Although Dacula resident Richard Anthony “Richie” Perry Jr. was born in Brooklyn, he traces his familial roots to the West Indies, particularly the island of Carriacou, near Grenada, and to the South American country of Guyana, located north of Brazil.
“I was raised in a very Caribbean household,” said Perry, 20, a 2018 graduate of Mill Creek High School and a rising senior at Georgia State University, where he’s studying creative writing and drama.
Perry’s diverse background and his interest in African culture and mythology informs his first novel, “Radiance Lost,” which was released in mid-February by the Canadian-based self-publishing house Friesen Press.
The young-adult fantasy novel features two siblings – Nwanae and Zara – living in the country of Juuga and their personal adventures both together and apart.
“The story follows the two of them as Zara is kidnapped by spirits when Nwana isn’t home, so he leaves their home to travel to the country’s interior to find her and bring her back home,” said Perry, whose pen name is Raafeke. “They both go on their own journeys. It’s very inspired by West Indian culture as well as West African culture.”
The son of Phyllis and Richard Perry began writing “Radiance Lost” while still in high school and said he was influenced to tell the story as the result of a Caribbean figure of speech often uttered by his mother whenever he or his siblings (he is a triplet and also has a younger sister) said they were bored.
“One of their big expressions they say when you say you’re bored is ‘Go read a book” or go be productive,” he said. “I’ve always been into writing and one day I took my mom’s advice and started writing a book. It was really fun for me. While I was writing it, I didn’t think too much about publishing it – I just wanted to finish it.”
The creation of the book had its share of fits and starts and the novel’s completion was delayed by a computer malfunction that forced Perry to start over after spending eight months on his first draft.
“That was a long time ago,” said Perry, who has won writing awards from both Georgia State and Mercer University. “This book did a lot of sitting. I stopped touching it for about two years because I was trying to get money together to publish it.”
Perry said he was pleased with the finished product, although he admits he would be happy if he could have changed one thing.
“I really wanted it to come out in 2020 so my grandfather, Stephen Perry, would be able to see it, but he passed away last year before that could happen; it just didn’t work out that way,” said Perry. “That’s about the only thing I would change – to have it come out sooner so he could see it. Other than that, I’m happy with it. It came out when it was meant to, in 2021. This last year was kind of like a bad-luck year, so I feel 2021 might have been a better year.”
In the world of self-publishing, the responsibility for promoting sales falls solely on the author. Perry – who works part time at Lowe’s near the Mall of Georgia – has been utilizing social media to tell the world about “Radiance Lost” and has been featured in articles in the Georgia State Signal and VoyageATL. The book is currently available on Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble online, as well as the Friesen Press online bookstore.
“I’ve been reaching out wherever I can and I do whatever I can because promotion is completely in my hands,” he said. “Being a college student who is also working, I try to use whatever time I have to promote it.”
And as he prepares for his final year at Georgia State, Perry is writing his second novel, which he said is a follow-up to “Radiance Lost,” featuring the continuing adventures of Nwanae and Zara, whom he describes as “polar opposites.”
“I’m working on a draft now,” he said. “It seems like in all my stories, I’ve had to start over at least one time. I have a second draft in the works. As soon as this semester ends and my academic load lightens a little, I’ll get back to that and get it out, hopefully as soon as possible but no longer than a year or two.”