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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Questions and Answers

Answers to questions I am most often asked about my writing career.

July 3, 2014

How or when did you start creative writing?
I started writing in the spring of 2000 while I was a participant in a Radio Nederlands course. It started out as letters to friends and family. By the time I returned to Jamaica in summer I was writing short stories and I started entering the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) annual literary competitions. I completed my first novel  by 2002.

How would you describe your style?
I like to think that I give the reader different points of view to a situation through action, dialogue and descriptions. I want to take my readers on an emotional journey with the characters and give them something to think about, smile about, and maybe a moment of heartbreak. I also like to give my readers the thrill and or fear of a physical experience. I do this by showing them a dance, and by taking them into fearful or dangerous situations. Some of these are inspired by my own experiences.

What motivates you to write?
The thoughts that go through my mind sometimes gather around a general idea, and then I write.

Have there been any books that influenced your writing?
A Jamaican writer, the late Fitzroy Nation, very kindly sent me the well-known book Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. This book has helped me the most as a writer as it helped me to become disciplined about writing, and to keep on trying to find my voice. I still re-read chapters every now and then. 
 
How is your poetry?
I have not yet written any poetry - good or bad, but I do get asked that question sometimes. Maybe I look very intense, or perhaps I have a dreamy countenance.

At what point of your career did you say to yourself "Yes, I am a writer".
That happened when I saw my article published in the Jamaica Observer's The Arts magazine. In the early 2000s The Arts, edited by the late Wayne Brown, was the premier weekly literary publication in Jamaica, and perhaps the English Speaking Caribbean. It was an honour to be published by Mr Brown.

When do you write?
When I am working on any piece I normally write early in the morning before my family gets up, or late after they have gone to bed, but I prefer to write early in the morning. The downside to that is that it can get in the way of exercise, but I try to keep getting better at both - writing and exercise.

Where did you find the material for Bad Girls in School
I found my material for that book exactly where I find it for all of my creative work - from my life experiences. I am really lucky to have many wonderful people across a wide range of ages in my life, and I listen when they want to share. So my characters are not formed from any person that I know, but they are created in my mind from memories and emotions, and my writing brings them out, newly born. 

How is the book doing?
I am so honoured to know that Bad Girls in School it is being used as additional reading in secondary school, especially in Jamaica. Of course sales can be better, and I am pleased to be invited to read and I do my own promotion of the book when I can.

Will there be a sequel?
I have my mind on one, but my current project Young Heroes of the Caribbean is absorbing my thoughts and efforts right now.

I understand that there is a play for Bad Girls in School?
The Jamaican playwright and teacher, Balfour Anderson, wrote and staged play that is based on Bad Girls in School. It was staged in 2013 at the school as a fund raising event to help deserving students cover their Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examination fees. Mr Anderson told me that it was a successful venture.

How did you get published?
I did what every other writer did, I sent out the first three chapters of manuscripts of my novels with a cover letter by mail to many publishers. This manuscript got the interest of an editor who was looking for materials for the Caribbean Writers Series, which introduces the work of new Caribbean writers.

What are you working on now?
I am in the final stages of placing Young Heroes of the Caribbean on the market. I think of it as an adventure book; an adventure of discovery of what life can bring. Again, I am inspired by young people and see how they are quietly brave, and that they still value integrity, kindness and truth.
END