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[GUEST POST] Ayize Jama-Everett on Writing THE LIMINAL PEOPLE and THE ENTROPY OF BONES

ayizeAyize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 and raised in Harlem, New York. Since then he has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, New Hampshire, and Northern California. He holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity. He teaches religion and psychology at Starr King School for the Ministry when he’s not working as a school therapist at the College Preparatory School. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When not educating, studying, or beating himself up for not writing enough, he’s usually enjoying aged rums and practicing his aim.

On Writing The Liminal People and The Entropy of Bones

by Ayize Jama-Everett

I left a prosperous job, nay career to get these two bad boys done. Seriously. I had a good job as a therapist at a private high school. I was ten years in. No drama. But these two tales kept coming to me. I wanted to finish the Liminal world. After these two books, there’s only one more. So I quit, traveled the world, went to Malaysia, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, and La Paz, Mexico, and wrote. I was going for one novel but I ended up with two.

I wanted to tell this story for a while. For me these are the tales of sacrifice and grit, of determination past sense, and friendship beyond reason. This is what happens when you have to look into the abyss and say “Ok, that’s what you got? Well I’m not moving!” I wanted to tell the story of people losing, not for lack of trying, and still just not giving up. These stories are not about people with amazing powers and abilities. These are the stories of people: broken people, imperfect people, loud and dangerous folks and quiet and deadly ones. The main characters are not the people you want to invite over for dinner. But when the darkness breaks the light and insanity threatens to take over everything, they are the voices you pay attention to when they shout “This way to safety and shelter.” These are the stories of the metaphysical psychic workers, these are the tales of their pain.

What heroism is in the main characters comes only from what they have to face. Big Bads and nasty Monsters are great for movies. They convey visually what I wish to convey intellectually. I want to create nemeses that are very terrifying in their very conception, that which should not exist. In that I’m thankful to Thomas Ligotti’s enveloping darkness, as his short stories have pointed me in that direction for my “villains.” I’ve also combined two other horrifying factors for them:

  • Being hidden in plain sight is always more terrifying to me than the creature that jumps from the shadows. So: what if the most world-bending, reality-warping horror was looking right in your face, smiling with thousands of rat-like teeth, waiting to devour us all, only we just chose not to look? And
  • I love antagonist that believe themselves to be the protagonist. I feel this to be the natural state of all conscious creatures, and so strive to represent all characters as the heroes of their own narratives.

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