October is all about ghosts and goblins and with that in mind, Bish Denham, is here today to discuss her latest release
Thanks for having me on your blog today, Yolanda! I hope this interview will pique the curiosity of your readers regarding my books, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales, and A Lizard’s Tail.
It's my pleasure, Bish. I love that you're sharing your journey with us!
1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about?
The Virgin Islands are filled with history. Although there were Native Indian tribes living in the islands, the Taino, Arawaks, and Caribs not much is known about them, so a recorded history began when Columbus sailed through the chain on his second trip in 1493 and name them. Most of what happened after that was not pleasant because it involved slavery. Because of the violent nature of most of that history, the idea of writing a ghost story was not a big leap. There are plenty of ghost stories in the islands. There are also mischievous spirits, called jumbies, that populate folklore.
What appealed to you about it?
Two things appealed to me for writing The Bowl and the Stone. One was I’ve never written a ghost story, and I wanted to give a try. The other was that I wanted to try to capture a way of life that no longer exists.
Why do you think it is different, and your approach is unique?
This story is different because, as far I know, no other children’s ghost story has been written that is set on the island of St. John in 1962. It was a very unique time.
2. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it?
It all depends on the topic. Sometimes it can take years, other times I get an idea and just start writing.
Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
I have so many three ring binders full of ideas I’m overloaded. I still have ideas going back to high school! And that’s a long time ago. When I do pick a subject, particularly if it’s a novel, I keep a separate binder with dividers where I write down brief chapter summaries, character descriptions, general notes on things I might want to put into the story, research if any, time lines… anything related to the story goes into the binder.
3. What resources do you use?
Depending on the story, I generally look for primary sources, autobiographies, histories, encyclopaedias, interviews.
In general and for this book?
For the Bowl and the Stone I didn’t need to do much research because I was a kid living on St. John in 1962. My memory was my primary resource. I also picked my sister’s brain. Being four years older, her memories are stronger in some areas.
4. Does writing provide you a sufficient income to live on?
No, is sure doesn’t, but then I didn’t really expect it to.
Is it your goal to be financially successful, or do you write and publish solely for the 'satisfaction of sharing your stories'?
Sure, it would be nice to be financially successful, but mostly I decided to self-publish because I wanted to share my stories. Also there was this thing called getting older. I tried very hard for about ten years to go the traditional route, looking for an agent/publisher, but had no takers. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Maybe the market for my stories isn’t broad enough, or maybe they didn’t like the stories themselves. Whatever the reason I realized I didn’t want to spend any more time spinning my wheels, so in 2013 I took the plunge and self-published my first book, Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales. Because I was raised in the Virgin Islands I heard Anansi stories growing up and I thought it would be nice to bring some of the stories into the homes of children who have never heard of the mischievous spider. I couldn’t have made that leap if I hadn’t spent the previous six to eight years developing relationships bloggers. They were the ones who encouraged me to try self-publishing. I could/would never have done it with them.
5. What's the next step for you?
Next step? Once I’ve settled down from my book blog tour I’m going to go back to a novel that’s written but is patiently waiting for editing and revising. It’s a complete departure from my last three books which are middle grade stories with a decidedly Caribbean flavour. A Piece of the Sky is a young adult novel and it takes place in… Tibet. I spent about ten years, off and on, doing research for it. Other works lurking in the wings include two possible sequels to my novel A Lizard’s Tail, a Caribbean retelling of Sleeping Beauty called The Legend of Bay Tree Hill, a middle grade historical novel about the life of St. Anthony of the Desert, and a fantasy that’s rather like Discworld meets OZ. There are some others things biting my heels, but they’re going to have to wait a little while longer. As you can see, I’m kind of all over the place. I don’t have one particular genre or age group that I write for. That’s because I have so interests.
Thanks again, Yolanda, for sharing your space with me.
Thank you Bish, it was a pleasure to learn more about you and your writing journey, especially as it resembles my own. :) Getting older and self-publishing went hand in hand for me. But it also helped me to find a publisher. I hope the same happens for you!
Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.
It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole
, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike. island of St. John
But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.
They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them?
As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.
Available now at
Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the
Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.
She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book.
Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”
The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the
Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.
To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog: Random Thoughts
She can also be found on Facebook:
What about you readers, are you an author in search of an agent or publisher. Or a writer trying to find the path that will work for you?
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