Anton Marks has seven novels under his belt with a number of them drawing on his Caribbean identity. And after visiting Jamaica for Animecom Fest 2019 in Kingston, he’s more than happy with the state of creativity in Jamaica.
“Animecom Fest was an opportunity for me to support the kind of event I would have loved to attend when growing up in Jamaica. As a writer, my target audience is among the people who attend events like this. The organiser, Ricardo Carter, and his great team have tapped into a world trend that will only get more popular on the island,” he said.
Born Anthony Hewitt in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents, he moved to Jamaica with his parents when he was nine years old.
“I’ve always loved stories. I read and enjoyed comics from an early age and copied their styles in school. I used exercise books to write serialised tales with drawings for my classmates. I was drawn to words and how they could convey emotion from an early age. I always felt I had tales to tell from my unique perspective, so I created the opportunity and took the leap,” he said.
Hewitt eventually returned to England and made that leap in the 1990s with his very first book, a crime thriller called Dancehall, under the pseudonym Anton Marks. It was part of an experiment by an upcoming publisher at the time, X Press Publishers, who were looking for writers that could deliver what Hewitt termed as the black experience in an entertaining way. His latest book is the second in his Good II Be Bad series. A supernatural thriller, it revolves around three mystically gifted female warriors, one of whom is Chinese-Jamaican.
However, the road between these books wasn’t a smooth one until the more recent invention of online publishing, through Amazon and other Internet-based entities. The paradigm shift removed many of the barriers, including the belief that there is a lack of financial benefit in producing minority specific content. This freedom didn’t come without its own downside, as Hewitt explains.
“Just because you’ve written and published a book doesn’t mean readers will find you,” he said.
His advice to aspiring Caribbean writers of any genre is to maintain three elements – quality, professionalism and marketing.
“The problem is no longer access, but quality and marketing. Authors like me must keep the quality of their work, writing and the finished product, high,” Hewitt told BUZZ, while encouraging other Caribbean and black writers to remember their heritage as they tackle a range of issues in their books.
— Written by Nichola Beckford