You would have found the young urban street lit author Alieu Mansaray out promoting his books this past Sunday, Sept. 23, at the seventh annual Brooklyn Book Festival.
Mansaray explained that he had sold books at last year’s Brooklyn Book Festival as well, but it had rained then and he hadn’t sold as many book units as he wanted to. “This year I’m doing better,” he smiled. “I’m interacting with readers more.”
Mansaray was but one of the more than 280 authors showcasing their work on the final day of the Brooklyn Book Festival. Authors, magazine representatives, publishers and more were featured in booths that spread out over the entirety of downtown Brooklyn’s Borough Hall Plaza. The day’s events even included readings and panel discussions in nearby Brooklyn Heights locations. The festival was another opportunity for book lovers to check out the latest titles in the literary marketplace and find subjects that appeal to their interests.
For Mansaray, it became another chance to show off his novel series called “Life Redemption.” He has four of the books written so far for what he is planning as a nine-part series. The “Life Redemption” saga traces the story of a young man born in Sierra Leone whose parents are murdered. The boy, named Abdul but who later answers to the nickname “Al,” is claimed by his father’s best friend, and sent to the U.S. “Life Redemption” traces Al’s life as he grows up in New York City, makes friends with other young men of varied ethnic backgrounds and faces new challenges.
Mansaray is publishing the series under his own imprint, Sierra Leone Prince Publishing. The Washington Heights resident says he reads authors like Eric Jerome Dickey and Terry McMillan, and has also delved into the Harry Potter series and is up on the latest vampire fiction books.
“I tend to like reading books. My imagination is just my basic escape, so I tend to use writing as my way of escaping from doing anything negative,” Mansaray said as he described how he wrote a total of four books since 2009. “Right now I’m trying to write a vampire novel on my own. Because we as urban street writers–most novel writers don’t take us seriously. So what I’m going to do is I am going to try to transition into writing a vampire novel; I’m working on it right now. It’s going to be called ‘Vampire: The Origins.’ It’s going to be based on Biblical scriptures and the Quran and it will look at vampires as fallen angels.”
For Brooklyn-based author Adrienne Anderson, the festival proved the first chance she has had to promote her new work, “Living With Sarcoidosis: Defying the Odds.” Anderson’s book describes her own personal journey as someone living with the condition. “Sarcoidosis is a multi-systemic disease that can affect any organ in the body,” Anderson explained. “Nobody knows what causes it, but for me, primarily, it affected my lungs for many years, and in 2009 it affected my brain.”
The disease, which is not race-specific, can be fatal It was one of the factors leading to the deaths of both the comedian Bernie Mac at age 50 and the actor Michael Clarke Duncan at age 54, and both R&B singer Angie Stone and the actress Tisha Campbell are known to be living with the disease.
Anderson says her own book does not look at the condition from a scientific perspective. “If you want to know something scientific about it, you can always go online. I just want to inspire others and let them know that we can live a full, productive life. I mean, we have our moments when we get sick but–hey–don’t give up, because we have a choice.”
Jemmie Adams, the Jersey City-based author of “Running With No Feet,” was another self-publishing writer who had a table at the festival. Adams’ book came out in 2011, and though this was his first time at the Brooklyn Book Festival, he’s attended others throughout the nation, he said. “I do a lot of festivals throughout the year. This is like my–I think my 12th festival. I do Baltimore next week,” Adams said. “I did the Los Angeles Times Book Festival. I was in Miami last year, I was in Arkansas, I was in Chicago–you know, I get around on the festival circuit.”
He explained, “It’s all about getting the word out. I get good strong reviews, so once people read it, the sales go pretty well.”
“Running With No Feet,” Adams said, is about a father’s love versus the 1 percent of people who are in control of the world. The 1 percent are a group of powerful executives whose credo is “Man, woman nor child will interfere with profits.”
Adams says he’s been writing for at least 15 years, and it took him 11 years to write “Running With No Feet.” Four years ago he started his own company, Midnight Publishing LLC, and readied his first novel for publication.
“Why did I self-publish? Because I knew I had something to say. The only reasons people don’t self-publish are because of financial reasons or because they don’t want to be the distributor. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the author to get the word out about the book, whether you use a publisher or self-publish. So I said if it’s all going to be my responsibility, then I’ll just invest in myself and go do it.”