BookLife Talks with Heru Ptah
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Children of the Sun'
Author and playwright Ptah’s most recent work, Children of the Sun, received an Editor’s Pick from BookLife Reviews, which stated that readers “will be captivated by this unique historical fantasy packed with notable characters, nail-biting quests, and high stakes,” adding, “Bring on book two.” We spoke with Ptah about his inspiration, what he hopes readers will take from the story, and when they’re going to get that second book.
You’ve written across a number of genres, including poetry, fiction, and plays, but this is your first book for children. What made you decide to shift your focus?
I don’t necessarily consider Children of the Sun a children’s book. I more consider it a book that children can read. I usually recommend the reading level at 12 years and up to be safe, but I have had nine- and 10-year-olds read it and love it. It stars children, and the cover is colorful, so I understand why some would see it as children’s literature. However, it is actually the deepest and most profound work I’ve ever written, both philosophically and spiritually. I’ve wanted to write this story for more than 20 years, but it wasn’t until the lockdown during the pandemic that I really had the time to do the research necessary to write it. Also, I love various genres of literature, and I always like challenging myself. This is my foray into historical fantasy, but I am looking to write an espionage thriller next.
What inspired the First People series?
The impetus to write the First People series actually came from a dream. It was pretty trippy, and I won’t go into its details here. The inspiration, however, is rooted in my love for history and mythology and my desire to tell stories that we are just not told. I’ve always wanted to know more about the Olmecs and Mansa Musa, and I assume others do as well.
What was the writing process like for Children of the Sun, and was it different from that of your other works?
I’ve had different writing processes throughout the years. Both A Hip-Hop Story and Show Me a Beautiful Woman started out as screenplays. With Children of the Sun, I expanded on a process I began when writing my book Somewhere in Brooklyn. I wrote it primarily on the notepad app on my phone, drafting small chapters and sections here and there. Then I would email those notes to myself and work on them on my desktop. I also wrote it completely out of order. Children of the Sun is broken into six acts. I might work on a section in act three, and then the next day work on act six. Whenever I found myself stuck in a section, I would jump to another. I find it very difficult to just sit at my desktop and write from scratch. Inspiration doesn’t come on a schedule, and the internet is so distracting. Writing on my phone gives me the freedom to create whenever the inspiration comes to me, and then I send it to my desktop, where I refine it.
How do you imagine readers at this moment will connect to Children of the Sun?
I hope first that I am able to entertain them—because if I do not entertain readers, I will not get them to go from page 1 to page 314. While I am entertaining them, I hope they will learn something about the different civilizations and mythologies they encounter. I also hope the book connects with readers on a spiritual level, as the existence of spirits plays a major role in the series.
What’s next for you?
Children of the Sun is a planned trilogy, so writing the sequel is very high on the agenda. I also plan to do an audiobook for the first book and am considering doing a graphic novel version of it. I drew the cover, and my good friend and mentor Mshindo I Kuumba painted it. I hope that we can work together again to do the graphic novel. Beyond the First People series, I have that espionage thriller cooking in the back of my brain. For now, you can find Children of the Sun on Amazon and you can find me on Instagram @eyeofheru.