Local author Karlene Stewart is launching her new inspirational novel, “You Can Rise Up” on Thursday, 13 June at Books & Books, from 7pm.
The book follows the journeys of two childhood friends who have taken different paths.
Carla’s disobedience and careless relationships have led her astray, while Aisha’s respect for authority and self-motivation have set her up for success. As their stories play out, readers will learn important lessons for leading a fruitful life.
This free event will include an author presentation, group discussion and book signing.
Weekender grabbed Karlene for a quick Q&A.
Can you explain what the book is about?
“You Can Rise Up” is a fictional story about the life of a girl named Carla Henderson, whose life is one of pain, aggression and tragedy.
Carla’s disobedience and disregard for authority helps to steer her along a shady path in life. Carla’s life is juxtaposed alongside the life of her childhood friend, Aisha, whose life turned out in a way that is contrary to that of Carla’s.
Aisha is the model daughter, the perfect student and lives a settled life – getting married early and starting a career as a teacher. It is only after the murder of Carla’s father, and her own near-death experience, that Carla comes to the realisation that she needs to rise up out of her dark life and be a better person.
What inspired you to write this tale?
The personalities and lifestyles of two young ladies I know inspired me to write this tale. One of the young ladies seemed to me to have split personality, as she was often very rude to her parents and other elders and authority figures, yet she participated in various leadership activities at school such as debating and future leaders.
She seemed ambitious academically, yet was rude, and she enjoyed partying and lots of drinking. The other young lady’s life seemed to have moved from one end of the spectrum to the next.
She got expelled from several high schools, was rumoured promiscuous, had a child during her teenage years, and was even considered to have been the cause of her father being murdered. Yet this very young lady went on to pursue a masters degree level education overseas. Her life in particular made me feel inspired to write a book that demonstrated to people that no matter what dark life they had lived, they could change and become better persons and achieve their true potential in life.
The young lady with the possible split personality inspired me to create a manipulative character who exhibited a double personality – a male villain in the story, who manipulates Carla with his guise of charm and charisma, while successfully corrupting and exploiting her.
Which age group is it aimed at?
“You Can Rise Up” is aimed mostly at young people ages 12 through 25, and also age group 26 through 50 years old. The younger age group may benefit greater based on the language used, the age group of the characters and the message. But since the message is about becoming a better person and being able to overcome a dark past, even the older age group can benefit.
What are some key lessons you learned while writing the book?
The key lessons I learned while writing the book were that (1) no matter how a person becomes as he/she gets older, that person was born an “innocent being,” so it must be possible to get back to a state of morality and goodness. (2) often times it is tragic circumstances that help us move quicker toward being better people; (3) we have to be careful about people’s personalities – the personality people project to us, and the personality that they really possess (appearance versus the reality), and (4) change is always easier when we have support from friends, family and even a spiritual mentor.
Tell us a little about why you got involved with writing initially.
I started writing first at the age of 12 when my classmates expressed shock and disbelief at the poems that I had written. They said there’s no way I had written them. So to convince them I had to write more and more, and many times write them on the spot in their presence. I realised I must have been good enough, since they didn’t believe that I wrote those poems. A cousin of mine told me that she had always encouraged me as a small child to write down my frustrations in the form of poems, so that’s where it all started :-). In high school I found out about youth sections within the local newspapers that I was able to contribute to, so that got me started on writing articles and short stories. I eventually decided to write a book, and then another book, as writing just one book didn’t make me feel like a true author, I had to keep it coming, so You Can Rise Up is my second book. I now maintain a blog as well.
Which authors inspire you?
Joel Osteen is my spiritual role model, and is an author who inspires me.
What message do you have to Cayman?
Cayman, whatever you feel inside, whatever you feel inspired to share with the world, be bold and let it all out on paper. Be encouraged to become a writer and author, just like me, and forever strive to be a better you each and every day.
The event is at Books & Books on Thursday, 13 June at 7pm, free entry.