Rosaliene Bacchus – Author

Rosaliene Bacchus was born in Georgetown, Guyana. In her lifetime, she has filled the roles of Catholic nun, high school teacher, executive assistant, import-export manager, wife, and divorced mother of two sons. After living in Brazil for seventeen years, Rosaliene moved to the United States. Her short stories have been featured in the Guyana Journal Magazine. Her debut novel, Under the Tamarind Tree, was published in 2019. Rosaliene lives with her sons in Los Angeles, California, where she enjoys spending time in her garden.

Rosaliene Bacchus

Rosaliene, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers.

KP. You’ve said, in your bio, that you were an early reader of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. Have those books influenced your writing, if so, please tell us how…

RB. I developed an enduring love for secrets and mystery that I have incorporated into my stories.

KP.  Which is your favourite childhood book? Please share the reason behind your enthusiasm for this particular book?

RB. Before graduating to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I read all the Enid Blyton children’s books available at our public library. No book stands out in my memory.

KP.  How did you arrive at the title for your book Under the Tamarind Tree? Can you explain the significance of the title to the plot of the book?

RB. As I developed the plot, the tamarind tree became the personification of the protagonist’s bitter life and the guilt he carried for the death of his younger brother, killed under a tamarind tree.

KP.  Your book Under The Tamarind Tree was released in 2019. Can you tell us how long it took to write this book and get it published?

RB. It was a long journey, beginning in March 2008, of research, writing, and endless revisions that took five years, then another five years sending out query letters to literary agents and small independent publishers. Without success. In April 2019, eleven years after beginning my journey to publishing my first novel, I initiated the self-publishing process to publication.

KP.  You’ve said that your fictional short stories came from events and people you’ve met along your journey through life. You have also lived a varied life as a Catholic Nun, high-school teacher, executive assistant, business-person, and writer. Can you tell us how these events and people and your life-experience so far have influenced your writing?

RB. The experience of growing up in a poor working-class multiracial family, in a racial divisive country, has shaped my vision of the world and the stories I tell.

KP.  Is there a favourite among all the chapters in your book Under the Tamarind Tree? Please tell us why…

RB. Chapter Thirteen, in which the protagonist Richard Cheong must confront his surrogate mother Mama Chips, was fun to write. Mama Chips was inspired by three Afro-Guyanese women who had been important role models during my formative years. I enjoyed developing her character and endearing wisdom, born of life’s hard blows.

KP.  What was the most difficult chapter to write in the book Under the Tamarind Tree? Why was that?

RB. The most difficult chapter to write did not make it into the final first draft. After a month of intense research to re-create the inter-colonial cricket match between British Guiana and Trinidad, taking place during the British military invasion on October 9, 1953, I deleted this chapter on the advice of my writers’ critique group. With little knowledge about cricket, they found the scene too slow and lacking appeal for readers. The deleted chapter became just a brief radio commentary in Chapter Two.

KP. What period of your life do you think has influenced your writing most of all—child, teenager, young adult, adult? Can you expand and tell us more…

RB. I bring all my life’s experiences to my writing. It is a very intuitive process. During the creative process, I am frequently amazed at details, events, people, and dialogue that unconsciously come to mind. In Under the Tamarind Tree, the night that Richard Cheong first heard his dead brother’s voice was such an example. I was as startled as Richard! Where did that come from, I asked myself. Then I recalled that, as a child, I grew up listening to my father’s stories about hearing voices in the quiet of nighttime and sensing the presence of spirits.

KP. You’ve lived in Guyana, where you were born, Brazil where you were engaged in business, and you now reside in America. Yet your stories so far, have been mainly set in Guyana (apart from one published in 2009 set in Brazil). Any particular reason why you have not explored your second and third residences more extensively as the setting for your writing and will this come at a later stage in your life?

RB. In 2007, Guyanese-Canadian Trev Sue-A-Quan—a chemical engineer and, at the time, author of two books on the Chinese-Guyanese—invited me to contribute to his third book, Cane Rovers: Stories of the Chinese-Guyanese Diaspora (Canada, 2012). My 6400-word essay, “From Calypso to Samba,” explores my challenges of living and succeeding in Brazil. I have also shared stories on my blog, “Three Worlds One Vision,” about my life in Guyana, Brazil, and the United States.

KP. What was it that prompted your migration to Brazil in 1987?

RB. The Guyana government ban on the importation of wheat flour (1982-1986) was a great blow to my husband’s home-based pastry business. To stay in business, he began working with contraband flour, an offense punishable with jail time. In 1986, the disclosure of the government’s use of thallium poison on the sugar plantations was the last straw. We all tested positive for thallium poisoning, jeopardizing the health of our two sons, then two and four years old.

KP. Can you tell us what particular elements of Under the Tamarind Tree are based on research, personal experience, creative fiction, and what were your sources in the case of the research you did?

RB. I decided early in the writing process to structure the Cheong family’s story using the timeline of Guyana’s struggle to gain its independence from Britain and the early years of the young independent country, covering the period 1950-1970. Coming from a multiethnic family, I used my personal experience to develop the conflicts arising between the protagonist and his familial relationships and friendships among diverse ethnic groups. Research was essential to ensure authenticity of historical events and cultural differences. A list of my research resources is available at

KP. How do you arrive at the names for your characters in your stories? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters?

RB. Naming characters is a challenge for me. Early in my writing journey, I bought The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook. I select names by their meaning, their popularity during a specific year, resemblance to a real-life personality, religion, or ethnicity. I also use nicknames, popular among the Guyanese population. I named my protagonist Richard Cheong, called Rich, after a dear American writing friend, Rich Samson, who died in October 2009. According to Trev Sue-A-Quan’s research on the Chinese in British Guiana, the surname Cheong, also spelt Cheung and Chung, is the most prevalent Chinese surname.

KP. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your books?

RB. The most difficult part in completing a book is deciding what scenes or chapters should be cut or tightened for greater tension and pace. In Under the Tamarind Tree, I was also forced to cut a beloved character. It hurt to throw out hours spent in bringing the character to life.

KP.  The cover art for Under the Tamarind Tree was done by Guyanese-Canadian artist Joan Bryan-Muss. Can you tell us something about the process of finding an appropriate artist for your book and how you both finally arrived at this particular painting for the book?

RB. I learned about Bryan-Muss’ work through the Guyanese Online blog, published by her brother Cyril Bryan. I contacted her by email about her interest on doing the cover art. I send her a 500-word synopsis of the novel and my vision for the cover art.

KP. Is your approach to writing one that encompasses a formula that might meet your reader’s expectation, or do you write to suit yourself?

RB. I write about subjects and issues important to me. While my stories may be set in a country or culture unfamiliar to readers, I focus on portraying the human condition that connects us wherever we live. I also believe that the story should be engaging and a joy to read.

KP. Your main protagonist in Under the Tamarind Tree—Richard Cheong—is male. Did you find it difficult to write from a male point of view? Please explain why or why not.

RB. Writing from the male point of view was the greatest challenge I undertook. I agonized for months about using vulgar language, commonly used by working-class Guyanese men. After working for over twelve years in Brazil in a male-dominated profession, I was well prepped to enter the male mindset. As a single working mother, in a foreign country without male support, I also had to assume full responsibility for keeping my two sons safe. Whenever I slipped up with any male-related detail, the men in my writer’s critique group were quick with feedback.

KP. Your paternal grandfather was a Chinese immigrant to what was then British Guiana. Were you close to him? Has your relationship with him influenced your writing in any way?

RB. I know nothing about my paternal grandfather. He had died long before my birth. My father and his brothers never spoke about him. Given this gaping hole in my Chinese ancestry, I had a blank canvas on which to create my fictional Cheong family.

KP. Do you subscribe/ read any magazines/journals that help you in the writing process? Can you share this with upcoming writers and tell us why you feel they are important and relevant to the writing profession?

RB. Early in my writing journey, a writer gave me a copy of the Writer’s Digest. Since then, my subscription to the magazine has been my best investment as a writer. They cover every aspect of the writing craft, getting published, and more. I also subscribe to the Poets & Writers magazine that has introduced me to America’s outstanding poets and literary writers, pushing me to never stop improving my craft.

KP. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer? How does she know she’s been successful?

RB. For me, the mark of success as a writer is to have my work read and enjoyed. When readers look forward to reading my next book, I know that I have succeeded in touching them in some way.

KP.  Assuming you always think there’s room for improvement, what’s your approach to becoming a better writer?

RB. To improve my writing craft, I challenge myself with each new book. In my second novel, The Twisted Circle, to be published in 2021, I tell the story from two viewpoints: the protagonist, a young Guyanese nun of African and Indian descent, and the antagonist, a white American nun from Ohio. My third book in progress is a work of creative non-fiction.

KP. Is there a central theme in your books so far? Is there a common message to the reader?

RB. My life has been marked by loss and abandonment, a theme that runs through my debut novel. The white American nun in The Twisted Circle has also suffered great loss in her life, but this is a different kind of book: one that takes a critical look at the religious life and predator priests.

KP. If you had to do it all over again in your writing career, would you do anything different?

RB. I believe that I have done the best I could with the opportunities afforded me as an emerging Caribbean (Guyana) immigrant writer. I would have liked to be part of a Caribbean-American writers’ group here in Los Angeles. If such a group does exist, I have never been able to reach them.

KP. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?



Dave Moores -Author

Author Dave Moores

Raised in Bristol, UK, Dave Moores secured a place at Cambridge University where he took a degree in Philosophy. Since prospects for a lucrative career as a philosopher were non-existent, Dave’s interests quickly took a hard turn away from liberal arts to technology, resulting in a Diploma in Electronic Engineering from British Aerospace College. His inclination to write was sparked soon after by a short story contest in the industry journal Airframe.

Dave has long enjoyed a passion for competitive sailboat racing. One evening after a race, his crew of spirited ladies suggested he write a story based on their adventures and personal anecdotes. The writing gene was reactivated and the result was Windward Legs, Dave’s first novel, set in the sailing milieu of Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe and much enjoyed by the sailing crowd.

Attitude is Dave’s second novel. His third, Sparkles and Karim, set in Iraq during the ISIS incursions, is coming along.

Dave, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to talk about your new book ATTITUDE just released in September 2020 in addition to general questions about your writing.

KP. You’ve said, in your Bio, that your “inclination to write was sparked by a short story contest in the Industry (Aerospace) journal Airframe.” Can you tell us more about this science-fiction piece?

A. It was about a man who invents a newfangled flight simulator using recently-discovered antigravity technology. A bad guy shows up to kidnap him for his unique knowledge but our man finds a way to get him into the machine, crash it, and kill him. It wasn’t bad.

KP. What do you read, generally, in terms of genre and authors?

A. I read quite a bit of commercial fiction by writers whose work I enjoy as writing: John Sandford, Lee Child, that kind of thing.

KP. Can you tell us what authors and books have influenced your work to date?

A. That’s hard. I am a huge fan of Martin Cruz Smith. His stories and his writing are top of the heap, his writing is a joy to read and an example to try and live up to. Some hopes!

Another author whose writing I greatly like is John Grisham. His novel Camino Island is all about writers and writing and it’s a lot of fun. And one of the things I like about Grisham is that he manages to make a bit of dry humour work even when things are getting scary.

KP.  How long did it take to write ATTITUDE? Has writing gotten any faster and easier for you since its completion and publication?

A. I started playing with Chapter 1 as a short story three years ago and it went from there.

KP.  ATTITUDE is described as a YA novel, and seems to be quite a departure from Philosophy and Aerospace. What took you down the path to write a YA novel?

A. I have always been a reader of fiction, right back to the classic James Bond novels of the 1960’s. And I always felt huge admiration for anyone who has the focus, determination and inspiration to actually finish a novel. I have been a competitive racing sailor for many years and one evening after a race, my crew of lively women – don’t ask me how that happened, I have no idea – suggested I ought to write a novel using all their anecdotes about life and sailing. From that sprang my first novel Windward Legs, a sometimes racy story about a woman who sails and is trying to put her life back together after a bad breakup. Well, to my surprise I got it finished and they really liked it!

I did not set out to write a YA novel. I simply wanted to write about this kid in a small town getting into scrapes with his buddy and then having to deal with bad stuff. So I guess it’s YA but a lot of adults really like it too!

KP.  Is there a favourite among all the chapters in ATTITUDE? Why is that?

A. That’s another hard one! I guess Chapter 1 because, written initially as a short story, it grabbed be and pulled me forward into the novel. I’m also quite proud of the chapter where Lyle has to risk death in a freezing tunnel to save his buddies.

KP.  What was the hardest chapter to write in ATTITUDE? Why was that?

A. Nothing stands out. I pretty quickly came to really know my characters and they just pulled me along.

KP. Has your pursuit of Philosophy and training in electronic engineering helped your writing? If so, how?

A. Disciplined thinking, I guess, and clearly expressed thought without ambiguity or waffling.

KP. It’s seems as if you’re a big believer in one of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules for WritersIf it sounds like Writing, rewrite it. Are there other rules of his that you follow?

A. ”Try to leave out the parts readers tend to skip”. “Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.” “Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . . he admonished gravely.” They’re all good rules but these are the ones I always try to follow.

KP. ATTITUDE is set in the small town of Southmead, Huron Country. Can you tell us how you settled on this particular location for your book and its relationship to a real town that you might have based it on?

A. I have vacationed in Huron County a number of times and the small towns there have a certain feel of isolation I believed I could reproduce in my story.

KP. What kind of research did you do for ATTITUDE and how much time did it take? What were your sources?

A. Oddly enough, the only bit of research I recall was to check on the size and structure of a small-town police force in rural Ontario. Like most writers I suppose, I do research for authenticity, not inspiration.

KP. How did you arrive at the names for your characters in the book? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters?

A. Lyle and Garth are the first names of country singers. I thought they might work in this setting. They seem to. I try to pick names that don’t sound alike, so as not to confuse readers. Marigold and Laura, for example. And for the bad guys, Billy, Mitch and Brad, I picked names that seemed to work for small-town lowlifes. I didn’t think Theodore or Augustine would work, though I suppose they might have. 

KP. We all need heroes. Tell us about some of the protagonists in your books. Is there real-life inspiration behind them?

A. Honestly, no. They’re all mine.

KP. What was the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for ATTITUDE and other books?

A. I’m not a fast writer. I like to go over what I wrote the day before and clean it up, find inconsistencies and so forth. But once I can see a clear path to a conclusion I like, I get motivated to push on and get it done to see if it will be as great as I picture it.

KP. Is your approach to writing one that encompasses a formula that might meet your reader’s expectation, or do you write what you know is the correct way?

A. Attitude loosely follows a well-known template called “the Hero’s Journey.” In twelve stages it suggests a pattern to follow to structure a compelling story. Many Iconic heroes follow it: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo. It seems to have worked this time for Lyle!

KP. Do you ever consider writing ATTITUDE under a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?

A. No way. I’m proud of the story and want my name on it.

KP. Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people would know of?

A. Not in Attitude. In Windward Legs there’s quite a bit of sailing knowhow.

KP. What do you think are the most important magazines/journals for aspiring writers to subscribe to?

A. I don’t read any.

KP.  Have you been on any literary pilgrimages? If so, which and what did you gain from that pilgrimage and would you recommend pilgrimages to other authors?

A. Nope. Never been.

KP.  Can you think of any, what you might consider a favourite under-appreciated book? If so, what is it and why do you think it’s under-appreciated?

A. Aha, another hard one. Back to Martin Cruz Smith. His Novel Rose, set in the English coal mining town of Wigan in the nineteenth century, is not universally liked by some reviewers who nitpick at detail and miss the brilliance of the writing and the cleverness of the story. For me it’s a top-ten read.

KP. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer? How does s/he know s/he’s been successful?

A. Getting published in the first place. Most don’t.

KP. You’ve a number of strong female characters in ATTITUDE. What was the most difficult stumbling block for you in writing those characters of the opposite sex and how did you overcome them?

A. For whatever reason, I don’t find it hard to write women. My female beta-readers say I do it well and help me out if I stumble. Hence Alice in Windward Legs and Sparkles in my work-in-progress Sparkles and Karim.

KP.  What do you think are the most common traps that upcoming writers encounter, and how could/should they overcome them?

A. Not giving yourself permission to write a crappy first draft. Trying to put a message across instead of writing a good yarn. Not liking/trusting your characters to take the story forward in unexpected ways.

The best way, in my experience, to overcome these mistakes is to read a lot and join a writing class/group to get feedback from other aspiring writers.

KP.  Do you think someone could be a writer if they can’t feel the emotions of their characters? Why?

A. No. Because if you don’t feel their emotions how do you expect your reader to?

KP.  Assuming you always think there’s room for improvement, what’s your approach to becoming a better writer?

A. Keep writing and keep getting feedback.

KP. If it’s not giving away any trade secrets, what’s your next project / What are you working on now?

A. A novel set in Iraq in 2014 at the height of the ISIS incursions.

Sparkles, a fighter pilot, and Karim, an agent planted inside ISIS by the CIA, break away from their assigned roles. To atone for their insubordination they find themselves forced to team up on a risky mission, posing as an ISIS couple. Disliking each other initially, they face betrayal and the horrors of jihad, only to discover that they have more in common than they first believed.

KP. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer, what would it be?

A. Don’t over-think. Press on with your story. Get that crappy first draft done! That in itself is a huge confidence-booster.

KP. If you had to do it all over again, would you change the plot and outline of ATTITUDE? If so, why or why not?

A. No, I would not change it. I made plenty of changes along the way but I’m very happy with the final result and the reviews I’m getting.

KP. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?


David Moore’s latest book is obtainable from Amazon with this link:


Peter Jailall is a teacher, poet and storyteller who has read his poetry in schools, libraries and universities across North America, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. A graduate of the University of Toronto (B.Ed., M.A.), Peter is an avid supporter of human rights and social values as well as an advocate of environmental protection. He is the author of several books, among them This Healing Place (1993), Yet Another Home (1997), When September Comes (2003), all of these published by Natural Heritage. His book Mother Earth: poems for her children (2009) was published by In Our Words Inc., and People Of Guyana (co-authored with Ian McDonald) was published by MiddleRoad Publishers in 2018.


Peter was a finalist for a Mississauga (Ontario) Arts Award in the category of Established Literary Artist. He was a volunteer with CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) as a teacher- trainer in Guyana. Peter lives in Mississauga with his wife Sabi and their two sons Dave and Nari. He enjoys gardening during the summer.

Peter, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to focus on your writing and teaching careers.


PJ. I started to write something similar to open-mike rap poetry and my rhyming would get in trouble with parents and teachers. I wroe poems about love and sex then I moved into Guyanese nursery poems. I followed the pattern from nursery rhymes, framing my own. I looked at racial connotations— bad ones sometimes, where people called each other names. I wrote about children on the street to get my feet into the poetic world. I was also interested in English poetry when I was eight or nine years. My father was also a big poetic man who studied Shakespeare and quoted stuff learned in high school. He liked Scottish poems. He went to high school and they offered him a job in civil service but wanted to be a farmer, like his father before him. As for me, I started writing in primary school and studied Shakespeare at Hindu College at Cove and John on the East Coast.


PJ. Lots of Shakespeare. Mill On The Floss and other works by George Eliot. I was also big on Jane Eyre and other books by the Bronte Sisters.


PJ. It was by accident really that my first book came about. I came to Canada in 1970, the height of the PNC lead government (that subsequently evolved into a dictatorship in Guyana). I was teaching in Canada and used to read to children. Jane Gibson heard me — her husband is a publisher and she offered to show the poems to him. He liked them. This Healing Place in 1993 was the result. The name of the book refers to Canada—a beautiful country with kind people and The Healing Place is partly connected to the turmoil I came from and the peace I found here in Canada. 


PJ. I select according to a theme, like the Immigrant Experience or thinking about home, thinking of my father, etc. I might be inspired by reading a particular subject like 9/11 and similar traumatic incidents. I have a daily journal and write a poem every day and place it on Face Book. I don’t write at first for publication but more for therapy. I write for myself in prose and then form into poetry. I read some poems in draft and try on audiences until I get a positive feedback. 


PJ.  Poems about Sacrifice tell about the coming of my ancestors from India to Guyana and the journey when I came from Guyana to Canada. My ancestors made a lot of sacrifice in the cane-fields and now I’m here building my own family. Something like re-tracing our roots and making a triangular journey.


PJ.  They all have. CUSO for example, going into the rain forest of Guyana where I wrote poems about the First Nations. I wrote about the Bartica massacre; about how the young First Nations children go to school in boats; about the Chief of Shell beach who looks after the turtles. In revisiting Guyana, I could see the changes there. Staying in Canada also enabled me to tackle racism here about people calling us Pakis and I wrote poems about that too to get it out of my system. I wrote poems about the children I taught in Canada. I read to the children and inspired them to write their own poetry. I have also read regularly in the Hindu temple and in the Presbyterian church, at concerts, and in mosques. 


PJ.  My poetry is born out of heritage. Coolie is not derogatory. They are people who went from India to Guyana to work on the cane fields, for their family, and to build Guyana. I took the word Coolie and changed it to mean something other than derogatory. It’s about labour. About people who labour for their family, and I gave the word a powerful meaning. Corsbie saw me a person with an Agricultural background, a farmer and he liked that I did not give up my base. I now plant a garden at home. His term was not meant in a derogatory way. He meant that I have a very strong cultural heritage. 


PJ. I do. Mainly at events and presentations. I see the role of the poet as a someone who’s a sounding-board for culture. About what’s going in the world. We are very important people as poets, people who observe what’s going on around us. As a poet I write about myself. Unlike a novelist who writes about others. We poets go deep to write about ourselves. 


PJ.  Yes. I agree with this. I came from a hunger and a longing for knowledge, for identity, who I am as a person — a Canadian and Guyanese. Poetry brings out the greatness of Canada. That’s what multiculturism is all about. 


PJ. Difficult part for me is the revision and I revisit to write many drafts to make the poem to my satisfaction. Drafting and revising is important. I bleed on paper until it comes to my satisfaction, every word, every line, every stanza. I have to be pleased with the rhythm, the form, the language; if the word is not right I have to rewrite many times. I also think of the audience— different poetry for farmers, different for children. 


PJ.  For me it’s when you connect with the audience and different kinds of people at their level. I was reading a poem called Black Skin at the library and a dark-skin Muslim lady cried and wanted to buy the book. “People think I’m ugly because of my skin,” she told me. So, poetry is powerful when it connects and sparks different emotions in people; when it causes disturbances in people’s minds in different ways. 


PJ.  I have written articles on education and I am going to eventually work on my biography, about my journey from Guyana to Canada. But I love poetry so much that this is something I see in the future. 


PJ. To make progress as a poet you have to have the desire and have to read a lot of poetry and pay attention to the works of different poets. You have to be free in your thinking and acceptance of people of different cultures and different languages and speakers of the language. If you don’t you come up against obstacles. 


PJ.  it’s a daily struggle and I still haven’t reached there. It’s a process of always climbing. Reading and writing and sharing. It’s a process of growth and you never reach that pinnacle which is such a lofty height to reach. It’s the journey that’s important, not reaching it. 


PJ.  Yes, there is but also, I have to a strong footing in my own culture and I have to know and practice my own culture. She got into big trouble for quoting me. I got into trouble for quoting her. She said while growing up in Jamaica Black people called her Coolie who can only sell in the market-place. She was very honest to say she had to fight for her own identity before she could embrace others. If you don’t have a sense of self and culture you can’t understand others. 


PJ. Yes my poems are therapy—they bring out my identity. My poem about my Ajah (in People Of Guyana) strong and proud, cutting cane for the white Sahib brought back the memory of my grandfather, something that brought tears to my eyes as I wrote and read it.


PJ.  One is identity—trying to find out who I am. Second, bringing justice to the world. Third, writing to make the world a better place, I like to dwell and live in my audience and helping children to enjoy the rhythm of the language. 


PJ. Generally, every day I get up in the morning and I write for about an hour, then I make coffee and we talk, my wife and I. Then I write again before I get to bed at night. I write part of my journal every day and share them with people. It’s a discipline to develop.


PJ. It’s simple, really. Keep on writing poetry, reading different poets, and sharing your work with audiences, small and large and keep refining as you go along. 


FACEBOOK:  peterjailall


Rita Berry — Author

 Marita Berry, affectionately nicknamed Rita, was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She and her family migrated to New York City in 1960 at the tender age of five years old. She is a self-published author who currently resides in New York City. She cherishes her family, exploring the meaning of life, chocolate, rainy days, salsa dancing, and meditation. 

Marita is most proud of raising two sons as a single parent into successful young men while continuing her education where she received a master’s degree in Social Work, and being a grandmother to two wonderful grandsons whom she says keeps her grounded. 

She loves to write in the genre of contemporary romance, coming-of-age stories and women literature. Her primary motive for writing is to share the stories she has encountered from listening to family and friends. She loves to entertain her readers with stories about strong, but flawed characters. 

Marita, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to talk about your writing and your book RED SEPTEMBER, released in 2015.

KP. Red September is set on the island of Taino. The Taino were an Arawak people — the first to be encountered by Columbus on his 1492 voyage to the West Indies. Why did you choose this particular name for the island of Red September?

MB. I wanted to use a fictitious name and it seemed befitting that since the setting of my story takes place in the West Indies, Taino was sort of a homage to the indigenous people who lived there.

KP.  The cover of Red September is vibrant pastiche depicting a typical tropical idyllic scene — a woman in the foreground — she’s in a hammock hanging between coconut trees, a couple on the beach, a glorious sunset on the horizon. I didn’t see a credit for the cover. Could you tell us about its design, how much input you had, and did it reflect your vision of the story told in the novel?

MB. Well, actually, the cover is a combination of two photos. I chose them among several stocked pictures given to me from my publication company, IUniverse. It reflected my vision of the story perfectly!

KP. Was Red September written from a collective consciousness and memory recall, or did you have to research certain aspects of the book? What kind of research was needed and how much time did it take? What were your sources?

MB. Good question. Red September was inspired by my late mother – after listening to countless stories about her fascinating childhood experiences growing up on a small island in the West Indies. It was where she lived with no running water, nor electricity, and only the dirt roads on which she traveled. She was my muse, and her fearless life anecdotes sparked my interest to write this story about a dysfunctional family where the sorrows and afflictions experienced by the family are at the hands of the alcoholic, abusive, mother. Most of the research I did was through interviewing my mother, a couple of her childhood friends, and some family members. Other sources were the Internet where I googled islands in the West Indies to check out their moderate temperatures, foods, culture, lifestyles, etc. It took me five years to write this book.

KP.  Red September was self-published through iUniverse. Did you try traditional publishing houses before undertaking self-publishing? If so, what was your experience?

MB.  I chose to self-publish because I wanted to have full control over whatever I put pen to paper, and to create a book for the reader’s interest in a specific market, such as, local markets, my family and friends, book clubs, and social media. Of course, I would love to be signed by a traditional publishing house, but in the meantime, I want to establish a loyal fan base.

KP.  Can you tell us what the process was like to be published through iUniverse?

MB. The process was relatively easy. They work just like any other publishing franchise. Except you have to purchase a package deal, which can include anything from copyright registration, editorial evaluation, ISBN assignment, cover design, worldwide book distribution, and much more. The most important thing is that you get one-on-one-support throughout the entire process.

KP.  Red September is written in first person, which lends a powerful voice to the narrator. Is any of the book biographical? If so, please expand.

MB. Yes. I think as an author I tend to incorporate some real-life experiences in my stories. I also tend to observe other people in their everyday lives. I am not unlike any other author who understands that inside we’re no different – our humanities are the same. We all share feelings of sadness, loneliness, emptiness, grief, joy, pain, etc. I like to create a multi-dimensional image with my characters so that the reader can connect with, and perhaps see something in themselves. 

KP. Is there a central theme in Red September? Is there a particular message to the reader? What would you hope that your grandchildren can learn from the book?

MB. Yes. Red September is much more than a story of struggle and survival. It is also a love story with twists and turns of the heart. There are also other core themes throughout the book that I hope my readers can grasp: alcoholism, mental and physical abuse, betrayal, self-realization, hope and redemption. The message I want my grandchildren to take away from this book is the way one decision can alter the course of one’s life, and that sometimes you must embrace the things that you run from, even when it’s ugly, to avoid an even uglier outcome.

KP.  How long did it take you to write Red September and how long to get published? Has writing gotten any faster and easier for you since it was published?

MB. It took approximately five years to finish. Four years to write the book and about seven months to publish. I think my writing has become much easier, because I’ve just completed another novel, and I’m currently researching to write two more books simultaneously. 

KP. Was writing Red September cathartic in any way for you? If so, how and why?

MB. For me, writing started as a way of expressing the emotional experiences I encountered throughout my early twenties. I married young, was very naïve, and I was physically and emotionally abused by my husband. Like many victims, I became very angry when prompted to describe what may have caused my PTSD in the first place. So, I would journal my thoughts. The more I wrote, the better I felt. Despite the low points in my life, the overall objective was always onwards and upwards. PTSD affects people in different ways, but the fact that so many of my fans have had such enjoyment out of reading my book that came out of a bad experience in such an unexpected way has given me immense satisfaction.

KP.  Is there a favourite among all the chapters/ plot lines in Red September? Why is that?

MB. My favorite chapter is when the main character, Connie Brown meets Nathaniel Hart, who is visiting his family on the island from New York City. And the attraction between the two is immediate. I think young love is so beautiful and unadulterated. However, framing a love story as part of a bigger story was challenging. Although I wanted to focus primarily on the romance aspect of the two of them, I, also, needed to create a framework about human relationships that the readers could familiarize themselves with.

KP.  What was the hardest scene or chapter to write in Red September? Why was that?

MB. The hardest scene(s) to write were the emotional and physical abuse that happened to Connie. Once you have survived any kind of abuse, it will always be a part of you.

KP.  Red September is filled with language and terms that are common throughout the Caribbean (and Guyana, by the way). Like when Connie’s mother says: “Lawd, I don’t know where I get such a hard-headed child.” Or when Connie says: I sucked my teeth in disgustAre you aware of this commonality among the language of the people of the islands (and Guyana)? Was this a conscious effort on your part to capitalize on this?

MB. Yes. It was a conscious effort to capitalize on the Caribbean language because even though I was born, but not raised in the islands, my environment is filled with these slang words from family members.

KP.  Your second novel, Soulfully Yours was released in July, 2020.  Can you tell us the story behind this book and the publication of it?

MB. My second novel, Soulfully Yours, is about three single Black women who met in college, and together they established a public relations firm. The setting takes place in Atlanta, Georgia in the year, 2000. Due to their busy schedule, the reality of dating in the millennium isn’t what it used to be. Meeting a guy at a local bar has been replaced by encountering them on the Internet on a popular dating website named, “Soulfully Yours.” As the story unfolds, what these three women soon discover is a web of secrets and lies that envelops their world. Can they find a real connection to a special someone in hopes of making each one of them happy? 

Once again, I based this novel on stories I’ve heard from my close sister-friendships. It, too, was self-published by IUniverse.

KP.  You have a Masters in Social Work. How has this influenced your writing?

MB. As a social worker, I provide vital services to the underprivileged populations, and writing is a key part of the job. We have to write documents, reports, case notes, emails, letters, etc. I feel I’ve had numerous opportunities to practice and really achieved a grasp of honing my skills. Once I was able to marry those skills to my creative writing skills…then, wella…you have the beginnings of a writer.

KP.  You have lived in New York since 1960 at the age of five, away from the island of your birth. Red September was published in 2015, some 55 years later. Was it difficult to write about and capture the atmosphere of the Caribbean after so many years? Please tell us how you went about this…

MB. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was difficult to write about or capture the atmosphere of the Caribbean after 50 plus years. Fortunately, I’ve been able to visit and explore various islands while on vacation. Besides, my mother and some of my extended family members have been able to fill in the gap with their inspiring stories. Then when all else failed, I always had the Internet to google whatever questions I still needed to be answered. 

KP. I imagine, as a young girl you were heavily influenced by certain books. Can you tell us which and how they influenced you and how you gained access to these books?

MB. Well, I am a hopeless romantic-at-heart. I think there isn’t anything sexier than a man, who admits he wants a woman, and will do anything (romantically speaking) that he can, to get his woman. I have been influenced by reading romance novels from Danielle Steel, Nicholas Sparks and Donna Hill, to name a few. I draw from these authors for my writing style.

KP. What period of your life do you think has influenced your writing most of all — child, teenager, young adult, adult? Can you expand and tell us more?

MB. I think the period of my life that has influenced my writing most of all has been as an adult. Because I was a young mother, I didn’t have any passion in my life other than taking care of my little ones. Later on, after experiencing the real world, my family, my past, and my memories have helped to fulfill my dreams and aspirations for life, and it is what enables me to write my stories. 

KP. How do you arrive at the names for your characters? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters and any relation to real-life people you’ve met or encountered?

MB. Funny you should ask because there was a science behind choosing the characters names. It was a combination of research and real-life people I encountered. The research was important because I wanted to make sure I chose names that matched that era. For example, Constance, Amelia, Nathaniel, Henry are all strong names from the past. I believe if you’re going to write anything that is going to be out there in the world you should do your research.

KP. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your books?

MB. I think the most difficult part of my artistic process in completing my books is quieting my inner critic, overcoming self-doubt, and just giving myself permission to write. I thought to become an author I would need to have an agent or publisher to validate my work. Then after I discovered self-publishing was another option, I went for it. I realize the challenges are out there, especially in promoting the book, but with the Internet and social media being so prevalent, I say if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to figure it out.

KP. Do you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?

MB. I have been a part of a writing group now for about ten years. In the beginning, I did not want anyone to know my real name, so I registered using my nickname as my first name, and combined letters of my maiden name and married name as my last name.

Big mistake! Now, here it is ten years and two books later and the site manager said I could not change my name back to my given name, as I have tried to do several times. So, no, I personally don’t like writing under a pseudonym. I am proud of my birth name and what I have written, and I want to see it out there in the world.

KP. What do you think are the most important magazines/journals for aspiring writers to subscribe to?

MB. Well, to be perfect honest with you, the only magazine I have ever subscribed to is the Romance Writers of America, only because I write in that genre.

KP.  Have you ever read a book that made you cry? If so, which?

MB. OMG, two books that I remember distinctly that made me cry were: “The Notebook”, by Nicholas Sparks, and “The Bridges of Madison County”, by Robert James Waller. (I told you I was a hopeless romanticist).

KP. Your writing has featured strong female characters so far. Will you ever write about strong male characters? If so, what would be the most difficult stumbling block for you to achieve this?

MB. Once again, this is funny you should ask this question because one of the next books that I am currently researching to write is inspired by a true story. A very dear male friend of mine has led such a colorful life, that he told me he wished he could tell his story. So, I accepted the challenge and we are currently in the process of outlining some moments in the timelines to put this book together. A short synopsis: It is a fascinating story of one man’s journey from a life of substance abuse addiction and crime to find redemption through the power of God’s grace to heal.

KP.  Assuming you always think there’s room for improvement, what’s your approach to becoming a better writer?

MB. Because writing is a learned skill, I would like to develop my creativity even more to become a better writer. I would like to switch up things and do writing in other genres or categories I am not used to. For example, I would like to write non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and reviews. I want to engage different parts of my brain, and indulge my curiosity.

KP. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of Caribbean literature, what would it be?

MB. “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” People often underestimate what they can handle in life. It could be worse. So, my advice is to keep on going, and while on your journey, always respect others. Be kind to people and their opinions. If people want to upset you and be ugly, do not fall to their level. Always, take the high road! 

KP. What is your preferred method to have my readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

OTHER: The readers can connect with me through my author’s It’s also where they can link to my other icons: Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Email. Youtube.

Thanks again, Kenneth, for hosting me! It’s been a pleasure.

Lynette Alli -Children’s Author

[Edited for content]

Lynette L. Alli was born in British Guyana (now Guyana), South America. She is a graduate of the Guyana Teachers’ College, specializing in Infant/Childhood Education.

She started writing children’s stories fourteen years ago and so far, has published six of them. Lynette Alli Headshot 3Oct2019 (1)

Her first two books were published in 2014. My Grandmother’s Basket is based on family values of love, respect, trust and happiness. A Message From Allan was written to help children who are victims of bullying. In 2016 she published her third book: Seven Little Words in a Journal, about mistakes children make and the impact on their childhood and later years. Her fourth book: A Gift of Love and Honesty, published in 2018 is a sequel to Seven Little Words, and deals with the thinking and observations of a small child who helped her brother and an elderly man. She followed this up the same year with her fifth book: Note Cards for Everyone from Tiny Hands, about children in a hospital playroom, writing little notes that convey meaningful messages expressing their thoughts. In 2019 she published her sixth book Smart Little Me which deals with the readiness of infants and toddlers to identify themselves.

Lynette continues to write children’s stories.


Lynette, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers.

Q. You’ve written ten children stories, so far, and published six. What is it that drives you to get these stories out? What is your motivation?

A. My children’s stories all have a moral behind them and they attempt to teach about life. My Motivation: to teach and prepare children for the lessons they will need as they stroll through the rocky road that is called life.

Q. You’ve said that a very early age, you were exposed to one of your father’s treasured books—Thomas Nelson’s “The Royal Reader” and your father read stories and recited poems, presumably from that series of books. Did you have a favourite story or stories in that book? Please share the reason behind your enthusiasm for these.

A. My two favourite stories were: The Pet Goat and Tell the Truth. When I was a little girl, we had a goat called Margaret. This first story taught me to be kind to animals and people. Tell the Truth is about a little boy named George who, while he was taught to make an excuse for the wrongs he did, felt that he should always tell the truth. This story was a great example for me and my siblings to always tell the truth.

Q. The Preface to the Nelson Reader states that “the book is designed to interest young people and induce them to read…for the pleasure of the thing.” Do you think your books have accomplished this? If so, how?

A. I believe my books do accomplish this since they are designed to interest a wide audience—children, parents, grandparents, care givers and others, and they all convey different messages that make my books timeless. They teach about morality and deliver lessons which will help children become responsible adults and guide them through life with a sound foundation to deal with grownup problems.

Q. Were you a precocious reader? At what age did you start to write?

A. As a child I scripted stories in my mind, something like writing on imaginary paper. If that describes precociousness, then I suppose I was. Those stories remained with me and when they were later transferred on paper they became the essential elements for the books I’ve written so far.

Q. Tell us what authors have influenced the books you have written so far and how?

A. Authors that have influenced my books: 1) Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper. The young child who became a prince never forgot the lessons he learned when he was a Pauper. 2) Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women. Four sisters, who were different in many ways but shared their pain and happiness when growing up. Reading these authors made me realize that children learn through direct experiences and can overcome suffering with trust, respect, kindness and love. They are universal themes and they never change.

Q. Your first book My Grandmother’s Basket, was written in 2014,. Did writing get any faster and easier subsequent to that? Please explain.

A. After My Grandmother’s Basket, my writing did not get faster, but it became easier to write. My time frame for writing is based on the contents and the storyline which can vary from story to story. My writing style is the same, but it got easier.

Q. How long did it take you to write My Grandmother’s Basket and how long to get it published?

A. I took about three weeks to write My Grandmother’s Basket, and it was published many years later.

Q. Of all the books you’ve written so far, Is there a favourite? Why is that a favourite?

A. My favourite book is, My Grandmother’s Basket. As a child I used to look out with anticipation for my grandmother every morning although she only visited once every month. She usually came on the morning train and she would always have a basket of goodies. I was very happy to have hugs and kisses from my Grandmother, and the goodies were secondary. Part of this story was written on imaginary paper, when I was a young child.

Q. What was the most difficult of the ten books to write? Please explain.

A. The most difficult book was, A message from Allan. It was painful to write about my vicarious experiences with bullying which occurs daily in real life, and is a universal problem. In keeping with that, this book is to inform little ones not to be afraid and to confide in an adult if they are being bullied, something that results in physical and emotional pain if they don’t. The objective of this book is to help children who are victims, and at the same time, children who inflict hurt on others.

Q. What period of your life do you think has influenced your writing most of all—child, teenager, young adult, adult? Can you expand and tell us more.

A. As a child, I sat and gazed around me and then crafted stories in my mind. Those stories were about children, trees, birds and frogs. I suppose you can say, then, that my childhood influenced my writing most of all.

Q. What kind of research did you do for your children’s books and how much time does it take? What are your sources, typically?

A. I researched child development—the growth and behaviour of children, and this helped to revive the memories I had stored away about connected lectures when I attended Teachers College in Guyana. My sources for research are David G. Myers, Psychology and Albert Bandura’s, Social Learning Theory. Of course, my observation of children and people always play an important part in my writing. Add to that, my teaching experiences and my imagination.

Q. How important is the design of the cover and illustrations inside, for a children’s book? Please explain why.

A. The design of the cover is important because it connects the title of the book with the message behind the story, all of which makes the reader eager to pick it up the book and want to know more about it. The illustrations inside are also critical since they make my story interesting and appealing, especially to young minds.

Q. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your children’s books?

A. I would have to say that the most difficult part of the process in my artistic cycle is the creation of characters that are necessary in conveying the message in my book, along with the design of objects that will complement that message in a meaningful way.

Q. Have you ever read any children’s (or other) books that made you cry? If so, which?

A. Yes, Christoph Von Schmid, A Basket of Flowers. A girl was being punished for telling the truth and this had a profound effect on me and influenced my writing enormously, since I knew by experience, how children are impacted by this.

Q. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer of children’s stories? How does she know she’s been successful?

A. Success is an individual thing; I view success as achieving my goal.
But I think the mark of success for a writer of children’s stories is her ability to entice children to read and listen to her stories, and most of all, to feel the impact of the message behind the story, and acting on that message.

Q. What’s the most difficult stumbling block for you in writing books for children?

A. The conclusion. There is never an end when lessons are given to children. I really feel there is always more to add.

Q. Is writing for children cathartic in any way for you? If so, how and why?

A. Sometimes, depending on the story, emotions can be a factor.

Q. Is there a central theme in all your children’s books? What is the common message to the reader?

A. The central theme in all my children’s books is, “All children are beautiful, and words that they hear and learn are displayed in their voices, thoughts and hearts.”

Q. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of books for children, or other books, what would it be?

A. I believe in aspiring to do what you want to do, and work towards achieving your goal. My advice to upcoming writers of books is to believe in yourself, focus and follow through. If you fail the first time, think of the failure as a learning experience. Never give up on what you aspire to do or be.

Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
OTHER: website:


Lynette Alli Book Covers (1)

Anitha Robinson -Author

Animal lover and writer Anitha Robinson is thrilled to create stories about animals and the environment. Her experiences volunteering with organizations like World Wildlife Fund and local animal shelters, along with visiting animal sanctuaries nearby and faraway, have inspired many story ideas. Anitha is the author of a young adult trilogy.

Anita Robinson

The first book, Broken Worlds, was released in 2014 by CBAY Books. Broken Promises and Broken Dreams followed in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Recently, Anitha created a KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING blog. She collects and shares uplifting stories of people showing kindness to animals and each other. Her hope is to inspire others or at least bring joy to someone reading her posts. Her blog can be found at

She graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Commerce and went on to become a Chartered Accountant. Though accounting and writing seem like polar opposites, she has combined these two worlds by offering ‘Tax Talks’ to writers. Anitha lives on a hobby farm in Ontario with her husband, two children, and many animals. She hopes one day to turn the property into an animal sanctuary. Anitha is represented by Tanusri Prasanna of Foundry Literary & Media.


Anitha, thanks for taking the time to do have this conversation with me. I’d like to talk about your book BROKEN WORLDS, released in 2014, and your writing life so far.

Q. What kind of research did you do for Broken Worlds and how much time did it take? What are your sources, typically?

A. The idea for Broken Worlds came to me in a dream, or more accurately, a nightmare. Normally, when I wake up, the details of the dream are long gone and at most I’m left with a vague, fuzzy memory. Not this time. I clearly recalled the details of this nightmare—being alone at night, chased by two men, the sound of their footsteps getting closer. I was terrified when I woke up. I was taking a writing class at the time and it was my turn to share a piece with the class, so I started writing about the nightmare. At this point, there was no research. But as the story unfolded, the characters came to life, and the plot took shape, and that’s when I started to research things like the layers of the atmosphere, the colours one would see as they pass these layers, the sounds of the forest, to name a few. Research takes a fair bit of time and varies from project to project. I can’t pinpoint an exact amount of time. For this book, my main sources were the internet and my husband, who helped me with the medical aspects of the story.

But for my middle grade adventure story and picture books about endangered animals, in addition to the internet, I also contacted people who help save these animals for their input.

Anitha Robinson Broken Worlds

Q. Broken Worlds is written in the First Person, the voice being that of the protagonist Kalli. Why did you decide to write this book in First Person? And why Kalli?

A. I wrote it in first person, because I was writing about myself in the nightmare. This POV allowed me to express what I saw and felt.

Q. You chose to write Broken Worlds in the present tense, as the action unfolds. Why was this? Do you think this is a more satisfying approach to writing? Why?

A. I find writing in present tense heightens the tension. It allows the reader to experience everything with the character in real time. As this was a story filled with action, I felt it was the best way to write it.

Q. What is your approach to writing? Do you plot in advance, perhaps chapter by chapter, or make it up as you go along?

A. I started writing Broken Worlds ten years ago. At that time, I just wrote from the top of my head. There wasn’t a lot of planning. But with the second and third book, I started with an outline and plotted the story ahead of time. It changed a bit as I was writing, but the general trajectory of the plot remained the same.

Q. The surprise in the plot of Broken Worlds comes around the half-way point when Ellis reveals that he is different (spoiler alert!) Was this how you created your plot, or did you suddenly decide on this when you reached that point in the book?

A. From the start, I knew Ellis was not going to be the good guy he seemed. I wasn’t sure what that would mean exactly, until I had written a few chapters, and then it came to me—he had to be an alien.

Q. Do you have any tips for upcoming writers on how to get published, traditional or Vanity publishing?

A. If someone wants to get published there are a few things they should do. First of all, read a lot. This way you will discover the types of stories you like to read which should help you decide the type of stories you like to write. I love reading picture books, middle grade and young adult, hence, that’s what I write. Next, write without expecting it to be perfect. Don’t allow the need to be perfect to deter you from writing. Once the words are on the page, then you can go back and edit. Which brings me to my last tip—find a critique partner/writing group to give you feedback and help edit your story. Sometimes what you think you’ve said isn’t what comes across, and a writing buddy can help sort that out, among other things.

Q. Has writing gotten any faster and easier for you since 2014, considering you’ve followed up with two sequels to Broken Worlds?

A. Before Broken Worlds was published, writing felt like a guilty pleasure, because I was the only one who benefitted. I would fit it in between taking care of my kids, working, chores around the house. But after the book was published, I gave myself permission to write most, if not every day, even for 30-40 minutes. Broken Worlds took me almost four years to write, but I finished the first draft of Broken Promises, in eight months.

I wouldn’t say writing has gotten easier. I think I’m better at it, because I spend more time working at my craft. I attend workshops, belong to critique groups where I give and receive feedback, and I write most days.

Q. Is there a favourite among all the characters in Broken Worlds? Why is he/she your favourite?

A. If I had to pick just one character, it would be Sammy. Even though he died very early on in the book, he was very important to me. I felt protective about him and the difficult life he was forced to live at such a young age.

Q. When Kalli returns to her mother’s house, she is greeted by the smell of curry, onions and spices, an obviously very Asian environment. Does this relate to your background and childhood? If so, how?

A. My parents emigrated from India and it was often difficult trying to blend the two cultures—Indian and Canadian. Especially at school. Being a kid is hard enough. Most of us want to fit in with others, but when you look different, it’s almost impossible. I remember being teased and bullied about the colour of my skin and how my hair and clothes would smell like spices and onions. When I got older, I worked hard to douse myself in sprays and perfumes whenever I went out, hoping it would cover the scent of curry. But it was also a very familiar smell, it was the smell of home, so there was also a comfort in it. That’s the part I wanted to bring out for Kalli—the comforting, familiar smell.

Q. The planet Istriya in Broken Worlds is a bleak, dystopian world plagued with pollution and on the brink of collapse, both environmentally and physically. Do you see this as a parallel to our own problems on earth? Was this a part of your theme?

A. I do worry Earth will become like Istriya. Many humans are motivated by profit alone. They don’t look past their need for instant gratification and they don’t take time to consider the detrimental long-term effects of their actions. Earth is our only home, but we are not its only inhabitants. We share this planet with other species, and I don’t believe our needs are any more important than theirs. I believe it’s important when making a decision that we consider—what are the long-term consequences of doing this? What harm will this cause to other species? And is there another way, where the gratification may not be as quick or as large, but it is sustainable for us and other species.

Q. How did you arrive at the names for your characters in Broken Worlds? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters?

A. The main character’s name is Kalyana Farris to reflect her parents mixed marriage. There was no science for choosing the names of the characters for my Broken Worlds trilogy. However, for the middle grade and picture books I write featuring animals as the main characters, I try and choose names that have meanings about those animals. For example, I wrote a picture book about a rhino named Faru. Rhino in Swahili is Kifaru.

Q. What was the greatest stumbling block for you in creating and writing for the character of Ellis—someone of the opposite sex?

A. Ellis was a complex character to write, and not because he was male. Initially, he was manipulative and determined to save his species. But there was also the part of him that didn’t want to cause harm to anyone. As the story continues, he struggles with the realization that his mother is not the good person he thought. He then must figure out a way to save both worlds, his own and Earth. But when it becomes clear he can’t save both, he has to choose, and that was a hard character arc to develop.

Q. Is there a central theme in your three books? What is it?

A. I would have to say there are two themes- is that allowed? The one theme is the effects of greed. The people of Istriya destroyed their planet to the point it became uninhabitable. They were unwilling to change their selfish ways and it resulted in the planet no longer being able to sustain their behaviour. The other theme is love and our need for it and what we are willing to do to find it and then keep it.

Q. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of Young Adult Science Fiction, what would it be?

A. This is a hard questions, because I don’t consider myself a science fiction writer. The story about Kalli, started as a nightmare, and science fiction allowed me the best vehicle to share it.

Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book? Please share the reason behind your enthusiasm for this book…

A. I love mysteries. One of my favourites as a child were the Meg Mysteries. I have fond memories of sitting on my bed and losing myself in the story.

Q. What other authors and books have influenced your work since then?

A. J. K. Rowling- because I loved reading the Harry Potter series to my kids.

Katherine Applegate- I loved how she brought Ivan to life in The One And Only Ivan. His character, his sad situation, it all just leaped off the page and wrapped around me. I was so desperate to help Ivan. This is the kind of emotion I aspire to create in my readers. I want them to fall in love and care about my characters, so they cheer them on.

Q. Is there a point in your life when you realized that you wanted to become a writer? Please share the circumstances with us.

A. I have always loved writing, but it was never something I considered pursuing as a career. Growing up, I think a lot of emphasis was put on finding a career that would allow me to be financially stable and self-sufficient, and in my family, the arts was never considered a viable option. I wish it had been. I wish I had looked into career paths that involved writing, instead I became a Chartered Accountant. I don’t regret it (well not always). Being an accountant allowed me to work from home when I had my children, so I could be with them. I was able to organize my work around their schedules. But writing was always a part of my life. I would write little stories for my kids. Eventually, I took a few writing courses, devoted more time to writing, and realized how much joy it brings me.

Q. Do you have a fixed routine when you’re writing, or do you wait for the muse to strike you?

A.I try and start each day with yoga. It’s a lovely way to clear my head and I feel good after. I’ve recently decided to cut back my accounting work back to about 10-12 hours per week. I try to get my work done first thing in the morning, so that I have the rest of the day to write or do other things I enjoy.

Q. All the world needs heroes. Tell us about some of the protagonists in your three books. Is there real-life inspiration behind them?

A. The inspiration behind Kalli (other than the nightmare) is all the young girls and women, who are forced to marry someone they don’t want to. It must be frightening to stand up against the pressure to do so, especially if your life could be in danger if you don’t do what is expected.

I feel so sad about the real-life inspiration behind Hadley’s character. She appears in the second novel. She tells her parents she is gay and their reaction forces her to leave her home. During my research, I read that the majority of teen runaways are LGBTQ. They are forced out of their homes because their parents, the ones who are supposed to take care of them, kick them out of the house, for being who they are. It’s heart-breaking.

Q. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your books?

A. I still work as an accountant and there are many chores to do around our house- so for me the most difficult part is fitting in the writing, making sure I allow myself time to write.

Q. Do you find the process of writing exhausting or energizing? How do you cope with the physical demands of the profession?

A. I find writing very energizing. I love days when I wake up, knowing for sure I get to write. I don’t find it physically demanding, because I don’t put pressure on myself to write a certain number of words every day. I write because I love it. I think putting pressure on myself would take away the joy and perhaps the creativity.

Q. Is your approach to writing one that encompasses a formula that might meet your reader’s expectation, or do you write to suit yourself?

A. I write about things I care about. I love animals, but since I can’t be like Jane Goodall, who is out there, physically saving the animals, I write about them. I hope my writing will help them in some way.

Q. Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people would know of? If so, can you give us a hint?

A. That’s a great idea. Maybe I should start doing this!

Q. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer? How does she know she’s been successful?

A. For me writing is my joy, my relaxation- it’s even a form a therapy. I lose myself in my stories when I write. It makes me happy- and for me that’s success!

Q. Assuming you always think there’s room for improvement, what’s your approach to becoming a better writer?

A. I continue to read, write, and edit. I also find critiquing other writer’s work helps make me a better writer. I can often see my mistakes in their work,

Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Twitter: @AnithaRobinson.



Karen Fenech -Author

Karen Fenech is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic suspense.  When Karen’s not writing or spending time with her family, she loves to shop, watch movies, or just kick Karen Fenech -- author photo submitted to International Thriller Writersback in a comfortable chair and read.

Karen, I really appreciate that you have taken time to do this interview for my Blog. I’d like to talk about your writing career, so far.

My great pleasure, Ken. Thank you for inviting me.

Q. You’ve said, in your bio, that you wanted to write since you were eleven years old, and you actually wrote a book based on the Nancy Drew mysteries. What ever happened to that book?

A. Oh, boy. : ) I remember putting those pages in a binder but draw a blank after that. I can’t recall what happened to that binder. It would be fun to take a look at those pages now.

Q. I imagine, as a young girl of eleven, you were heavily influenced by the Nancy Drew mysteries, as is perhaps typical for many girls of that age. What was it about the Nancy Drew mysteries that interested YOU?

A. I loved solving the mysteries along with Nancy and her friends. I loved following the clues along with Nancy.

Q. Your first novel, Unholy Angels, was written over a two-year period and released in 2004. Has writing gotten any faster and easier for you since 2004?

A. Yes, writing a novel now does not take me two years. I’m not sure about writing becoming easier, however. I try to challenge myself with each new book, to push beyond my comfort zone. That makes things hairy at times.

Q. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you have a fixed routine or do you wait for the muse to strike you, like many writers?

A. I have a work schedule to meet writing deadlines. I find that I need to get business work out of the way before I can write and so I do that first thing and then write in the afternoon. If I’m deep into a book, I will often return to write late at night, continuing into the early hours of the morning. There’s something I love about writing late at night.

Q. You’ve achieved an extensive oeuvre so far in your climb to publishing success. You’ve got three series on the go: The Malice Series, The Protector Series, The Surrender Series. In addition, there are stand-alone books and a Short Story Collection. How do you find the time to keep up with all of this?

A. I know what I’m going to write before I sit down to do the actual writing. I outline each book. I may veer in terms of scenes I’d envisioned in the outline, but I don’t veer from the plot points or when each needs to be presented / revealed in the story.

I know the number of words I need to write each day to meet my deadlines. Things don’t always go according to plan. Life sometimes changes things. I account for that in my writing schedule, just in case.

Q. Who decides whether a series has been tapped out and can go no more, and it’s time to start another—you or your publisher? Can you tell us what factors are employed in determining this?

A. The ones who ultimately decide the fate of a series are the readers. It’s reader interest and support that determine whether or not a series will continue. Fortunately for writers, our readers are awesome and very supportive of their beloved series.

Q. Do you think it will reach the point where ideas for new plots and books will start to tax your creativity? If not, can you share your secret in avoiding this? If you think you might reach that point in future, how do you plan on overcoming this?

A. I don’t think creativity will be taxed. It may seem that way, but I think as we mature as writers, we become more selective of the ideas we choose to turn into books. Life experience and the point we are at in our lives also play a factor, I think.

I love the planning process when all things are possible. I get my creative juices flowing by constantly asking “what if”. I like a nice quiet walk along a beach or a snow-covered path to help me plan.

Q. What kind of research did you do for your books and how much time does it take? What are your sources, typically?

A. Research depends on the plot and the time period in which a book is set. For my historical, I consulted non-fiction books for specific information such as medicines and healing practices of the day.

For every day life, I was fortunate to come across a book written as a journal by people who’d lived during the time period I was writing in. The day-to-day accountings of every day life provided good insight into what it was like to live at that time. I found these accountings lent authenticity to my characters.

For my contemporary books with FBI and other law enforcement characters, I usually consult directly with specific agencies. I also consult with professionals in a given area where a book is set. For example, I needed to know decomposition of a body over a certain time period in hot weather and reached out to a coroner in that area for that specific information.

Regarding the length of time spent on research, it varies, dependent upon how deeply I need to go into a subject. Sometimes, though, I do get carried away. I find research fascinating.

Q. How do you arrive at the names for your characters? Is there a science behind this or are names chosen randomly? Is there a connection between names and characters?

A. Other than not naming characters after anyone I know, I choose names at will. I feel like a new parent, taking a look at my newborn for the first time and considering what name would suit my child. : )

Q. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your books?

A. Declaring a book as finished, I think. I tend to go over the material many times before I’m satisfied with it.

Q. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your career be?

A. I can’t imagine doing anything else. : )

Q. Do you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?

A. If I decided to also write in a different genre, I would introduce a pseudonym to distinguish the books.

Q. Did you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people would know of?

A. That sounds like fun, but, no. That might be something to ask my readers about going forward, to include them in a secret.

Q. There are actors who will not see a movie they’ve appeared in, after it’s completed. Do you ever read your books after they are published? If so, why? If not, why not?

A. I keep notes on happenings in each of the series books, but I always reread the last book in a series before I write the next book in that series.

I also reread the last book to regain the feel for the tone of the series. Each series has a different feel to it and I want to be sure to remain true to that tone.

Q. What do you think are the most important magazines/journals for aspiring writers to subscribe to?

A. When I began, I read Writers’ Digest and The Writer. Since the advent of self-publishing, I think a lot of good information can be found online at sites about writing and publishing. A Google search reveals many good sites to explore. It’s wonderful to have access to so much valuable information.

Q. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer? How does she know she’s been successful?

A. Success differs for everyone. I think happiness = success. If writers are happy when writing their stories, then they can count themselves a success.

Q. What’s the most difficult stumbling block for you in writing characters of the opposite sex?

A. I take time to consider outlook. Though faced with the same situation, people will not necessarily view it the same. I like to take time to put both my male and female characters in that same situation to find those differences.

Q. Is writing cathartic in any way for you? If so, how and why?

A. I’ve read of writers who deliberately write about things that frighten them as a way to work through that fear. I’ve been very fortunate and have never experienced anything that has frightened me to a point where it has stayed with me beyond that moment. That said, I do write through things that are troubling me, be they writing related or personal.

Q. Is there a central theme in your books? Is there a common message to the reader?

A. I hope when my readers close one of my books they feel they have read a story in which women are also heroes, each in her own way, each capable of courage, persistence, strong belief in her own abilities, and of giving great love and deserving of it.

Q. If it’s not giving away any trade secrets, what’s your next project / What are you working on now?

A. I’m currently working on the sixth book in my Protectors series.

Q. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of Historical Romance Fiction and suspense novels, what would it be?

A. I think to any writer, regardless of genre, I would say, be our own cheerleader. Celebrate each piece of our writing.

Q. Taking into account the massive changes in technology that are spearheading a move towards an electronic medium for books, where do you think the writing profession is heading?

A. It’s a wonderful time to be a writer. We have so many opportunities and outlets for our work. We have the great fortune to be in direct contact with our readers and build friendships. I think this close contact may pave the way for interactive books.

Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

A. I love to hear from readers. Please do reach out to me through my website email. Due to writing deadlines and the volume of incoming mail, it may take a while for a response. I appreciate your understanding and your patience. Thank you to all for writing




Karen, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Here’s wishing you all the best in your future writing and other endeavours.

Ken, thank you. It’s been so nice spending time with you and your readers.

Fenech-BreathofMalice-21517-CV-FT Large Cover

Janet Naidu -Poet

Janet Naidu was born in Covent Garden, Guyana, a rural village close to the sugar plantations of Farm and Diamond.  Janet comes from humble beginnings—her father worked as a cane cutter and her mother sold greens in the village and in the market place.  She, along with her seven siblings assisted their parents in earning extra income.

Janet has made Canada her home since 1975. In 1973, two of her poems appeared in a small booklet called Heritage. After writing sporadically over the years, her first collection of poems, Winged Heart (1999) was short-listed for the Guyana Prize for Literature, poetry category.  Her other two collections include Rainwater (2005) and Sacred Silence (2009). Her poems capture themes of uprooted movements, nostalgic memories, resettlement, feminism, resilience and survival. Her writings also include essays of cultural and historical themes. Janet Naidu (4)
Her poetry and writings have appeared in news media, online publications, anthologies, referenced in books on Indo Caribbean themes and in the Women’s Journal of the University of the West Indies.

Janet obtained a BA from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London, UK.

Janet, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. I’d like to focus on your collection Rainwater, in addition to your writing, in general.

Q. At what age did you start to write? What do you remember writing about? Does that writing still exist today?

A. As a teenager I sold greens in the village with my mother and had a notepad to write down credit given to the villagers. I used to also make little sketches and writings at the back pages when I waited for people to purchase items in our baskets. But most significantly, I started writing to pen pals around the world after posting my name and address in a pen pal magazine. I had pen pals from New Zealand, England, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, USA and many other countries. It was during this time, I entered into writing to pen pals around the world, telling them about my family life at home, and life in Guyana. I used to get creative, talking about simple things in the village, like when the sugar cane would burn and the cane dust would come through our windows. I made it sound exciting. Living in Canada, I am often taken back to that time when I was care free and thoughts of the natural world flowed so greater then. This reflection continues to influence my writing.

Continue reading

Judith Gelberger -Author



Judith Kopacsi Gelberger was born in February 1946, in Miskolc, Hungary, an industrial town located in the hilly North-East of the country. The family moved to Budapest in 1949 when her father, a police officer, was relocated to the country’s capital. For the first ten years of her life she was surrounded by people her parents and grandparents fought with in the anti-Nazi underground before and during World War II. She grew up on those stories, and it made her very proud to be a child of heroes. In 1952 her father became the Police Chief of Budapest, and she enjoyed all the privileges that came with his title. All this changed suddenly when on October 23rd, 1956 the university students took to the streets, supposedly to sympathize with the Polish workers. The peaceful demonstration soon turned into a bloody one. By then her father, totally disillusioned by the Soviet regime, sided with the revolution, and became one of its military leaders. The Soviet army crushed the revolution, and her father was arrested. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in a secret trial in 1958. His fate affected Judith drastically. Even getting a high school education proved to be a challenge. In 1965 she had a chance to leave Hungary and she came to Canada. It took her another ten years to get her parents to Canada. Judith is married and has had two wonderful children. Unfortunately their son, Leslie was killed in a boating accident in April 2017, leaving a wife and two small boys behind.

Continue reading

Enrico Downer -Author

Rico Downer headshot


Enrico Downer was born in Barbados. In humble beginnings as his stories will attest. He attended multiple institutions of learning that began with elementary and secondary schooling on the island and continued to the University of Rio Piedras, P.R. and Ponce Technical as a recipient of a scholarship from the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) of the United States.

Rico immigrated to America in 1961 and did some courses at UWI (Univ of Wisconsin). He subsequently joined Value Line, an investment publishing firm in NYC and later was appointed International Correspondent with Airco International in NYC and Madison, Wisconsin.
From early, as an English major, he set about to explore the mystery and magic of literary expression, dabbling originally in poetry and later finding his niche in novels and short stories always steeped in historical fiction and drawn from his upbringing in a colonial society as well as from experiences living in New York, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and from travels throughout the Far East.

Continue reading