You've reached the Creative Space of Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse. Author of six books of fiction; and numerous short fiction, poems, and articles. Welcome. For info on my writing, services, and more, scroll down. If you need to contact me directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I update this space regularly; book reviews to news of my own books, #theWritingLife, and my CREATIVE SPACE column. Sharing with links and credits is fine but unauthorized use and/or duplication of site content without permission and credit is strictly prohibited. For my other blog, go to wadadlipen.wordpress.com
It occurs to me I haven’t done a CREATIVE SPACE round up post since this one in July, in which I explained the column had found a new home running every other Wednesday in the Daily Observer newspaper before being archived here on the blog. With Extras.
Last Monday, the online literary magazine, Brittle Paper, published an intriguing essay, “Decolonizing the English Department”, written by two distinguished scholars at Cornell University. Professors Carole Boyce Davies and Mukoma Wa Thiong’o assert in their opening sentence that: “A historical change, one that we believe will impact other English departments in the US and the West in general, happened during our first 2020-2021 academic year English faculty meeting.”
The “historical change” was a new name: “from the narrow Department of English, to the more embracing Department of Literatures in English. The name change captures the fact that within the US and globally, there are multiple literatures and many ‘englishes.’” The Cornell initiative may be “historical” for the US, but certainly not for “the West in general.” It seems as if the professors were not aware of the fact that a ‘global’ university in the Caribbean had long…
I’m, also, going to play a game ‘how’d I get it’ to see if I remember how I got the book. I’ll also link reviews under the book titles if I have written one.
1 – book with deckled edges – Me, *grumbling to myself as I look through my bookshelf* what even are deckled edges; I feel like those are fancy, I am not fancy…wait, is this deckled… *runs fingers over the edges of the paper* close enough. Shades of Milk and Honeyby Mary Robinette Kowal a regency era romance with a speculative twist. How’d I get it? From the author for whom I had provided editing service on another book later in the series that began with this one.
2 – a book with three plus people on the cover – the easy choice without even checking the shelf is a book from my teens Stephanie S. Tolan’s The Last of Eden, a boarding school book centering a budding writer which remains a nostalgic favourite *quick check for alternative* and found two right next two each other (probably because they’re both hard covers) though they couldn’t be further apart E. Lynn Harris Abide with Me, sort of a gay soap opera (third in a series preceded by Invisible Life and Just as I am), but good, and a deluxe edition (seems like) of Louisa Mae Alcott’s classic Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men (all three books in one). How’d I get it? I bought the E. Lynn Harris – his books had that soap addictiveness and I used to just buy them – in hard cover no less which is rare for me. Little Women and Tolan, I’m not sure – could be among the books left behind by visitors to the hotel my dad or mom worked at, or could just be among the books floating around from hand to hand when I was a teen or maybe a used book sale as they’re both visibly pre-used.
3 – book based on another fictional story – the one that pops in to my head is Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea which tells the pre-canon story of the woman in the attic in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – so I guess technically it’s fan fic but it’s also a classic in its own right and a classic case of reclaiming a narrative and of writing back to empire (given that it’s set in one of the former Caribbean colonies at a time when the sun did not set on the British Empire). How’d I get it? I believe this was a used book passed to me by a friend who was decluttering.
4 – a title that is 10 letters long – I didn’t expect to have to do math – this is the hardest one so far but I came up with Being Black by Althea Prince Althea is an Antiguan author and I have several books of hers – this is an essay collection that is especially timely now though it was written some time ago. How’d I get it? this one has the author’s signature so I likely bought it at one of the literary festivals where our paths crossed during the years of the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival.
5 – title starts and ends with the same letter – Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman – I have loved the crime thrillers of Faye and her husband Jonathan Kellerman for years specifically the Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis series in his case and the Peter and Rina Decker in her case – this was different as it was historical but that’s actually what attracted me to it as it’s set at the very beginning of the rise of nazi-ism and intersects with the emergence of a serial killer in a German town. In both cases, the main character struggles to hold at bay the rising tide of evil without an assist from modern tech – How’d I get it? I believe I bought it from the used books stack at one of my local bookstores.
6 – mass market paperback – I mean most of what I own are paperbacks (and definitely mass market paperbacks over, say, trade paperbacks or hardcover – they’re just more accessible) – what pops in to my mind specifically is every book I own and/or have owned in the Anne Rice Vampire chronicles beginning with my fave Interview with the Vampire – through to The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, Prince Lestat – there are others but those are the ones that come to mind. How did I get them? With the exception of Memnoch and Prince, bought all of them at bookstores in Jamaica (because I started reading them in college when I was living in Jamaica) and Antigua, wherever I was living when a new one dropped, possibly the US as well.
7 – author using a pen name – August issue 1 is the first (presumably) in a graphic novel series written by Antigua’s Tameka Jarvis George, writing here as Fallen Angel. How did I get it? The author sent me a pdf.
8 – book title with character’s name in it – Pearl by Tabitha King – that’s Stephen King’s wife and perhaps because of his star status this book flew under the radar I think but she is a good writer with a quieter style than her husband but no less engaging – I really liked this book. In fact, writing this I’m feeling the rare urge to read it again. How’d I get it? It’s been too long to remember.
9 – at least 2 maps – Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James – good thing too. This is a read in progress across many strange invented and intersecting lands. I feel lost even with the visual prompts. How’d I get it? A friend and I went to an author reading and she bought it and I literally borrowed it that night. (In the image above I’m at a signing where I asked him to sign my copy – that one I did buy – of his Booker winning Brief History of Seven Killings)
10 – a book that was turned in to a TV show – this is an odd one because I haven’t technically read the book nor do I have it but it was adapted in to a BBC mini series – Andrea Levy’s Small Island which I saw during the pandemic when it was freely available (speaking of how’d I get it) as a stage adaptation.
11 – book by someone famous for something else – I own a few biographies but Jane Fonda’s My Life So Far is the first to pop in to my head and it was a really good one which was also turned in to an HBO doc so I guess it also fits the previous question. She’s led such an interesting life but the book is not just voyeuristic it’s about understanding the chapters of a life lived which means there are takeaways for the reader as well, though you’re not the daughter of a Hollywood legend and a Hollywood legend in your own right.
12 – clock on the cover –
Wraethu by Storm Constantine has something that looks like it tells time on the cover so I’m going to go with that (since none of the other books I own has a clock or any kind of timepiece on the cover) – this is one of the first adult epic dystopian future alternative genderbending fantasy series that I read and I think I found it reading fan fic only it was an original series – or something – I don’t remember – but I know it’s really thick, I have two books in the series, and (how’d I get it) I ordered it online through Amazon.
which I bought at the 2007 Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica after hearing the poet read – it goes well with Etta James.
14 – a book with an award stamp – every Burt Award winning book I own including my own Musical Youth but I’ll single out Guyanese writer Imam Baksh’s Children of the Spider which is teen/young adult adventure fantasy with a portal to another world, a wily street kid, and the two centrals, one a resourceful hearing impaired boy, one a determined girl from another world looking for her father. Oh and there’s Anansi like you’ve never seen her before. You heard what I said. How’d I get it? I read it initially while judging the 2015 Burt Awards but then received physical copies of this and other winning books through the programme, I believe.
15 – same initials as me – Joanne Harris (same first name even) – Harris’ Chocolat
is such a sweet (literally) tale too. I think I saw the film first and then sought out the book – loved them both – I love little towns with quirky characters – this is either a used book sale purchase or sourced from a friend – I don’t remember which – I do remember a friend and I waxing poetic about this story though – book and film.
16 – short story collection – I own several – and am even in a few – such as Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean which features various Caribbean writers – stories selected from among the best of the rest from the Commonwealth Short story competition – – how’d I get it? contributor copy.
17 – 500-510 pages – I’m not counting pages
18 – a book that was turned in to a movie – The Godfather by Mario Puzo and one of those where the book is as good as the movie. Godfather is a crime thriller but on a more essential level it is a family drama – about love and loyalty and betrayal and destiny. Still a fave both book and movie. How’d I get it? Bought it in a bookstore…somewhere.
19 – graphic novel – Shout out to The Old Guard which is also my most recent book to movie. It’s on Netflix right now (the first comic book adaptation by a Black woman Gina Prince Bythewood) and its based on a graphic novel about a band of immortals, very character driven, very good storytelling and I’d like to see a sequel. How’d I get it? Read it online somewhere, so I don’t technically have it.
20 – two or more authors – I’m guessing you mean other than an anthology, so I’m going to go with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee’s memoir In this life Together – Ruby Dee (A raisin in the sun to Jungle Fever to American Gangster) is a treasure and is sincerely missed and she and Ossie, co-stars in life and on screen were great together. On screen. Per the book, their in life pairing had as many bumps as anyone’s.
One of the booktube channels I follow, Books are My Social Life, just announced a Fortnite Frights read-a-long. As Saajid, the Trinidadian booktuber, says, we’re not traditionally a Halloween culture here in the Caribbean – in fact, when I was growing up in Antigua, Halloween season was actually Guy Fawkes season (technically another imported tradition given the influence of our former British overlords). We lit starlites and bombs (i.e. fireworks); my mom says in her time there was bonfires (with lit tires, I think). Now, with the younger ones, US Halloween is a thing – parties and even some trick or treating and dressing up because in the Caribbean US cultural penetration is a thing beginning with the horror movies that cable TV beamed in to our homes every October when I was growing up. As I said in the comments over at Books are My Social Life, I’m not sure I’ll be able to participate in the read-a-long (though it’s “no challenges or anything like that, all you have to do is read diversely and read spooky books”) but it’s interesting to me that I bumped in to it right as I’m reading a rare Caribbean horror (so I already have the jump on the mood at least). The book is set in Trinidad actually. Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy. Really enjoying it so far – no spoilers but so far it’s had everything from soucouyants to jumbies, secret societies, obeah, sentient beasts, sentient houses, poltergeists, zombies, loup garoux, clairvoyance, soul travelling…gangs…and an epic span from slavery to modern times. Sounds like a lot but so far it’s not too much. Just enough actually. It really moves (plot and action wise) and the characters are interesting.
Of the books listed for the read-a-long When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole grabbed my interest. I may add to my (already very long) TBR.
Spooky books aside, I finished a book this past week (yaaay). Which means *new review alert* you can read what I thought about Inferno by Dan Brown here.
Before I go, here are three in case you missed them posts from the blogs:
“I am so thankful that you have gifted me three (3) of your awesome books after I won the Observer Radio Reading Project Diorama Competition in July 30, 2020. The Books Lost A Caribbean Sea Adventure (My favorite), Musical Youth and With Grace (My mommy’s favorite favorite…she LOVES MANGOES). We still sing the song…gimme likkle, gimme likkle… Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!”
Delightful. Thank you, Rheikecia. Genuine reader reviews like yours are an author’s manna.
DEDICATED TO PATRICIA CHARLES, SAINT LUCIA 1937-2010 and REX NETTLEFORD, JAMAICA 1933-2010.
Compiled and selected by John Robert Lee – Castries, St. Lucia 2014
Photo 1: Derek Walcott, Martin Carter, George Lamming, Earl Lovelace, Ernest Moutoussamy (Guadeloupe), Kamau Brathwaite. Carifesta 1995, Trinidad.
Photo 2: Women writers at BIM magazine conference on women’s writing, Barbados, 2008. Carolyn Cooper, Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Angela Barry, Dana Gilkes, Esther Phillips, Ramabai Espinet, George Lamming, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Patricia Mohammed , Margaret Gill, Curdella Forbes.
Award winning children’s American author and illustrator of Antiguan descent Ashley Bryan during a visiting event at the Antigua and Barbuda Public Library (this and all images in this post, unless otherwise noted, taken from the Public Library facebook page)
The series has featured a mid-afternoon tea and coffee, author reading and book signing, and book sale with Brenda Lee Browne and her book London Rocks, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst and his various non-fiction books , Timothy Payne (writer and photographer who died in 2020)
This week was my sister’s birthday and, among other things, it got me thinking how I was at a concert with her when I decided to revive my CREATIVE SPACE series (it previously ran in a sub-regional magazine) here on the blog and explore ways of monetizing it, including ads/sponsored posts and paid syndication on other platforms, always retaining ownership. That concert was in April 2018. The brand needed to build an audience, demonstrate sustainability, and roll out quality content consistently. It did all that. Still the monetization side of it remained (and remains) a work in progress (still no ad revenue/sponsored posts). But, as of this year, CREATIVE SPACE runs in the Daily Observer as paid content. It remains a work in progress but I am happy that I bet on myself and kept building. And I have more plans for this series spotlighting Antiguan and Barbudan art and culture.
“Out of all the features I’ve ever been blessed with – THIS?! I will forever hold dear to my heart. The fact that I only represent ONE of so MANY DOPE creatives here at home/from the 268, I take this as a win for ALL of us. THE COVER AND TWO SPREADS IN OUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER?! This is CRAZY! I hope this is just only the beginning for us 268 creatives to finally be seen. Thank you @jhohadli for this amazing feature.” – Chavel Thomas
“While having a late breakfast I was reading my local newspaper today and almost dropped ma plate when I saw my name in a beautiful write up about local Antiguan and Barbudan films, a review of me and a few works highlighted by Antiguan book writer, artist and so much more @Jhohadli gave me an overwhelming warmth and love within unexplainable. I always reverence this lady’s credit like one in fashion reverence Ms. Wintour. Major #thankyouthankyouthankyou The praises for local film is one I take seriously because it helps us more as an encouragement in what we do – all artists take these write up serious if firm about being an artist. Big up to everyone in the write up and I personally look forward for many more support, support to this film industry here on Antigua/Barbuda especially financial support.” – Francoise Bowen
When I revived this series I wanted to write about something near and dear, who we are and the art we produce here in Antigua and Barbuda, and now and again the wider Caribbean. Throughout my entire journey as a TV, print, and internet journalist, and as a creative writer and arts activist, this has easily been one of, if not, my favourite, beats and that continues to this day. I enjoy doing this series and it’s begun to pay for itself through persistence and pitching and persisting some more (i.e. negotiating terms, planning but also adapting, researching and crafting content, further planning and extension of content, platform, and monetization). I look forward to growing it even more.
Is there a moral of the story? … do your thing and keep finding a way to do it.
I should probably amend ‘last week’ to ‘last week or so’ because I don’t keep time like that – I was legit surprised when Friday showed up this past week; so let’s just say ‘recently enough to still be fresh in my mind’. I should also amend ‘read’ to ‘been reading’ because I haven’t finished anything. I dipped in to different books when I had a moment here or there – most of my reading time, to be honest, has been taken up with client work (and some of my work in progress). I’ve even been falling behind with the daily news reports – but that might be my subconscious protecting me from the shit show that is 2020. Anyway, to keep things interesting, I’ll list the books I’ve been reading over the last week or so from the one I’ve been reading the longest to the one I haven’t: Inferno by Dan Brown, Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin, New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby, Another Mother by Ross Kenneth Urken, Death on the Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson, In the Dark Soft Earth by Frank Watson, Fireburn by Apple Gidley, and Take us to a Better Place; plus literary journals Interviewing the Caribbean and Cropover Unapologetic and an old Storm comic.
What I’m reading now:
See above. The one I dipped in to today was Death on the Danube.
A desire to finish any of the above plus my entire active reading pile and then my TBR and then my Wish List. Hmmm maybe I’ll take a reading vacation.
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and…