I have a couple of new video clips (well not new but newly uploaded as I was working on an essay about my life in mas for submission and I needed to upload the videos) from Grace’s Merrymakers 2017 debut and finale during Antigua and Barbuda Carnival’s 60th anniversary. Seriously when I play mas again I want to not have to worry about all the behind the scenes stuff – though my mas was micro I have newfound respect for the leaders of mas I’ve played with over the years, because seriously when is their Carnival. I’m half-kidding. I had fun. We all did.
I’ve added my interview with the Feathered Quill to my Media Page. Here’s an Excerpt:
FQ: As I mentioned in my review, I love the illustrations for your book – they’re so bright and lively. Would you tell our readers a little about the process of working with your illustrator? Did you go over details of each illustration before she set to work, or did you discuss the overall feeling of the book and let her get creative? What was the process?
HILLHOUSE: Aren’t they beautiful? Thanks for the positive review, by the way; I’m happy and relieved to read it. Believe it or not, Danielle (Boodoo-Fortune) who is located in Trinidad in the southern Caribbean while I am in Antigua in the eastern Caribbean, literally several plane hops away, worked primarily from the story…and from one or two reference images I provided to the publisher from my research, for example, a picture of Wadadli. I recommended her to the publisher, because I not only knew and loved her work but thought her aesthetic would be a good fit for the world of Lost! She was contracted by Caribbean Reads and given her instructions by them. My involvement beyond that was limited to offering feedback when invited to do so, which I have to say was fairly often as this or that character was drawn or this or that scene realized, by the publisher. So Danielle and I had no direct interaction during the creative process and it was only on launch day, during a live chat, now archived here https://wadadlipen.wordpress.com, that we got to talk some about our creative processes. Quoting from Danielle, during that chat, re how she approached the project: “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…I wanted to get a feel for all the characters’ personalities, especially Dolphin. I wanted to bring out those qualities of curiousity and playfulness that make him so endearing in the book. It was a joy to illustrate because the underwater setting made it the perfect fit for watercolours, my medium of choice.”
Read the full interview here.
See interviews and more on my Media page.
See the Lost! review page.
See Lost! first page.
See Lost! gallery.
You might have heard (because I told you) that today (November 30th 2017) is publication day for my latest book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure. Stopped by my local bookstore to sign a copy for a buyer and found their first order had already (save the one) sold out – more on the way. I’m going to take that as an omen re international sales. My fingertips to God’s ears. Are you listening God? It’s me, Joanne.
Anyway, I just wanted to pop in to share my book trailer for Lost! – this is actually my first publisher produced book trailer (yay, me!). Big up to Caribbean Reads Publishing, a small independent press doing big things. This is my second book with them, the first was Musical Youth. Dem likkle but dem tallawah (yay, Caribbean Reads).
Finally, I mentioned my interview re my Astrid Lindgren nomination on local radio, in this post, but I thought I’d direct link to the upload on my youtube channel as well.
The images used are mostly book covers and scenes from my writing life, and the featured image (random, not me, but I’m okay with it) is from Grace’s Merrymakers Carnival 2017 debut. You may remember that Grace’s Merrymakers was inspired by my other picture book With Grace which is a Caribbean fairytale. I recently received my author copies of the special paperback edition done for the US Virgin Islands Governor’s Summer Read Challenge (shout out to the VI, and wishing them all the support they need to recover post hurricane). More on that meet up with my other dope Caribbean independent publisher in another post. Today is all about Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.
Order online or anywhere books are sold. If your bookstore doesn’t carry it, be sure to encourage them to. Let’s make this one a bestseller.
It’s funny how quickly Carnival goes by. It’s like this two week alternate reality where everything else ceases to exist, and then, in a blink, back to reality. Within those two weeks there is pageantry, soca, calypso, pan, controversy, and, of course, mas including the epic Carnival Tuesday parade (all 10,000 plus steps of it). Carnival is mas, and mas is an opportunity to showcase our creativity and that, the opportunity it provides to showcase our creativity, is the purpose of this post.
See, I wrote a children’s picture book called With Grace (released last December), and the world of that story became the pattern that we drew from in crafting our mas – in great part because I wanted to see the tree faerie come to life.
We had more elaborate plans to start but adjusted to our reality and are grateful that with the help of sponsors (shout out to Titi Rent-a-Car, Townhouse Mega Store, and Pink Mongoose), we were able to bring the tree faerie to Carnival City.
I’m not going to pretend that I had any hand in the actual building – I am rather lucky that my friends (Helena Jeffery Brown and Augusta Scotland Samuel) who do have experience with costume building were interested in taking on this project.
Material was bought ,
Wire was bent ,
Shapes were drawn ,
Fabric was cut ,
& Details were added (these are for the headpieces and standards – because we might not have had a mango tree like we’d hoped but the standards made for a good stand-in).
In their skilled hands (plus seamstress, Ms. Blaize, who sewed the tops they then decorated), it all came together..
We had to do a product description for the stage and here’s some of what we said – “The fairy’s bodice is the colour of tree bark crisscrossed in green. Her skirt consists of green leaves, with stripes of gold, hanging from her body like leaves from a tree. Look closely, you’ll also see mango blossoms – between the fairy’s wings, pinned into her hair, and along the leaves making up her hand pieces. The fairy’s wings spread wide as she wakes, the orange pink hue of a ripening mango, made of bent wire in the tradition of Antiguan mas. Another feature of local mas, the standards – poles wrapped in leaves, in hues of green and gold – are the trees waving in the breeze. It’s mango season, Carnival season, a season of creativity in full bloom.”
On the Road
After all that, we were only on the road on Carnival Tuesday (shout out to Just Friends, for being so welcoming to us on the road); on Carnival Monday, given our size, we only crossed the stage. Shout out to our banner holders …and our back-up banner holders.
We were happy to have the opportunity to showcase what mas is about to us – not just fun (though it is always that), but the colour, spirit, and creative energy of our Antiguan and Barbudan people. As a writer, it made me happy to see a character I imagined (a character then illustrated by Cherise Harris and re-imagined by Jeffery) come to life as a part of one of my favourite events, Carnival, mas, Tuesday, the biggest live theatre event (for that’s how I’ve thought of our mas since I first witnessed it as a child). This year I also spied a smurfette and a mermaid (dope); so why not the mango tree faerie, a 100 Wadadli character. Again, thanks to our sponsors (Titi Rent-a-Car, Pink Mongoose, and Townhouse Mega Store) for supporting our vision – remember, support the businesses that support the arts.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Grace, of Grace’s Peak, loves her hill, and her home above the village, above the whole island. All her trees are lush and full of ripe fruits, except for the one at the far end of her orchard. She hates that tree. So when the smiling, barefoot, girl from the village asks Grace if she can pick fruits to sell at the market, it is from that sad, bare tree that Grace “generously” allows her to pick. Little does Grace know that the young girl’s kind, generous heart and her sweet special song will make the impossible happen, and change life at Grace’s Peak forever. Published by Little Bell Caribbean.
Also, for news on Antigua’s Carnival, go here.
On Wednesday 21st December 2016, the Best of Books bookstore on St. Mary’s Street hosted the launch of the latest book by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse. The book, With Grace, a Caribbean faerie tale, is the sixth book and second children’s picture book by the local writer. “In With Grace, Joanne has […]