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Patrick Boucher

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Maciej Nowakowski, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


“Every shape-shifter must earn their beast. You know that.”
“Yes! I know! But it’s been 10 years of just training, trying to hunt, and what do I have to show for it? A snake. Just a freaking snake!”…

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Maciej Nowakowski is in the final year of his PolyU programme, English Studies for the Professions (Linguistics). From Szczecin, Poland, his vast interests range from video editing, blogging, football, and international film. He is quite active on campus, serving as an event MC, volunteer language tutor, and appearing in promotional university videos. His future ambitions are in areas with interaction with individuals of international cultures, perhaps in the fields of sports journalism or diplomacy.


My fascination with the phenomena of witchcraft in West Africa arose in 2010 while watching a CNN story about a 3-year old Nigerian child who had been abandoned by his family in the woods, only to have been found by the CNN crew just days after. With accusations including acts of shape-shifting and distributing curses, it made me wonder: “What if the children really were to have such powers? How would they use them? How would their lives be affected by it?”. Though it was merely a curious idea I had in my head for all those years, it wasn’t until taking the fantasy fiction course ELC-1A04 at PolyU in late 2017 that I truly began to manifest all of those ideas into a concrete story.

Though the concept of the children having an underground society with one outcast had always been there, the storyline went through radical changes, namely the ending. It had originally had a more hard-hitting approach, with the children escaping, so as to bring forth the message of the treatment of accused children in real life. However, my teacher and Inscribe editor both admitted that the story’s one weak point was the ending, as they personally would have changed the ending to one where the humans and shape-shifters are to establish peace. As such, I learned to become a more “complete” writer, as I was searching for ways to motivate all of the characters to become dynamic (through changing in the end) rather than remaining static throughout the story (except for the main character, of course). The editing experience with Inscribe helped me to find ways to organise my many ideas, and utilise them to create stories that can entertain, and also educate.

My hope is that, through this story, many Hong Kong readers can be fascinated by the cultures and events in West Africa, a region that, in terms of storytelling, remains criminally underrated on the global scale.