Monday, February 17, 2014

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

No, don't adjust your blog. I know it's Monday. However, for the last few years I used to do interviews on Fridays, thus the name of the post. Anyway, here we are today with Bish Denham and her new book ANANSI and Company.

 Anansi, the spider, is like Coyote, the Trickster, (in some Native American cultures). Anansi only thinks about himself and what he can get out of life. However, sometimes his tricks backfire and he's worse off, but most times he's just a very sweet psychopath.

Bish has combined ten or so short stories with riddles intermixed in the
pages, and let me tell you, I didn't get one answer to the riddles. (Go ahead, try them, I dare you.)

I found the stories reminiscent or Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit, but only because these stories landed in the islands first before coming to America. I don't want to say they're the same, because they're not, so I'll use the word similar.

A few short questions for Bish --

Thanks, Anne, for taking time out from your busy schedule to let me and Anansi hang out with you for a while. Ever since Anansi found out you were once a chef, he’s been looking forward to a High Tea. I told him not to get his hopes up, but I have to tell you, he really would like to try some scones with strawberry preserves! (Anytime.)

Now, on to your questions.

Why did you decide to publish this book? (I know you have others you've been working on.)

Several years ago I entered my Anansi story, “Why Dogs Beg,” into the Children’s Writer Folktale and Fantasy Contest. To my complete surprise, I won first place. That win gave me the needed push to continue writing more stories. I tried peddling them around as a collection but no one seemed interested. When I seriously began to consider self-publishing, I thought the Anansi stories would be a good place to start. My critique partners and beta readers all seemed to really enjoy them which gave me a lot of confidence. Then, when I saw Adrienne Saldivar’s cover and her illustrations, I knew I’d made the right decision.

You can read, “Why Dogs Beg,” at:

How has your self-publishing experience been? Anything you'd wish you'd known before you started that no one told you?

The experience has been challenging. I’ve never been entirely sure I’m doing it right. I’m still not sure. Were it not for you, who has patiently answered every question I’ve sent you, I don’t know if I would have taken the plunge. Even if you couldn’t answer a question (which was rare) you have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I don’t think there’s anything anyone could have told me before I started. But I do wish I’d had someone sitting with me at my computer, walking me through the process step by step. It might not have taken me so long. There is still so much I don’t know how to do and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to learn. BUT… I have help in the blogging community, people I can turn to when I get into areas where I feel I’m in over my head.

(This was my experience too, and three years later, I'm still not sure I'm self-publishing the right way. However, it has also been my experience that the blogging community is made of win.)

What are you working on now? (Bish and her sister Erva have been working on a cookbook of authentic island foods for the last few years that I'm just dying to read.)

The cookbook is a pretty big project and is on hold for a while because my sister is exceptionally busy. It was written by my grandmother and the time it will take to review, revise, edit, etc. just isn’t there at the moment.
In the mean time there are other stories of mine waiting to be published. Once I make Anansi available in print, which shouldn’t be too long now, I’ll be working on A LIZARD’S TAIL, an exciting animal adventure for lower middle grade.
Here’s what it’s about.
From the moment he hatches, Marvin P. Tinkleberry knows he is destined for greatness. For one, he has a marvelous, well-groomed tail. For another he can puff out his throat pouch in the most spectacular way. Maybe the other lizards in his colony don’t take him seriously, but he knows the truth. It lives in the marrow of his bones; he’s going to be a hero.

When a feral cat threatens the lives of all who live at Stone Wall in the Garden by the Sea, Marvin knows it’s HIS destiny to get rid of the fearsome beast. Travelling Over the Hill to find help should be as easy as snapping up a sleeping moth. But it doesn’t take long for Marvin to see that the world beyond Stone Wall is not the same as his pampered life back at the garden. From the Sucker Cactus Forest to deadly mongooses, danger lurks around every corner and Marvin will have to decide if he’s willing to be the hero he’s long bragged about being.

Oh yes, that sounds fantastic. Who doesn't love a lizard who can puff out his throat pouch?

About Anansi and Company

How do you escape a hungry tiger? Why do ram-goats smell? What happens if you get too greedy? In this collection of ten retold Jamaican stories, Anansi the spider tricks, sings, and dances his way into and out of trouble.

But who is Anansi? It was the Ashanti of West Africa who brought the spider into the Caribbean. He clung tight to the web he wove in the minds of those who had been captured, surviving not only the harrowing passage across the Atlantic Ocean, but hundreds of years of slavery.

As a trickster, Anansi has both good and bad traits, which makes him very human. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses. When he wins he dances and sings for joy. When he loses, he shakes it off and keeps on living, a lesson for us all.

About the Author -- Bish Denham

Bish Denham, whose mother's side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there and visits them regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named them, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Pirates plied the waters and hundred of years of slavery left its indelible mark. It was within this atmosphere of magic and wonder that I grew up. My hope is to pass some of that magic and wonder on to my readers."

You can learn more about Bish by visiting her blog:

She can also be found on


Thanks everyone for stopping by and supporting Bish.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


Bish Denham said...

Thanks Anne! But... at least for me, the pictures didn't show up!

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- I'm sorry about the pics. I don't know what is happening. I'll have to check it out.

Bish Denham said...

Pictures are up!