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Please explore the site for more on all sides of my writing life, including my opinions on things and insights to my writing life. You are, also, invited to visit my public facebook page and view vid interviews and more, as well, at my YouTube Channel.
2017 – ‘As in her poetry and her prose, she uses realism to portray her characters. In so doing, she creates credible characters who eat, dress, and speak Antiguan. Characters with whom we can identify. Even the Asian Ted in Musical Youth confirms “ah ya me barn” (p. 156).’ – from Joanne Hillhouse’s Iconic Stance on Culture and Youth in Her Works – a paper presented by Dr. Valerie Combie during the Antigua Conference. Extended version to be published.
2014 – Wadadli Pen and Young Writers in the Caribbean in Bookbird: a Journal of International Children’s Literature Volume 51 Number 4, October 2013 referenced in Weaving Words: Personal and Professional Transformation through Writing as Research (edited by Janice K. Jones). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. UK.
2014 – The influence of anxiety : re-presentations of identity in Antiguan literature from 1890 to the present – Ph.D. thesis document by Dr. Hazra Medica. From abstract: “This thesis examines Antiguan narratives’ peculiar engagements with the national question. It draws largely upon the works of four writers—Jamaica Kincaid, Joanne C. Hillhouse, Marie-Elena John and Frieda Cassin—and selected calypsonians including Antigua’s leading female and male calypsonians, Queen Ivena and King Short Shirt.” Available through the British Library’s e-theses online service.
2014 – Discretely Antiguan and Distinctly Caribbean / hazra medica – Tongues of the Ocean – “Joanne C. Hillhouse’s 2003 Dancing Nude in the Moonlight and Jamaica Kincaid’s 1997 My Brother leave me awestruck on every re-read by evidence of the crucial role postcolonial literary producers play in setting the agenda for the still fledgling fields of Caribbean gender and sexuality theory. Hillhouse’s and Kincaid’s deconstruction of Antiguan patriarchy not only destabilizes past bad-minded scholarship on family and gender relations in the region. They also offer caution to future scholarship on Caribbean gender and sexuality. The texts assert the necessity of grounding Afro-Antiguan/Caribbean masculinities within the appropriate historical and social sites/matrices. This, they suggest, will produce non-bad-minded accounts of Antiguan and Caribbean expressions of masculinity.”
2013 – ‘In Joanne C. Hillhouse’s 2012 novel, Oh Gad! , the assertion by “Audrey” that her sister, “Nikki” has “smadee” (“somebody”/ “people”) constructs personhood as smadee-ness/somebody-ness achieved through membership in and acceptance by the group. It invalidates the various attempts to deny her sister personhood, and curtails efforts to impose upon her the body of the amnesiac denied history, home, narrative and nation.’ – excerpted from Dr. Hazra Medica’s presentation ‘You Have Smadee’: the Struggle for Personhood in the Antigua Calypso, at University of Warwick.
2013 – ‘In The Boy from Willow Bend, Vere’s longing for his mother ends when she finally shows up after his grandfather dies (almost 10 years after she had originally left). But when she came, he was a grown man and, more than affection, had many questions to ask her. For example, why she left him behind and never wrote. She explained that she had this great desire to leave their home in Dead End Alley because nothing good could come from there. Vere’s mother represents the Caribbean mentality that the “grass is greener on the other side”, a notion that is yet to be proven as immigrants suffer discrimination and often have a hard time finding jobs in the United States. However, this is seen throughout history in the case of many Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example, who leave their islands in search of something better, oftentimes becoming disappointed and left with a great desire to go back home when they realize that what they found is not what they expected.’ – from paper by Vigimaris Nadal-Ramos for her Caribbean Children’s Literature course at the University of Puerto Rico. top
ARTICLES & REPORTS
June 2018 – Celebrating Ourselves through Written Word – by Janish Hough
February 2018 – “Joanne Hillhouse is a powerful writer, raising questions directly and with great energy.” –10 Female Caribbean Authors You Should Know And Add to Your American Lit Syllabus by Gerty Dambury in Lit Hub
December 2017 –
“Lost! is inspired by the story of Wadadli an arctic seal which found itself stranded in the Caribbean Sea far from its arctic home years ago.” – Trinidad Express
February 2016 –
Essence magazine’s features editor invited me to submit after we met at the Anguilla Lit Fest in 2015, and I did. The personal essay, Mirror Mirror, touched on the theme of self-acceptance where it intersects with colour, a theme explored in my YA novel Musical Youth, a 2014 finalist for the Burt Award for teen/YA Caribbean literature. EXCERPT: “My favorite doll, the one I had the longest, was the duplicate of one my sister had, because we had everything the same back then. She was Black like us, with our thick hair, and thanks to mom stitching dresses for our ‘twins’ from the scraps of our clothes, they could have been our baby sisters. She was a big doll, not Barbie-size. I liked plaiting her hair almost as much as I hated having my own plaited.”
Read full excerpt.
February 2016 –
OMG Entertainment in Daily Observer (Antigua) covered my feature in Essence magazine. EXCERPT: ‘“I still haven’t heard from the editor of O Magazine, though … lol,” she joked. “… The work continues.”’
Read it here.
April – June 2015 –
Zing (the LIAT inflight magazine) covered the Burt Award results, spotlighted the authors, and interviewed me. EXCERPT: “There’s a lot in it that they’ll be able to relate to in terms of the self-doubt we all go through, the ways we connect with others, and the ups and downs of family life. There’s the magic of music and new friendships and young love. I hope they see the power and beauty of embracing your passion, finding your voice and learning to believe in yourself, or at least what you can do when you find something you really love.”
April 2015 –
Guyana Chronicle’s Petamber Persaud wrote about the Burt Award including my second place win in 2014. EXCERPT: “Musical Youth by Joanne C. Hillhouse is a series of conversations on various subjects like racism, shadeism, relationships – man/woman, family, consequences of liaisons – sins of grand/parents falling on their descendants. It is also a love story of two gifted musicians who found their way through music while working on (a) summer musical. The story is fast-paced and engaging, a writer doing an excellent job with her tools of trade right down to a song titled ‘Melanin’ written by the two protagonists.” See the full article on page 3 or read it here.
February 2015 –
La Association des Professeurs d’Anglais de la Guadeloupe website posted about a presentation one of its members (Karine Salcède) did on my book Oh Gad! Friday 20th February 2015 at la Mediathèque du Gosier. EXCERPT: “Karine had met Joanne C. HillHouse at one of the latest Congrès des Ecrivains held in Guadeloupe and had liked her reading of passages from her own book. A fascinated Karine had then bought and read her book, and was very happy to share the content with APAG and ASCODELA reading club’s attendees.”
Read here: oh-gad-article2
December 2014 –
“If you are looking to dive into something fresh and modern, give the magnificent Joanne C Hillhouse a try – her short story Amelia at Devil’s Bridge was featured in the Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean anthology. She is also the author of Oh, Gad, a rousing novel about a woman facing cross cultural conflicts, and desperately to redefine her family, her home and the country that she has always felt estranged from. In some ways, Hillhouse is a natural successor to authors like Kincaid – Oh, Gad certainly shares certain narrative characteristics with The Autobiography of My Mother. For a fresh and contemporary read, give this young author a try on your next trip.” See which other Antiguan and Barbudan authors and artistes they singled out.
November 2014 –
ABS TV interviewed me about Musical Youth and a CODE sponsored writing workshop I had been commissioned to organize and facilitate. Then they did this report. EXCERPT: “She’s part of this group of young people who are just in love with the arts.”
November 13th 2014 –
In The Caribbean Current: ‘“This is an important book,” comments a representative of the publisher, CaribbeanReads Publishing, “because Caribbean teens will be able to see themselves in the young people in the story and relate to it. There are few books that achieve this goal and that’s why we are so excited to be a part of this and of Joanne’s success.” CaribbeanReads is a boutique publishing company which provides affordable modern literature for children and young adults which engages the imagination and celebrates our heritage.’
November 2014 – This profile coincided with the launch of my book Musical Youth; in fact, the picture used is from the launch and it’s a presentation of 15 copies of the book (sponsored by the Canadian non-profit CODE) to the Antigua and Barbuda Public Library.
Antigua GuardianEXCERPT: “Her part in youth development continues with Wadadli Pen. Ten years ago, as a young writer, Joanne launched the Pen, a project that encourages young writers through workshops and writing competitions. She said she really didn’t know what she was getting into, but it has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences. ‘It’s hard to tell what the impact is,’ she said. ‘But I’m happy with the fact that I’m still here. People wrote and grew through it.’”
April 2014 –
Commonwealth Writers report on their panel at the Aye Write! Festival of which I was a part. EXCERPT: “Joanne emphasised that Pepperpot feels like the story of the modern Caribbean. She described how her story in the anthology, Amelia at the Devil’s Bridge, was inspired by real events and how she was curious as to ‘how we as a society were responding (to those events)’. Her writing comes from the things that trouble her.” (Image includes, from left, Gemma Robinson, Ivory Kelly, and Martin McIntyre)
November 2012 –
Caribbean Beat (the Caribbean Airlines inflight magazine) covered the Wadadli Pen writing programme . EXCERPT: “A freelance writer by profession, Hillhouse found herself biting off more than she could chew when she first began Wadadli Pen, and had to put it on hiatus in 2007. ‘You have to be tracking down sponsors, going to schools, promoting it, running workshops — it’s very time consuming. It got tiring and I felt burned out, and I said I’d put it on break for a year, trying to figure out how to do it better.’ A year became three, but she succeeded in reorganising and getting more support by 2010. Now she looks forward to formalising its structure — Wadadli Pen isn’t yet registered as a not-for-profit and hasn’t got charitable status — and perhaps expanding to other countries in the Caribbean. She’s also thinking of expanding its publication programme.”
October 1st 2012 –
The Friends of Antigua Public Library newsletter hosted and reported on the New York launch of my book Oh Gad! In this clip, we (me and FOAPL president Beverly George) discuss visual and visceral language.EXCERPT: “From the time you’re describing the character coming off the plane. You know what you meet when you land in Antigua and you step off the plane, that hot air that comes up, and to have it described as an old relative just hugging you – ‘it’s okay, but’ – it’s so real.”
May 20th 2003 –
Sun Weekend covered the launch of my first book The Boy from Willow Bend. It would be one of my earliest profiles where I was the subject instead of the one telling the story. EXCERPT: “From Christ the King High School, Hillhouse went to the Antigua State College, which she said was the turning point where she got more involved with literature and playwriting.”
June 22nd 2018 –
Commonwealth Writers guest post ‘What is a Voiceprint?’ on the Commonwealth sponsored writers’ workshop in Barbados – EXCERPT: “The workshop – from the chats over breakfast, to the in-session lectures and interactions under a gazebo just off the shore, and from the afternoon one-on-ones for critiques of our individual works, to our public reading and the dancing afterwards – was at once relaxing and invigorating. It was a daily engagement with a community of writers, and with ourselves as writers who typically work in a world potholed with obstacles, a world which at the same time provides the very air our writing breathes. The workshop was an opportunity for growth and at the same time an affirmation of our ongoing journey as writers.”
September 2017 –
Anansesem Special Issue: Love – 5 Caribbean Children’s Authors on Helping Kids Choose Love Through Stories –
EXCERPT: “Love wasn’t what was in my heart when I started writing With Grace. I was feeling beaten up by an encounter and confused as to why the encounter had gone sideways – even after reaching out to try to understand. It was this bad mojo and mixed-up-ness that had me picking up my pen because, so often, I’m trying to process and understand things when I write. Swirling in my mind, apart from the particulars of the situation, was the way it touched on issues of class and position…and what would become the central theme of the book, grace. In the book, a girl who has nothing approaches a woman who has an orchard of fruit trees for permission to pick something to eat; the woman directs her to the stingiest mango tree she has, expecting it to yield nothing. But she underestimates the girl and the persistence of hard work, music, and love.”
August 2017 –
The Dream Book Blog –
EXCERPT: “The Caribbean/West Indian books at my small local library were in a locked glass shelf, like the dishes no one was allowed to even look at in the wood and glass cabinets in many homes on the island. They were removed and untouchable. Except in school, where at least one was compulsory. I delight in the fact that my books are dog-eared and used, that some – so readers have confessed – have been tossed across the room in frustration at this or that character (specifically Nikki in Oh Gad! and Selena in Dancing Nude in the Moonlight).” –
from the site’s Author Dream Series From the Dream Book Blog
July 2017 –
Wandering Educators –
EXCERPT: “And that’s the other thing – nothing is pre-destined for my main character and no one (read: Prince) will be riding to her rescue. She meets life challenges with determination and initiative, hard work and an open heart. Something to which the faerie responds.” Read the full post.
June 2015 –
Hugo award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal hosted me on her site to discuss my favourite bits of Musical Youth. EXCERPT: “Some of my favourite bits …spotlight the relationship between the boys, something we don’t see enough – the ways they ground and at the same time grind (mercilessly tease) each other. In the case of Shaka and his Lion Crew, they are a family of their own making and anyone developing a relationship with one is essentially developing a relationship with the whole group.”
February 2015 –
Novel Spaces posted my guest blog ‘Second Acts’ about the journey from being out of print to back in the game. EXCERPT: “To say that this was one of the darker chapters in my journey as a writer would be an understatement. Years of knocking on that closed door certain that everything I wanted was on the other side of it; finally squeezing through only to discover that nothing really is ever as you dream it; adjusting the dream to the reality; and then that feeling that, that’s it you had your shot, the dream is dead.”
June 2014 –
Zetta Brown @ She Writes invited me to contribute to her Reality Check series and I wrote
Adventures in Editing Adventures in Editing EXCERPT: ‘When editing, Erykah Badu’s line at the start of the live performance of “Tyrone” always comes to mind: “Keep in mind that I’m an artiste, and I’m sensitive about my sh*t.” I understand this sentiment instinctively as a writer, but it’s useful to me as an editor as well; a reminder to take care.’
December 19th 2013 –
Anansesem guest post: Adventures in Reading came about after a school visit that had me ruminating on curds and whey. EXCERPT: “I realized as I listened to a group of children recite ‘Little Ms. Muffet’ during an Independence/Child Month programme this November that as much as I’d heard and said it in my life time, I’d never really known what curds and whey was. I mean, I knew it was food, after all Ms. Muffet was eating in the classic children’s rhyme; but as to exactly what the curds and whey she ate looked or tasted like, I had no idea. I’d never wondered.”
October 2013 –
Bookbird is an international journal of children’s literature in which I had the opportunity to share about my writing and the Wadadli Pen programme. EXCERPT: “Fostering a sense of Caribbean-ness, and within that a sense of Antiguan-ness, has been a priority, meanwhile, for my pet project, the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, since I started it in 2004.” Find the article ‘Wadadli Pen and Young Writers in the Caribbean’ in Bookbird: a Journal of International Children’s Literature Volume 51 Number 4, October 2013.
August 2013 –
An encounter recounted at Blurb is a Verb. EXCERPT: “Funny then that on the other side of the experience, the reader reaction should mean so much, but it does.”
March 2013 –
Guest blog at Novel Spaces on the Public and Private world of the writer. It is entitled Pieces of Self: Negotiating the Border Between Public and Private in a Social Media World. EXCERPT: “The thing I still struggle to come to terms with is how much of your privacy you have to sacrifice to this process. You can’t just push your work, that turns people off, you’ve got to cut off bits and pieces of yourself and give them away as well. Part of me thinks that that hurts the creative process – apart from the time they take away from the writing, there’s the things that you give away casually that you might better use on the page, creatively.”
December 2012 –
While promoting my book I was asked to do an article on essential Antiguan and Barbudan fiction for Caribbean Hot Properties (find it on Page 78). Then I decided to do a list on Caribbean literature that was accepted at the African American Literature Book Club. EXCERPT: “As a writer, I found the unorthodox narrative structure and inventive use of language particularly interesting; coupled with the loves and heartbreak of young Oscar, it made for compelling storytelling.” (on AALBC re Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
June 14th 2012 –
But What Are They Eating? blog requires you to write about the food in your book. So here’s my Guest Post: “E Bang Good” EXCERPT: “These days I’m more inclined to write about cooking than actually cook. Writing is my gift in the way that cooking – and gardening – are my mother’s. We won’t delve into comparing the quality of the gifts, except to say that I never leave a spoonful of my mother’s thick slow cooked soup of greens and vegetables and meats in the bowl. Lord, e bang good!”
May 31st 2012 –
She Writes Featured Blog entitled
“Not the Same Old Carnival” Not the Same Old Carnival EXCERPT: “In writing each scene, I drew on my feelings of playing Mas at Carnival, but I also tried to feel it in Nikki’s skin – her initial trepidation, and her subsequent seduction by the Carnival and fresh love. I hoped, through this approach ,to make Carnival for the reader viscerally joyful – and something more than a cliché. Of course, only my readers can decide if I succeeded.”
May 2012 –
She Writes – Featured Blog: Postings from Paramaribo series
(One, Two, Three and Three and a half, Four, Five) POSTINGS FROM PARAMARIBO 1-5 refers to Suriname where I had travelled for an Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars conference, having been invited to speak, read, and participate in a panel. I decided to live blog the experience. EXCERPT: “I take a massive leap outside of my comfort zone everytime I speak before a crowd, big or small, but I’ve done it so often, for so long I’ve apparently fooled even my father, who knew me before I knew myself, into thinking that not only had I become comfortable with it, I actually liked it. Well, no and no, I told him.”
April 26th 2012 –
Colorimetry hosted a Guest Post where I wrote about Oh Gad! from favourite scene to inspiration. EXCERPT: “Maybe I wanted to write about sisters, and mothers and daughters as I tried to figure out these relationships.”
April 15th 2012 –
Novel Spaces Guest Post: Love and Literature about literary crushes read and written, and tapping in to character. EXCERPT: “Aeden didn’t start out as Aeden. But as I reconfigured his family history, I came across Aeden – Gaelic, meaning little fire or fiery spirit, and intuitively I knew it was his name. Writing him with this new moniker, he settled more comfortably into his skin, and one of the early readers who’d previously dismissed him, sat up and took notice. Who knew a name could make such a difference, not in a superficial way but to the way you write the character and the way readers engage with the character?”
April 12th 2012 –
Featured Blog: No Free Launches No Free Launches was about my launch and how I managed to pull it off with a little help. EXCERPT: “Okay, so the reality check that I’ll add to this is that sometimes people indeed will not come through. Like my tanty used to say ‘leave room for disappointment’. Either way, you can still have a good time. My launch activity for Oh Gad! was held last night, and no not every one delivered as promised but most did and in the end it was festive and fun as I’d hoped. Supportive people, good atmosphere, my book’s coming out. Still smiling.”
April 12th 2012 –
Featured Blog: It Pays to Give Back It Pays to Give Back EXCERPT: ” I started Wadadli Pen because I wanted to create something that I didn’t have as a young wanna-be-writer, something that nurtures and showcases the talent. I wanted to encourage young writers.”
Writing off the Map at Blurb is a Verb. EXCERPT: “The second challenge: be careful what you wish for. That’s what no one tells you.”
December 31st 2011 –
Novel Spaces guest blog entitled “Got a Reading? Don’t Sweat it” provides experiences and tips, from my experience, for readings. EXCERPT: “2. Distract Yourself/Be Present. Now, this sounds like a contradiction but it really isn’t. I try not to obsess about what I’m about to read. As I prepared for tonight’s reading, I ironed, watched music videos, surfed the web, tried to work (couldn’t settle down enough for that), tried on my outfit, took it off …all before leaving the hotel room.”
December 20th 2010 –
Guest Post: Writing off the Map at The Signifyin Woman (Charmaine Valere). EXCERPT: “Well, here’s what no one tells you. Your job is not done. See, writers, all we really want to do is write; many of us are the shy, awkward people at the party, the people whose heart thunders like a runaway herd at each invitation to step to the mic, who would just as soon write, not speak. And yet, once we’ve written, speaking is inevitable and, as it turns out, necessary; because you’ve got to sell, sell, sell. If you don’t want to be dropped, dropped, dropped.”
December 15th 2010 –
Geoffrey Philp’s BlogSpot hosted me for some reflections entitled Defining Moments. EXCERPT: “I know that I’m a writer because things never feel quite so hopeless, the world never feels so dull and absent of meaning as when I can’t write. Not even after the umpteenth rejection saying in not so many words, you’re not good enough. It’s not about finally finding the courage to cop to being a writer, to write it in my passport, to greet the world with it – even as they whisper with something like pity, she bright, you know, she coulda been a lawyer.”
August 2010 –
Summer Edward invited me to post on Wadadli Pen. EXCERPT: “When, earlier in 2010, I started the Wadadli Pen blog – intent on uploading the best of the best from the annual competition which dates back to 2004 – I had no idea it would consume so much of my time. Nor did I know that I would feel so energized by the process.”
June 2018 – Caribbean Literary Heritage –
“Who are our most important writers today?
Oy ve! I don’t like value judgments like “most important”. A Writer like Edwidge Dandicat is hugely important to me, as is Antigua and Barbuda’s biggest literary export Jamaica Kincaid, someone else will say Marlon James, someone else will say Kei Miller, or Monique Roffey or Tiphanie Yanique, all writers I’ve enjoyed, all award winning writers with huge platforms doing interesting and compelling things on the page. But there are so many writers in the gaps, writing their niche in a way that potentially opens it up to other eyes; and for me that’s one of the more interesting things is that there is no single voice, no single point of view, no single voice of importance; rather so many voices – at home and abroad, from islands big and small, of different subsets – clamouring to be heard and important in their way. If only more of them, more of us, could be amplified.” Read more.
February 17th 2018 – The Hippo Hangs Out…with Joanne C. Hillhouse –
“If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
The teens in Musical Youth are a fun, interesting bunch. Sitting in on one of their rehearsals while they prep their Anansi themed summer theatre production, watching their squabbles and their creative blossoming and frustrations and triumphs, I imagine that would be fun.” Read more.
January 8th 2018 – image from an appearance on English Harbour Radio –
December 2017 – Interviewed by the Feathered Quill –
“FQ: You write poetry as well as fiction/non-fiction books. Do you find one style more satisfying for you to work with, or do they all offer something important, and perhaps different?
HILLHOUSE: I am most passionate about fiction, reading it, writing it. But I enjoy experimenting so I’ve tried my hand at many genres and sub-genres: screen and play writing to fiction and poetry and, of course, non-fiction, with journalism and feature writing being a part of that; and from bildungsroman to romance to adult dramas to noir to jumbie (ghost) stories and so on, including as demonstrated by With Grace, my Caribbean fairytale published by Little Bell Caribbean, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, children’s picture books. Read my full interview with the Feathered Quill.”
December 1st 2017 – Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure author, illustrator (Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné), and publisher in conversation as part of a live lost event, subsequently archived on Wadadli Pen –
“Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné ‘…Dolphin’s daydreaminess really helps define him, I think. It was the first thing that struck me when I started doing concept sketches of each of the characters. It set him apart from his friends…. aside from his nose of course. In the illustrations, I wanted his eyes to always be wide and filled with wonder.'”
November 23rd 2017 – Interview re Astrid Lindgren nomination and writing career on Observer AM – listen to the full interview here:
July 2017 –
African Book Addict –
“Some of my favourite Caribbean books of fiction would be:
The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Lonely Londoners by Sam Sevlon
Fear of Stones by Kei Miller…” Read the rest of the list and the rest of this interview here .
July 2017 –
The Culture Trip – “I think like any writer anywhere, I struggle to be seen, to be heard, to be read, to get on. Like any writer anywhere, I have to do my research and find an angle, and hope that I am not limited by my location either, in getting my foot in the door or in how my work is marketed and/or received. Finding and tapping into opportunities, making a living as a writer—both as an author and as a freelancer—is challenging, especially so if you’re located in a small place. Because I am so far off the map as far as publishing is concerned, the struggle has been greater, but so has my determination.” Read the full interview.
January 2017 –
Sometimes interviews don’t run. Like this one. Done with Hamlet Hub in 2015, posted for the first time on this blog in 2017.
“… I suppose, since this is an American blog and I am a Caribbean writer, I could ask something like why would a reader from America be interested in books by a writer from Antigua. My answer, it’s an imaginative road trip to a different culture, and the realization at the end of it that wherever they rest their heads at night, people are, after all, just people. My characters for all their differences from your reality are still people – and I’ve found as a reader and writer that even within the differences it’s often possible to find something relatable. The best writing, in my view, doesn’t pander to that idea but lets its characters live and breathe, and the open reader can really have an enriching experience stepping into that other-world as it is and just breathing it in. If you’re anything like me, you’ll like the adventure of exploring a different world for a while, all without leaving home; though travel is fun too.” Read the full interview.
January 2017 –
Interviewing the Caribbean 2016 – A History of Violence Part 1: The Making of Caribbean Society published my poems The Bamboo Raft and Election Season, and my short story Zombie Island. Editor Opal Palmer Adisa also interviewed me for the issue. EXCERPT: “I like to try my hand at things I’ve never written before. That’s how I ended up trying my hand at noir (for Akashic’s Mondays are Murder series), and the teen/young adult genre that resulted in my book, Musical Youth, a Burt Award finalist, or the faerie tale, With Grace… So, it (the writing of Zombie Island) was that impulse to try something I hadn’t done, to experiment. It was also the reality of violence – everything that happened in that story including a raging man banging down my door happened in life, though none of it, as is always the case with fiction, happened as it happens in life. My irritation with the politics is there as well so it must have been political season when I wrote it. But mostly it was me wanting to see if I could tell a zombie tale at all, and then more specifically a zombie tale in a Caribbean space.” Purchase the publication and read more here. Read the full interview.
December 2016 –
Little Bell Caribbean is a sub-set of Editorial Campana which published my second children’s book and sixth book overall, the picture book and Caribbean fairytale With Grace. Publisher Mario Picayo conducted this in-house interview to coincide with the launch of the book. EXCERPT: “Writing is how I engage with the world, and while it is not just emotional impulse, it can be an emotional release. Such was the case With Grace. I was blindsided by a negative encounter… and it was taking up entirely too much mental space. While the circumstances in the story are fictional, With Grace came out of my desire to purge those feelings. I’m really happy that a character so full of grace emerged, like sunshine chasing out the negativity.” Read the full interview.
November 2015 –
Swedish TV programme Popreel interviewed me on a wide range of subjects, though the interview excerpts used focus on language as culture and identity, and how it emerges in my literature. EXCERPT: “I’m always writing something… for me writing is a journey of discovery. I can’t always see where it’s going but I’m always wandering my way through it, and trying to figure out what it’s all about.” Watch the story (my interview begins about 9 minutes in).
There’s also a radio link EXCERPT: “I grew up on calypso… calypso was where you went to get the news and to tell it to you straight; and I think that’s something that’s at the back of my mind or has influenced me as a writer. When I was growing up I didn’t know any writers from here, from Antigua, the writers from here that I knew, and I have great respect for them, were the calypso writers, people like Shelly Tobitt and Marcus Christopher. Because when I was growing up calypso was the literature that I would hear that had some relevance to my community.”
The interviews are used in the schools in Sweden as well; this is the Teacher’s Guide related to those interviews.
November 2015 –
The Real 268 Woman is a light-hearted interview series in Caribbean Times EXCERPT: “That’s an excerpt from my poem Ah Write, previously published in The Caribbean Writer and the PEN America journals…and in it I come as close as it’s possible for me to come on what inspires and influences and informs my creativity… and it is everything… the ugliness and the beauty…and sunsets…just life.”
September 2015 –
Bookworm (a Swedish programme) ran parts of my Popreel interview. EXCERPT: “I started writing earnestly in my teens and I was in my 20s before I realized, you know what, I’m going to figure out a way to do this. And it was right after I finished university. I did a writing programme at the University of Miami. I went to University at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and then I was recommended to the Caribbean Fiction Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami and that’s when I started working on The Boy from Willow Bend.”
August 2015 –
Interview with Geosi Gyasi at Geosi Reads: a World of Literary Pieces. EXCERPT: “My earliest memories are of the willow tree lined dead end alley I used as the setting for my first book The Boy from Willow Bend.”
July 2015 –
ABS TV’s Anderson Edghill interviewed me on my book Musical Youth. EXCERPT: “I do think that these are important themes in the lives of our young people; and I can speak to being a teenager myself and trying to figure out who I am, what I want, and…those few years are some of the most confusing and, also, some of the most revelatory, in terms of, you’re discovering yourself but you’re pushed and pulled by your peer group.”
June 2015 –
Dr. Jessie Voigts at Wandering Educators reviewed my book Musical Youth (“I’m so very impressed, and extremely happy to share this book with our Wandering Educators.”
-Dr.Voigts). She also interviewed me about what inspired it and other things, including whether or not a sequel is planned. EXCERPTS: “Fragments of me and some of my experiences helped shaped this book, from my teen days playing guitar and navigating the kinds of relationships Zahara and Shaka do in the story to my work trying to motivate young people to recognize the power of their own voice through projects like the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, the things that inspired this book are timeless, true for any girl and boy coming of age, anywhere, any time – in fact a niece of mine IM’d me to insist, insist, not ask that it was about her, which for me is a great compliment because it means that she sees herself in it; I told her everything she saw was also me, once upon a teen-age, which is true, and yet not…because the truth is there is no single inspiration …it’s also true that these kids – Zahara, Shaka, Kong, and the rest had very definite ideas about who they were from the jump and were insistent that I tell their story as they lived it…I listened…and just tried to keep up.”
June 2015 –
The Hamlet Hub interviewed me about a number of things including favourite books. EXCERPT: “In school in Antigua, probably To Shoot Hard Labour, which is non-fiction, effectively the post-slavery to post-colonial history of Antigua through the lived experience of Samuel ‘Papa Sammy’ Smith, an Antiguan workingman – a life that spanned 1877 to 1982, by the way. I read it in high school for the first time and it brought the British-Caribbean history I’d been learning all those years – as dates without context, without connection, without the voice or perspective of my ancestors – to life in vivid and unsettling detail. It was suddenly more than words on a page; it was a story of how I came to be here. And I think that’s important, when so much of what you read, even the history that claims to be about you, doesn’t include you.”
November 2014 –
The Whimsical Project (Haitan-American writer M.J. Fievre) had a wide ranging interview with me. EXCERPT: “Beyond that, it was normal – friendships and family, church and Carnival, mangoes and butterflies… (Butterflies always come to mind when I think of my second childhood home, much like willow trees, the willow trees in my first book The Boy from Willow Bend, when I think of my first childhood home…) the days we spent chasing butterflies in the hedges across the street from my grandparent’s home, something I referenced, though re-located, in Willow Bend… in it, I referenced, too, perhaps my most vivid memory, my grandmother, Tanty’s, dying… my first heartbreak and the thing that quite possibly set me on the path to becoming a writer.”
October 2014 –
Grab Life by the Lapels – the Interview EXCERPT: “I’m very driven…and it’s not about what tier I’m on because I’m still very much a writer on the hustle… it’s about feeling like I heard the character right and told her or his story right; that’s what matters to me, and I’ll fight for that.”
October 2014 –
Booker Talk’s The View from Here travels the world through books, with a local as a guide; this is the Caribbean Chapter as written by me. EXCERPT: “Jamaica Kincaid is a favourite writer of mine. In fact, discovering her book Annie John years ago was one of those steps on my journey to accepting that it wasn’t so crazy to want to be a writer. Because when you come from a small place, it seems the most impractical thing.”
June 2014 –
The Emerge interview was a series spotlighting women on the hustle (the business hustle, the money hustle) who still claimed the right to do so on their terms (independently). It was a project of NIA Comms founder Marcella Andre. EXCERPT: “I refer to myself as freelancer deliberately … for a number of reasons…but mostly because it has the word free in it.”
June 2014 –
Jamaica Observer’s Bookends interviewed (via Bookends editor and author Sharon Leach) me about Musical Youth and the kinds of things I write, in addition to running an excerpt from the book. EXCERPT: “I write sort of all over the map, drawn in by the questions that trouble me and the characters that intrigue me, and sometimes the desire to experiment with form, and hopefully emerging on the other side with a good story.”
March 2014 –
Cynthia Nelson’s food blog Tastes Like Home interviewed me about food culture, mine and Antigua and Barbuda’s. EXCERPT: “I don’t think I have an eating style but I do identify certain foods with certain days – like salt fish is for Sunday morning, rice pudding (black pudding made with blood and rice) is for Saturdays, and Fungee and other local foods are never eaten on Sundays. Good Friday is Macaroni for me because I don’t eat Ducana (a steamed sweet dumpling made of grated sweet potatoes, coconut, raisins, spices, and flour). Ducana and salt fish is a Good Friday tradition in Antigua.”
March 2013 –
Susumba’s Tanya Batson-Savage (a Jamaican writer and publisher) interviewed me after the release of Oh Gad! in a piece entitled Shooting for Happiness – Joanne C. Hillhouse talks writing and more including the path to publication and goals. EXCERPT: “Once I felt I had a manuscript worth selling, I did research online mostly trying to find somewhere to sell it. I tried to find publishers and/or agents who were open to taking risks on new writers, who represented any of the niches I might fit into – female, black etc. … The hardest kind of pitch I remember having to do was an oral pitch – how to verbalize what makes your story different or something the market needs. Networking also helped; and networking isn’t just about hitting up other writers but building relationships and putting yourself in situations where your writing can grow.”
February 2013 –
The Frugal Feminista interviewed me about the business of being an artist and about my book Oh Gad! EXCERPT: “I didn’t write with the children’s market in mind at all; I just told the story and because the first novella was a coming of age story, it was a natural fit for that market. But what it taught me is that sometimes you get pigeonholed by what you’ve done or how what you’ve done is defined by others and not by the full scope of what you can do and do do.”
October 29th 2012 –
Sandra Sealey (Barbadian writer) interviewed me at Shewrites.com on my makings as a writer. EXCERPT: “In terms of the creative arts, specifically I’ve said before that I believe that calypso was an early influence because the calypsonians were the popular singer-songwriter-folk singers giving voice to the lives and frustrations and hopes and dreams of the people; for many of us they were our inauguration into the craftiness and power of storytelling. Also with other homegrown arts like the steel band, the Carnival mas, and jumbie and Anansi stories, the toys we crafted of necessity from our environment, the way our parents sewed the scraps of life together, it all created in me a latent awareness of the creativity of my people; our ability to cut and contrive.”
September 10th 2012 –
Kelcey Parker is the author of For Sale by Owner and owner of the site ‘ph.d in creative writing and other stories’. She interviewed me for her ‘how to become a writer’ series. EXCERPT: “Jamaica Kincaid because like me she’s an Antiguan writer and because after reading Annie John, I knew that I had a lot of work to do but becoming a writer wasn’t as improbable as it seemed. Edwidge Dandicat whose writing I admired and whose geographic landscape (she was also from the Caribbean and only a few years older than me) made me see possibilities. Zora Neale Hurston because I like both her writing and her spirit and, like her, I’m committed to rendering my world in its full-bodied authentic self.” Read it here.
May 2012 –
Your Style interview: ‘Joanne C. Hillhouse frees her mind’ (Page 17) EXCERPT: “But with the good comes the bad and the thing you’re never really prepared for when you step out and say I want to be a writer is that feeling of vulnerability, because your work will be judged and may be found wanting…”
April 24th 2012 –
Interviewed on the Colin Sampson TV show – video unavailable but here’s a video capture:
April 17th 2012 –
Commonwealth Writers interviewed me about writing, advice, challenges in this interview headlined ‘Why did you kill Uncle Wellie?’ EXCERPT: “My writing is always rooted in my Antiguan-ness; and in particular the Antiguan (with a hint of Dominican) working-class reality from the 1970s to present; the rhythms of that world especially informed my first book The Boy from Willow Bend (2009). But it’s there in some way, shape or form in the other stories as well – even the ones not set in Ottos, where I was born: people making do and making a way, people who had their eyes wide open to reality but were still superstitious, people dealing with the disorientation of change within the shadow of larger political and social factors, much like in my new book Oh Gad! (2014).”
April 11th 2012 –
Caribbean Book Blog interview shortly ahead of the release of Oh Gad!, touching on issues related to the book itself. EXCERPT: “I hope they find it to be an engaging read; interesting, thought provoking and entertaining. As always, I hope Caribbean people see a bit of themselves and I hope non-Caribbean readers see some of our common humanity. Beyond that I can’t really control what they take from it as part of what we take from works of art has to do with what we bring to them. Each person will take something different.”
January 6th 2012 –
Blogger Mindy Hardwick’s interview with me focused on mentorship. EXCERPT: “Also, when someone whose opinion you respect sees you and believes in your potential – and in the potential of your work – you believe in it a little bit more as well.”
December 4th 2011 –
Trinidad poet Danielle Boodoo Fortune interviewed me for a student project about the things that inform my writing. EXCERPT: “So, I guess I’m both inspired by what’s happening around me and also use my writing to slip away from it.” Read the interview.
September 17th 2011 –
Interview with a group of local students touching on personal and writing related issues. EXCERPT: “Fiction…challenges me and I fall in love with the characters and enjoy discovering the story. Poetry…it’s my outlet; it’s not always about publishing, often it’s just about getting it out. This is the medium I use for that type of writing more than any other…for me, the most accessible, I guess. Though it is it’s own kind of challenge (technically). But I like all forms for different reasons.”
David Rae Stories – Recommendations: Links to Other Authors I have enjoyed. Dancing Nude in the Moonlight.
February 19th 2018
AntiguaNice shares the Literary Hub article ’10 Female Caribbean Authors You Should Know’. Read the post here.
February 5th 2018
“…as an appreciation of the passionate writing of Joanne Hillhouse; always challenging her readers’ subconscious, and reigniting the memories of the Antiguan-ness of our upbringing.” – Zorol Barthley, Inside the Edge, Daily Observer
Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure named one of AALBC’s 6 Children’s Books of Interest to Readers of Black Literature Published in the Last two Months
Tropicale Fete Inc. announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
One Caribbean announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Antigua Nice announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Discover Montserrat announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Repeating Islands announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Antigua Chronicle announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Caribbean News Service announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
Caribbean Edition announces Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure
With Grace mentioned in the May/June issue of the LIAT in-flight magazine.
With Grace among books selected for the VI Governor’s summer read challenge as mentioned in this post to the St. Thomas Source.
AALBC which also maintains an author page for me on site, shared book announcement (With Grace).
Repeating islands shared book announcement (With Grace).
Unheard Words shared book announcement (With Grace)
Writers and Authors shared book announcement (With Grace).
July 2016 –
Naomi Jackson, an American author with Caribbean roots (in Barbados and Antigua) is the author of the critically-acclaimed Star Side of Bird Hill. She listed, in American Scholar, 10 books about exile and displacement; a list that included Grace Jones’ I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award Winning The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian, A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei, Jeannette Winterson’s Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Man Booker Winner A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, Anna-in-Between by Elizabeth Nunez, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and two Antiguan picks – Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and my book Oh Gad! Read the full article.
Anansesem shared book announcement (With Grace).
May 2016 –
Bookends in Jamaica’s Observer ran an excerpt from my teen/young adult novel Musical Youth. Read it here: Bookends May 2016
January 2016 –
Thoughts of a Mini-Bus Traveller blog blogged on a reading at Moray House in Guyana in which I participated.
November 2016 –
ITZ Caribbean shared book announcement (With Grace).
September 2015 –
Art. Culture. Antigua on my participation in Brooklyn Book Festival & The Daily Observer also ran this image from my panel with (from left) Ian Maloney, Matthew McGevna, and Tanwi Nandini Islam:
June 2015 –
Essence magazine said this at its online site after the Anguilla Lit Fest: “Writers from other Caribbean nations, such as novelist Joanne C. Hillhouse of Antigua, also played a part in the discussions, drawing on the vastness of voices from the African diaspora. In a side conversation, Hillhouse emphasized the significance of having role models to help nurture one’s writing spirit. Jamaica Kincaid, also from Antigua, provided that for Hillhouse—showing her the possibilities for a Black Caribbean woman in the literary world. Drawing ironically on this principle, Hillhouse was surprised to learn from one of the student participants that her book The Boy from Willow Bend, about an Antiguan boy finding his way through life, is required reading in some Anguillian schools.”
February 2015 –
Jules Tools for Social Change: a Black History Month Booklist included In the Black: New African Canadian Literature which includes my story Man of Her Dreams.
December 2014 –
Caribbean & Co.’s 6 Books to Add to Your Children’s Library This Christmas included mentions of Musical Youth and Round My Christmas Tree, the latter a collection that includes my short story Breaking with Tradition.
August 2014 –
NPR’s Weekend Reads programme hosted author Elizabeth Nunez for a discussion of my book Oh Gad! (Here’s THE FULL TRANSCRIPT) EXCERPT: ‘But Hillhouse still lives in the landscape she writes about. “There’s such an authenticity to her story,” Nunez says. “I immediately knew the people, the characters she wrote about.”‘
July 2014 –
Caribbean Beat reports on the Burt Award EXCERPT: ‘Second-place winner Joanne Hillhouse had previously written an adult novel and a children’s book, and decided to take up “the creative challenge” of writing a young adult novel to submit for the Burt Award. The cash and prestige aren’t what she values most about the prize, she says. “I love to see people engaged in what I write. I’m looking forward to seeing how people respond to it. Especially young readers.”’
May 2014 –
Bookends editor Sharon Leach covered PEN World Voices festival in the Jamaica Observer.
EXCERPT: “I was singularly thrilled to be asked to be part of this year’s festival, which included two other writers from the Caribbean region, Barbara Jenkins of Trinidad and Tobago and Joanne Hillhouse of Antigua. We were accommodated at hipster-chic hotel, the Marlton, smack-dab in the Village, and the experience was delightful. Authors can be some of the most negatively competitive people you’ll ever meet, and so, it didn’t have to play out that way. You know I keep it real, so believe me when I tell you: the time spent bonding with these ladies was amazing and I left feeling not only more a part of the contemporary Caribbean woman writers’ sorority, but more importantly, that I’d made two friends for life.”
April – May 2014 –
Several news and arts outlets -including the Arc, Global Voices , Trinidad Express x2, Susumba and others – reported on the outcome of the inaugural Burt Award, in which my manuscript, Musical Youth, placed second.
October 11th 2012 –
The African American Literary Book Club [AALBC], a website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent, included me in their Authors You Should Know series.
July – September 2012
Zing (the LIAT inflight magazine) shares book announcement (Oh Gad!):
July 2012 –
The Dominican shared announcement re participation in the Nature Island Literary Festival.
Carib Daily shared announcement re participation in the Nature Island Literary Festival.
Repeating Islands shared announcement re participation in the Nature Island Literary Festival.
April 2012 –
Geoffrey Philp’s BlogSpot shared launch announcement (Oh Gad!).
Tastes like Home shared launch announcement (Oh Gad!).
Wealth of Ideas shared launch announcement (Oh Gad!).
Vision (UK) shared launch announcement (Oh Gad!):
January 20th 2012 –
Publisher’s Weekly included Oh Gad! in its Romance Listings.
November 1st 2011 –
Soca Mom blog listed The Boy from Willow Bend on its list of recommended Caribbean Children’s books.
December 2011 –
Signifying Guyana excerpted forthcoming book Oh Gad!
January-March 2010 –
Zing, the LIAT Inflight magazine:
Summer 2017 – Little Bell Caribbean’s post re the 2017 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge Kicks off on St. Thomas at Lockhart Elementary
December 2014 –
Burt Award sponsor CODE’s post on Musical Youth being Donated to the Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda (disseminated by CODE) EXCERPT: “It means a lot to me to have my new book, Musical Youth, in the stacks of the long awaited, brand new library,” said Hillhouse, who added that a library is an essential and potentially vibrant part of not only the literary community but the community as a whole. “I love that Antiguan and Barbudan teens are going to have ready access to this book and I hope that they will be able to see themselves in it.”
November 2014 –
Truly Caribbean reports on the release of Musical Youth – also covered by the Daily Observer, and Repeating Islands. EXCERPT: “This is an important book,” comments a representative of the publisher, CaribbeanReads Publishing, “because Caribbean teens will be able to see themselves in the young people in the story and relate to it. There are few books that achieve this goal and that’s why we are so excited to be a part of this and of Joanne’s success.”
Full transcript of conference paper from the 3rd Congress of Caribbean Writers in Guadeloupe (theme: There is no Spoon: the Thin Line between Memory and Invention) – EXCERPT: “The dungeon is fashioned from a small cave in a rock, it has a single opening, the remains suggesting it was bolted by a heavy door. When we visited for the report and put a barrier across that opening, we found that inside is complete darkness and hard stone, and could imagine the little critters creeping through the crevices. I was able to use that experience and the oral history from the interview – when tanty tells Nikki that they were told as children not to play there and why, for instance.”
Full transcript of conference paper from the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars in Suriname (theme: Beyond our Borders: The Caribbean Writer in the Digital Age: A Perspective) – EXCERPT: “funding is important but even more than that is action and that lack of action”.
ABS TV teamed up with me for a televised book club discussion of my book Oh Gad! We discussed favourite characters, story motivation, story themes, elevator pitch, and more including what label me and my stories wear. EXCERPT: “….the idea is that if the emotion is real, if the humanity is real, if it’s coming from an authentic place then people will be able to connect with it…” See other clips here.
Callaloo Journal shared videos from participant readings from the Callaloo Writers Workshop held at Brown University in Rhode Island during the summer. I was one of two from my group; I read from Oh Gad!
Finally, have you checked out my books? – they’re available online and at bookstores near you (if they’re not already, ask and they can be). Here’s a link to the books and their publishers (re ordering).