The Alchemists of Kush by Minister Faust

Seven thousand years ago according to the Book of Then, Hru-Sa-Usir witnesses the destruction of all he knew and loved. He and the children survivors escaped with the help of Hru’s magic and thus began a harrowing adventure for the young Kushite.

Flash forward to contemporary Canada and The Book of Now. Raphael Garang and his mother have survived the terrifying trek from Sudan and the squalor of Kenyan refugee camps to find themselves struggling to put down roots in a country that is not necessarily welcoming them with open arms.

Thus begins The Alchemists of Kush, the latest book by Minister Faust and his first foray into independent publishing. To say that Alchemists is a good book is an understatement. This book is an experience that only Minister Faust can create. His prose is electric and rhythmic, a clear connection to his hip hop roots. It’s as much of a character study of the present day Raphael as it is a chronicle of Hru’s mythic struggles. Both stories complement each other, sharing emotional highs and lows simultaneously yet 7000 years apart.

Alchemists was my first experience reading a book by Minister Faust and I wish I had done so sooner. His is a unique voice and his writing style is reminiscent of the the golden age of hip-hop, when the grooves were funky and the lyrics meaningful. Not only is this book a novel, it lays the blueprint for lifting  lost young men from the swamps of self destruction and putting them on a path of self worth and accomplishment. Both Raphael and Hru come under the influence of mentors who are as flawed as they yet manage to create a path of enlightenment for their proteges.

Reading The Alchemists of Kush was an entertaining and enlightening experience for me. I hope it is the same for you as well.

Are you with me?

When I decided to plunge into writing I pursued every venue I possibly could in order to learn more about the industry and the art of writing. I joined a myriad of organizations and listed others I wished to join once I could afford the membership fees. I attended meetings, eager to learn more about my new passion.

As my decision to self publish became firmer I began to see these efforts in a different light. I grew impatient with agents that gave me a list of requirements for them to consider looking at my manuscripts. Most of the requirements had nothing to do with the quality of my writing; they seemed petty. I was personally offended that someone would take my hard work and put it in the ‘slush’ pile.  I also began to notice a certain dynamic within these groups. There were the mainstream published writers and the self published writers. Although the writers seemed to get along fine, those who ran the organizations made it clear through either attitude or action that the self published writer was considered less than his/her peers. I could join these organizations but it was clear that my efforts would not be supported because of my ‘status.’

And then there were the larger writer organizations that required you to be published before you could gain membership. Membership opened you to all the benefits of these organizations, which include professional support and awards recognizing your accomplishments in the field.

So the dilemma was obvious. If I fully committed myself to independent writing these organizations and clubs would become a thing of the past. I could give up a chance at any support from them, any consideration of any of the awards they bestow or any opportunities created by receiving said awards.

I made the commitment to independent writing because none of the above things meant much to me. I want to write my books and I hope people will like to read them. Honors, accolades and recognition are great, but I’m not willing to conform to the requirements of writing ‘system.’  So it would be just me and the readers. The writing industry has changed tremendously since those days when I first began. At some point there will be organizations that acknowledge independent writers beyond sales figures. Even some of the organizations I was once associated with will begin to recognize that independent writers can be talented writers, too. If so, that will be great. Until then it’s business as usual. I’m cleaning house and moving in a direction that’s best for me, and it’s all good.