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Dec 19, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: ‘PIGMENT - The Limbs of the Mukuyu Tree’ by Renée Topper

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.
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“Mukuyu Tree’s roots have witnessed our generations and we have grown from its fruit. They do not realize they are cutting off the limbs of their sisters and brothers.” - says Renée Topper in ‘PIGMENT - The Limbs ofthe Mukuyu Tree

My friend Renée Topper’s “PIGMENT - The Limbs of the Mukuyu Tree” is a story about a father, who races to save his daughter from darkness in a foreign land and finds himself along the way.


Topper wrote Pigment in the hopes of drawing more awareness around the plight of those targeted and harmed because of the lack of color in their skin in Africa; and also in an effort to understand this aspect of the human condition. How can it be in this day and age that children are believed to be ghosts and as such are hunted? What people are so desperate that they make a currency of their children?

“I did much research in trying to understand how this situation came about. It is rather recent and happening in a democratic society and therefore all the more intriguing.” -  RenéeTopper

Pigment is an exceptionally political story due to the subject matter, location, environment, characters, actions and more. The majority of the story is intentionally set where humanity’s roots are traced too. It is the source. And it is surrounded by turmoil across borders and people fleeing into the country as refugees. It is the richest land in resources and yet there is much lack of transparency and suffering for the gain of a few.

The Sanctuary
This story is an exploration of the true human condition; one point of view of who, what, where, why and how; a first world perspective of problems in a third world caused in large part by the first worlds.

She loves to go to a local café to write if she is in town, as they play heavy metal music, which she says forces her to hyper-focus on her work. Otherwise, she writes at a secluded cabin where she won’t see people for miles or days, just birds, bobcats and coyote.

Her sanctuary is the backyard of a studio she loves to create in. She writes better when she also exercises other parts of her brain. Those are some of her paintings drying on the table in the back.

BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Topper is a storyteller. She’s crafted for the big screen, the little screen, the stage, in speeches, press, marketing and advertising communications.  PIGMENT is her first foray into the novel format.  As well as being an accomplished writer, she is also a producer.  She is especially compelled to create and share stories that examine the human condition.

She is working on about 4 projects at the moment. The next one will be her second novel. A detective thriller, which is set primarily in Los Angeles. There is also a potential sequel to PIGMENT germinating in her story idea box.

HER INSPIRATIONS
Stories: Especially stories that explore the human condition; stories that take me somewhere I’ve never been before, but that are still familiar. I love to create worlds and get lost in them for a while. There is a freedom of flying that I relish and don’t always get to experience in my non-writing life. I often meditate and compelling concepts come from source.
Nature: I saw this tree on a morning hike on a break from a near-final edit of PIGMENT in the mountains in Idyllwild, California. The roots captivated me when I came upon it. I had just reread the chapter on the Mukuyu Tree.

HER CHALLENGES
I didn’t want to commit to the antagonist. It’s hard to make a bad guy out of something that is so big, ominous, obtuse and real. But I needed a symbol for all that in the shape of someone that could interact in the story.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK

She steps back but stands tall, sizing up the ridiculous height of this monolithic black building. The gotham-style architecture, the deliberate flared nostrils carved into the cladding, she sees that she is now face-to-face with the dragon. If Herr Teigen had his way, she would go.  But she’s staying. He knows more about what happened to Kennen and the American Albino Aliya, and she is determined to find out what, especially now.
***
She released the cloth, and it sunk into the dark pool. She gently put her soft wet fingers under my chin and brought my face to hers, so we were eye-to-eye. “You are beautiful the color you are.”
“But I don’t have any color. That’s what the kids say.”
She scrubbed hard, as if she could reach the kids voices in my head and scrub them away too.  But no one could get them out.  She poured water over my head and washed me clean.
***
The moon hangs full-bodied and low, well past its nightly peak, flicking glimpses of figures emerging from the thickest black. Drums beat rampant, the pulse to the attack. White. Black. White. Black. Blacks powdered white, white power, in the night. Ghosts with blades drawn and led by the Creepy Man in white face. They encroach upon the Mukuyu.

THE STORY
In real life in parts of Africa, people who are born albino -- without pigment melanin in their skin -- are believed to be magic and so are hunted by witchdoctors for their body parts to be used in black magic potions and worse. In this fictional tale, a young albino American woman, Aliya, volunteers and helps children in Tanzania, but it is revealed in time that she is also an activist, involved in actions to draw attention to and stop the atrocities facing albino people. She goes missing and her father, Jalil, a retired special ops and private securities contractor, hurries to her rescue. As he follows her trail, he learns more about the plight of albinos and the root cause of the demand and all the troubles in this third world. He learns much more about his daughter and surroundings through the people she knew and other mysterious characters he meets on the trail: Kennen the young Irishman who works with her at the orphanage, the African political activist Rhadi, Fahamu the sorceress, Bui Bui the witchdoctor, Delilah the orphanage house mom, Rolf an old comrade of Jalil's from Sweden, Luamke the magistrate, Akida the local police chief, Fiona the stubborn Irish civil rights attorney and big sister to Kennen, and the Elder who sits and watches under the old Mukuyu Tree. While in pursuit, Jalil is also faced with his own issues of color and haunted by his past as he is running out of time to save Aliya from the darkness that has taken her -- from the depths of Africa all the way to Germany. There he comes face-to-face with the evil that covets his daughter for her skin.

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When I asked her about the time taken to write the book, she says…

"I first read an article in BBC on the plight in 2009. I was finishing up another project at the time and so put it in my story idea box. I put a lot of story ideas in there. The ones that don’t let me go, that keep calling me back to them get taken back out of the box and start sounding out and plotting. I always work on many projects at once. The one closest to being finished gets the most attention. I was also unsure if Pigment would be a screenplay or a book at first, so I wrote both versions. The first draft of the novel was completed in 2014. But I changed it significantly since then, through to the beginning of this year." - Renée Topper

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT RENÉE TOPPER
The most interesting thing about her is that her stories are more interesting. Well, that makes up for a good writer, which she absolutely is.

TWO BIG THINGS OF HER LIFE
I made it past 25.
I’m persistent if not consistent.

HER FAVORITES
GENRE: Fiction (both realistic and non-realistic)

BOOKS:
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran – For its truth and pure beauty

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – For its interplay between two worlds, the perspectives of the characters in each, and not to mention the emotional pull




– Written by Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” | Haiku Poet
Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind


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ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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