The Question Was…

A new interview has been added to the media page. It’s an audio of a radio interview.

Here’s an excerpt:

“My writing is influenced by life…I think what I write is very much from the core of who I am, what my experiences have been, not in a literal way, not in a biographical way, but in terms of the energy and the culture of Antigua and Barbuda, of Ottos, Antigua, where I’m from, and just as we transition in the world, as Antigua becomes more of itself, reflecting that, capturing that; so my writing is influenced by life.

My latest book is a children’s picture book; it has fantasy elements. It’s called Lost! A Caribbean Sea AdventureNov 2 2017 and it’s about an arctic seal and a jellyfish and there are other underwater creatures in it; but at the same time it’s influenced by that story that happened some years ago when Wadadli, the arctic seal, found himself stranded in the Caribbean Sea and we had to figure out how we’re going to get him back to his natural habitat, even things like that can influence a story. Because a lot of it comes from the what if, what if this happened, then what, then what, then what; and for me writing a lot of the times is trying to make sense of life, trying to figure out how I feel about things, trying to understand what’s happening. And I think for a lot of writers it’s probably the same thing, it’s that whole thing of sort of wrestling with life.”

And the question was, “what or who has influenced your writing over all these years” with, as a follow up, if I think that’s true of most writers. Listen to the whole conversation in the Interview Section of the Media room.

Remember, November 30th 2017 is Publication Day for Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure – a picture book described as “appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life” by Kirkus Reviews. It is already available for pre-order. Please help me spread the news and consider purchasing for the young readers in your life. If you’re in Antigua, copies are already available at the Best of Books.



I watched Suffragette the other night.


It happened quite by chance; I was flipping through channels and something made me stop. I had had no real interest in seeing this film, no real interest in not seeing this film either  – I guess I was rather meh on it. Given that I am unapologetically feminist and curious about history, this meh-ness regarding a film with this subject matter was unusual for me. But there it was.

The film came out in late 2015, smack dab in the middle of conversations around Oscars so White and I suspect my meh-ness on Suffragette might have had to do in part with the failure of Hollywood and feminism and America to be more intersectional, to pull the people on the margins in to the grand narrative, and to recognize the alternative stories when they that are told (Fruitvale Station, anyone?). Plus there was Suffragette’s marquee star (she’s really very little in the film but it felt like she was all over the promotion) Meryl Streep’s “we are all Africans” comment when asked specifically about diversity (in Hollywood, in the boardroom and on set, above and below the line, in front of the camera and behind the scenes, and on these international film juries and selection panels) that felt breezy and dismissive to me relative to the specific concerns driving the campaign.

It felt to some degree like worthy black films were being overlooked and that some of the white films being praised were mediocre at best; like to be considered as a black anything you couldn’t just be good you had to be superlative and even then… meh. So maybe I was giving meh back. I don’t know. I just know that I wasn’t stoked and it was uncharacteristic, especially since I am a Streep stan (she’s one of my all time favourite actresses though of late, and through no fault of her own, nominated ahead of more deserving performances on the strength of her standing). For me her last really Oscar nomination worthy performances have been Doubt and Julie and Julia (and in those cases I think I was rooting just as hard, harder maybe, for Viola Davis and Amy Adams). So, yeah, I was meh on Suffragette. Where was the intersectionality? Yes, I know that was a specific story about the movement in England, but where was the other story in the hundreds of films Hollywood rolls out every year, where, for instance, was the Ida B. Wells story. These things were at the corner of my mind.

But watching the film the other night, and I’m glad I did, I was reminded of a few things, one of them is I low key really dig Carey Mulligan. I mean she’s kind of unassuming (and maybe blends in to the back of my mind when I think of favourite actresses) but I’ve liked quite a few things she’s been in (a number of them because of or in part because of her) without really thinking about it: the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice (okay, she was barely in that), An Education (sorta, kinda, maybe), Never Let me Go (such an interesting film), Shame (just saw this the other night as well and wow), and…okay I didn’t like the new Great Gatsby but that’s not her fault and my interest in Mudbound is growing (in part because of Mary J. Blige, through whom I even became aware of the film). But I don’t think I’ve seen a bad Carey Mulligan performance and I feel fairly certain that there’s Oscar in her future. Her performance in Suffragette was so subtle and interesting to me. Don’t mistake subtle for muted. Okay, watch this scene.


Doesn’t she just rip your heart out.

I’m glad I watched this movie for that reason as well that we need to be reminded that this (life) has never been easy for women (and yes, when I read at the end the years of voting rights to women in countries across the world, the unspoken footnote by those years is/should be white women because whether talking pay gaps or electoral maps, women of colour have rarely gotten the same share at the same time). It’s something I was saying to one of my young uns the other day when she was speaking with that none of it matters tone we, too, mastered when we were teens, about how the system is rigged and voting changes nothing. And I couldn’t tell her it wasn’t but I emphatically insisted that we needed to still show up and fight…because the women before us and the black people before us had to fight so that we could be here (taking for granted certain things like the right to vote that they had to fight for) to have this debate. Opting out solves nothing. And that’s essentially what this movie is about, the sacrifices women, like the woman Mulligan plays, made so that they could have agency over their lives, custody rights over their children, and so on in the face of male arrogance and privilege. I mean one of the more bruising things was how her husband, a decent seeming man, effectively punished her for fighting for better for herself and other women by denying her access to her child even knowing that he couldn’t take care of the child alone and then giving the child away all together – I mean I know there are class issues involved (sidebar: speaking of class issues, I’m reminded here of another gripping British find, the series Peaky Blinders) and different time and socialization and all that but also a helluva a lot of male privilege (a gauntlet today’s headlines remind us we haven’t cleared not when it comes to presumption of ownership over women’s bodies and choices).

Granted at the time  when the war (yes war, these women were blowing sh*t up and burning sh*t down with a single-mindedness that has me wondering – not really – what people are really upset about when they complain about black people taking a knee at American football games not protesting against social injustice in the right way) …but, yeah, when the war chronicled in Suffragette was being waged in England my  country was still a colony of same and laws like the contract act still bound my people in pseudo slavery, as this was pre-the labour movement which ushered in an era of battles for workers rights, universal adult suffrage, and grassroots leadership. So their wins (milestone though they were) did not affect me either directly or immediately but every ripple disturbs the water, right?

Anyway, I liked the movie. I’m glad I watched it. One book I would recommend for folks interested in the intersections of race and gender is Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class (granted, it’s been a while since I read it but I remember it being quite the thorough and thought-provoking read).

So these musings are the sum total of my Sunday Post – a meme hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer (which reminds me, time for coffee!). Happy Sunday.

Why Your Favorite Author Probably Can’t Give You a Free Book

Bethany House Fiction

It’s a dilemma that many in my circles are puzzling over: in today’s world, authors have nearly limitless creativity and research sources and opportunities to get their stories out to a wider audience…but fewer people are willing to pay for them.

I’m an administrator for a few dozen authors’ Facebook pages, and from time to time I glimpse notifications of another message with the same question, phrased in a few different ways: “Why is your book (or ebook) so expensive?”

If you’ve ever wondered that yourself—and I don’t blame you, because I did too before I started working in publishing—here are a few thoughts that authors probably want to say but feel they can’t, because it seems a little too direct, a little too self-serving (even though it really isn’t).

It’s the same reason restaurant owners can’t give you a free dinner: because that’s how they make a living. Sure…

View original post 888 more words

Liebster Links

LiebsterI was nominated for the Leibster Award by Bookish Owlette. No I don’t get a shiny trophy; I get this virtual badge, and an opportunity to share more and connect with other members of the blogging community (read the rules here). I don’t do these a lot (because, time) but, with thanks to the blog that nominated me, I’m leaping in to this one. Let’s go.

I’m supposed to answer some questions:

1.Have you ever met an author or celebrity in real life? Who and what happened!?

I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of authors – I’m an author myself and sometimes participate in events where our paths cross. I try not to go mute when it’s an author I’m in awe of, emphasis on try. But my first experience meeting a big shot writer was when I was assigned to be Derek Walcott’s …something…usher? chaperone?…at a university dinner when I was still a student. He had recently won the Nobel prize so everyone wanted his autograph and thought I could get it for them. Fun *sarcasm*. But one of my literary collectibles is a picture of me and Walcott (who died earlier this year) from that night.

2.What inspires your blog content and design?

Re the design, I want ease of navigation and colour wise I just pick colours I like – initially it was black and orange, two colours I love, but I was advised that it was too dark and tried to brighten it up a bit with a lighter palette. I really started blogging as part of my author platform and have been feeling my way – I like talking books, I talk about my journey as a writer, and I participate in these fabulous memes.

3.Which Hogwarts House are you in?

I have no idea. Have never read a Harry Potter book and have seen only bits and pieces of the film… or films, I’m not sure – could be different parts of the same film. I did watch all of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them though so I’m not totally out of the loop. I still don’t know the houses though.

4.Would you do this, get $100,000 every week = marry the one person you hate, and loathe.

No. Well…do we have to live together?… nah, still no.

5.What is the story behind your blog name?

Jhohadli is a pen name a dorm mate gave me in university. I liked it so I kept it. It’s a blend of my name and my island’s indigenous name.

6.Time Machine and Magic Wand in hand, if you could be any person in the world, who would you be and why?

I still want to be myself but I wouldn’t mind hanging with Zora Neale Hurston in a jazz club in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance.

7.What’s your dream job?

Writer making real money.

8.What is the main obstacle you face in your blog?

Time to blog is a factor. I maintain two blogs. But I like it, though sometimes I struggle with how much to share.

9.Most embarrassing moment.

…speaking of, this feels like an overshare trap… pass.

10.If you could be a supernatural being, what would you be?

I’m going to count Storm as a supernatural being. Not only is she one of my favourite super heroes I’ve written a whole (unpublished) rant about why, now that Wonder Woman’s got hers, Storm needs her origins movie…for the sistahs.

11.Which fictional character would you marry?

Lol…literary crushes I’ve had a few…  I don’t know if I’d marry them but I was drawn to Cloud Racer in Orenda, a historical novel centered among the Iroquois by Kate Cameron, and Fire in Colin Channer’s Waiting in Vain, a contemporary romance. Mr. Darcy, from the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice just popped in to my head…probably has to do with me rewatching the movie recently and, yes, he’s an a*shole for most of it but then he isn’t, you know.
I’m also supposed to give 11 random facts about myself.

My sister island is Barbuda (and she still needs hurricane relief help, so help if you can). Yes, islands have sisters.

I have one too.

I was once a majorette.

Graces Merry Makers

I love Carnival. (Image above is from last Carnival when I and some friends performed as the tree faerie from my children’s picture book With Grace).

I’m not the athlete in my family (that’s my niece).

I’m not the musician either but I did play guitar in my teens – which helped when I was writing my book Musical Youth.

When I was a kid we lit starlites and rockets and lit up the night during Guy Fawkes (fun!). We didn’t do Halloween (though it seems to be catching on lately; think any of the kids will dress up next year as one of the characters from my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventurefrom Caribbean Reads facebook); I might not do Halloween but that’d be kind of dope.

When music hits me I feel no pain.

My island has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year; but who’s counting.


Author photo shoot with Emile Hill at one of the 365.


Raised Catholic.

My first author photo was taken by my friend Jane in her backyard.

365Antigua photo by Jane

(It was, as pictured, for the back cover of the re-issue of my first book The Boy from Willow Bend)


Now, I’m supposed to nominate 11 blogs.

Books & Munches.

Dressed to Read.

Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Blame it on Chocolate.

Bonaire Bliss.

Jenea’s Book Obsession.

Darlene’s Book Nook.

African Book Addict.

Library of Clean Reads.

Bermuda Onion.

Puss Reboots.

And now I have to give them 11 questions (okay, these are going to be totally random okay because it’s 3:35 a.m. here and my eyes are closing).

Do you watch The Crown? (I tried but it didn’t take; how about you?)

Have you read Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (it’s what I’m reading right now)

How do you recharge?

Have you ever been fishing?

What’s your favourite work of visual art?

What makes you happy?

Who’s your favourite stand-up comedian?

What, to your mind, is the greatest shift/change in human history?

How much of your time does social media eat up?

Apart from your own, what’s your favourite country?

Marcus Garvey was a character in my most recent read, Glorious by Bernice McFadden (read my review here). What’s your favourite book which includes, as a character, a person known from real life?

Lost! …What reviewers are saying

“Children will likely relate well to this story of getting lost while daydreaming and to the reassurance that kindly adults will look after strays. The book also gives them a chance to learn more about the work of environmentalists and Caribbean sea life.

An appealing book, all the more so for being based on real life.” – Kirkus Reviews

More Lost

For more Lost! Reviews, go here.


Sunday, Monday

Saturday wasn’t good (there was police involved… don’t ask), so let’s just move past that to Sunday, because, yay, I finished another book, making this a legit (I promised) addition to Stacking the ShelvesSunday Salonthe Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Post meme and It’s Monday What are You Reading (because it’s already Sunday night here, which is kind of like Monday).

The book I finished is Bernice McFadden’s Glorious. Glorious

See a review excerpt below:

“Really, though, what I started to get, the closer I got to the end, was that this book is more of a full biography (with all of the coming of age, first loves, romances, adventure, career, growth etc.) that a full life entails. More than that, it is really the story of the African American, and specifically the African American female artiste, through main character Easter’s journeys away from and back to where she started. And in a sense from boxer Jack Johnson’s defeat of Jim Jeffries in 1910 to the 1960s civil rights era, this is the story of America – achieved with only one major time jump.

As with Sugar, previously reviewed, McFadden does a really good job in making the recent history of which she writes touchable, seeable, feelable. The imagery is vivid, the historical notes solid and interestingly montage-y, the rhythm of the language has a beauty and musicality, and seductive layering, that you see for the first but not the last time in the opening sequence when it connects the Johnson fight worlds away to the traumatic, catalyzing incident in young Easter’s life, suggesting a connectivity between everything (or if not everything, unlikely things) that’s really thought-provoking. Historical figures, like Johnson, Garvey, many from the Harlem Renaissance, and others are worked in seamlessly and original characters claim their space in the reader’s imagination as well. Shortcomings include what feels like loose-ends in that some characters, Rain for example, kind of disappear back in to the scenery when Easter’s arc with them is done but without satiating my curiousity about them. Overall though, the language is beautiful and striking, Easter has an interesting life, and the world she moves through is rich; and Easter in the end feels like someone of that time, not just of that time in the novel, but in reality, and her journey all too sad and familiar.”

Go to Jhohadli Book Reviews V to read the full review.

Still on the active reading pile:

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
All the Joy You can Stand by Debrena Jackson Gandy
(those are the two I’m most actively reading)
Nobody owns the Rainbow by Kristene Simelda
(this is an advance review copy – Simelda is based and the novel is set in Dominica, which is all the motivation I need to remind you to support hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean if and where you can)
Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
(I started these about the same time and am about 20 pages in in both cases…sigh…I’ll get there)
The Black Rose by Tananarive Due
Singles Holiday by Elaine Spires
DiaCritica 26/2
(bigger sigh…because, I know, I know, I’ve been reading these for a while and enjoying them when I actually have time to read them more or less but I need to finish them already)
Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass
(newly plucked from the book shelf…yes, I know I have 8 books ahead of this one and have no business plucking another book from the shelf… but picking a new book when I’ve finished one is one of my life’s simplest pleasures…don’t ask me to give that up… programming note: the shelf is looking lighter! does this mean I’ll be able to get new-er books soon?)

Wishing everyone a good week – myself included.  We’ve earned it.

Nail Polish, Lost, Stranger Things: a Mish-Mash

Situation right now…I’m taking off chipped nailpolish and getting ready to re-apply ahead of a media panel this afternoon and a written communications training early in the week (spoiler alert: it may have chipped again by then). And as I do this, I’m not for the first time amazed at women who make time for all of this polish 24/7/365 because ugh… I’m half-convinced that my first Big Chop (when I went from straigthened/processed/permed hair to shine head to natural hair) was as much about reclaiming my time as reclaiming my roots because I was one of those women who hated the endless hours in the salon. It’s all so time consuming. So, yeah, I’m here doing the nails instead of writing or reading or whatever (and taking a time out to type this because that’s what’s on my mind this Sunday, probably partial distraction from the nerves that is always a precursor to any kind of public presentation).

But while I’m here, I want to say that the highlight of my week was receiving my copies of Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure:

Read about it here and about all my books here. Its official launch date is November 30th 2017 (though it’s already available for pre-order online).

Didn’t finish any books this week so nothing to report there but we had a holiday plop right in the middle of my week here and in between the beach and other activities, I managed to binge Stranger Things.



First thing I’m discovering that I’m not a fan of binging; it’s way too much of a time commitment (after a while it stops being fun and is just another thing you need to finish, because). That said, I did binge it and…


Season 2 was okay. Yes, just okay. Relative to how fresh (and, paradoxically, retro) Season 1 felt. It felt like it hit many of the same beats (Christmas lights become paper drawings but Winona’s house is still a mess) and yet things were off (like the relationship between the boys, whose chemistry was a big part of what worked for me in season 1), and also like it just threw more money at a fun idea – let’s take one of the characters on a road trip away from middle America and in to the big bad world of faux punk (yeah, I wasn’t feeling the rag tag band of thieves at all). The reveal of a sister for 11 was interesting (and the adventure allowed her to test the boundaries of her talents), everything else about the diversion storyline, not so much. The parents are laughably bad – totally no awareness, involvement in, nor control over the dangers in their children’s lives (except for Winona/Joyce and her parenting comes off as a bit overprotective because of all her son went through in the first season…surely there must be a middle ground). But I suppose that’s very 80s teen movie as well from the Goonies  to the Lost Boys to Back to the Future to Ferris Beuller to Sixteen Candles to Adventures in Babysitting – a sub-theme in each of these and every teen movie of my childhood and teens could be how not to parent. Sidebar: coming from a different culture, I remember watching these movies in the ’80s and marvelling at how kids talked to their parents in America; raising their voices, slamming doors and sh*t because in my world (ha!) which part?

The bully is annoyingly stereotypical and  styled as a Rob Lowe circa St. Elmo’s Fire knock off. As nostalgia trips go, though, it was nice to see Paul Reiser and Sean Astin join the likes of Winona Ryder and barely-there Matthew Modine; seeing them again takes me back to the time I watched teen adventure movies like Stranger Things. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about Sean Astin at first – not because of him but because, why – but he grew on me even as he grew on the characters in the series.

I still like Hopper (as in was generally bummed when I thought he was a goner) and Joyce (yay Winona) and like that they have a history you can feel but that they’re not boom (!) jumping in to bed with each other – I ship them (as friends) not as lovers, though if it leads there eventually without being forced, okay, but it’s neither necessary nor should it be inevitable. I liked the relationship between Hopper and Eleven for the most part, though I wasn’t feeling her punk aspirations – not punk-averse, she just looked to me like she was playing dress-up and acting out, emotionally and clothing-wise. Maybe I just miss her Furiosa hairstyle. I also liked the addition of Max if a little less so the eye rolly girl tension – yes, let’s have the girls hate each other; and boy drama – let’s have the boys fight over her and in the case of the one still pining for his lost love be incredibly rude to her. Ugh. Did I mention that part of what worked for me in the first one was the relationship between the boys – well, that was heavily disjointed in part because of the boy drama, in part because the plot had them running away from each other (it made for an unexpectedly interesting friendship though when one of the boys needs the aid of a bat with nails to kill a demo-dog). The other less interesting detour was the older teens’ love triangly something or other with a side order of conspiracy theory spouting obsessed reporter. Didn’t hate it; didn’t care.

All stories were neatly tied up by episode’s end at the obligatory high school dance (think Pretty in Pink) where we get not one but two first kisses. And even as I say everything was neatly tied up…there was a frustrating sense of not-knowing that I haven’t quite shaken by the end of the season. All of that said, Stranger Things season 2 was an entertaining genre mishmash 80s style if not as ‘fresh’ as the first season.

You know what felt fresh on re-watch this week though Pride and Prejudice (alas, no I didn’t do a quick re-read of the book but); how much do I love the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy as played by Kiera Knightely and Matthew Macfadyen, and especially that ill-fated proposal in the rain – which, alas I couldn’t find on youtube but it was bumping in to this scene once on late night TV that made me watch this version of the Jane Austen story and over several viewings since the whole film has become one of my favourite film romances (*spoiler alert* he eventually gets the proposal right).

I’ll try to finish a book before next week…I will…but until then this is this week’s Caffeinated Reviewer Sunday meme post.