The Roads We Take

Interviewed by Literary Titan

Justin Kojok
Justin Kojok, The Author

Driving for Justice follows a successful lawyer who becomes a Laafia car driver. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The inspiration really came from observing the hectic pace and priorities of modern professional life. I was intrigued by the idea of someone with a high-stress, prestigious career making the unexpected choice to embrace a simpler, and more interpersonal job on the side. The act of driving, which is physically linear but can be emotionally and philosophically meandering, seemed like the perfect metaphor to explore John’s unexpected journey of self-discovery. It’s about the roads we take, the stops we make along the way, and the passengers—each carrying their unique stories—that join us during the ride.

John takes great pleasure in driving and meeting new people in his part-time job, learning their stories, and, in the process, learning more about himself. What are some things that you find interesting about the human condition that you think make for great fiction?

Human vulnerability and resilience strike me as profoundly compelling themes for fiction. In Driving for Justice, John’s encounters with various passengers highlight these aspects beautifully. Each person he meets represents different facets of life—hope, despair, ambition, and regret. I find the concept of strangers opening up in the confined space of a car fascinating. It’s a safe space where conversations can veer into personal territories more freely, revealing the raw and real layers of personality that we often hide from the outside world. This setting allows exploration of how our interactions shape us and the poignant truth that everyone has a story worth telling.

 

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Several themes are central to Driving for Justice. First, the themes of redemption and self-discovery are crucial as we follow John’s journey from a life he no longer finds fulfilling to one where he rediscovers his passion and purpose. Second, the idea of empathy and connection emerges as a powerful theme. John’s day-to-day experiences emphasize that understanding and kindness can have far-reaching effects on people’s lives, including our own. Finally, the theme of justice—what it means and how it can be achieved outside traditional frameworks—is explored through John’s establishment of a pro-bono legal clinic, highlighting his evolution from a career-driven lawyer to a community-focused advocate. Each of these themes challenges the reader to think about the impact of their choices and the potential we all have to effect change in our environments.

In Driving for Justice, several key themes shaped the narrative and enriched the story’s depth and complexity. These themes not only drive the plot but also invite readers to engage with broader social and personal issues:

  1. Redemption and Transformation: Central to the novel is the protagonist, John’s journey of redemption and personal transformation. John seeks a simpler life and redemption for past choices that may have prioritized success over personal fulfillment. His role as a Laafia car driver symbolizes his quest for a more meaningful existence, suggesting that true fulfillment often comes from unexpected sources.
  2. Empathy and Human Connection:The novel strongly emphasizes empathy and the transformative power of human connection. Through his interactions with passengers, John discovers the diverse embroidery of human experiences and challenges. These encounters serve as a reminder of the common humanity shared by all, regardless of their backgrounds or current circumstances, and they foster a deeper understanding of empathy as essential to personal and societal well-being.
  3. Justice and Accessibility: Another significant theme is the concept of justice, especially social justice. As a high-profile lawyer, John reflects on the inadequacies of the formal justice system in terms of reaching and protecting all individuals equitably. His decision to start a pro-bono legal clinic underscores the theme of justice and accessibility to everyone, particularly the underprivileged, and highlights individuals’ role in addressing systemic inequalities.
  4. The Human Stories Within the Urban Experience: The city itself is a backdrop against which various human stories unfold. The novel explores how urban environments shape the lives and experiences of its inhabitants, emphasizing the idea that every individual has a story and that these stories are worth hearing. This theme invites readers to look beyond the surface of busy urban life to understand the struggles, dreams, and resilience of those living within it.
  5. Self-Discovery and Identity:John’s transformation also prompts him to question and redefine his identity. The theme of self-discovery is woven throughout the narrative as John evaluates his past, considers his present, and makes choices about his future. This theme resonates with readers exploring what it means to live authentically.
  6. The Power of Small Acts:The novel celebrates the notion that small acts of kindness and understanding can have profound impacts. Each of John’s drives encapsulates this theme, as even brief interactions can illuminate truths, alter perspectives, or provide comfort. It illustrates how ordinary moments can lead to extraordinary revelations and changes.

 

What is the next book that you are working on, and when can your fans expect it to be out?

I am currently working on a novel. As I fine-tune the elements of these stories, considering various factors that will shape their final forms, I will soon decide on the final title and when it will reach my readers. I eagerly look forward to sharing this news with my fans. Stay tuned for updates and teasers that I hope will wet your appetite for the romantic journeys ahead!

Driving For Justice is a compelling narrative set against the backdrop of a vibrant city where the pursuit of justice meets the rawness of urban life. John Sanbian, a high-flying lawyer, finds a new sense of purpose as a Laafia car driver, navigating the city’s streets and the stories of its diverse inhabitants.
Each passenger John encounters in his car brings a new perspective, revealing the city’s heartbeat and the complexities of human experiences. These encounters range from an ambitious college student wrestling with his future, a high-profile executive hiding vulnerabilities behind a façade of success, to a figure from John’s past who threatens to disrupt his newfound peace.
As John drives through the city, he faces his own internal struggles, reflecting on his past decisions and contemplating his future. His journey is one of self-discovery, empathy, and understanding, challenging his views on justice and humanity.
Ultimately, John’s experiences as a driver led him to a significant decision – establishing a pro-bono legal clinic to assist those who cannot afford it. This initiative brings together diverse individuals, including former colleagues and new allies, who share his vision of accessible justice.
Driving For Justice is about finding redemption and purpose in unexpected places. It celebrates the nuances of human connections, the impact of storytelling, and the power of empathy in navigating the complex world of legal and moral dilemmas. It’s a testament to the idea that sometimes, the most significant journeys are those that bring us back to our core values.

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Whispers in the Vineyard 

Interviewed by Literary Titan

 

Whispers in the Vineyard follows a woman looking to learn more about her heritage and winemaking who falls in love with the son of a rival family. What inspired the setup of your story?

Whispers in the Vineyard draws inspiration from a rich textile of sources, combining elements of classic romantic literature, the time-honored tradition of vineyard cultivation, and the vibrant cultural heritage of Ghana. The central theme of the story—rival families with a complicated history finding common ground through the younger generation is a twist that highlights reconciliation and cooperation instead of tragedy.

The novel also taps into the universal appeal of returning to one’s roots. The protagonist (Loom)’s journey to learn more about her heritage and the art of winemaking serves as a metaphor for exploring one’s identity and reconciling with one’s past. 

This theme resonates deeply in a global context where many seek to reconnect with and understand their cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the setting in a vineyard is particularly symbolic. Vineyards, which require patience, careful cultivation, and a deep understanding of the land, parallel the process of nurturing relationships and building communities. They are places where nature meets human craft, where each season brings new challenges and opportunities for growth—much like the personal and communal growth experienced by the characters in the novel.

Lastly, the choice to set the story in Ghana—with its rich history, diverse cultures, and beautiful landscapes—provides a backdrop that enriches the narrative with authenticity and a sense of place. It allows the story to delve into specific cultural practices, particularly those surrounding agriculture and communal living, that shape the characters’ lives and the plot’s development.

Overall, the setup of Whispers in the Vineyard was inspired by a desire to weave together themes of love, heritage, and personal growth within the evocative setting of a Ghanaian vineyard, offering readers a story of enduring human connections forged in the face of historical rivalries.

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your characters’ lives?

For characters in a novel like Whispers in the Vineyard, emotions such as longing, redemption, and reconciliation are often inspired by universal human experiences. These emotions are frequently explored in literature and reflect common human conditions—struggling with one’s identity, resolving past conflicts, seeking understanding and common ground, and experiencing the growth that comes from overcoming challenges.

Moreover, the emotions and journeys that characters like Loom and Feika experience can be modeled on real-life stories of heritage discovery, the complexities of family legacies, and the passionate pursuit of personal and professional dreams. The backdrop of a vineyard adds a layer of connection to the land and a tradition that many readers might find evocative and grounding. Thus, while the characters and their emotions are fictional, they are constructed to echo real human feelings and developments, not the author’s personal life, making them accessible and engaging for readers who may see reflections of their own lives and struggles within these stories.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

In Whispers in the Vineyard, several themes were pivotal to enrich the narrative and offer depth to the reader’s experience. Here are some of the key themes explored in the book:

  1. Heritage and Legacy: The book delves into the significance of understanding and embracing one’s heritage. Loom’s journey into the world of winemaking is not just about learning to manage a vineyard but also about connecting with her ancestral roots and the legacy left by her family. This theme underscores the importance of preserving cultural heritage and how it shapes individual identity.
  2. Reconciliation and Forgiveness:The theme of overcoming historical rivalries and personal grievances is central to the novel. The story explores how Loom and Feika navigate their initial animosity and the broader family feud to find common ground. Their journey toward reconciliation serves as a metaphor for healing and building new futures on the foundation of forgiven pasts.
  3. Community and Unity:The story highlights the strength and resilience of community bonds. As Loom and Feika work together to revitalize the vineyards, they also strive to unite the community of Domeabra. The book celebrates how collective efforts and shared goals can lead to substantial communal growth and harmony.
  4. Love and Partnership:Loom and Feika’s romantic love intertwines with their professional partnership, showing how relationships can evolve from rivalry to deep affection and mutual respect. This theme is explored in the context of personal and professional growth, illustrating how love can drive change and achievement.
  5. Connection to the Land:The vineyard itself is almost a character in the story, representing a deep connection to the land that sustains the community. This theme explores how the land shapes the lives of the characters and serves as a legacy that ties generations together. It also reflects on the challenges and rewards of working closely with nature.
  6. Resilience and Adaptation: The characters’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances and overcome challenges is a recurring theme. The novel showcases how resilience, often nurtured through adversity, is crucial for both personal growth and community survival.
  7. The Power of Stories:Throughout the novel, stories play a crucial role in preserving history, teaching lessons, and bringing people together. The theme of storytelling is celebrated as a means of passing on wisdom, maintaining cultural identity, and strengthening bonds within the community.

What is the next book that you are working on, and when can your fans expect it to be out?

I am currently writing a romance novel. As I fine-tune the elements of these stories, considering various factors that will shape their final forms, I will soon decide on the final title and when it will reach my readers. I eagerly look forward to sharing this news with my fans. Stay tuned for updates and teasers that I hope will whet your appetite for the romantic journeys ahead!

Whispers in the Vineyard is a romantic story of heritage, rivalry, love, and reconciliation. Loom, a young and independent woman who inherited a vineyard in Domeabra, Ghana, only to find herself entangled in an ancestral rivalry with the neighboring vineyard owner, the charismatic Feika.
Despite their intermittent clashes, Loom and Feika’s mutual passion for winemaking and respect for tradition kindled a romance that blossomed amidst the challenges they faced. The discovery of family diaries unveiled a history of love and conflict. Nevertheless, that discovery laid the groundwork for understanding, healing, and love.
Bravely confronting the past, Loom and Feika collaborated to unite their vineyards. Their journey, marked by innovation, resilience, and community support, transformed their rivalry into a partnership that revitalized the vineyards and became the heartbeat of Domeabra.
They ultimately got married and were blessed with a baby girl, Loombik. The novel culminates in a grand celebration of the vineyard’s success, symbolizing the power of unity and the enduring bonds of love. They experienced the transformative power of forgiveness and the beauty of a shared vision woven into the rich embroidery of Ghanaian culture.

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