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Antoine has had a varied career in his life. He caught the wave of Star Wars by having a relevant Youtube channel. He’s used those skills with his author career.
He uses his life experience and his family ancestry to bring unique stories to life. He bases some of his stories on African mythology and brings it to life in his stories.
Check out his website – https://www.antoinebandele.com/
He has a great youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/SilentBat
His latest book is a sky pirate series:
Antoine’s favorite local bookstore is Eso Won Books
Hey, welcome to another episode of discovered wordsmith. This is Episode 10. So glad you’ve come to this one. today’s talk is with the Antwan vandelay. And he it’s a great talk. He has some great stories out there. And he’s really an inspiration. He’s been doing this on YouTube for a while he kind of got out on his own big because of Star Wars. And now he’s transitioned into doing author work in writing, but he also has a web page where he has posters and T shirts, and he bases his books on his family’s ancestry and African history. And it’s really great talk with him. He’s really exciting to listen to, if you would like to check out his books. You can find him at Anton. Antwan vandelay.com, please take a moment, listen to this, check him out. And here’s an one. And one Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking some time to talk to me today. I really loved your cover your book I haven’t gotten it yet to read. But I’ve just had to find out a little bit more about you and talk to you. So before we delve into the writing and publishing, tell me a bit about who you are your background in some of the things you do besides writing, how far back do you want to go? You go on like a high school back? Are you going like back five years that whatever you think is relevant, that’s fine. I mean, you don’t look very young, or you don’t look very old. And your pictures I imagine it shouldn’t take too long.
Well, so I would I’ll maybe go like six years back. And the reason for that is because that’s when I first went self employed. So I used to work for Apple retail. So I was one of those guys who you would come in and ask questions about your new phone or why you know, the battery is dying and us having to say like, oh, because you know this and that, and then it later coming out that like yeah, we actually do, you know, hurt your batteries intentionally for like the technology part of it. Right, right. So I left there in 2015. And the reason for that, and the catalyst for that was Star Wars. And so that’s the basis of it. But the real reason for it was because I started or I’ve had a YouTube channel since 2007. Like almost like when YouTube came out. But I was at that point putting like, short films and, and skits and like, good reviews on there, but not necessarily much else. But then Star Wars came back. And I was like kind of like, Oh yeah, I’m actually I was into Star Wars in high school, let me like get back into it, that was doing this thing called the vs series where I put two fictional characters together. And then that started expanding out. And with the popularity of Star Wars, my channel kind of like, you know, went with it. And I was like, Hey, I don’t need to be here anymore at Apple. So let me let me just do this YouTube thing. And so I did that. And that’s why I’m doing freelance work for other YouTube channels like editing and graphics and stuff like that. expanded out to like, avatar, The Last Airbender, which is not my biggest thing right now. And that taught me like over the past, up until 2017, when I started publishing taught me how to work for myself and just you know, how to be my own entrepreneur. And in that, I think I was watching Game of Thrones at the time, because I was part of one of my channel things. And I was always wondering if there’s like an African Game of Thrones, or like, just what African fantasy is out there. And you know, I ended up researching and finding out an author’s like Nettie Okafor and nk jemisin. And then, of course, recently told me, it me who published the same year that I did. And I just was like, Oh, yeah, I will. I would like to see a fantasy that I would like to see with African people in the forefront and specifically African people who aren’t depicted, post colonial but pre colonial, because I feel like we’ve seen a lot of that pre colonial or not sorry, the post colonial storyline, I think and that time, 12 years of slave had come out and everybody wishes lauding it and I was like, this is another slave movie. I don’t I don’t need to see another slave of Yeah, rather Skillshare Having fun, doing magic and being cool and not necessarily being oppressed or being victims, you know, I’m tired of that narrative. So then I went with that while engaging with the indie community. I think the first podcast I listened to was, I think they were called the self publishing podcast. This is the one with them. Oh, the guys, the three guys.
Yeah, Johnny truant. And yeah, Vlad and Dave Yeah, yeah, all of them. That were my first and then I ganju joined a panel shortly after and then mark Dawson. And you know, now I’m listening to the career author and a bunch of like Kobo writing life in the writing excuses that Brandon Sanderson. So I’m like, in all of that now, and that is what got me to even consider, oh, I can do this on my own kind of a thing. And the same way I did YouTube on my own and didn’t work for a corporation.
Well, that is a heck of a lot to unpack there. There’s a lot 20 things. Yeah, it’s, I find that exciting. Um, I’m older than you. So I actually got to live through the original Star Wars. So I’ll talk about that a little bit. Now, did you know though, that the the Clone Wars cartoon, the guy that mostly did that produced or whatever was Dave Filoni he started with airbender the cartoon
he actually started the hill and then moved on to airbender and then got Clone Wars. It was really dope.
Yeah, yeah. Did you watch the behind the scenes for Mandalorian with him?
And no idea and the reason I also another thing right now, as I’m kind of on a Star Wars hiatus right now, because yeah,
a little bit mistreated, not with mentally I actually do like Mandalorian. But I do think that it is overhyped, because what came before it was not what everyone was everyone’s cup of tea, or everyone could agree on. It’s still very good. I think it’s a great it’s a definitely the best things that has come out since like, 2015. I just think it’s like incredible. So my friend actually taught me and Tommy told me about the behind the scenes feature you’re talking about right now. And like, you know, the the technology they use for like, they use a set but not a set the same thing they use on Oblivion, the Tom Cruise movie?
Yeah, it was is pretty fun. And I agree with you. There’s been some missteps, let’s say, but you know, that’s something we should call the Star Wars podcast. Let’s go. I’m sure we could go. Right, exactly. So the other thing I find interesting is, you just have jumped right into doing YouTube jumped right into all these opportunities available online and done these things. And I’ll ask you a bit about your website in a moment. You don’t just write books, you’ve got shirts, and you’ve got some audio, you’ve got all sorts of things. So tell me a little bit about your thinking that that you obviously might be a Modern Renaissance man, they, your generation definitely has all these things available that you can do, and you definitely seem to be embracing it and keeping your own thoughts doing what you want to do. Um, is that something you wanted to do in high school? Has you kind of grown into it as time has gone by?
I think it’s something that at least my instructors and teachers had told me that I probably would end up doing, because I remember in after high school, I went to this program called inner city filmmakers, because at that time, I was like, Oh, this filmmaking stuff is cool. Um, and during that program, the the the main instructor, the the owner, creator, I guess you would call of the program. She was like, Hey, man, you would make a really good producer. And that sounds so boring to a 19 year old, you know, like, want to be director, writer kind of thing. It’s like a producer, like you mean just like get everybody corralled, and, you know, make things happen. And it was like, that sounds ridiculous. But now, like, 10 years later, I’m like, Oh, yeah, I’m totally producer because I’m not just a writer. But I am a basically an indie publisher, I published for other authors under my imprint. I like, like you mentioned, I do produce audio books on my own in house. And yeah, I just like, I’m very good at coordinating all that kind of stuff. And just not I was very resistant to it, you know, in my 20s
Okay, so you had all these things you could do and you seem to be involved a lot with film. What made you want to write a book and publish a book?
Well, that was actually my first creative endeavor. Like when I was younger, my mom had us write books all the time and like, like, you know, children’s books with a kind of like a quasi comic book kind of thing. You know, you have your pictures and you have the words next to them. And then sometimes you get them laminated, which I thought was really cool. We go to smart and final and laminate it and it looks for like, you know, like real or whatever. And then I was writing you know, like in elementary and middle school and you know, got praised for that, but I was like, Okay, cool. And then That same program that inner city filmmakers program, I won their screenwriting award that summer. And still it was like, yeah, whatever, you know, university went to, like, you know, writing classes, and had my instructors go like, Man, you should be writing. I mean, I don’t know, like, direct I rather do everything else besides that, um, but then in with the whole wanting to find a fantasy that I wanted to read. Instead of waiting for it, I just wrote it myself. And that was the catalyst for that was just like, you could do it yourself these days.
Yeah. And I don’t think you’re the first person that said yeah, there’s nothing out there I want to read so I better write it right. So tell us a bit about your books because I’m looking at the website right now and I must say you have some amazing art did you do the art to know
that I am okay. I do have artistic ability but I’m very limited in like the poses and the kinds of facial expressions like I just saw, I definitely hire out for that. But I think it helps I think it helps when you’re creative to have a lot of creative talents because then you can communicate with whoever you’re working with. Right very clearly. So the fact that I have a slight a slight artist background I can like you know, speak to them pretty easily or the fact that I edit my audio books if I’m ever working with another engineer, you know, we speak the same language, that sort of thing. But yeah, everything I almost everything else is commissioned except for my audio books, which are all in house.
Okay, so tell us a bit about the books the the stories you want to get out. You mentioned a bit about African American you mentioned a bit about pre colonial days and I mean, I’m looking at the one the kitschy. Did I pronounce that right Kishi?
I mean, I could be wrong because I have never had an ongoing person actually speak to me and tell me although I think No, I had a woman and she would have probably told me if I was saying it wrong. But I’ve been saying Kishi, and she didn’t correct me. So I’m gonna assume that it’s
okay. But I mean, I’m looking at that cover. And they always say, make a cover that tells what it’s about and attracts people. And that is really great cover. I love the other ones, too. But that one really stands out to me. So tell us a bit about the books, the stories what you were trying to get out when you wrote those.
So initially for I think, from 2016 to 2017. I just read up on African history, African folklore mythology. And in doing that my brother who’s a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons, was like, Oh, hey, there’s this African mythology that like shows up in my books all the time. It’s called a Kishi. It’s like this guy, like a charmer, who has like a handsome face on the front. But then he hides a hyena on the back of his head, and he tries women, and then he eats them. Or if you’d like someone left, you know, like, he impregnates them with demon children who eat their way out of their mom’s womb. I was like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, this exists. And there’s absolutely no research. I was like, Oh, wait, let me see. Maybe there’s a book that about it. So I was like, looking at the Kishi books like, nothing like him telling me that premise. And just like, it’s their abilities. I’m like, there’s a story in that already. Like, it tells itself, you know what I mean? Like, how does it not exist already? So yeah, I took that and started researching even more specifically, because at first, and that year, I was just doing General, you know, African continent knowledge. And that’s a huge, huge, huge scope. People don’t realize how huge Africa is sometimes, um, and then I started narrowing down to Angola and the kimbundu people who, who believe in the Kishi mythology, and yeah, just went just went in on that and just loved that it was a mythology that isn’t highlighted much in something that just was so well suited to a story.
I think it looks great. And I love what you just said about I mean, that that’s a great elevator pitch to tell people. That’s a story you said, it’s not out there. So I got to ask with everything going on in our country right now. Do you think your books it? Would you be an African American in your books about the culture, the history? Do you think that something that maybe more people should see that? There is? I’m not saying there’s no racism? I’m not saying there’s no differences in how people get things. But do you think pointing you saying, Hey, I’m African American, I’ve been able to do this, look at what I’ve got, and it’s part of my culture in history. Do you think that’s an important thing to get out there nowadays? Or have you been trying to hide a little bit?
Nah, definitely never hide it. And the whole reason I wanted to do this was to normalize black fantasy. Not necessarily, I guess, like, be revolutionary or anything, it’s just, we and the thing is that we’ve been out here already, like all these like fantasy novels that I started researching about, like they were just there, you just have to dig deep to find them just that we haven’t had the platform quite yet. So that’s why I love things like we did two three weeks back and we had the blackout Tuesday and then we had like the you know, from up to June teens and I think it started in like mid June or something like that. You know, buy two books from like authors to try that out kind of a thing like campaigns like that are so great because shows there’s been a lot of it already out there. It’s just that the platform for it but I think it’s doing well right now because if you think about Black Panther that just came out. That was huge. And then Tommy out of me is children of blood and bone just got picked up or not just got like two years ago was picked up by Lucasfilm. They’re making a movie of it. Naoko four fours who fears death and Binti are going to be on HBO and TNT, respectively. nk jemisin, I think has her fifth season, you know, being optioned. There’s so much it’s happening right now. Like it’s happening right now.
Yes. And I’m excited about that. Because, okay, let me ask you this. And again, I’m not trying to get political and racist, but the Black Panther movie, it wasn’t the first black superhero. It wasn’t the first big name one. But it was the first one in the Marvel MCU. Do you feel that it represented African American people well, or that showed them? Like they should? Or maybe not?
That was the reason why I loved it, actually. And I The reason I think that one’s the div is different from the previous ones that came out is because it was unapologetically and specifically black. And specifically African. Rather, yeah, we had a blade, you know, we had some things like blink man and Meteor man, which most of you don’t even know about. But that was those were my favorite superhero movies of growing up as a child
to look those up. Oh,
yeah. Meteor man in particular, is what I like. But blink man is kind of a comedic take on, like Batman, which is really funny. But um, yeah, those existed, but none of them were really, really integrated with African culture and African lore. And what killmonger represented. I liked a bit because there is sometimes a cultural clash. And people don’t realize this when they kind of see black as like a blanket. But then there are subsets of like, you know, an African American is going to be different from a West Indies, Caribbean, African or, or someone who is from the actual Motherland, that we are different people. And it’s not a monolith. And I like that that notion was brought up of the differences between the two. And the idea that if there was an African nation that had like, you know, the best technology in the world, not doing anything for its people, and there’s an African American child who had to grow up in the shit, and then be like, Whoa, you guys are eating, and I’m not eating. Like, I don’t like that. And him being misguided, because he has no leadership. He has no tie to his past. That hit me really hard. And I know for a lot of people they’re like, although they might critique the movie about like, oh, the CGI was bad, or like, you know, something like that. And I’m like, that’s kind of thing doesn’t. And I’ll openly admit, and I’m extremely biased because of the color of my skin because of how I grew up is a large reason why I adore that movie.
Well, I know. Looking at again, I haven’t read your books yet, but just looking at the covers and what you described of it. It sounds very different. And I that’s I’m like, Man, that sounds like something I really want to read. It’s funny. I was just watching another video talking about tropes in fantasy, and they named all these tropes. It’s like yeah, Lord of the Rings, and Sanderson stuff and Wheel of Time and Harry Potter they all have all these tropes and agents are bored with it agents don’t want to see it anymore. Everybody’s read it they all know it it’s kind of a joke. And and looking at going yeah, every single one of these is like white characters with white writers. No wonder it turns out the same you know, it’s it’s so boring. And that’s one of the great things of our country is we have all this culture we have all these different people from different lands come together but we still have the same boring stories coming out. So I find it exciting when I ran into your your books I saw him on read see, as like the see in the sky is the one I saw and I’m like, that looks like a cool book just looking at the cover and that’s why I searched you out. So for me, I think it’s cool and exciting to be able to see these stories that you know who wants another Harry Potter who wants another Lord of the Rings? We’ve got enough of those. Do you think that that’s one of the things keeping you going right now and do you think your your future books are gonna go along the same lines keeping that definite cultural focus or might you veer veer off of that a little bit?
No, definitely a Benelli books as my imprint is a pan African brand so that that’s not going away? I don’t think ever, but also what my has more meaning than that too, because my last name isn’t actually my birth name. I was born Anton Bailey. But then my dad did research about like where that name came from. And he assumed which is funny isn’t actually true. He assumed that it was a slave name, because Bailey is a Irish name, but then doing the ancestral stuff, I realized that that came in through marriage. And it was the French and German that had brought over our ancestors to the to the to the States. But anyway, the case, the reason why he wanted to change our name is because he wanted to have something that was from where we came from West Africa, specifically, Nigeria, and then more specific to that the yoruba people. So my last name is vandelay, which we thought meant born away from home. And that’s the reason why he chose it, because he’s like, Oh, that’s significant. We were born away from home, that’s going to be our last name, but it’s actually a mistranslation of the Yoruba term, which is actually by me deadly, which means follow me home. So that’s kind of like my mantra for my brand is like, Hey, guys, return home with me. And let’s like, you know, have some stories, you know, that that take place in the motherland or are or influenced and inspired by the motherland?
It’s kind of a double meaning for right. It has its own meaning for sure. And both words, okay. Yeah, I like that. Um, so tell me a little bit about your other books and what future book plans you might have.
So I mean, well, we touched on a little bit. So the first one was the Kishi, which is like a, kind of a darker fantasy and mythology type thing, the by sea and sky, which you mentioned. What is a pirate fantasy? So that one’s a, you know, based on that, and there’s some airships in there, too, which are pretty cool. But I’m right now literally, actually, right after he was called. I’m going to continue writing in a minute like three chapters until I’m complete it on my first young adult book, which is actually funny. He mentioned Harry Potter part of his target is Harry Potter, but mostly Percy Jackson fans, because Are you familiar Percy Jackson and like
that? Yeah. I love Robin.
Yeah. Oh, and he’s doing great, too. I don’t know if you know, his imprint that he has where he is representing other cultures. So like right now he has a strong punches a hole through the sky, which is like an African American folklore tale with like Bray rabbit and john Henry. And then he’s had some stuff, some Hindi stuff. And Chinese tell. And yeah, he’s doing some
fantastic stuff with that. That sounds pretty cool.
Yeah. So it’s like similar to Percy Jackson in the sense that, um, you know, it’s about you know, an American kid who realized his he’s a descendant of, you know, Greek gods and Poseidon, I believe was his father in that one. Oh, my God. That’s like a spoiler. I think we’re okay. Right. And it’s like a 20 year old book or something?
So I’m kind of doing that with my own. It’s called TJ young and the OD shows and the ratios are the way I explained it best to people who are familiar, you know, with the Euro mythology is, it’s like Greek and Roman mythology, and that there’s a pantheon of gods that these West Africans believed in and still believed to some people still believing in today. And I’m having my African American kid learning about it and then going to like, you know, a magic camp and discovering all of that. It’s pretty cool. Like, I’m literally almost on with him like three chapters away.
That sounds cool. I notice they all seem to be within the same world or universe and it says it see if I’m pronouncing this an ISA one story. So one, so one,
okay, so that is my adult series, and that it’s about adult characters, not because adult content necessarily, but yeah, that is a shared universe. So for instance, by sea and sky, this the sky pirate tale, and the Kishi the dark fantasy, those take place in the same world, though in separate regions. So I’m building out the world bit by bit. Kind of like okay, so like with Game of Thrones, you Game of Thrones starts after Rob’s 4 billion. I’m basically writing about Rob’s rebellion first, and then eventually getting into like the big saga huge book, epic fantasy stuff later.
Okay, so you definitely seem to keep having plans, and you’ve got more and more coming out. I think that’s very cool. Do you have plans of doing anything with these? Maybe a cartoon, maybe a video or you know, movie or something like that.
Uh, the Kishi first chapter, already has been adapted as a comic book, which is called the man with no name. And I really liked that. That was a fun one to do. And then a, but in terms of adapting to like animation, or anything else, like that takes a little bit longer. But while I do like being indie, for something like that, I would actually try and get a literary agent for that in terms of, but I have to wait because I first I don’t have a actual completed series yet. I’m not gonna complete a trilogy, getting there soon. Once I do that, then I would want to, you know, pitch out to a literary agent and then they can, you know, figure out where the best home for it would be.
Right? And honestly, just looking at your stuff talking to you. I don’t doubt that that’s in the future. Um, okay, so what are you doing right now to market these books? And I know like I said, You’ve got a lot on your website, you’ve got other things going on. So what are just some of the things you’re doing to get your name out?
Right now I’m using, you know, the typical indie, HMS Amazon ads, and Facebook ads and bookbub. All and I actually do, follow Mark Dawson and I have his course, his self publishing formula coast, of course, in which I do all those steps. But then also I’ve expanded out so as you saw with reezy, I was on reading discovery. I hidden gems has a arc advanced reader copy program that I so I’m always looking for other ways to market besides just the typical ads. So yeah, I’ve been doing that, even for by seeing this guy hired a marketing consultant. And just so I can, like make sure that had like the right footing. And it’s working, because like, you just got a whole bunch of other people were like finding the book and stuff. So.
Right. So that’s definitely good. How has reapz done for you using the discovery? Because I know a lot of people are questioning, it’s still kind of new. has it done well for you?
I mean, time will tell, I guess, how effective but so far, I’ve had not seen anything negative about it. I mean, it’s helped me so far. But again, like you said, it’s it’s it’s in its infancy, we don’t really know, like, what it what its true potential is or where it might stagnate. But so far, I’ve had no issue.
Okay, so let me ask other than your website on I’m assuming Amazon, is there anywhere else you can get your book are you doing? I know, maybe not. But are you doing a appearances anywhere that I had? No,
I was, that was my goal this year to like, I had 2020 goals video that had on my YouTube channel, important, like the ending of it was supposed to be a thing, guys, I’m gonna go to LA Comic Con and sell my books. And that’s the reason why I actually made the comic book I specifically designed that comic book because I was like, oh, if I’m going to be at a comic convention, might be a good idea to have a comic book. So it’s like so I’ll have that comic book as like, you know, a lost leader and people can see that and, and then at the end of it, I have a call to action to be like, Hey, this is a book series if you want to compete the rest of the story. But yeah, no, I don’t have anything but I am my books are completely wide. So that’s audio book and print. The only thing that is exclusive is ebooks because I’m in Kindle Unlimited, which is like Netflix for books. But other than that, it’s everywhere. Like if you want to on Apple books for audio, Kobo, Google Play, Audible, it’s all there print. It’s in Barnes and Nobles. It’s in some indie stores. Like I know, onyx bookstore has it and this other one in Georgia, which their name is escaping me right now. But it’s out there. So definitely, it’s definitely out there.
Nice. Okay, so, before we go, do you have any advice for other new authors or people struggling to get into this market?
I always first give them the link to the people that I followed when I first started. So that would be like the self publishing podcast, the mark Dawson’s a Joanna not Joanna Jenna maresi, who is a YouTuber, she’s a really good one too. She’s probably really good. If you like someone who is very casual about how they explain things or not being super, like official or whatever. She’s really cool for that. A Joanna pin is a huge, huge recommendation. Especially if you’re trying to go indie, though, those podcasts is what I usually push people to when they’re starting.
Okay, great. Well, no one. Tell us how to spell your name. So the people find your website,
for sure. It is antoinne spelled the original French spelling. So it’s a n t o n e if you’re in France, you might hear Antoine because that’s their accent and that’s how they do it. But in America, we have a harsher A. So it’s a n t o i n e and my last name is b a n d e l e.com. So Antwan vandelay.com.
That’s great. I love it. All right. And one. It was really great talking to you. I’m glad you’ve had the time to do this. I look forward to possibly talking to you again in the future. As you get more things out and see where you go with it. Yeah, for sure.