Nalo Hopkinson

A Few Good Women…

Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble did a great article featuring 7 speculative fiction books that feature strong female characters.

Is it exhaustive? By no means. But it has a nice mix of modern and classic and also had the good sense to include the queen of Caribbean speculative fiction, Nalo Hopkinson. Seriously, if you haven’t read ‘Midnight Robber’ you’ve…well, you’ve robbed yourself of something truly special.

See what I did there?

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Have fun with the list. I have it on good authority all the books are great, even the ones I haven’t read.

What are your favourite scifi or fantasy books with strong female leads? Sound off in the comments below. And if you buy and read (or already read) any of these, be sure to let me know what you think.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

14 Writers Who Rock

And who happen to be women.

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Huffington Post has an article about women who write scifi and fantasy and stand head and shoulders above all others. It’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it is a good place to start if you want to add to your list of great women writers.

I’m extremely pleased to see Nalo Hopkinson on the list. Her ‘Midnight Robber’ blew my mind when I first read it in school and I couldn’t understand, then or now, why it wasn’t required reading in our English classes. I haven’t been in a school in ages, so I’m hoping that has changed, but even if it hasn’t, here’s hoping it does eventually.

I have heard of Sophia Samatar, but my reading list is so far behind, it pains me to even look at it. At the moment, I’m reading Nnedi’s Who Fears Death and enjoying it, so at least there’s that.

Let me know who on the list is your favourite and why in the comment section.

Catch you on the flip-side!

My Life As A Panelist or Bocas Lit Fest 2015

So last week was my birthday, and the day after I went to my first literary festival as a panelist. This was all new to me, and I was nervous at first, but lucky me, I had some really lovely people at my side to keep me grounded and help me feel confident. I got to do two readings, exchange ideas and chat with Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell, and best of all, got to meet young writers and talk to them about Caribbean speculative fiction. It was very inspiring to be in a room full of people who love reading and writing and want to do nothing else but talk about it.

All in all, the festival ran smoothly and I think I did pretty well. One bookseller ran out of my books and another appeared to have good sales. I gave a couple of autographs. Made some connections. But best of all, I met some great people I think I’ll be corresponding with in the future, and hung out with new friends.

Here are some pics of me being a real writer:

With Tobias and Karen!

All of us at a fiction masterclass.

I have a few others with me on the actual panels where we talked about our books and the history and future of Caribbean speculative fiction, but I will spare you those.

No need to thank me.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Games of Thrones and the Bocas Lit Festival

Yes, in my world, these two actually go together!

First, I’ve been gone for quite a while because my computer died on me and for several weeks I had nothing to write on. No blogging, no writing, nothing. This was me the entire time:

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Then, when I found someone who could fix it without demanding my first born child in return–literally the day I took it to the shop–I came down with bronchitis.

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After being nebulized and medicated to within an inch of my life and completely losing my voice along the way, I have emerged this week firmly on the tail end of this thing and getting stronger every day.

That’s when the world got awesome.

First off, while I was caught up in ‘no computer’ land, I found out that I had been invited to be a panelist at the Bocas Lit Festival, the premiere literary festival of Trinidad and Tobago. This is, by itself, a dream come through. But add to that I would be participating in several panels, over several days, and I was beyond jazzed.

Then they told me I would be on those panels with Karen Lord, Tobias Buckell and Nalo freaking Hopkinson.

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It’s okay. I’m much better now. It hardly even hurt, I promise. Anyway, I’m over the shock. But the awesome of it all just keeps growing, you know?

It’s also my birthday during the week of the Bocas Lit Festival, so I’d taken to thinking of my participation as my early birthday present. That was before I got the invitation from the Chilean Embassy for the cocktail reception in honour of the Lit Festival.

No biggie. I totally have a dress for that.

But then I got a phone call from my cable company yesterday. Normally, that is a phrase that would strike fear in the hearts of cable customers, but in my case, it was just the universe giving me a better birthday present.

I won a competition for two tickets to the advance screening of the premiere episode of season 5 of Game of Thrones.

That’s right. My awesome sister and I are going to see the new Game of Thrones season begin on a big screen on Saturday night–a day before most of the rest of the world.

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So you see, I have a lot to be thankful for.

And I think you will have a lot to read about here in the weeks to come as things get really exciting. If you so desire and all.

Nalo Hopkinson, people. Nalo Hopkinson.

And here I come, Saturday night!

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Stay thirsty, my friends!

LEX TALIONIS by R.S.A. Garcia – A Talk With a Book Club And An Actual Signing!

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.

I Got Mentioned in The New Watershed Article by Cheryl Morgan!

I’m so excited.

Cheryl Morgan wrote an amazing article about Afrofuturist writers in scifi…and she mentioned me!

Sure, I’m ‘the newest kid on the Caribbean block’, but my interview is on there and everything. And I got mentioned in the same breath as Samuel R. Delaney, Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell. That definitely counts for a lot!

Go read it. It’s a great article about the way non-white writers from Africa, France, the Caribbean, the Middle East and more are expanding the genre in new and interesting ways. I’ve certainly added to my reading list.

*Does the happy dance*

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Looking for Ourselves

Recently, Jim Hines invited a bunch of people to talk about representation in fiction in a series of guest posts on his blog.

Basically, almost every essay that resulted could be boiled down to one plea. Please include me in your fiction, in a positive light. Readers (and writers) just wanted to see themselves, or shared wonderful stories about what it meant to discover people like themselves in books. What amazed me about the essays was the sheer number of selves I was encountering for the first time.

There were quite a few gender identities, along with some really good thoughts about female representation, people of colour and the way we tend to (wrongly) view some books as boy books and other books as girl books.

I think it’s a collection of essays that every writer should take a look at because it might wake you up–as it did me–to the fact that there are so many, many things in our world that never make unto the pages of our fiction because published writers (especially in spec fic) are often from a small group of countries and share a very similar demographic make-up.

The essays made me remember one of the reasons I loved Stephen King’s The Stand so much was he included a character with a trait I had only encountered once before in Ed McBain’s fiction. The character was deaf. It made me think in my little teenaged brain, ‘Why aren’t there more deaf characters in books? For that matter, why aren’t there more handicapped characters in books?’

I hope these essays make you think too. About the choices we make in the stories we tell, and how it can really change someone’s life to see more inclusiveness. To see themselves in a positive light.

As a mixed-race black West Indian woman, I would have loved to see myself in spec fic when I was growing up. I am now ever so grateful that Nalo Hopkinson has done that for the generations born after mine. And one of my biggest hopes as a writer is that my writing will do its part in reflecting not only the diversity of the society I grew up in, but the diversity which I think the world has come to acknowledge over the last few decades.

So  head on over to Jim’s blog. I think you’ll be educated and inspired at the same time. Be sure to let me know what you thought of it all in the comments section when you get back.