Co-writing, Transatlantic (Literary) Affairs and Other Forms of Insanity, with Kevin Allen


kevin allen

On co-writing Five Guns Blazing

I will be honest, I was a little sceptical when Emma first approached me about Five Guns Blazing. I read her message and looked at the picture and laughed to myself. A blonde haired, white woman asking me to help her write a story that involved slavery. But I was wondering what sort of writing it was. It was interesting. It got me curious about her project. But when I started reading Five Guns as it was, I knew Emma was serious and knew her stuff. When I saw what she actually wanted me to work on and the whole manuscript, well, I couldn’t say no because I was drawn in by what I read.

Helping Emma Rose Millar script the plantation, flesh out the characters on the Island, and the conditions of the plantation they were working on was one of the best things I’d ever done. I saw from the story, she had that she’d actually done her research and put a lot of effort into what she had, at the point I saw the story. She also had a vision for what she wanted from it and knew how to get there. That created another feeling; why did she need my help?

What I realized was that the more I read the more I wanted to read. It didn’t matter why she needed my help, I was happy she did. I was drawn to the story by the story. Once I started writing I wanted to write more and more. By the third week in, I was thankful Emma asked me to work on Five Guns with her. For me, it was a chance to look back. I love researching different things. History being one of them. This was a reminder that when I left Jamaica at the age of ten, I left a part of world history behind. A part of Emma’s project, Five Guns Blazing called on us to do extensive research; the old stories, the language, the differences in people. There was so much to go over. What I learned was that being Jamaican didn’t make me an expert. Sometimes I felt flat out disgusted because of the simple things I didn’t know. And felt encouraged by the reminders of some of the old stories I used to hear as a child.

As for the language differences, we both speak English. Mine has been American English for some times. I admit to being a freelance ESL teacher at one time and that helped somewhat. Not much though. The spellings of some English words and the edits I saw sometimes had me running to the dictionary and the online dictionary. Looking up words that had me raising an eyebrow. I’m pretty sure Emma must have wanted to strangle me sometimes with the word usage as well.

I would definitely say that the highlights of my efforts in helping to write Five Guns Blazing, was being thrown into a situation where I had to look at Jamaica from an outsider’s perspective. To help shape the people, their homes, their situation. That provided an outlook authors rarely see because our genre focuses are usually outside projects like these. What I learned was, Emma wasn’t a crazy white lady. She is a deep and creative thinker and a great human being. And I think she created a great story that could serve to inspire greatness in many. Thanks for inviting me on this writing journey.


2 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on The Writer's Block and commented:
    One of the best things a newer writer can get asked is to help write a book or look at a manuscript. A manuscript that forces you to examine parts of history, even better. Saying yes to Emma Rose Millar and her brainchild, Five Guns Blazing was an easy decision. The manuscript had depth, the characters were well rounded, and the plot was great. Only a little fleshing out, Emma said. Here are some thoughts on the project and the outcome. Feel free to share your thoughts and the original post.

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