‘Buttons’ about Bathsheba
“I’m a storyteller, but I’m learning to write,” said Theo Williams, retired hotelier and restaurateur, who has fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a writer.
Williams has delved into a new area of life as a budding author with the release of his first book, Facing North – Tales From Bathsheba, which is a collection of short stories.
“I’ve always wanted to write but I just never had the time. At school I would have gone into teaching or journalism. Those were the two careers I had my mind set on, and then I persuaded myself to go into hospitality. I guess it was part of the changing Barbados at the time, so I became a hotel manager.”
According to Williams, hotel management was a very demanding career that commandeered most if not all of his time, so writing fell by the wayside.
“My creative writing was restricted to the occasional marketing blurb or responding to a disingenuous complaint letter,” he said, laughing.
But with this book, Williams has the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream while chronicling stories that became dear to him, especially from the St Joseph area.
Williams knows a lot about Bathsheba, having operated the Atlantis Hotel for seven years.
“It still holds a special place in my heart,” he revealed.
“First of all, it is a stunningly beautiful place and there is an ethereal quality about the place. It’s also the place many Barbadians go to and they think they’re looking towards Africa. But there is a bit of an anomaly there. Because you’re on the East Coast, people think they’re looking eastward – but Bathsheba itself is facing north, and that’s the title of the book.”
Williams’ love and affinity for Bathsheba was instrumental in his planning and writing of the book.
“When I first decided I wanted to do this, I went to classes at [the University of the West Indies] and [Barbados] Community College and they were creative fiction and dealt largely with short stories,” he said.
“I called them buttons of life. I compare my inspiration to a man who finds a button and goes and finds a shirt to fit it. So basically something will happen that I will see and it stays with me for one reason or another, and then I can produce a story around it. That happened time and time again with these stories.”
Many of the stories in the book were adapted from life events in Williams’ childhood, his time in Bathsheba, and life in Britain.
Taking the classes was important to Williams, though he admits he was the oldest person in class.
“I think there are a lot of people [who] don’t know these classes exist, but they are excellent courses,” he said.
“I just don’t know [if] they are marketed well enough.”
Williams, who decided to self-publish the book, hopes it will resonate with those on the island as well as the Barbadian diaspora overseas.
He acknowledges that this book has ignited his passion to go further and he has plans in the works to write a novel in a few months now that his retirement affords him the opportunity to do so.
“This is a new career for me at this stage in my life,” he said, laughing.
“This is what I will devote the rest of my time to doing. Some people retire and don’t know what they want to do. I know what I want to do.”