Hello! Today I’m very excited to share this guest post from Yaba Badoe, author of ‘A Jigsaw of Fire And Stars,’ sharing her favourite extract from the book. I need to give little introduction, I’ll let Yaba take it away!
My favourite extract from my debut YA novel, A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is the short opening chapter from p1 – 3.
This extract is crucial to the story because it introduces, Sante, the heroine. Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasures. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Fourteen years on she’s a member of Mama Rose’s unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them.
I love the opening of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars because it plunges a reader straight into the drama that propels the novel and resonates through its narrative: the scuttling of a boatful of refugees and migrants who are making the deadly sea crossing from Africa to Europe. I wanted the reader to feel the panic and fear inherent in sudden death and destruction. At the same time my aim was to hint at something larger than an individual instinct for survival and self-preservation. I like to think that in moments of crisis, when death is imminent, my characters might choose to preserve what is most precious to them. In A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars the life of baby Sante is saved as she’s thrust into a precarious future with the blessings of those she leaves behind in the sea.
I’ve spent most of my working life making documentary films for television. So not surprisingly I’m a huge fan of cinema. Nothing excites me more than the opening sequences of a film at the theatre. Once the lights are out, I experience an exhilarating rush of emotion at the possibility that if I’m in the hands of a good storyteller literally anything can happen. Maybe that’s why I made the opening of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars as dramatic as it is. Whether it’s a rooftop chase in the old city of Cadiz or refugees doing everything in their power to save the life of the youngest of their number when their boat is sinking, nothing thrills me as much as visualising a scene. Once a scene in my mind, I then try to describe elements of it in a way that will keep a reader reading.