Black Ancestors Old Folks Tales

Interview with Paul Crooks author of Ancestors

Paul Crooks, author of Ancestors is a man in demand. He is widely being tipped to inherit the mantle of the great Alex Haley. So when I was asked to interview him I knew I was in for a treat and a long needed trip back down memory lane.
I was curious: how does the 30-something father-of-one end up spending 13 years researching his family roots and writing one of the most talked about works of fiction in Britain.

Inspired by Roots the mini-series

“I was 13 when I saw Roots and was completely riveted and inspired by it,” he says.
“It made me feel so proud of who I was and reawakened a deep desire within me to find out about my family history”
However, as he admits, “ It’s one thing being inspired, quite another doing something about it.” Especially when you’re a young teenager. Crooks eventually got his chance thanks to a family visit to Jamaica, to embark on what would prove to be one of the most arduous but rewarding tasks of his life.

Inspiring others to find their roots

“The family wanted a large reunion and we wanted to produce something special for my grandmother,” He says.
I thought it would a nice idea to produce a report of my family genealogy. But the more I researched, the more I discovered.
“And the more I discovered, the more I realised what I was uncovering would be better written as a book.”
“It felt like one of those important moments in my life. It was the strangest feeling to be looking at 200 years of history”.
He wants Ancestors to reach out and touch as many people as possible.
“I want to inspire people to start talking to their older folks, to start getting them to tell their stories,” he says.


Note: Abridged version of an interview with Ezolaagbo Achikeobi, Woman2Woman magazine