Jamaican author Judith Faloon-Reid’s debut novel “Here’s a Hundred Dollars … Buy Yourself a Life!” certainly resonated with people who identified with the frustrations, fun, laughs and triumphs of the protagonists.
And now she’s back with the sequel, “Are Mirrors Cleaner in Paradise?” Weekender asked the author a few questions in advance of her book signing on Wednesday, 21 November at Books & Books.
How pleased are you to be launching the sequel to your debut?
The sequel to “Here’s A hundred Dollars … Buy Yourself a Life!” was in response to readers who felt they needed more. They wanted to know what had happened to certain characters, mainly Annie, who though so talented, seemed to be wasting her life with a married man. The die was cast when I got stuck in Hurricane Irene in 2010 in the Turks and Caicos while on a business trip.
I am particularly excited about this book because after writing two inspirational books and countless other types of material, I was pleased to know that I had not only written a successful novel, but that people wanted more and I was up to the challenge.
Tell us a little about your experiences of writing this one compared to last time.
“Here’s a Hundred Dollars … Buy Yourself a Life!” was what I call fictional reality. All true and based on my life wrapped up with the lives of many other women and men I know. The characters were all real and their lives were real with a few elements of fiction interspersed.
In the sequel, with only 30 per cent of the story being based on real life, I was free to let my imagination run wild. I enjoyed creating the characters who were fictional, giving them personality, idiosyncrasies and vices. Whereas the first novel brought back some painful memories for me and the characters who recognised themselves in the book, the sequel was filled with fun while I wrote it.
Without giving too much away, what is the book about?
All my books are about lessons learned and victories over self. Similarly, in “Are Mirrors Cleaner in Paradise?” the main character, Annie, is struggling with her relationship with Stan, a wealthy, married businessman who made practical choices for his life. The scenario is real life and plays itself out before the eyes of the reader who rides the emotional roller coaster with both Annie and Stan who are deeply in love despite their circumstances. They each must choose their own paths when they find themselves stuck in a hurricane on Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
How do you set out to write a new piece of work?
Writing has always come easy for me, ever since childhood. I have never been good at following the traditional steps taken by all good writers. Instead, I wake up with a thought and some words that accompany that thought. I immediately start writing those down and I keep writing, day after day until the thoughts stop flowing.
Then I wait again for the flow to return. The excitement for me is never knowing where the flow will take me and so like the reader, the book is a surprise to me even as I write it. I usually get the end at the same time I get the beginning, but I never know how I will arrive at that end until it unfolds during my writing.
My husband finds it funny that I get so caught up in the emotions while I am writing as though I am reading the book rather than writing it. What he doesn’t understand is that I am reading it, while I’m writing.
How much of the book is based on real life?
Several of the characters and the scenarios are real. The main characters, Annie and Stan are based on real people as is their relationship. Annie’s friends and her sister who pop up in dialogue are also based on real people and real conversations surrounding the situation in which Annie has found herself.
The fact of Hurricane Irene is documented as well as the fact the I was stuck in the Turks and Caicos during the passage of the storm, though I was there alone.
What are your favourite things about Cayman?
I love the restaurants!!! I am a foodie. Serious food junkie and the variety and amazing quality of food you can get in Cayman is my favourite reason for visiting, though I come here on business normally. I live in Jamaica and so I’m used to beaches and natural beauty, but we do not have the extensive variety or abundance of such variety of cuisines as you do in Cayman.
Also, being such a large island, unless you live in the capital, Kingston which I don’t, there is little or no variety elsewhere on the island so I look forward to being able to enjoy good food within easy reach when I come to Cayman.
Anything final pearls of wisdom for us?
I have been told that my writing style is easy to read, mainly because I write the way I speak and therefore its almost all conversational.
I try to be balanced in my writing, conscious of the good and bad in both males and females, careful to not always cast the woman as a victim and the man as a perpetrator. The shared responsibility of both parties and the lessons to be learned by both parties are evident.
In the final analysis, I strive to uplift and edify the reader, leaving them victorious and free of their past mistakes.
Judith Falloon-Reid will visit Books & Books in Camana Bay on Wednesday, 21 November at 7pm for the Cayman Islands launch of her new novel, “Are Mirrors Cleaner in Paradise?” This free event will include an author presentation, group discussion and book signing.