The write time
Annette Alleyne is no stranger to writing. She has co-authored academic books for CAPE in the field of chemistry, written skits and short plays for the HIV Commission and for the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts.
She has decided to spread her wings to writing a series of stories for children, using her skills as a “storyteller” for her two sons and their cousins.
“I used to tell them many made up stories at nights before bed . . . each with different characters,’ she said.
Annette has been a teacher of biology and chemistry at the Barbados Community College for the past 13 years. She has a BSc with honours and a Dip Ed (dist) from the University of the West Indies (UWI), and a Master’s in education with distinction from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Ronesha Wants To Dance is the title of the first of five in the I Can series for nine-to ten-year-olds. The series lead characters are three boys and two girls.
“Part of the I Can series is to motivate children in that age group . . . encourage them to read. I love reading. I find that most children don’t read.
“The type of children I see now are changing. I would know. Creative language and comprehension are becoming difficult for them. I want them to use this book to know that you can do whatever you choose to do.”
The books are fictional stories made up of different young people . . . young people struggling in areas of being shy, having obesity issues, family problems and even bullying.
Annette said the books showed them how to deal with problems and different ways of handling them – one of the lead characters is a bully.
Her favourite character is Cameron, who is in two books. He likes cartoons and eats a lot of junk food. Then there is Mrs Matouk – she loves children and has cats that bark.
“I try not to preach to them in the book. I want to get the messages across from the stories.”
She said she hopes the stories are inspirational, and speak to young people.
Annette said she has dedicated her first book to mum Violet Willoughby, “who worked hard to put me through school.”
Annette grew up in Orange Hill, St James, and attended Alexandra and sixth form at Combermere, then going on to university.
“Everybody wanted me to become a doctor. I wanted to do it to make my mum happy. But in my final year she became sick and while she kept pushing me to go I said no I wasn’t leaving her.”
Annette said she instead went into teaching after graduating, first as part-time then full time.
“I found I loved it. I said this is what I am going to do with my life. I have no regrets doing it. I found it was my passion.”
Annette said she used to write a lot during her time at UWI and many thought she was in the arts programme.
The author, whose pieces for others have won awards, said she has never seen a distinction between teaching and her writing.
“I love the practical aspect of it and I use tactics to incorporate the arts into chemistry.”
The teacher noted she never thought about writing a book until she went to the United States to study.
“I met a girl who at age 25 had written two books. I said what am I doing then? I came back home and started writing. I did a lot of drafts. And I start, stop, start, stop,” she said laughing.
It was during a writing class at the National Cultural Foundation that she was encouraged by tutor Johnathan Darf to “leave the changes and finish it”.
Annette calls Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling “phenomenal” and poet Khalil Jibran “inspirational”.
Annette has started her own publishing company, Akadamedia, and with the help of friends has published the first book in the series. She has it on Kindle and in paperback.
Annette has almost completed all five books and has turned her attention to a series for four-to six-year-olds called the Amazing Fishadella.
“Reading was an outlet for me when I was younger. I use it to deal with my issues I had at the time. I hope these books help many kids who go through similar problems.”