caribbean

Shaken, Not Stirred

Yesterday I was curled up in a chair, ignoring my finicky WiFi and playing Farm Heroes on my phone – which has it’s own internet – when I got momentarily dizzy and thought I felt my armchair shake.

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Turns out I was right. Around 11am, we did in fact experience an earthquake. A 5.7 to be exact. Nowhere near enough for most Trinis to notice. I was sitting down, and I always feel them anyway, but my bush-men, who were outside trimming the yard, felt nothing.

I find it odd that in Trinidad we have had up to a 6.7 and had only cracks to a few houses in some parts of the island. Most of the times, if it’s less than 6.0, we might not feel it, and there’s never any damage. This when anything over a 5.5 can cause damage in most other countries. I wonder if it’s because other countries are more densely populated and, therefore, there are more buildings to be damaged.

Which is not to say we’re nonchalant about earthquakes. Quite the opposite. Trinis HATE when the Earth shakes. It panics us the way rain panics Bajans.

What we’re nonchalant about is hurricanes.

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Yep. We’re that crazy.

We live in a hurricane belt but remain convinced that since we haven’t been directly hit since before they started keeping records, we’re pretty much safe from storms. Part of that is due to the fact that the Northern Range of mountains tends to push storms north of us. The rest, if you ask anyone, is because, ‘God is ah Trini’.

Considering the way the weather has changed in my region over the last ten years, I really hope so. Because as another disaster slips past us without taking us down, I breathe a sign of relief while simultaneously thinking, how long can we stay lucky?

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And looking around at the devastation wrought in the Caribbean this year alone, I hope it’s a really, really long time.

 

New Short Story – The Bois

Hello!

It’s been a while, right? Well, I have good news.

I have a new short story out!

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It’s called ‘The Bois’ and it’s in Truancy Magazine’s final issue, Truancy 4. It’s a futuristic take on the Caribbean mythical figure, Papa Bois, set in a colony of Caribbean descendants.

You can find it here:

The Bois by RSA Garcia

It’s free, so drop on by and check it out, along with the other great stories in the issue. Feel free to pass the word if you like it.

And thanks for reading!

New Caribbean Beat Magazine Interview!

Hope you’ve all been behaving yourself while I’m away, putting the final scenes in my latest book.

Remember I mentioned some good things were coming up for me soon? Well, one of them just dropped.

Caribbean Beat magazine, the free in-flight magazine for Caribbean Airlines–one of the largest carriers in the Caribbean–interviewed me a while back. The interview is in the new March/April issue. This one is important to me because it’s a special article about the rise of speculative fiction in the Caribbean and several authors were interviewed. I got to keep company (again!) with Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell and Karen Lord.

How lucky does one girl get, right?

puma  happy smile excited laughing

You can read the interview here.

Hope you enjoy the article. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment, or contacting me via the ‘Say Hello’ form on this website.

Stay thirsty, my friends, and see you soon!

3 Day Quote Challenge! And They’re Off!!

I’ve been nominated for the Three Day Quote Challenge by Erin Burns! She has a wonderful blog in which she reviews books, among other things. She’s extra special to me because not only did she read and like my novel LEX TALIONIS, she left reviews for it all over the place. If she wasn’t already awesome, that would have finished the job. So if you’re looking for something to read, particularly genre fiction like scifi and romance, you might want to hit up her blog for recommendations.

So here are the rules for this torture exercise:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quotes on 3 consecutive days on your blog.  The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavor.

My quote for today is:

There Wouldn't Be A Sky Full Of Stars If We Were All Meant To Wish On The Same One by NamedByArt on Etsy:

I love this because it reminds me of a local saying in my country. ‘What is for you, is for you.’ Both quotes address the fact that everyone is different and everyone has different destinies. Clark’s quote reminds us that we aren’t all after the same thing in life, so don’t be afraid to choose your own path and follow it.

The Trini saying means it’s okay to go after what you want, even if you fail. Because if you’re meant to have it, no one else will get it. What’s not said–but is just as important–is the idea that anything you don’t have, wasn’t meant for you in the first place. So celebrate the achievements of others. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to take your own path. Your destiny is your own and failure doesn’t mean you missed out on anything, or that anyone robbed you of success. It just means there’s something else wonderful in front of you that you haven’t got to yet.

My nominees of excellent blogs for your attention:

  • M.A. is a new friend over at Romance Language where he posts infrequently, but speaks eloquently, movingly and thoughtfully about writing, reading and life when he does. It’s worth passing by just to read his archives, which is small but powerful.
  • Anna Kashina is a successful writer I’m proud to call friend. Author of several beautifully written fantasy adventure series, her latest works have won her two Prism awards from the Romance Writers of America. She doesn’t blog often, but has good insights into writing and publishing.
  • Kelpiemoon blogs on a million different topics over at Scribbles at Midnight. Writing, book reviews, society, music, you name it, it’s there. But they’re all addressed with great depth, good humour and openness. Check out the archives for funny observations and laments.

Looking forward to everyone jumping in and having a good time.

Have fun, and stay thirsty, my friends!

A Film Festival And A Dance Battle

Found this great roundup of the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (ttff).

Great to see the films being appreciated, but even better to hear sound critical advice. Yes, our film-makers need to come from a more critical place, especially when making documentaries. We are presenting positive overviews right now, but I suspect as the industry matures, creators will worry less about offending sensibilities and start doing more to reflect the realities of the Caribbean experience, and start conversations we need to have before we chart our future.

I also came across this amazing dance battle on Twitter yesterday, filmed at the Montreal Swing Riot by Alain Wong. Street dancers faced off against vintage/swing dancers and the results were magical. It’s a bit long, but you won’t regret watching the whole thing.

Keep dancing your cares away, my friends!

A Talk And An Award

* Edit:  It appears I got my history a bit wrong. Marlon James is the first Jamaican to win the Man Booker. However, the first Caribbean national to win it appears to have been V.S. Naipaul. It just so happens he was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago! 

Yesterday I had a great time giving an informal talk about speculative fiction and what it takes to be a writer to the 6th Form students at St. Augustine Secondary School. I also read a bit from one of my current shorts, Wire and Blood.

The school was newly built, the library really nice–just like the librarians–and best of all, it was air-conditioned!

This was my first class of teenagers. I’ve given talks with teenagers present before, and even younger children, but not an entire class of them. I was delighted to meet a room full of intelligent, open, enthusiastic young men and women who needed no prompting to ask questions or react to what I was saying. In short, they were a great audience that gave me lots of energy, and I hope I was able to give them some insight and inspiration.

Here’s me accepting their wonderful tokens at the end of the talk. I made out like a bandit with stuff that included a new book and writing materials. I hope the librarian remembers to tell them how much I appreciated it!

St. Augustine Secondary Talk

On another note, I just read that the Man Booker Prize has been won today by a Caribbean national for the first time! Jamaican writer Marlon James bested the competition with A Brief History of Seven Killings. I’ve been hearing about how wonderful this book is since the Bocas Lit Festival put him on the short list for the OCM Bocas Lit Prize.

Scratch that–I heard about this book long before that, through an article in Caribbean Beat Magazine just before it debuted. It’s in my very large to be read pile, I’m sad to say, but I’m delighted that the Caribbean has another great author to celebrate, and a young one too. Jamaica to the World!

Congratulations, Marlon! Thanks for raising we nose!

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

The New York Times Is Loving Our Food!

Here we go in the New York Times again!

This lovely little article about a Trinbagonian family cooking and living in New York has definitely captured the essence of us.

We are no faded copy of any ‘mother’ country. Trinidad and Tobago is a blend of races and foods uniquely its own, and like all other places, we like food the way we like it. Our curry is not like India’s, but in a really good way according to most visitors. Many Trinis will tell you stories of traveling abroad and missing roti, especially if they’re an East Indian family. I spent two weeks in Barbados once and almost cried when I was able to come home and eat doubles lol. I love travel and I love to try new foods (another Trinbagonian trait), but after a while, you just want a good souse or plum chow and you can’t get that the same way anywhere else but home.

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Speaking for the islands though, when it comes to Caribbean food, there are ideas people have about us that are mostly wrong, so two hints. One, we wash most meats with vinegar and/or lime and water to cut the gamey taste (a lot less with pork though). Two, we don’t really roll savory foods in coconut flakes. We use coconut milk in everything, and put flakes in dessert, but coconut shrimp is NOT Caribbean.

What’s your favourite cuisine and what do other countries get wrong about it?

The New York Times Mentioned Trinidad and Tobago!

It was no big deal though. Just a bit in their travel section about the new hiking trails we opened, but at least we were in their headline.

Still, we tiny nations so seldom get into the news I was quite proud to see us listed there.

Now, if only we could get this kind of recognition for Carnival. That’s when tourists would really enjoy us. Just ask Nikki.

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Have a good weekend and remember to have one on me guys!

Tantie, Papa And The Mango Tree On Diego Colony

A bit from a story I’m still working on. Funny thing is, I finished another story with the same character and it got an Honourable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest last year, but for some reason this story is just not cooperating. It won’t tell me how to get to the ending, just yet.

Guess I’ll just have to trunk it until it does…

The day I turn ten, my mother walk into the corrosive sea on the western edge of Diego colony.  She used to cut sheself during her depressions, so she wasn’t no stranger to pain.  She didn’t even whimper when the hissing lilac waves attack her legs and red stains start to drift ’round her in threads. 

I don’t know if I scream or say anything.  I remember her sinking into the waves, graceful, graceful, and I remember running toward her.  I was lucky–I trip and kilkitay on my face. I fling out my right arm, trying to save myself, just as a wave come toward me.  My hand started burning, as if a thousand flames was under it, and I could still see the lilac coming toward my face, hissing all the way.

That was a bad day.  The worst day.  I could deal with anything because of that day.

I keep telling myself that as I walk down to the pier, sand sucking and trapping my shoes all the way.  I have to prepare myself before I get to the crowd on the beach or crapaud smoke my pipe.

I have to forget the waves biting the shore in front me.

I almost reach them when they turn as one to look at me.  Resentment and anger shifting and molding so many faces.  It fascinating how them faces is every shade between white and brown.  You don’t notice them things when you pass people on main street, but here, together, I can’t see nothing else.

I blink and shake off the distraction.  The metal in me like patterns. Is just the wired side of me, fixating, as usual.

The crowd split as someone push they way toward me.  Manno.  He bare arms shiny with sweat in the midday sunlight.  He nutmeg brown face twisted with grief and rage.  Big man, Manno, but usually no trouble.  Today, with his son John John in a coma back at Diego’s only Clinic, he definitely my biggest problem.

Before the crowd shift and fall back in behind Manno, I see Boyie standing next to the pier. He scared, poor thing. Beyond him, at the end of the metal platform, he tiny ferry rising and falling on the lilac waves. 

“Now you reach?”  Manno’s voice almost cracks.  “Now?”

“Is Market Day.”  I reminded him.  “I come when I hear.”

“Well, we don’t need you.”  Esther, Manno’s wife, push through behind him and grab he arm.  She small and bald with big grey eyes in she cappuccino face.  Today, the look she give me make them less beautiful.

“Esther,” I nod my head at her.  “I very sorry for what happen, but don’t forget who you talking to.”

“You threatening us?”  Esther’s eyes narrow.  “Who food you does eat every day?”

“So you exempt?  You could do what you like because you run the hydroponics lab?”  I shake my head.  “Esther, I not Tantie for some–I Tantie for all.”

“You protect him long enough,” Manno says through tight lips.  “No more.  Not after John John.”

A murmur of agreement goes through the crowd.  I ignore it.  People will talk theyself into anything if you let them.  My job is not to let them.

Wondering if to even bother to finish it. Perhaps I should just move on to other stories instead of wasting my time?

Decisions, decisions…

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Caribbean Sporting Glory!

I just have to acknowledge that this past week has been a great one for the Caribbean when it comes to sport, and for my country, Trinidad and Tobago, particularly.

First, to the Reggae Boyz for making it to the final of the Gold Cup against Mexico, a hearty congratulations. You had a magnificent tournament and even though the Mexicans won (congrats to them too!) you should be proud of being the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a Gold Cup final. We in the Caribbean were all rooting for you and we are proud of what you accomplished.

To the Soca Warriors, I’m incredibly proud of your run, especially since we are a rebuilding team and had five losses before we started the tournament. You’ve done us proud and I look forward to seeing you go from strength to strength as you prepare for the World Cup qualification campaign. Go Soca Warriors!

In the just recently ended Pan Am Games, the US finished first, as expected. But Trinidad and Tobago’s team should take a bow for getting their highest number of medals ever–8 overall, with three gold, three silver and two bronze. That was just one behind Jamaica and we finished 15th to their 14th placing. And there was the Dominican Republic with 24 medals overall. Caribbean Massive!!

Below is Cleopatra Borel, Trinidad and Tobago’s Queen of the Shot Put, O’Dayne Richards, Jamaica’s King of the Shot Put, Candida Vasquez Hernandez, the Dominican Republic’s Queen of 48kg weightlifting and Trinidad and Tobago’s victorious 4×400 metre relay team.

Candida Vasquez Hernandez of the Dominican Republic celebrates after winning the gold medal in women's 48kg weightlifting at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Saturday, July 11, 2015. (Photo by Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press via AP Photo)

Finally, but most importantly, to the Red Steel, Trinidad and Tobago’s team in the Caribbean Premiere League of cricket, congratulations on winning the entire tournament and lifting the ugliest trophy in sport!

Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. But the sight of that thing warms my heart when I think about how hard the team worked to get it. It’s really hard to go from bottom of the table to the final, taking the long road and winning two semi-finals, one of them the day before the final, while Barbados cooled its heels for over a week waiting in the finals berth. And what a game! Both sides fought hard, but in the end, Trinidad had the self-belief, crowd support and momentum to take them over the line.

Well done lads!

I will admit, I wasn’t even sure they would be able to make the semis. I had a chance to buy tickets for the semis and the finals and decided against it after the heartbreak of the first year. I satisfied myself with season tickets that allowed me to attend all the preliminary matches instead.

Lord knows every Trini was criticizing the team and probably stopping the Bravo brothers in the road to give them advice when we landed at the bottom of the table. But it’s clear they listened to the prevailing wisdom, changed their strategy and started gelling as a team. And now here we are, Champions finally in the third year of the competition.

If you only knew how much Trinis love T20 cricket. Then you would understand why many are still floating on air this morning, just like I am.

So here’s to having a good Monday! I hope yours went by in a haze of good feelings that sets you up for a magnificent week. I know mine did!

Stay thirsty, my friends 😉