So last Monday I had my first ever public speaking event. I went to the Carnegie Library in San Fernando and spoke with the library’s book club. I took my sister and cousin along with me to record the events and for moral support.
It turns out transport to the South city from our capital of Port-of-Spain is surprisingly difficult, even in the middle of the work day, and the weather turned bad on us as well, so I was horrifyingly late–40 minutes. Me. I’m never late for anything! Lucky for me, the lovely senior librarian had actually scheduled me for early in the session and I was able to just talk for the second half. Plus, in typical Trinidad fashion I wasn’t the only one who arrived late, and no one seemed to mind that much because…well…time is a bit more elastic here lol.
As so often happens, almost no one had finished the book, but one person had and it was amazing to sit and answer probing questions from someone who had obviously enjoyed it. I think the members of the club were surprised to learn that Caribbean authors are doing speculative fiction, and some of them wrote down the names I mentioned–Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord and Nalo Hopkinson, to name a few. I got to show them my book in print and one person told me she’d bought it. I was so pleased she’d gone that far, even though she accidentally confessed to my sister it wasn’t really her thing and she regretted buying it.
I think I became aware of just how many people in Trinidad think scifi and speculative fiction is just not for Caribbean people. It’s a cordoning off of who they are and who they can be in the literary world for no apparent reason other than they are suspicious of science fiction and ignorant of what it’s really about. I think they feel it’s not a space people of colour–and people from small islands–belong in. I just wish I could shout from the rooftops, why would we NOT be part of the future? Do you expect that having had such a complicated past and a difficult present, our future is but a mist-filled nothingness?
Whatever the future brings, whatever technologies we develop, whatever mankind becomes, the Caribbean will be right there in it. Not just the Caribbean, but the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific Islands and every other part of this world that some countries literally don’t think about. There are writers all over the world, not only thinking and dreaming about the future, but writing one that we are all part of.
It’s really an exciting time to be a writer, especially one from the Caribbean who wants to present a diverse cast and a different point of view. I’m so happy I get to be a part of this amazing new age.