Jordan Ifueko, as a debut author, featured as Delaware’s Festival of Words author on March 4th was different than many have experienced in a long time. Within minutes of starting, all participants were knee deep into discovering what it meant to create a world. With the flip of a few ideas, Ms. Ifueko was able to involve student moderator Katie Payne (She did AWESOME!) and librarian Carrie Simpson (excellent job!) and FOW director Andrea Rashbaum (HUGE KUDOS FOR ALL THIS!) into 2 worlds of where Velociraptors, society roles, ruling classes, power, a land called Katyborg, apricots, antagonists, protagonists, and more all coexisted and were created in the first 10 minutes of this session.
It is amazing what can happen when give a slight push, given a few starters, and worlds begin to become a reality. This beginning exercise let us peek into the way that Jordan Ifueko operated as a bearer of tales older than time.
So much investment was put into the novel The Raybearer as we began to find out.
Ms Ifueko noted about the main character, what she wants is her mother, that is her obvious primal need, that sense of security and led wanted from a parent, something every individual can find a tie to. It was reassuring to hear Ifueko reinforce that all should be encouraged to experience moments, and they will find there is always another layer that can bee peeled back.
Ms. Ifueko went on to relate that she had been homeschooled from the very beginning, and had started writing at age 13. When they moved to Oregon, she attended a public school for the very first time, testing into 10th grade, her graduating class was a total of – 17! It was interesting for her to realize how small this was yet amazed at how much a small group that did all things together, due to the number, could do so much! A common purpose often was identified through such a small group, and you should start to see parallels to a council of siblings that resemble the Raybearer foundation. Even if separated from each other, a sense of pain and departure is felt, and I am sure this existed for the novelist in the real world in many similar situations with the transition from home school to a public school /social setting with such a small number, some carry over would be expected.
Jordan Ifueko went on to note that some authors will say, as long as the world rules and systems make sense, the individual relationships do not have to be that deep, however, you will find and note, as Ms. Ifueko also acknowledged, those are NOT the books she believes in writing! In the end, a young girl who finds her place in an empire, all stems from a girl who wants a hug from her mother – and again, some common connections could be easily made outside of the pages of Raybearer to many readers.
Ifueko went on to encourage everyone that if they are interested in writing and journaling, do not be afraid to journal about what you want, what you are afraid to look forward to, and realizations you make along the way.
“YA adults have an appeal because the coming of age is an important part of everyone’s lives” and the author emphasized you do not have to always think your life will begin at a later date, your life, just as the author, offers so much now, be it a book, an event, or shaping the world for the better.
When asked about her Inspiration – she mentioned so much new fantasy – N K Jemisin, The Broken Earth trilogy, with the presence of the omniscient narrator mixed with a limited third person and even a 2nd person point of view. The ability to switch can be confusing, but has amazing results to conclude her books!
Ms. Ifueko also mentioned Tiffany Jackson – who often writes as an “unreliable narrator”, leaves things out until the last couple paragraphs who often leaves elements out of the last couple paragraphs, of her whole story, which often also causes much surprise and shock!
You begin to see a pattern here of authors that use creativity and the element of surprise to the max, to really “shake things up” in the literacy world, and when talking to Jordan Ifueko, one does not get the idea she is all about doing what everyone does, hence why her debut novel is so notoriously publicized!
When looking at the Raybearer – it is easy to see the creation and idea needed to be a blend of cultures, Western Africa /Nigera, and brining into perspective how often other countries do the dictating of another country, and this is a chance to represent a country from the inside out, not the outside in.
Ms. Ifueko’s hope was was continue to be inviting readers to be a part of the story – and the Griots played a huge part in that, where they memorize generations and generations of history (this reminded me of the novel, The Giver. She found she was able to twist African mythology a bit, and she did a ton of research to set up accurate accounts of history to enfold the characters.
Again, it is obvious in the past colonizers have made the majority of stories, which is never really the accurate or fair story of a country or people. The Raybearer pulls back that tale and replaces colonized accounts with more traditional, historical histories.
Due to colonizers stories having take the forefront, many individuals are in the dark about amazing attractions such as the Walls of Benin found in Nigera. It is about time we unearth the true stories and the true beauty of countries through original stories, and the Raybearer enables that power given to the reader.
When asked if the role of redemptor still mainly follow the story of Tarisai, Ms Ifueko stated that was a part of it. She compared The Raybearer to the story of Jumanji. She noted there was a budding romance with Winn, of Songland, how Kira obtains this fascination with Songland, she needs to know things – she gets attracted to information about Songland and needs to know EVERYTHING about it, yesterday!
There was a great reflection on what we pick up from reading. The more we read, the more when we write we also put down alot of what we have picked up through osmosis from the reading we have done! The upside is the more we read the more possibilities, styles, and techniques that begin to mash that can affect and influence us as writers, the downfall is that we might be picking up norms for ourselves that might be dominantly from another culture we have absorbed so much of! It was noted how interesting how the influence of status quo has on us as readers from what and how much we read.
And yes there will be more! Book #2, Redemptor, will be coming out in August and there MIGHT be a chance to snag a net galley, so keep your eyes on author Jordan Ifueko for your chance!
When asked what is next for the young author, she detailed the idea of a magical world set in New Orleans – a protagonist much different that Tarisai – a little more jaded. We are interested for sure in seeing how Jordan Ifueko sees all around her and how she will continue to develop truths we could all be better for realizing !
You can find more on Jordan’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordanifueko/?hl=en, and her recommendations to protect your love of storytelling and read A LOT, as well as defend your love of writing bear the light that can make a change!
Favorite authors ? Yes! – she mentioned Charlotte Bronte, and an interesting concept. She mentioned a teacher that made her take out all nouns and adjectives, and put in all her own. Going back to noticing the style you read, as a writer, you begin to notice the distinct style of a author when you do that specifically and put your own nouns and adjectives around the pronouns and style of that particular author!
One final standout, it was so interesting, maybe one of the most unique observations, that in looking at the world of Narnia, how interesting of a perspective it was that English children, find their way to Narnia, and basically have this world waiting just for them, to rule, not even sharing a culture or belief system of the world that was there before them. I see someone being able to take out that specific Narnia concept, and being able to replace with Jumanji, colonization of Britain over Africa, and countless other historical events where the native story has been clouded by a foreign story. The original story laying behind the layers is often the most interesting, and that is exactly what you will find in Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer. We are excited about tonight’s books discussion about all of this and more!