Historically, so much of what is written by West Indians is pedantic, journalistic, corporate, or emerges from the stiff upper lip of literary ambition. Since 2000, I began my career as a published children's book author, which unapologetically lodged me in the world of literacy, as a "primary school teacher-working-as-writer"; and in a publishing industry that targets children and their educators with content focussed on 'readability' within sound social values and basic language structure. My ambition remains: to craft intellectual properties that are conceptually conceived, expressed through "low text density", and that can be visually depicted by the illustrators whose art will attract young and immature/ reluctant readers. In general, my interest in picture books, and cinematic storytelling also fits well with the decade of work I already had under my belt in television production: GEMINI TV; AVM TELEVISION; SUN TV; CARIBBEAN SPORTS DIGEST and others.
In 2006, after I made a pitch to the publisher at Macmillan, (for a work that is still in progress seven + years later), I was told that my story was so hair raising, so compelling, that I was offered an opportunity to craft a series of novellas for the Caribbean tween/ teen market. My as yet untitled work is "sexy" in the way that the Harry Potter series was originally "sexy". Furthermore, it is entirely set in Trinidad and Tobago, does not depend on folklore to make it fantastic, and is so original I can truthfully claim that is based on direct experience and inspired by actual events.
The initial guidance was that I should write the first installment, then plan sequels which other writers could pen under my supervision and they would do so in keeping with the premise, characters and style I set up.
If you've read more than one of the the Island Fiction series you'll know that they are all different. Each one is a unique title, written by a separate author.
So what happened? Why did Island Fiction digress from that first conversation with Macmillan? How did the novellas become the first series of its kind in the region, and of the six books, to publish an unprecedented five, previously unpublished authors from the diaspora?
(Blog on for Part Two tomorrow)