Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | October 25, 2009
Home : Entertainment
'Night Of The Indigo': Breaking new literary ground
Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

Holgate - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

A Caribbean-based sci-fi novel may seem like a stretch of the imagination to most, but for dancer, choreographer, lecturer, singer, actor and now author, Michael Holgate, it has been a dream a long time in the making.

After years of reading the creative works of distinguished writers who have captured the hearts of readers, young and old, the young author hopes to do the same with his chilling tale titled, Night of the Indigo. Holgate has spent more than 15 years exploring the world of theatre, dance, music, film and writing. A lecturer in Caribbean folk and traditional dance, as well as edutainment theatre at the University of the West Indies, Holgate is perhaps better known for his work as the artistic director of the performing arts troupe, Ashe.

For a man that has tackled the world of the arts, Night of the Indigo is his first venture into the life of a writer. The novel follows the tale of a 15-year-old boy, Marassa, who is catapulted into a wondrous new world of natural mysticism by his need to save the life of his dying twin brother, Wico.

Originally taking place straight out of a rural Jamaican town, Marassa comes to accept his responsibility as the 'Marshal' or 'Warrior of the Light' to better be able to save the life of his brother.

Marassa's spine-tingling journey through the mystical world of Orunda, places him face to face with the exotic beauty of princess Ayoka and challenges him to understand the power of the human mind and spirit. Night of the Indigo was published by Macmillan Caribbean as part of their new 'Island Fiction' series aimed at teenagers. The stories are all based on fantasy/science fiction and the legends and folklore of the Caribbean.

When The Sunday Gleaner corresponded with Holgate recently he spoke of his roots in fantasy literature.

"I have been a fan of fantasy/science fiction novels and films for a very long time," he said. "Films and series like Star Trek the Next Generation, Lord of the Rings and books like Harry Potter have always been fascinating to me. I think I first fell in love with the genre when as a teenager I picked up a John Wyndham school text called The Chrysallids.

He continued, "Since then I have been excited about the possibility of creating fantasy/science fiction books from a Jamaican/Caribbean perspective. Later on, I realised that a fellow Jamaican had been doing just that. Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican living in Canada was writing Caribbean fiction based on fantasy/science fiction. That inspired me even more to write my novel."

two years to write

The cover of 'Night of the Indigo'.

The novel took Holgate two years to write and has since been enjoying good reviews. One of his memorable moments, Holgate recounts, is when a 10-year-old boy told him he loved the novel and was eagerly anticipating the sequel. More recently, Night of the Indigo has achieved even higher accolades, having received a Moonbeam Award. The Moonbeam Awards are some of the fastest growing United States-based awards focused on children's books.

Presented by the Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Online, the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are designed "to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading". Awards are given in 36 categories covering the full range of subjects, styles and age groups that children's books are written and published in today.

The Moonbeam Awards are intended for authors, illustrators, publishers and self-publishers of children's books, written in English and intended for the North American market. A gold medal is awarded to the winner of each category, while runners-up receive silver medals. Last year's Moonbeam Awards, according to www.independentpublisher.com, saw a total of 862 entries from 45 US. states, six Canadian provinces and seven countries overseas.

silver medal

The 'Ayoka' character in the novel 'Night of the Indigo'. - Contributed photos

This year, Holgate's Night of the Indigo won a silver medal in the category of 'Young Adult Fiction - Religion/Spirituality'. The awards ceremony was held on October 10 as part of the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston.

While Holgate was not able to attend, he was happy to have won. "I'm very pleased with the award. I found it very interesting that the book didn't win in the category of fantasy/sci-fi which is the genre it qualifies for, but won in the religious/spirituality category," he said. "I'm very happy nonetheless. Anyone who reads the novel could easily understand why that happened."

Holgate is currently working on another fantasy/sci-fi novel as the sequel to Night of the Indigo. He is also contemplating developing the novel into a movie or into a children's musical theatre production.

The novel is available in Jamaica at the Kingston Bookshop, Sangster's Book Stores and other stores, and is also available at amazon.com and the Macmillan Caribbean Website.

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