About the Author:
James Amoateng was born 56 years ago in a mountainous town called Agogo. He attended Achimota High School and attended the Ghana Medical School. From there he proceedde to the Turner Dental School Manchester U.K. He obtained his Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and returned to Ghana.He also has a Masters degree in public health and a Fellowship of the Ghana College of Surgeons. Currently he is a Senior Specialist and lecturer at the KNUST dental School in Kumasi Ghana. He has written two books all published by Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency in Houston, Texas.
MF: You currently have two books available for purchase. One is an anthology of poems, the other a thriller. How do you approach writing a poem as opposed to writing fiction?
JA: It sometimes is a bit difficult. Poetry you don’t use so many words but you have to make a point. That is where the problem lies. I always have some form of introduction, then a narrative and some conclusions or deductions. In fiction after your plots and character, and chapters planning, things become a lot easier. At times you get stuck but with good planning, after a few days of reflection you are back on track. Sometimes I leave a poem for days wondering whether a particular phrase or word actually fits in.
MF: Lamentations from Sikaman, covers everything from day-to-day activities to the environment to relationships. How long did it take you to compile such a broad spectrum of poems?
JA: It actually took me about 35 years to compile. Sometimes just moving forwards and backwards until I am satisfied.
MF: What do you think other Ghanaian poets such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Kofi Anyidoho, Abena Busia and Kofi Awooner would say about Lamentations from Sikaman?
JA: It is interesting you are asking me this question. Professor Kofi Anyidoho was one of my mentors. When I was in Achimota High school years ago, I was in the writer’s club and Prof used to come and give us talks on creative writing. I am very sure he will be very happy to see one of his students come through. I did Kofi Awoonor’s poems for my O level literature. I am sure they will all approve.
MF: Although it is a work of fiction, you say Cocoa Island was inspired by the many conflicts afflicting the West African sub-region at the moment’. Do you feel this novel is culturally valuable not only to Africa but to the rest of the world?
JA: In the novel I have tried to package all the factors that I think play a role in conflicts. Politicians with an interest, resources that are exploited to finance the war, external forces like a neighbouring country or countries far away like Western powers who may also have an interest. I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned so that together we make the world a safer place. Honestly, now the world is a small village and whatever happens in one part has implications for other parts.
MF: You are a dental surgeon in Ghana. How do you transition between Dr. Amoateng of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Dental School to James Amoateng, author?
JA: Being a doctor makes you a problem solver and a leader in your community. Obviously this makes the transition quite easy. I think an author also through his writing is solving problems. Also if you are a doctor you do a lot of research which you also write about. I, before publishing my first book, had been writing articles in Journals and newspapers.
MF: Are you currently working on other writing projects?
JA: Yes, I am doing an anthology of short stories.
MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
JA: I read action thrillers and biographies, historical novels. Actually anything but these are the one I like. I have re-read a lot of Frederick Forsythe’s books.
MF: What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
JA Never be frightened of putting your thoughts down.
MF: Do you have any advice for other writers?
JA: The quote up there I think is the best advice. People think writing is so difficult so they don’t even try.
MF: f you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
JA: ?I think A tale of two cities. Beautiful tale of the French revolution. I wished I were there.
The author asks, “Isn’t it strange that a path is smooth, but is still full of pits? But no, that is reality. It tells me about the complexities of life. Put simply, all that glitters is not gold.”
More precisely, one of the poems tells the tale of a man who leaves his wife for a younger woman. But the young lady screws up his life so badly and he wants to return to his wife. Lamentations, indeed.
Paul Tetteh is a young university professor who’s also a secret agent. One of his colleagues, Dr. Adam Smith, is the leader of a secessionist movement that eventually boils over into an armed insurgency. In order to complete his plan for an armed takeover of the government, Smith has devised an unstoppable chitin tank that will be the key to his victory. However to isolate chitin in a manner that will enable him to weaponize it, he needs the assistance of Professor Benjamin, an older biochemist who is another of his and Paul Tetteh’s colleagues at the university.
The situation becomes urgent when Smith kidnaps Paul Tetteh along with Professor Benjamin. Now Tetteh must free himself and stop Smith, who takes his counsel from a strange veiled priest who also serves as a government cabinet minister. It all comes to an explosive crescendo on an abandoned patch of land in the Atlantic – Cocoa Island.