Join Robert and Linda, the editors of ArtsEtc, as they offer personal takes and twists on culture in Barbados and beyond... Stage Right, Stage Left continues a journey started seven years ago in ArtsEtc: The Premier Cultural Guide to Barbados, their groundbreaking print newsletter. Follow the rest of the adventure online at www.artsetcbarbados.com.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wor(l)dbuilding at Barbados’ AnimeKon 2011

Fans of AnimeKon are very serious about their science fiction. This dude with the huge and heavy sword is based on the character "Cloud" from the animated feature/video game Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children.

From left: Robert Sandiford, Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell shared their experiences of creating Fantasy in a Caribbean setting with a large audience and moderator Andre Harewood (extreme right) at AnimeKon 2011.

Shiver me timbers! Cosplay (short for costume play) was a major part of AnimeKon 2011 held July 2 & 3 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Barbados. In this pause at a videogame booth, here's a young girl who's obviously a fan of Johnny Depp & Pirates Of The Caribbean.

JUST coming down from AnimeKon 2011, Barbados’ comic book, animation, gaming, multi-media…well, it’s a so-much-of-everything kind of convention, and the only pop culture convention in the region, that to sum it up seems a little unfair.

Many thanks to Omar Kennedy and Melissa Young for keeping the two-day event tight, and for inviting me onto a panel to discuss speculative fiction from a Caribbean perspective with US-based Tobias S. Buckell (Crystal Rain) and Barbados’ own fantasy author Karen Lord (Redemption in Indigo).

The tag lines are merely for identification purposes. I’m probably known as a realist or true-to life writer who has made some forays into comic-book flavoured storytelling (I like the notion of alternate realities) as well as graphic novels (Great Moves), but what we discussed—and what the people in the audience wanted to know—was how to create convincing worlds and characters, how to write beautiful and believable stories.

Regardless the genre, we all agreed the process is pretty much the same. Tobias is wonderful at worldbuilding (with many references to the Caribbean of his youth!); Crystal Rain contains maps that help situate the reader in his story.

A fantasy-sci-fi thing? Not quite. A creative writing student of mine, currently producing linked stories about very everyday Caribbean people (with, perhaps, a tinge of the magical—we can’t seem to get away from it in our fiction), has mapped out the community her characters inhabit, undiscovered country and all.

Karen’s Redemption in Indigo is based loosely on a Senegalese folktale. She essentially starts with the known world, as I often do, then goes about uncovering what lies beneath it and above it and in-between to enchanting and disturbing effect.

The thing with writing is to remain open to discovery, especially that of your characters, and not get lost in your own inventions. As one audience member semi-joked, “It’s not the number of ideas I get that’s the problem, it’s knowing which ones are worth pursuing and which ones are simply junk.”

- Robert Edison Sandiford
July 4

Robert Edison Sandiford is a co-founding editor of ArtsEtc.
(Photos courtesy Ian D. Bourne /The Bajan Reporter)