Three continents. One ocean. Four centuries. A sacred journey of twins
An IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for my debut novel: Janaína
Janaína is a magical realism thriller about twins (Dia and Mia) stolen from their family then reunited in the fight of their lives during Brazilian Carnival. Beneath the Carnival mask is a deeper tale about “disposable” children, sex slaves, organ trafficking and spiritual warfare. Taking on this project, I’m finally surrendering to my creative passions and hoping to tell an important story about the resilience, struggles and beauty of Black girls growing up in the US and Brazil. Your help will bring this story to life! I’ve already written a 236-page first draft and I need your help to raise a minimum of $11,000 to cover project expenses (travel costs, archival research, copy-editing, fiscal sponsorship fees, book design) and an additional $10,000 enabling me to fully engage in writing this empowering story.
Through my fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, your donation is tax-deductible.
You can contribute to the campaign here or go to IndieGogo.com and search "Janaina."
Please note, your contribution is approximately 90-100% tax deductible, depending on the accompanying reward. Your donor acknowledgement letter will include tax information relevant to your gift level.
Why Read? Why Donate?
Writing this story is an act of faith. Reading it is also! Here’s what you can expect:
- A scandalous virtual vacation during Brazilian Carnival
- A peek into the secret world of twins
- Connection to your body’s self-healing wisdom: body as flute, altar, bridg
- Glimpses into the secret world of twins
- Life affirming instruction from healers in Black-Indigenous spiritual traditions
- A window on Black children’s ingenuity and challenges in the US and Brazil
I’m also handcrafting many of the appreciation gifts/rewards for donors to correspond with themes in the book. I’m using the gifts as a way to fuel my passion for craftmaking; a different way to get my art out into the world. Pledge now, and you will have great gifts to give for any occasion! For samples of rewards/art, click here.
The Roots of Janaína
Janaína embodies so many strands of my identity, work, and travels across the African Diaspora: I am a twin from a line of eight sets of twins. I’ve dedicated my life to empowering young people in Africa and its Diaspora for nearly fifteen years. I am an initiate of the Afro-Brazilian religion candomblé and you’ll also find me in a Black Baptist church many Sundays. My father, a Jamaican merchant marine, named me for a mermaid. I share his quixotic madness, his passion for travel, and his obsession with Black freedom movements. I’m also a domestic violence survivor and recently began training as a somatic healer to work with other survivors of violence and trauma. In Janaína, I’ve found a place for imagination, memory, ancestry and activism to intersect. Writing it is a thrilling and healing process for me.
Janaína is also informed by a pair of ancient twins: the Ojarô sisters. The twin princesses, kidnapped during an 18th century war between the Yoruba and Dahomean people of West Africa, crossed the Atlantic in a Brazil-bound slave ship. They were purchased and freed by a mysterious wealthy man (an orixá or divine spirit). Historical archives document that one twin founded one of Brazil’s oldest candomblé temples and later returned to West Africa. Almost nothing is known about her twin sister. The story made me wonder how many other twins crossed the Atlantic during the Middle Passage. What became of them and their descendents? What would these ancestral mothers say to their daughters in Brazil and the US: Women that have scaled amazing heights and the women still struggling at the margins of both countries – often anonymous, penniless and bound in new slaveries?
Cool, curious, mysterious and mesmerizing, twins symbolize two spirits from one source that share linked fate. Popular in US culture, twins possess potent spiritual powers (often deified or demonized) in many African cultures. West Africa boasts the highest birth rate of twins in the world. Across every culture, twins provide a compelling lens on our constant search to understand and articulate identity. Twins became a practical lens for me to focus on the fate of Black Americans and Afro-Brazilians, especially children, distant descendents of families split and scattered across the seas.
These ruminations – and travels in my twenties to Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Cuba, South Africa, Haiti, England, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Brazil, France, and the Dominican Republic, where I met so many children telling similar stories of lives ensnared in the web of racism and poverty – captured my heart and spoke to my soul. I write to honor those children and their stories as they manifest through the twin protagonists, Dia and Mia in Janaína.
*Candomblé is an ancient African religion transported to Brazil during the slave trade by the Yoruba, Fon and Bantu peoples. Candomblé adherents believe in one omnipotent God called Oludumaré who is embodied in divine forces of nature (orixás)].
Big Risk, Big Reward: Why Trust Me?
Janaína is my most ambitious project to date. My writing has been acknowledged through fellowships from the Breadloaf Young Writer’s Conference, Cave Canem and the New York Foundation for the Arts. My work has appeared in Essence Magazine, Meridians, and African Voices and featured in anthologies: Be the Dream (Algonquin Books); Women Warriors of the Afro-Latina Diaspora (University of Houston Arte Público Press); Beyond the Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century (Black Classic Press); and Daddy Can I Tell You Something? (Sela Press).
I have a solid track record in following projects through from idea to impact. Twice in my life, I’ve raised funds for groundbreaking community projects, and generated exciting community support! As a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil, I founded the POMPA (Project Open Minds/Open Doors) project in partnership with the Steve Biko Institute to train Afro-Brazilian youth for public service careers. POMPA students successfully graduated college and graduate school, interned in the city’s major institutions, launched their own non-profits, and secured full-time positions in the Bahia State Legislative Assembly, the Secretary of Education, and similar institutions. During college, my twin sister and I launched Yale’s Black Solidarity Conference with our Black Student Alliance board. Seventeen years later, the conference continues to draw hundreds of students from around the country to explore issues facing Black college students and communities. This IndieGogo campaign will be no different. I’ll take your investment seriously – and will work hard to ensure a solid return on the resources you contribute.
My plan for completing the manuscript will flow in phases: Complete the cultural and historic research mentioned above. Rewrite the book to incorporate this new material. Workshop the chapters. Submit the manuscript to a copy editor. Design and self-publish limited edition, hard cover copies. Develop a marketing and community-engagement strategy. Prepare the final manuscript for donor distribution. Create and fulfill all donor appreciation gifts. Submit a copy of the book with my IndieGogo and social media stats to potential publishers. I hope that Janaína will find a home with a major publishing house. However, given my commitment to seeing this important project in the world, I have also researched the possibility of a high-quality self-publishing venture and will pursue this alternative if needed.