It may surprise some readers of this blog to learn that I’m Caribbean with African, European and Chinese ancestors. I’m a naturalized citizen of the United States of America and a veteran of the US Army. My first book, The Obeahman’s Dagger, was largely about Trinidad and Tobago, where I was born and grew up and it was an attempt to portray something of the way things were, before the Americans came with their powerful media and their seductive culture. Writing it proved to be a transformative experience.
In one way, this was a huge mistake; it meant that I had lost sight of the reader and was instead writing to myself. The result presently occupies a narrow niche in the market, probably confined to those who have an interest in the subject matter of the book. In another way it conferred on my writing the value of truth, especially when it came to writing about the spirituality of Obeah, and Vodoun. I began to revisit my own past and to rethink the decisions I had made about the role of religion and spirituality in my life. All that I had learned about my ancestors and about the history of the Caribbean acquired a new significance for me.
This new perspective will inform all my writing going forward, though I still intend to pursue commercial success with all the vigor I can muster.
I have almost completed the first draft of the sequel to The Obeahman’s Dagger and it does not duplicate the error of my first book. This one is a page-turner. In it, the eponymous Dagger is brought to New York by Belle and there is a hot struggle over it; it is an artifact of great power and whoever owns it can use it to prolong life indefinitely. Several new characters are added to the old cast and the battle continues. As does my respect for truth. To the Trinidadian practitioners of the esoteric arts of Obeah is added the Haitian followers of Vodoun.
You may be more familiar with the religion by its derogation – voodoo – a term that evokes the Hollywood imagery of blood-thirsty, black savages practicing evil magic, of zombies and African witchdoctors. That’s about as wrong-headed as thinking of Haiti as the poorest nation in the world, racked with corruption and overrun by zombies and political thugs. It’s not any of those things.
There’s an old Haitian saying that I found somewhere – we’re all humans, but humans are not all the same. Haiti is a country that is like any other in its humanity and in the uniqueness of its History. In these difficult times, in a world shaken by natural and man-made disasters, we must be watchful of our thoughts and vigilant in our actions. There’s an article by Mark Schuller, (published in counterpunch) that explains the situation concisely and accurately.
The sequel is tentatively titled The Brooklyn Museum Exhibit and as you read it, please understand that it is, to the fullest extent of my own powers, rooted in truth.
The characters remain creatures of my imagination and bear no connection to anyone, alive or dead.