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Advice from IR Approved Authors Mesfin Tadesse & ianet Bastyan: “Use professional services for editing and cover design but retain an authentic feel.”

Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with authors Mesfin Tadesse & ianet Bastyan.

What is the name of the book and when was it published? 

Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir by Mesfin Tadesse & ianet Bastyan. Second edition, August 2021.

What’s the book’s first line?

“Ten soldiers shouldered and levelled AK-47s and Kalashnikovs.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Lucy’s People is the story of a country and a life, a love letter to Ethiopia, and an anti-war protest. Young engineer Mesfin is an Ethiopian Jew, devoted to family, environment and motherland. Though rich in talent, the nation’s youth face conscription or emigration.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Mesfin is related to Haile Selassie. In 1968, the Ethiopian emperor visited my remote city of Perth, Western Australia. The school library had no books on Ethiopia, but our teacher gave The Talk. Cradle of civilisation, fertile Rift Valley, and wild dogs and rabies. He spent 20 minutes on the Horn of Africa’s largest nation, which has more than 80 languages and cultures. Seven years later, Australian newspapers barely mourned the emperor’s suspicious death, while under house arrest by the communist Derg. Lucy’s People was my antidote to ignorance about Ethiopia – especially my own wrong ideas. __ianet

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Immigrants deserve a fair go. In Australia, we hear, “Go back to where you come from!” “Why did you leave?” “Overqualifed,” in a human resource rejection letter. “You lost?” in a library or shopping centre.

Lucy’s People helps readers identify with people from a different background.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Lucy’s People is our 1st long work. While stranded in 2020 in Ethiopia due to COVID, we released the 1st edition. Even though it was in English, locals responded that it reflected their lot. Mesfin then entrusted me with more material, so that several chapters needed rewriting for a 2nd edition. __ianet

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Use professional services for editing and cover design but retain an authentic feel. Readers enjoyed the rawness of our 1st edition. They were fed up with over polished, slick celebrity presentations.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

In the mid-1990s in New Zealand, I wrote columns for a free community newspaper and other newspapers published in Wellington. This was my response to experiences as African Community Treasurer and voluntary van driver. Wellington had clean air, immaculate streets, and long beaches; Shortland Street was breathtaking with well-designed buildings. However, each day, locals would ask, ‘Where are you from?’ and, ‘What is your reason for coming here?’ If dissatisfied with our answers, they’d say, ‘Go back to where you come from.’ Normal social interaction was impossible. The city’s beauty disappeared for me. I felt like I’d come from another planet. Dogs were treated with more kindness than immigrants. Our community members became depressed.

‘You’ve arrived in heaven,’ said English language teachers and Catholic volunteers to new arrivals from UNHCR hell camps in Kenya. Many were empty handed, some with no change of clothes.

My friend that coordinated donations told locals, ‘Don’t give your leftover dishes.’

Some donated clothes, furniture and utensils that were unfit for humans. A broken smelly sofa, full of lice, that had been kept outside. Beds with 3 legs and chairs with exposed springs. Or unwashed socks and undies, with a sewer’s stench. They always threw in cracked coffee mugs, warped plastic bowls and dirty spoons.

Fed up with being expected to clear away Kiwis’ backyard shit, I took a photo of 1 blanket. The donors were avoiding paying rubbish tip fees and cartage. This was not donating; it was spitting in someone’s mouth.

‘We’re the best refugee helping community,’ they said.

My columns prompted locals to reassess their humanity. 5 years later, they were donating clean and useful items such as kitchen sets, even if used. However, my hopes for a brand-new life as a newly arrived refugee had vanished. I had longed for dignified treatment. That trauma is still with me. __Mesfin

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Addis Alemayehu; Mesfin Wolde Mariam__Mesfin.

Simon Winchester; Kim Scott––ianet


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