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A look at ‘The Lion’s Den’

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Author Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt at The Lion’s Den on Court Street (Photograph by Stephen Raynor)

The conversation between young people about “ratchet” clothing was a little beyond Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt’s understanding, but it led to a discussion on women and their place in society that she was sure would make an interesting book.

The problem was she had no clue how to write one – despite the many stories she’d taken to the stage as a playwright.

Ms Pogson-Nesbitt, a drama teacher at CedarBridge Academy, called on her former colleague Brooklyn Knight, an author who coaches other writers through her course, 16 Weeks to Published.

“She actually called me up to ask me if I would help her with her first book, The Handmaid’s Daughter, and that's how our relationship grew. It was very interesting how she could churn out so many books and when I found out she wasn’t teaching I said, ‘I need to do that. Let me take her course.’ So earlier this year I called her up and she was so excited that I was coming and the rest is history.”

Ms Pogson-Nesbitt plans to complete the first novel in a trilogy, The Lion’s Den: Ascending the Throne: Book 1, and have it ready for sale in October.

The title comes from The Lion’s Den, a store owned by Ms Pogson-Nesbitt’s husband, Graham Nesbitt. From its hillside perch beside St Paul AME Church on Court Street, it offers a range of clothing and skincare items from Africa and Jamaica.

The book itself details a complicated love triangle: Rachel, “a sexy woman who wanted to control her world using her physical assets” desires the heir to a “cultural dynasty, The Lion’s Den”. Ryan, however, is “a good guy”, who is planning to marry someone else.

The cover of Patricia Pogson Nesbitt’s upcoming book (Photograph supplied)

The plot was easy. The difficulty was getting her thoughts down on paper, Ms Pogson-Nesbitt said.

“With playwriting you understand that the document is written and that the actors are going to come with skills and we're going to have things that the audience sees the characters do. What I didn't understand is that I had to put the directions that are given to actors on stage, in the text of a novel. I didn't get it at first.”

In an early chapter of the book, two girls are running up the steps of the store. One is much faster than the other.

“Brooklyn says, ‘Ms Pat, what happened to the [slower girl]? I go, ‘She’s sitting in front of the cash register trying to catch her breath.’ And she said, ‘Well you have to write that.’ It took me a very long time to understand.”

As she intended to self-publish, Ms Pogson-Nesbitt also had to learn how to promote her work.

“Writing a novel, it's just 5 per cent of the work. The other 95 per cent, if you're going to self-publish, is the business of marketing and selling your book. There were things I did not think about; things I didn’t know.”

BookTok, a literature community on TikTok, was one of those things.

“I had to have a logo, I had to have a BookTok page. I had to have an Instagram page, a Facebook page for myself as a writer; I did a YouTube page, creative book trailers are really good … having a website. So there are all these pieces that I had to do. There are pictures that you should take of yourself that [should be] very becoming, so that people get to know who you are.”

In her case, she had a history to fall back on. At Howard University Ms Pogson-Nesbitt studied theatre and was vice-president of its touring group, The Howard Players.

On her return to Bermuda she ran the Ministry of Youth Sport & Recreation Travelling Roadshow from 1983 until 1998. It was where her journey as a playwright began.

“My charge was to create an original production about an issue in society in Bermuda and invite children to come in and hone their skills in theatre,” she said.

When that ended, Ms Pogson-Nesbitt formed her own company, Black Box Theatre.

“From there I started doing original writing, original productions. In 1987, I got a job as a teacher, at Devonshire Academy, which was where CedarBridge is now and I became a part of the drama team of teachers that were there.”

When Patrice Frith Hayward, who was then “a burgeoning playwright”, came calling, Ms Pogson-Nesbitt extended her skills.

“She asked me to look at a script. I rewrote it for her and that was my beginning of helping people that wanted to be playwrights. People who had great stories, but did not have the skill sets to write a play. But this is my first novel. And so it's a challenge.”

Author Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt (Photograph by Stephen Raynor)

Her unconventional method of marketing the book has added to that challenge.

Ms Pogson-Nesbitt intends to bring a few chapters of the book to life, with four live performances starting on Thursday.

“This was a learning curve for me to the point where I'm behind and so this is why I'm doing what I call ‘a read aloud performance’ by characters that are featured in the book. When people come they will see very popular actors in Bermuda who are going to read chapters and each chapter will [move] from one to another with some music. And then I will have a discussion afterwards about how people feel about what they heard.

“So it will be a performance of the work, the readers will dress in character. What happens next is, based on the comments that I get from there, I will finish the book. When I say finish it, I will go back and I'll make sure that anything that they said that resonated with me [is included].”

Once the book is complete, Ms Pogson-Nesbitt intends to turn it “into a production” next spring.

Photographers Stephen Raynor and Michelle Dismont-Frazzoni with the author Patricia-Pogson-Nesbitt, at a photoshoot for her upcoming book (Photograph supplied)

General feedback from the people who have read what she has completed so far has been great.

“The main sentiment is, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t wait to read the next chapter.’ That to me says volumes,” she said.

The Lion’s Den: Ascending the Throne: Book 1 will be available on Amazon.com in October. Part of the book will be performed at 8pm Thursday through Sunday, July 3, at Buna Gallery and Coffee House. Tickets, $50, are available at www.hook.bm or 703-6248. Audience members will receive a signed copy of the book once it is completed. For information on 16 Weeks to Published visit brooklynknightenterprises.com

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Published June 27, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated June 28, 2022 at 7:48 am)

A look at ‘The Lion’s Den’

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