls at the night sky, I fear it will become my home soon, a place I cannot escape from.

But for as long as possible i’ll stay in this reality, away from the beast, looking forward, towards the light.

 

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