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Junta Review -Guyana Times

‘Junta: The Coup is On’ – A novel by Ken Puddicombe

‘Junta…’ is more than a novel merely about a bloodless coup, executed by the military in a seemingly flawless plan headed by General Septimus Ignatius Marks, wrenching power from the legitimately elected government, as it goes beyond the coup into the machinations of the junta to hold onto to power, at whatever cost, pitting its machinery of manufactured fear and military decisiveness backed by a gang of mercenaries/thugs, headed by The Reverend – a merciless criminal, carrying out the dictates – doing the dirty work – of the army acting under direct instruction of Captain Stevenson, against tiny groups of people seeking the return to civilian rule and the restoration of democracy, a group consisting of students of a university led by Melanie Sanderson, the pugnacious editor of a newspaper, Clarence Baptiste, and a reformist priest, Father Bert, as it goes beyond the junta birthed in the wake of the coup as General Marks is supplanted by his protégé, now General Glen Stevenson. All of the above is set against the backdrop of Hurricane David which adds little to the suspense of the plot, but was a major player in further pauperising the less fortunate while sparing the rich and fortunate few.

This political/romance thriller is set in Saint Anglia, an imaginary island in the Caribbean bearing many similarities to Guyana as people, places and events are invoked in the forms of Ricky Singh, Jim Jones, Rabbi Washington, Father Darke etc, even CARD (Crucial Action for the Restoration of Democracy) is not dissimilar to GUARD. Saint Anglia was a ‘peaceful place’ – sugar plantation economy thriving first on enslaved labour and then indentured labour – until after independence when the ugly head of racism, class and social injustice brought divisions to the surface in a way forcing everyone to take a side – a side for or against injustice.
The novel is divided into fourteen chapters with the first and second chapters introducing all the major characters while the next two chapters focused on the coup, accounting for one third of the book, and remaining pages deal with the junta’s struggle to hold on to power and subsequent supplanting of the leader from within.
The novel opens with the beginning of a coup as Marcus Jacobson, descendant of the planter class, returns to his place of birth to take up tenure of professor of history at the local university where the impetuous protagonist, Melanie Sanderson, former lover of Captain Stevenson and daughter of an ex-Premier who was kicked out of office because he was white, is a student.
As the junta headed by General Marks attempts to consolidate it stranglehold on power, it is met with opposition from various individuals and groups even as Professor Jacobson turns his back several times on invitations and promptings mainly by Melanie to support the fight for the restoration of democracy. The resistance to the junta is answered with brute force damaging limbs and property, leading to bloodshed when a protest march exposes the junta for what it really is – an evil to society.

That evil is finally defeated but that is not the end of the story. The end of the novel is sort of tame (as is the beginning) with Professor Jacobson finally leaving the island and with Melanie Sanderson declaring that she may eventually recommence the relationship with Stevenson who is now General and new leader of the junta. All of this is sort of summed up in what Reverend Bert said, “No one is ever totally bad as no one is ever totally good.”
This seemingly intriguing story is diluted by the interjection of more twenty back stories of major and minor characters, created by the author who, it seems, is obliged to make them all rounded characters.
Quite interesting is the author’s use of smoking as a motif – almost every character is a smoker, lending to the adages ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ and ‘if you play with fire, you get burned’ as the reader finds out that many persons get burnt.
Interestingly too, the author accomplishes his own coup (de grace) by treating the reader to beautiful descriptive prose, impressive characterisations, the overt and covert activities of a newspaper and the interesting history of coups and the politics of the Caribbean.
“Junta: the Coup is On” is a welcomed addition to a short list of Guyanese and Caribbean political thrillers.
Responses to this author please telephone 226-0065 of

email: oraltradition2002@yahoo.com

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Story Of The Month

NOTE: “The Story Of The Month” changes every month and might also have been featured in my collection DOWN INDEPENDENCE BOULEVARD published by MiddleRoad Publishers in 2017 and available on Amazon.

Down Independence Boulevard: and other stories
by Ken Puddicombe
Link: http://a.co/4Fy5oBg

 

2017

December -The Touch Of Peace

2018

Jan – Interview, The

 

THE INTERVIEW ©

As I ate my fried rice, I wondered if I should engage him in conversation. Or, would he think I was intruding?

I tried breaking the ice. “Are you on lunch?”

He wore no coat and from what I saw above the table, he was dressed in a white long-sleeve shirt, a small black tie hanging loosely around his neck.

“No,” he said, without looking up.

His had been the only table with vacant seats outside the mall and even after I had received his permission to sit I wondered whether he would rather be left alone.

His French fries languished in a sea of gravy at the bottom of a paper container and he was attempting the delicate job of spearing them with a miniature plastic fork no larger than a toothpick. One after the other, he impaled each member of the now sodden portion and placed it delicately in his mouth.

He had the preoccupied look of someone who had just witnessed a terrible accident and couldn’t get it off his mind. I was curious. “Do you work around here?”

He looked up from the Coke—he’d just finished the fries, and said, “No, Sir. I’m here for an interview at Food City. Do you work in the mall?”

This was encouraging. “Yes, I do, actually. What do you hope to do at Food City?”

“I’m applying for work in the Meat Department.”

“It can really be cold in there,” I said. Somehow, I couldn’t picture him with his small, lean frame, working long hours in sub-zero temperature and heaving heavy sides of meat. He had to be made of sturdier stuff than his appearance suggested.

“Yeah, but I don’t mind. I like the cold.” His face brightened up when he said this, and it made me think he really meant it.

He lapsed into silence again, twirling the straw around, peering through the opening of the Coke can to see if there was anything left to drink. Then, he said, as if it were something he desperately wanted to get off his chest, “I need this job badly. Lost my last job yesterday.”

I said nothing, hoping he would continue.

He leaned back in the chair and extracted a pack of Players and a card of matches from his pocket. He tore a match off the card and paused with it in mid-air. “You don’ mind if I smoke, do you?”

I told him Not at all. He lit the cigarette, fanned the match until the flame was out, and then dropped it into the Coke can. I heard the sizzle as it hit the bottom.

“What happened on your last job?”

He took an extended drag from the cigarette and said, “It’s a long story.”

I prompted, “What happened?”

“It’s hard to explain. Something to do with starting off on the wrong foot and working in the wrong place with the wrong people?” It sounded like one of those statements teens make in the form of a question.

I took a closer look at him while he stared at the glow of his cigarette. He was young, about seventeen or eighteen, and diminutive. I was impressed that he had been considerate enough to ask my permission to smoke. Now, as further evidence of his good manners, he was tilting his head up, angling it to blow the smoke away from me.

“The supermarkets pay well, don’t they?” I said, trying to pursue the conversation from another angle, wanting to find out the reason for his departure from the last job.

“Yes sir, a lot better than working in one of the mall stores, like Stitches.”

“Have you ever worked in one of those stores before?”

“No…” he shook his head, tapped the ashes into the paper container, watching them coalesce with the gravy. But, before he could continue, he spotted someone passing just outside the side entrance, and he shouted, “Hey Dino.”

Dino saw him and came over. “Carlo, what are you doing here?” he said as they gave each other a high-five. “Are you working, or what?”

Now, they were both seated at the table, facing me. The newcomer appeared to be a few years older. He wore a long overcoat—black with small white dots and narrow pin stripes, Italian fashion. And like Carlo, he too had his hair combed back in a high muff, fifties style: black and slick, almost as if he had dunked his head in hair gel.

“Nah man. Got an interview at Food City. Lost my last job yesterday,” he blurted out, blowing circles into the air through pursed lips. “Do you know Tony? He works at A and P too.”

“Yeah, your friend, the one you’re always hanging around with?”

“Well, we was horsing around, spraying one another with the hose—you know, the one you use to clean the floor with. Well, the boss caught us, canned both of us, on the spot. Man, was I ever sorry.” A pause, flick of the ashes into the container. “Did you hear ‘bout the rumble at school?”

“You mean the one with the gang from Notre Dame?”

“Yeah man. Bunch of guys come over in cars, picking on us.”

“Did you take them on?”

“Naw man. Those guys are BIG. One of them trying Karate on us.” He jerked his head back and forth and made slashing movements with his hands.

“That don’ mean nothing, man,” Dino said.

“These guys are for real, man. You shoudda seen them moving around.”

“Yeah, but you get them on the ground and all that Karate shit don’ mean nothing.” But, before Carlo could digest this and respond, Dino said, “Hey, you still seeing Angela?” As if the very idea of having a rumble on the ground invoked some distant memory of her.

“Angela!” Carlo repeated, with a roll of his eyes, shaking his wrist and rotating his head at the same time. Dino grinned, a wide grin that showed a dimple starting from the high cheekbone on the right side of his face and carving its way down to his jaw. The thought of Angela seemed to summon an image of indescribable pleasure they had both shared.

“Man, that Angela is something else,” Carlo said. “I’m getting wheels soon. My dad’s loaning me two thousand dollars to buy it.” I found this amusing. Had the thought of Angela provoked a spontaneous parallel with his desire to buy his own car?

“Yeah?” Dino said. “What are you getting?” As he talked, he kept taking covert glances at his reflection in the mall door to our right, no doubt looking at his long oval face, trying to perfect the circles as he blew smoke into the air. He was good looking, a young Valentino, sharp, well chiselled features, the skin of his face a smooth texture, as if he had not experienced his first shave.

“Dunno yet. Have my eyes on a Ford, Tempo or something like that. Did you hear what happened to Tony at school?”

“You mean about the dope? Yeah man, the whole school knows that.”

“He and another guy wuz smoking a joint in the john. In walks the Principal. Man, did they ever ditch it in a hurry. He almost messed his pants that time.”

Carlo shifted in his chair. He was constantly doing this to survey the crowd passing by, a relentless search of faces, as if he were forever trying to make a connection. Just a few minutes prior, he and Dino had looked across at the other table with the four girls, and then they had nodded their heads in mutual appreciation. It was another expression of the silent language they spoke—no words needed, a lift of the eyebrows, a smirk, eyeballs dancing in their sockets, just enough to communicate the message to each other.

“Have you ever tried it?” Dino said.

“What? You mean smoke dope?”

“Yeah.”

“Man you crazy. My father would kill me if I ever did. Not that I want to.”

Carlo continued his surveillance. Suddenly, he sat bolt upright on the bench, his eyes following the movement of someone heading for the entrance. In the rush of the busy entranceway, something was triggered. The guy turned around and recognized him instantly. It was uncanny. It made me wonder: does some supernatural force guide teens? Do they transmit signals to one another, something that says: I’m here, come on over and join me.

The new guy sauntered over to the table, a cigarette held casually in his hand. He wore a black bomber jacket, his light brown hair hanging loosely around his shoulders.

Carlo greeted the newcomer. “Hey man, buy me a drink.”

“Gimme the money,” Blackjacket said.

“Eff you man. You can’t buy me a drink?”

Blackjacket pushed his left hand deep into the pocket of his jeans, pulled out some change, counted it and placed a quarter and some dimes on the table. “Gimme twenty cents—this is all I got.”

Carlo said, “Mother…” and took a hasty glance in my direction. “…Sucker,” he blurted out. “Where is the rest of the money?”

“I got a big one, man. Don’ want to break it.”

“Eff you man.”

“Here,” Blackjacket said, pulling out a bill from his hip pocket to overcome the threat to his reputation. “A hundred is all I have.” He waved the note in the face of the other two.

Dino came to Carlo’s rescue. He fished out two dimes from his pocket and turned them over to Blackjacket who left to pick up the drink in the food court.

 

 

All through the conversation, I’d been sitting there, sipping my milk, following the discussion and trying not to look like an intruder. But, I need not have worried. From the moment Dino came over, to Blackjacket’s arrival, the three of them had never as much as given me a glance, except when Carlo was about to swear at his friend’s tightfistedness.

I looked at my watch. It was time for me to get back. As I silently slipped out of my seat, Carlo and Blackjacket were still there, talking, eyeing the girls, scrutinizing the crowd flowing in and out of the mall. I thought of how boys hadn’t changed much from the time I was growing up. Back in my day, we did the same things, pursued the same interests, and longed desperately for the same outlets our ever-active hormones demanded.

As I headed back to work, I chuckled. In another fifteen minutes, perhaps later, depending on how prompt he was, I would be meeting Carlo, again.

 

END

 

Racing With The Rain

CAN AN INDIVIDUAL MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN POWERFUL FORCES ARE ALIGNED AGAINST DEMOCRACY? CAN SOMEONE AVOID THE STIGMA OF HIS HERITAGE?

These questions are essential to the theme of Ken Puddicombe’s new novel JUNTA.

Expatriate Marcus Jacobson wants to make a difference on newly independent Saint Anglia where he is taking up a professorship but there are forces that will test his expectation. The military, under General Marks stages a coup, and Hurricane David is heading for the island.

Marcus also has skeletons in his closet. He’s descended from the Planter Class that once owned slaves on the island. He’s torn—does he have the right to get involved in the politics of the island or should he be a bystander?

The people Marcus encounters will determine his attitude to the Junta. These people include: Melanie, a student who thinks force should be used to restore democracy; Father Bert, a priest who believes in Liberation Theology; Clarence Baptiste, editor of the local newspaper who will use the media to oppose; The Reverend who runs a dirty tricks campaign for the Junta; Kentish, an islander who is a pacifist by nature and believes that events should run their course. Marcus finds himself being inexorably drawn towards Melanie and when she takes matters into her own hands, the decision is made. But, the Junta is determined to hold on to power at all cost.

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.



Rico, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers. In addition to your writing, I’d also like to focus on your book There once was a Little England, released in 2012.

Q. The title of your book, There Once was a Little England, is evocative of many things, including an island aspiring, once, to be like its colonial mother country, England. How did you arrive at the title?

A. Barbados has been known as Little England for reasons that could be linked to its topographical features but more significantly to the island’s strict adherence to British traditions. There is also the fact that Barbados, in contrast to other Caribbean islands, was never conquered and occupied by any other nation beside England.

Q. the word “once” in the title mean that Barbados is no longer aspiring to be a Little England?

A. I don’t think it was ever a case of Barbadians consciously aspiring to be a Little England. As a colonial possession of England, British traditions, ethos and cultural names and holidays, etc. were deliberated imbedded in the Barbadian psyche from early schooling. As I mentioned before, the island was never under the thumb of any other power but the English. Independence came along in 1966 and put a damper on those feelings of allegiance. Moreover, as I wrote in The Lure of America: In the faded light of Great Britain’s glory the children of colonialism have fallen in love with a younger and prettier face: America.

Q. Over two hundred thousand tourists from the UK, the largest segment of Barbados tourism industry, visit the island every year. Do you think this reflects a yearning for the old days by the British, and perhaps the reason for it is the acceptance of such a connection by Barbadians themselves?

A. No, I don’t believe it reflects a yearning on the part of the British for the old days but more of an affinity for customs, sights and settings that are familiar to the English. You would be hard pressed in Barbados to find a street or a parish or a building that doesn’t have a historical English name. And then add to that English familiarity the tourists’ taste of a tropical paradise.

On the part of Barbadians there is no particular preference for tourists from one country or another.

Q. In the novel, the character Ben Carson, who works for the Englishman Thorne as his stable hand, can’t bring himself to believe his master capable of shooting David Prince. Does this reflect the conflict in Barbadian colonial society on the whole, that Barbadians found it difficult to accept their white overlords as being capable of such a crime? Was this a sort of brainwashing, in some respects? Or was it a kind of awe and reverence for the white man, as was prevalent in many colonial societies?

A. In the case of Ben Carson it was a profound sense of gratitude that clouded his reasoning. As the stable hand for his master’s beloved horses, he was favoured by Thorne and afforded possessions and conveniences not available to other servants. Thorne rewarded him with living quarters equipped with electricity and running water on the Thorne estate. This indebtedness to his master is expressed in the following: How could Thorne be capable of committing such an act against a boy one-seventh of Ben’s age. He could not bring himself to believe that the Englishman had killed the boy.

But to address your question in a broader context, British colonialism in the early 20th century tended to be less brutal than other hegemonies, often seeing to it that her institutions were passed along to her subjects in the way of education, law and a parliamentary system that endure up to this day. In fact it is arguable that such benefits contributed to the undoing of British colonialism.

Q. Social Clubs like the Barbados Water Club, the Strathclyde area, and many other institutions in Barbados, were exclusive to whites only. Is there any trace of this on the island today?

A. No, those barriers have been toppled. The only restrictions now lie in whether one can afford financially to join those institutions or live in those exclusive communities. In the book the Barbados Water Club is really The Aquatic Club which exists today and which, like many other associations, may require member sponsorship but the colour barrier is today a thing of the past.

Q. In Curly’s barber shop, Henderson Cruthers, one of the characters in the novel, commented on the benefits of English colonization: Education and Rule of Law among other things. Slim, one of the other customers says: “Is independence we want, Mr. Caruthers.” To which Caruthers replies: “Bajans not ready for independence…we need England to protect us from weselves.” What did Caruthers mean?

A. The barbershop scene was meant to illustrate the differences in perception of Independence versus Colonialist rule, the perception that prevailed between the elders and the younger folk. Henderson Caruthers was from the old school and was quite content with the status quo in light of the benefits like the steady hand of education and the rule of law. He feared that the younger folk, once the island became independent and once they became controllers of their own destiny might one day weaken those institutions with which old man Caruthers had been familiar all his life. In his words, We need England to protect us from weselves.

Q. Harold Prince, at one time in the novel, says: “Bajans don’t take to the streets…we are not agitators.” Was this symptomatic of the belief that the English brought good order, or rather that Barbadians were taught to obey the colonial masters?

A. Neither. Harold was acknowledging that there was never a seminal insurrection on the island since the riots of 1937. He was explaining the passivity of Barbadians to Mickey Norris, the newly arrived from America, who had experienced firsthand the rebellious nature of African Americans in the civil rights struggles of the 60s.

Harold explained the reason Bajans were no longer agitators. When the riot was over, my old lady got a three-shilling raise from the plantation after cutting canes from the time she was a teenager. Barbados was different from Jamaica, British Guiana and Haiti in that regard. Their rebellions had resulted in more meaningful reforms.

Q. In an early episode, village boys refer to the landlord, Thorne I assume, as a “bullah man” and spread rumours about him. “Bullah man” is obviously a reference to homosexuality, (“as if the seeds of homophobia were already ingrained in their fertile minds.”) Was this homophobia really ingrained in Barbadian society back then, and is it still extant?

A. There was a certain degree of homophobia then, as it is today, in every society. But in Barbados it was always a subject for buffoonery and derision rather than for collective hostility towards homosexuals. In any case the suspicion that one was homosexual was rooted in ignorance more than anything else. The boys who threw stones at Thorne’s guard wall were ignorant of the Englishman’s sexual preference but were nevertheless eager to brand him because they needed any reason to ridicule him.

Q. What would have caused this homophobic tendency? Did religion play a part?

A. The Anglican Church (The Church of England), which was the dominant religion of the day, did not set about to espouse homophobia or any other phobia that would be divisive in the society. The Church was more concerned with keeping its flock in check.

Q. In the post independence period, like many of the Caribbean islands, tourism gained ascendency over manufacturing and processing in Barbados. Cane fields and factories became less important. Yet, tourism has its own dependency on the “new colonial masters” of Europe and North America. When these regions have an economic downturn, so does the Caribbean. Have the islands actually transferred their economic and perhaps political dependency from England to these new overlords?

A. That dependency is not unique to Barbados. Whether an island’s economy is agricultural in nature or bolstered by manufacturing or dependent on tourism, the reality is that they are all dependent on foreign exchange from Europe, Canada and America and are negatively affected when there is a downturn in those foreign economies. Barbados’ sugar industry which was at one time a gold mine ran into stiff competition from countries like Brazil and other third world sugar-producing countries. Without a ready-set manufacturing base the island had no choice but to turn to a service industry; hence the tourist trade which was always vulnerable as we witnessed in the global recession of late.

Q. The colour advantage is referred to often in the novel, in reference to the white colonial masters attitude to Barbadians of black descent. I read about a travel writer’s observation about the West Indies on the whole, where colour is stratified even up to today. Where pure whites still have an advantage over light or fair blacks (of mixed descent), who have an edge over dark blacks. He seemed to indicate that discrimination based on colour was still rampant. What do you think? And what is it symptomatic of?

A. In Barbados, skin colour is no longer the kind of hard factor that divided the society into layers as it did in the period of the book. But class discrimination may still be rampant. Blacks may still look down their noses at less advantaged blacks and whites at less advantaged whites. I describe this in the book as “the curse of classism”.

Q. The antagonist, Englishman Thorne is placed on trial for murder and the jury consists of six whites, four half-whites and two blacks. He’s found not guilty, despite overwhelming evidence. I can see that the six whites and even the half-whites were swayed by colour. But why would the two blacks have agreed to the verdict?

A. Good question! In describing the trial of the Englishman Thorne, I alluded to the captivating impression that Barrister Cunningham had on the two blacks on the jury. I can best describe it in the following passage:

Times were different now; the fracture was now blurred by the rise into the middle class of educated Bajans like Barrister Cunningham, who could cross over to defend the other side, if for no other reason than to proclaim himself a child of the new order in a society in the process of healing itself. The jurors were impressed. The two blacks on the jury were in awe of their ascendant black brother.

 Q. Was the writing profession something that struck you as something you wanted to do at an early age? If so at what age?

A. Yes, I began by dabbling in poetry which impressed no one else but one elementary teacher who encouraged me to keep reading and writing. My first attempt to join the Public Library in Bridgetown was declined by a very austere Chief Librarian who said I was much too young. (I don’t remember my age at the time). I persisted; so she placed a book under my nose and challenged me to read a whole page. In the end she relented. My first books included the British Bigglesworth series. There were no books by local authors at the time on the shelves of the Public Library.

Q. Many writers are influence by a particular period in their life. Is this how it is with you? If so, what period?

A. I am more influenced by remarkable historic events before or during my lifetime. All my stories were triggered by actual occurrences although I may stray from a true recounting of the events.

Q. Are the names of your characters in the book based on real people in the history of Barbados, or totally fictional?

A. It is interesting that you should ask this question. With a few exceptions, the characters in the book represent real people. I fictionalized the ones I considered unsavoury; but in a few cases I revealed real names. A few examples were Harry, the owner of the famed Harry’s Nitery on Lower Bay Street; Cyrus the motorcyclist patrolman, who would arrest his own mother for crossing the colour line in Strathclyde; also Piggott who owned the rum shop across from Gittens’s church. Brother Gittens was a fictional character, not to be confused with a Brother Gittens, known to me as an upright and honourable citizen in Barbados.

With regard to places in the book, I patterned The Barbados Chronicle after The Barbados Advocate. Also, as I said before, The Water Club is The Aquatic Club of those years. And of course there was no need to rename the streets and places of business.

Q. What is it in your life experience and career so far that has influenced your novel(s) and writing?

A. I would have to say my encounter with people along the way who rose up and conquered their limitations and the hurdles that lay in their way.

Q. In working on this novel, what was the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process?

A. The book is set in the decade between 1956 and 1966. I had to make a concerted effort to adhere to customs, places, and events that pertained only to that period of time.

The greatest difficulty for me was to kill off certain characters dear to me as the one who brought them to life; the ones I was sure my readers would regret their premature demise.

If your question, then, is why? Their deaths were germane to the theme of the story.

Q. How does a writer know he’s successful?

A. A writer measures his/her success by the degree by which readers grasp the significance and depth of the story. The reason that readers’ reviews are so important.

Q. Have you ever found yourself suffering from a lack of creativity, where you might have, perhaps stalled on a work in progress? If so, how did you overcome it?

A. Of course; it is the bane of every writer. I overcome it by immersing myself into a steady diet of reading. I reach out to the works of my favourite authors, even the ones I have read and reread a million times before.

Q. Is writing cathartic in any way for you?

A. The process of writing a book for me is indeed cathartic; but finishing the book is not. I often agonize over how I could have made it better.

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

A. As I mentioned before, I was at an age (which I don’t remember at the moment) when I was denied a library card at first to join the Public Library. I was thought by the Librarian to be much too young to borrow books responsibly. Precocious? Well, that might have been the opinion of the Librarian.

Q. Who’s your favourite West Indian author? What do you like most about him/ her?

A. Besides yourself of course it would have to be Caryl Phillips, a Kittitian. I like that he has lived and worked alternately in the West Indies, England, Canada and America and brings to his stories the multifarious experiences of having spent significant portions of his writing career in different cultures.

Q. What brought you to write There once was a Little England?

A. The story was influenced by a true 1950s incident in Barbados when a small boy from a working-class community was shot and killed when he trespassed on the private property of a white farmer in St. Peter. The farmer’s name was George Swayne. His defence in Her Majesty’s Court was that he mistook the boy for a monkey, whereupon the whole island erupted. The people were even more enraged when a brilliant Bajan barrister stepped forward to defend the farmer and advancing the same dehumanizing defence. That barrister was none other than Grantley Adams (later Sir Grantley Adams) who eventually became the prime minister of the West Indies Federation and ultimately one of Barbados National Heroes.
There once was a Little England is far from an actual recounting of that incident or an attempt to re-litigate the trial but is instead an allegorical fiction that borrows key elements from that historic case. The story also seeks to examine the conflict that might arise from a lawyer’s duty to a client who diminishes and denigrates his race.

But on the whole I wanted to write about the island’s travails along the road to Independence.

Q. How long did it take to write?

A. It took me nine months from cover to cover and before then three months or so to complete the research.

Q. Is there a message in the book, to the reader?

A. I was once chided by a fellow writer for not ending the story at the point of denouement where the killer was revealed to the reader. But the story was not intended to be a “whodunnit” but a story about the social ills that led up to the independence of a British colony which I covered in the final few pages.

Q. We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?

A. Harold Prince and his woman Cissy Brathwaite were the principal protagonists, all victims of the racial, class and socioeconomic disparities that prevailed prior to Independence … and to some degree afterwards. Barrister Cunningham was symptomatic of the black man aspiring to rise into the realm of the privileged whites by hook or crook, even to the extent of joining with his own oppressors to negate the rights of his own people.

Q. A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book? Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

A. It was easy. I drew on the true story of farmer George Swayne as mentioned earlier and the vengeful murder of a young boy from a working-class community. Rightly or wrongly, Thorne was perceived in the book as the devil incarnate. That was the way Mr. Swayne was perceived by most Barbadians of that day.

Q. What kind of research did you do for this novel and how much time did it take? What were your sources?

A. Three or four months of the year that it took to write the book were devoted to research. I consulted a number of historical references including the works of Sir Hilary Beckles, FA Hoyos, Dr. Karl Watson and Andrea Stuart, among other historians. Also the writings of Barbadians George Lamming and Austin Clarke were instrumental.

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

A. My first advice would be to write for the love of writing and not necessarily for monetary gain.

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. Via Email: r.downer@rocketmail.com

 

There Once was a Little England
by Enrico Downer
Link: http://a.co/8PJMrQu


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

Thanks, Ken. I appreciate the offer to do the interview. It was a pleasure.

Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories

A taxi driver notices the changes in Independence Boulevard since freedom was gained from Britain. A free-wheeling spirit spends his time gambling and engaging in riots. A man is sentenced to death for the murder of his lover. Two women escape racial conflict and seek a better life at home and abroad. A housewife has faced the last straw with her husband. A mailman is caught in the middle of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack. These are some of the characters encountered in this engaging collection of short stories from the pen of Ken Puddicombe.


 

 

STORY BLUEPRINT

A BLUEPRINT to help you along in the Planning process of creating your story. This can work for both Short Stories and longer works…because if the writer doesn’t know what the story is all about, how will the reader?

TITLE OF STORY:  Continue reading

KNOW YOUR CENTRAL CHARACTER

 57 Things You Should Know About Your Central Character…because if you don’t know who he/she is, how would your reader?

1. NAME:

2. AGE:

4. WEIGHT:

5. HEIGHT:

6. COLOUR OF EYES:

7. SKIN TONE:

8. DISTINGUISHING FEATURES:

9. DATE OF BIRTH/ SIGN:

10. BIRTH PLACE:

11. PARENTS:

  • MOTHER:
  • FATHER:

12. SIBLINGS:

13. GREW UP IN:

14. SOCIAL CLASS:

15. MOST SIGNIFICANT CHILDHOOD EVENT WAS:

16. FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY IS:

17. WORK AS

18. LIKE/DISLIKE JOB BECAUSE:

19. ANNUAL INCOME:

20. EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:

21. CAREER GOALS:

  • SHORT TERM:
  • LONG TERM:

22. PERSONAL GOALS:

  • SHORT TERM:
  • LONG TERM:

23. SPENDS NO TIME/SOME TIME/ LOTS OF TIME DWELLING ON THE PAST BECAUSE:

24. SPENDS NO TIME/ SOME TIME/ LOTS OF TIME DWELLING ON THE FUTURE BECAUSE:

25. PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE IS:

26. MOST ADMIRABLE TRAIT IN OTHERS:

27. MOST LIKED TRAIT IN HIMSELF IS:

28. MOST DETESTED TRAIT IN OTHERS IS:

29. THE TRAIT LEAST LIKED ABOUT HIMSELF IS:

30. SEES HIMSELF AS (type of personality):

31. OTHERS SEE HIM AS (type of personality):

32. FOLLOWING THINGS MAKE HIM LAUGH:

33. FOLLOWING THINGS MAKE HIM CRY:

34. FANTASIZES ABOUT THE FOLLOWING THINGS:

35. LAST BOOK READ:

36. LAST MOVIE/PLAY SEEN:

37. HOBBIES:

38. RELAXES BY:

39. HAS THESE PETS:

40. BEST FRIEND:

41. ENEMIES:

42. LIVES AT:

43. HOME IS DECORATED IN THIS STYLE:

44. MARTIAL STATUS:

45. IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Sex is for…”

46. IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Romance is about…”

47. TOP FIVE QUALITITES A MATE SHOULD POSESS:

48. LAST RELATIONSHIP WAS:

-WITH

-ENDED WHEN:

-ENDED BECAUSE:

49. PERSONALITY STYLE:

50. FAVOURITE COLOUR:

51. FOLLOWING GESTURES OR HABITS ARE REMARKABLE FOR THIS PERSON:

52. POLITICAL PREFERENCES:

53. RELIGIOUS PREFERENCES:

54. ATTITUDES TOWARDS TIME MANAGEMENT:

55. GREATEST PERSONAL TRIUMPH:

56. GREATEST PERSONAL FAILURE:

57. CHOSEN PATHWAY TO SELF ESTEEM:

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