Apr 24, 2018 News
By Feona Morrison
A series of enticing tales are waiting for you to read in ShadoWalkers, a collection of indigenous short stories from the North West Region of Guyana (Region One), inspired by historical and other real events.
ShadoWalkers is a 101-page novel of adult fictional stories penned by Guyanese writer, Michael E. Castello. Castello has dedicated this novel to former Minister within the Ministry of Education, the late Dr. Desrey Fox, who died on December 11, 2009, three days after she was involved in an accident at the junction of J.B Singh Public Road and Thomas Road, Georgetown, involving her car and an ambulance.
This author began his writing career years ago by writing short stories for children.
The most well-known ones are Mezee and the Moco-Moco Tree (an Ol’ Higue story) and Hard Times All Round (A Kanaima story). His first adult short story Write it Off to Experience was bought by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for its World Service Programme.
Castello produced the North Western Region’s first news magazine, The Samborah (message drum), which highlighted the amalgamated lifestyles of the Warraus, Lokonos (Arawaks) and the Karinyas (Caribs).
Teacher, NIS Inspector, Social Worker and then radio broadcaster, Castello resigned his job to take up full-time writing. He reads extensively, is a musician and song writer. He also dabbles with studio software home recordings and pursues photography. He is high on physical fitness, has a thing about motorcycles, and believes in the A3T principles of accomplishing t
oday’s task, today.
During an interview with this publication, Castello recalled that from ever since he was a little boy he wanted to become a writer, adding, “I read because I wanted to write.” His inspiration for chronicling this novel came from working in the interior and listening to the experiences of villagers and following up with serious research.
Castello disclosed, “During my research for folk history data in Guyana, I was fortunate to meet and hold dialogues with the late Dr. Desrey Fox (then junior Minister of Education) who had conducted an in-depth exploration of the Kanaima Cult in the south of Guyana”.
Castello recalled that when Dr. Fox was questioned about the dangers inherent in such an undertaking, she responded, “If one throws a pebble in a pond, there is sure to be ripples. He said that she then paused, smiled absently and continued, “Like the Leopard Men of West Africa these Kanaimas,
Jaguar-Men locally known as Turn-tigers, have an outer circle, an inner circle and a centre. The outer circle could be revealed without consequences, the inner circle only if one knew how, the centre however has its price.”
While some writers have complained about losing their ability to produce new work or experiencing a creative slowdown, Castello confesses that this has never happened to him. He added that the situation referred to as writer’s block “usually happens when you have to meet pressure deadlines set by others like agents and/or publishers.”
According to the writer, it took him about eight years of on and off research to compile information and a year to write this book that was printed by Kaseluh Heritage Lab, which also did all the formatting.
On the lighter side, he said that he spends about eight to 10 hours daily writing “with maybe a short break or two.”
With Guyana not having active copyright laws, Castello was asked to share his views on this which he expressed are “unprintable.” He shared that the relevant authorities can aid in promoting the works of Guyanese writers by establishing a publishing company on the lines of the defunct Caribbean Press.
Asked about the reaction of his community towards his new novel, Castello related, “There is a demand for reasonably priced novel-size hard copies, however printers’ quotations are not financially viable.”
In the circumstances, e-book copies of the novel are being given away, he added. He has since described his financial status as “static” having quit several day jobs to pursue a full-time writing career.
In concluding, he said, “Heartfelt gratitude to the Regional Education Officer of Region One, Nigel Richards, who bought a dozen of the first edition hard-copy (Horue Hokaho). This gave me the impetus to produce this final updated edition (ShadoWalkers) with its full footnotes and picture gallery. Online DIY Book publishing companies who specialize in e-books should be treated with great caution, especially those who say to you that piracy is a good form of advertisement.”
Other books written by Castello include CloudWarriors (prehistoric saga of the Warraus), Devildoer (contemporary stories based on real life incidents in North West Region, Riptide (cosmopolitan short story collection) and Twice Upon A Time (stories for juniors).
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