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Lucinda E Clarke has written several volumes of memoir but is best known for her series of novels featuring a young woman, Amie, and her adventures in Africa. When I talked to her in February 2018 she had just published the fourth Amie volume which featured the tribal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). We talked about that, the clash of cultures between what we in the West call civilisation and African traditions, and “fake news”. You can read that interview here.
I’m pleased to say that there is a new Amie adventure due for release in a few weeks and available to pre-order now. But, before we talked about that, and her two “Readers’ Favorite” awards, I had to mention the fact that FGM is topical again with the recent conviction, in Britain, of a woman who arranged to have this brutal injury inflicted on her 3 year old daughter. I asked Lucinda if she was pleased to see the law finally catching up with the perpetrators of these crimes.
” I published book 4 in my Africa series, Amie Cut for Life, in October 2017 and this time last year – around the Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM – managed to worm my way onto US TV and radio with features in several print media. I was keen to raise awareness of this cruel practice and several people emailed me to say this was the first they had ever heard of it. I realised I was taking a bit of a chance in writing about such a sensitive topic as female circumcision and maybe some readers hesitated before downloading it. However, I was thrilled to read that there has been one successful prosecution in the UK for a mother who mutilated her daughter and this may be a warning to other parents. Female Genital Mutilation is illegal in many countries but it has not stopped this cruel custom. The problem is changing mindsets and that is going to take many more generations.”
Lucinda, who admits her own guilt in helping spread government propaganda whilst working in Africa, is still angry at the way news is handled by the media, likening it to “grooming”.
” I’m an expert in this field even if I say so myself. Propaganda was my bread and butter for years! For me, this makes listening and watching media programmes, especially the news, cringemaking.
It’s what is NOT said that is important. I am also horrified when I see examples of the bullying by the interviewers on the television. No wonder youngsters learn how to bully. The questioners are just so desperate to browbeat their victims, trying to get them to trip up, contradict themselves and, best of all, grovel and beg for forgiveness. We are well into the blame game. I don’t believe anything I hear any more, “they” tell us what “they” want us to know and believe.
I despair at the loss of free speech – the world’s public is being groomed and silenced just as surely as those predators groom vulnerable young girls over social media.“
When Lucinda talks about those awards its impossible not to see how proud she is to have received them, although she remains realistic about their value.
” I was thrilled to win a gold medal for Amie and the Child of Africa and a silver for Amie Stolen Future at the Readers’ Favorite Awards last November.
I adore America and it was an amazing excuse to visit again. The event, held in Miami, lasts two days and is a real buzz. Just to mingle and talk books, books and books with a wide variety of other authors is uplifting – we are not alone! While most days we sit in solitary silence, it’s such fun to crawl out of our writing caves and mingle with like-minded people. There is the ‘meet and greet’ with interesting talks from leaders in the industry, publishing, marketing and promoting. Then it’s a trip to the Miami Book Fair with street after street of tents all book orientated, and more people to discover and network with. The Saturday night is the awards ceremony itself and probably the only time I will wear two clanking medals around my neck. (Well I’d look silly wearing them in the supermarket, wouldn’t I?)
However nice the medals were, the biggest thing for me was Headline Books picked ten winners to consider for publication. In the end they didn’t take Amie, but it was enough for me to be on their short list. I wasn’t surprised they said no, as I’m not writing in a popular genre right now, and I guess they agreed with that. They did say they could see why the book had won.
Winning awards are a fabulous band aid on those down days when you’ve not made a sale for hours and hours. Did they increase sales for me? Only minimally. The way to make huge sales is to be very visible and remain visible. You get the word out for a while but it dies down.
Are the contests a con? It’s true you pay to enter and I will never again enter the one that wanted me to pay a second time to obtain the virtual medal seal – now that was going too far.
I enter a couple a year and I have been very lucky but never the ones that ask for votes – I don’t have that many friends (sad isn’t it?) I do prefer not to know who the judges are so I am not tempted to stalk them or camp out in their front gardens.”
The latest Amie book?
Amie Savage Safari is already on pre-order and priced @ $/£1.99 until launch day February 26th when it increases to $/£ 1,3453.99 – oh, OK I’ll make it $/£3.99 then as it’s really worth it.
The theme is government corruption as diplomats from several different countries gather at a safari camp in the bush to bid for the right to mine the minerals found in Togodo – my mythical African country. Naturally, things don’t go to plan and Amie gets caught in the middle. The father of her unborn child was summoned to London and she has lost contact with him. I’ve been told that it’s as fast moving and page turning as the earlier novels and I hope my readers will enjoy it.
Lucinda has a website and blog. If you are not already a follower I urge you to take a look. It is entertaining and informative, everything a good blog should be.
I quite often express views in this blog – and share them on Facebook and Twitter – that some may not agree with. So far those views have not reached anyone who felt so strongly they felt the need to be hateful in their response. My professional writer friend, Lucinda Clarke, reaches a much larger audience and that comes with the risk of being subjected to hate mail as she explains below. Such behaviour is inexcusable. Like Lucinda, I wonder when people started to forget their manners when engaging in debate and argument. What happened to free speech?