Joshua: an introduction
Jeremiah and Grace Abraham knew the great plans God had for their son, which was why they called him Joshua, meaning, God is salvation.
Joshua denoted strength, courage and natural-born leadership, qualities that his parents knew that God had conferred on their only child and son.
Joshua was also the name of the leader in the Old Testament who led the Israelites to Canaan, the Promised Land. It went without saying that they expected no less from their son. Except in his case, the Promised Land was heaven and the Israelites were the church faithful. The sensible, sane kind, mind, not the nutters with delusions of grandeur.
Joshua grew up in the saving knowledge that he was special, and not just because he was the only child and son of black Pentecostal preachers. He knew he was special because he liked boys. Had always liked boys and would in all likelihood continue liking boys – well, men when he was older – until the day he died.
He also knew that he had to keep this knowledge to himself.
Joshua was a devout Christian. He loved and was unembarrassed about his faith. He held weekly Bible lessons in his home and took part in the church youth activities. He told himself that the Bible verses on homosexuality didn’t really apply to him, because although he knew he was attracted to men, and had always been attracted to men, he hadn’t acted on his attraction, and most importantly, didn’t intend to, so he was okay. Until, one day, a traitorous thought ran through his mind:
The Bible is wrong. I am normal.
The inspiration behind I, Joshua
There are some books you write, and deep in your heart, you know they’re unlikely to be picked up by a traditional publisher. And although, self-publishing is an option, you would rather not go down that route. But still, you choose to write the book anyway, all 80-100K words of it, because it’s a labour of love.
I, Joshua is such a book.
A few years ago, an editor read the synopsis and told me she didn’t think it would sell. After all, the subject matter had a narrow audience. Outside of the religious and African communities, who cared about a young man struggling with his sexuality? It’s 2017, for goodness sakes…
She meant well (she genuinely did). And she may well be right. But having dusted off the manuscript covers (all 10K words of it, and what is it with me and leaving 10K manuscripts lying around for years?!), I will respectfully disagree, write the book anyway, and detail my experiences on this blog, much as I’ve done with Looking for Bono.
Even if it never makes it to print.
Why? Because it’s a labour of love. Sheesh, how many times I gotta repeat myself?
More about I, Joshua
The novel is more about exploring attitudes to homosexuality and faith in African communities in the UK, rather than his sexuality per se, with some thriller-like bits thrown in.
I’m an African. I’m also British. Sometimes, I like to refer myself as Afropean. You know, those people who have their feet firmly planted in both continents and a lot of confusion about identity and heritage in between.
It is precisely because I’m Afropean that my books explore what it means to be African and British in the UK today. Despite appearances to the contrary, so much of who we are as a community remains hidden. And in I, Joshua, faith, homosexuality and African identity intersect, the covers get blown off and get the full Abidemi treatment.
I think what readers will find interesting about this book is how society ultimately responds to Joshua’s decision about his sexuality. Everyone – from the gay to the faith community – exercises their non-right to judge and condemn him in equal measure about his decision, and Joshua realises almost too late the most important lesson of all.
The writing style
The good news is that I’ve already written 10K words. The bad news is that the manuscript is about five years old, and needs a rewrite. For starters, it’s written in the third person, and I’ve changed my mind about that (I think). The updated version will be written in the first person, as I think it will be a better, more immersive experience for the reader.
It will also be a bit of a challenge for me, and one I’m looking forward to, as I haven’t written in the first person for a while.
I can’t wait to start writing this book, my wonderful, amazing labour of love.
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