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The write stuff

Jessica Mars

The write stuff

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 He’s a Barbadian author living abroad who hasn’t forgotten his roots and has much more work on the way. Dr Ronald A. Williams released his third novel A Voice From The Tomb in June – part one of a five-part series.
Initially, it was supposed to be a trilogy but realizing that the plot could expand even further, the author decided to add the extra two books. He’s completed the next three with the fifth still unwritten but the public can expect part two in 2015.
Williams is retired now and said he’ll have much more time to work on his novels than on being an educator, education administrator and president of a number of colleges in the United States.
He said he has worked in almost every state in the United States, but loves returning home.
“Flying fish and cou-cou. That’s why I come home all the time . . . . I grew up on the beach, probably about 150 yards from the border. I miss that a lot, being able to go to the beach every day.
“There’s also a sort of openness to our culture here, and I mean that literally, where you live outside in a way that in the United States you don’t, which is more of an internal culture.”
He is comfortable with the environment in the United States now but recalls times when he would feel trapped indoors, especially during the winter.
On the other hand, he credits the isolation for helping a writer work without distractions. He said that although he started four of his books on Barbadian beaches, which he found calming, he would always complete them in the United States.
In his first novel Four Saints And An Angel, he did not mention Barbados by name but said the island proved to be the foundation for the book. He transgressed to a wider scope in the second novel A Death In Panama, focusing on the exportation of West Indian men to aid in the completion of the global event that would benefit world travel. Williams emphasized that he spoke from a Barbadian standpoint incorporating local history and culture but in the third, he went even further.
He beamed as he explained the love story that unfolds in a man’s quest to find his wife in Antarctica while addressing the present issue of global warming posing a threat to cities and the world.
The story is not limited to the initial plot but becomes “more extravagant”, leaving the reader asking questions that are answered in the rest of the series.
The writer shared the difficulties of being an author and said that those interested in becoming writers “will be faced with a lot of rejection but must have confidence in the work they produce”.
“Don’t write for money,” he said, stating that doing it for the love of the art is the way to go.
“Thinking that you’ll immediately become the next Stephen King is optimistic” but that mentality will make being an author become “frustrating”.
For young writers especially, beginning to write novels at school and with friends was the best place to start.
“Encourage your friends to read it, charge or not charge, and then maybe work with a teacher to get kids who are interested to talk about it so you start to get some feedback . . . . You’re doing two things at the same time, you’re getting your work out and critiqued but at the same time you’re helping other kids to become braver about what they want to do.”
He said functionality is relevant but agreed more attention could be given to writers beyond Shakespeare, Jane Austen and that those outside of Caribbean-born internationally acclaimed authors like Derek Walcott, George Lamming and Kamau Brathwaite aren’t recognizable.
Williams said there isn’t much interest in the young, emerging writers.
“There a kid I’m reading now, Karen Lord from Barbados, and she’s the best young writer I’ve read, period – not just Caribbean – in a long time and I call her name and most people haven’t a clue who she is.
“We boast about being the most literate country in the world and so on but there is a real question as to why the most literate country in the world doesn’t produce many writers. I think there is real tension between those two ideas.
Williams said he would be interested in being part of an inter-school literary competition and says that while reading at schools here from time to time, he’s noticed many students do not see past the thought process to become an author.
The author said he keeps in touch with the Barbadian literary community and will continue even with those in the United States.
“Why is it that we’re so literate but so few people actually end up publishing stuff? A lot of it has to do with the functionality, that literacy is designed to get jobs and so on. It’s not artistic or creative, it’s functional.”