In Bermuda, Jessie Moniz Hardy (Royal Gazette) writes about Brightest Shade: Legacy’s Lament, a first novel by Jo’Anthony Dellarro, whose real name is Randy Carter. The novel was inspired by tattoos. Hardy writes:
Randy Carter got his first tattoo as a teenager, as a way to rebel against a difficult childhood. He had the words “Riddle My Fate” inked across his upper back. “‘Riddle my Fate’ was a mantra I developed when I was 14 years old by combining my love for heroes verses villains and reality,” Mr Carter said. “My goal was to feel empowered within myself, as if I had more control over my life’s situation.”
Now 32, his ink is the inspiration behind his first novel, Brightest Shade, a story that uses tattoos to create a fantastical universe.
The plot follows a young couple who open a shop dedicated to art and gaming in a college town. Soon they befriend Shayn, a scientific prodigy, who debuts a special iridescent gold tattoo ink, in a section of their store. The ink isn’t only beautiful, but powerful as well. The tattoos are magical, and come to life for a short time, each with its own unique abilities. “Everyone sees these new tattoos as a power,” Mr Carter said. “The people, in the story, who introduce you to these new inks find they have to put a lot of rules and regulations on it, because people are starting to get hurt. They try their best to police it and chaos ensues.”
One of the tattoos in the story is modelled after his own tattoo, and helps the wearer tell the future. Mr Carter has been working on Brightest Shade since his son, Cardell, was born in 2013. “I had all these ideas in my head,” Mr Carter said. “I was about to become a parent and I wanted to try my best to do something with my ideas. I was just moving furniture, truck driving, and doing electrical work. I have also been working at the Fairmont Southampton since I graduated from high school. I needed some more excitement in my life. Why would God put all these ideas into my head, if I wasn’t meant to use them?”
When he started to put pen to paper, he received some writing help from Bermuda College English professor Sharon Virgil. “Someone told me to go and see her,” Mr Carter said. “Dr Virgil showed me how to polish different parts. That was what really took the time, cutting and polishing.”
His first draft of Brightest Shade was more than 1,000 pages. Self-publishing house Book Babies, helped him cut the story considerably and showed him that he had the potential for many books. The Legacy’s Lament series was born. “I had to pay Book Babies $4,000 to edit it,” Mr Carter said. “It cost so much because it was so long. “They read it all and said not so much fix the plot, but to choose a plot.”
The book went on sale in early February shortly before his son’s 7th birthday. Since then, he has had some good feedback from readers. “A lot of people said they loved the story,” he said. “They did have a few questions about cliff hangers which I put in there on purpose because I didn’t want to give you everything in one book.”
He published Brightest Shade under the name Jo’Anthony Dellarro, a combination of the middle names of his three children.
Mr Carter has learnt that writing is difficult, and you really have to have a passion for it. “You have to really want to do it,” he said. He thinks he wrote over 20 drafts of Brightest Shade, before the book was finally published.
He first fell in love with writing in primary school. He can remember writing a story about a pencil floating in the Pacific Ocean. “One of my teachers said ‘you need to be a story teller’,” he said. “She said ‘the stories you do for English class are insane. You have quite the imagination on you’.”
Now at home during social-distancing, he is working on his next book in the series which he hopes to bring out in the next two years, and also a comic that goes with the book. “I have learnt what not to do for the next book,” he said. “There were a lot of editorial conundrums I ran into. I found I kept editing over and over and over. It was a horror story dealing with a self publisher. I had to basically edit myself and look for my own hiccups.”
After the book came out, he was excited when he heard a radio announcement listing him as a Brown&Co local author. “I thought, ‘oh my goodness, this is real’,” he said. “It was nice to have validation for all the hard work I did. It paid off.”
As a reward to himself, he got another tattoo, this one on his chest. “This one says ‘Embrace Destiny’ and was created by my wife, Shakeela,” he said. “It is an answer to my first tattoo ‘Riddle My Fate’. It ends in a smile because that’s how I’m looking at life’s lemons.”
- Brightest Shade is being sold online at Amazon.com and http://store.bookbaby.com/book/brightest-shade. For more information see Mr Carter’s Facebook and Instagram page under Jo’Anthony Dellarro.