Ask the Author: Keisha Bush
What would you like readers to know about you?
I grew up reading lots of books and the older I got the more I wanted to challenge myself and explore more of the world through autobiographies, fiction, science books, science fiction, mystery and more. To this day I read across genres and particularly am excited about any book that is about the field of neuroscience.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Set in Senegal, No Heaven For Good Boys is a meditation on the power of love, and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.
Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger, and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Étienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talibé, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets.
To make it back home, Étienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talibé, and mounting student protest on the streets.
Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I lived in West Africa for four years and I often interacted with small clusters of the talibé boys, buying them bananas when I was broke and only had two English students and then shoes, and greater amounts of food when I had more work. No Heaven For Good Boys is a work of fiction about a current human rights crisis and I was inspired to write about the plight of these boys in hope that by sharing their story we can influence lasting change for them.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Chapter 28. I love the scene when the boys go seek out the doctors at the lighthouse. The protagonist, Ibrahimah, contemplates what he would do if he had more time, and I believe that is a question most of us ask ourselves on a daily basis. What do we do with the time we’re offered and would we do anything differently if we had more time?
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X
Greek Plays are a huge influence in my desire to write.
My initial desire to write was inspired by the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley, Emily Dickenson, and Edgar Allen Poe.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
The advice about the revision process is true – novels and books are formed and molded into what they eventually become during the revision process. Don’t cling to a first draft like they are the most precious words on earth. You’ll miss out on the opportunity to build a truly memorable world if you can’t learn to edit your own work and the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
Also, do not write in a vacuum. Find other writers and join a writing group or start your own. Take a writing class online – there are tons of them. Workshopping your writing and reading someone else’s work helps you develop an eye for what doesn’t work and what does work.
Where to buy the book:
Magic City Books (signed copies)
Porter Square Books
Strand Book Store
Penguin Random House (hardcover, ebook, and audiobook links)
Book Depository (Worldwide delivery)
Keisha’s Website: www.keishabush.com