Author’s Bio: Glynis Guevara was born in Trinidad. She completed a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree in London, England and was also admitted to the bar of England and Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to Toronto, Canada in the 1990’s and is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers Creative Writing Program. She also completed a Technical Communication certificate (George Brown College), an IT Diploma (DeVry), as well as a Teacher of Adults Certificate (Centennial College). Her YA manuscript Barrel Girl was a finalist for the Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Her debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree was published by Inanna Publications in June 2017. Her second YA novel, Black Beach is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in the fall of 2018.
What inspired you to write your book?
GG: Many years ago, after signing a contract to buy a townhouse in Toronto, I lost my job. I was extremely stressed about the possibility of losing my down payment. To deal with this challenging situation, I started to write. I wrote for many hours every day and couldn’t stop. I eventually took a writing course at Humber College. Even after I got a new job I continued writing. Under the Zaboca is the second manuscript I completed, and I am grateful to God for guiding me through this difficult time.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
GG: No, I don’t think my writing was influenced by any particular author or book, but some of the authors I admire include Elizabeth Nunez, Edwidge Danticat and Monique Roffey. I try to write the type of books that I longed to read as a youngster.
Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
GG: Under the Zaboca Tree is my first published novel. It took about a year to write the initial draft. I then put it aside and worked on several other projects. It is difficult to specify exactly how much time I spent on it. What I can say is that it took a bit more than ten years from the completion of the first draft to the June 2017 publication date.
Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
GG: I never write with an outline. I usually start with an idea and let it flow organically. Usually, my manuscripts end up totally different than I initially expected.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
GG: No, I don’t listen to music when I write. I prefer to write in complete silence, but when I’m at the editing stage I sometimes listen to music.
What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
GG: As a debut author, I am still in the learning process, trying to figure out the keys to success, but what I have learned so far is that firstly, you need to have a quality product. Having a presence online is also very important. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Being focused on who is your target audience and making contacts in the writing community is helpful.
What advice would you give to new authors?
GG: If you want to be a writer, you need to have a thick skin. Be open to constrictive criticism and don’t let disappointment deter you from your craft. Again, as a debut author, I am still open to advice from others on this topic.
How about sharing an excerpt from Under the Zaboca Tree?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve stared at the women who’ve walked past me and wondered if any of them could be my biological mother. The week after I turned ten—as I sat next to my dad eagerly awaiting our flight—the longing for my real mom was as strong as ever. That day, despite my excitement for the changes about to take place in my life, the green-eyed monster within me poked its head out as I glared at a tall, slender woman holding a young girl’s hand. I secretly wished I were that little girl with my mother’s hand clutching mine.
Suddenly, my father eased out of his seat and nudged me. I grabbed my carry-on bag, jumped to my feet, and stepped ahead of him. Dad and I were leaving the cold winters behind and heading to the tropics—sunny Trinidad and Tobago, to be exact. The thought that I’d soon be free to roam the streets all year long without a coat, woolly hat, and pairs of boots and gloves gripped me and, in my wild imagination, I felt thick beads of sweat trickle down my skin as I played and laughed and had fun with hordes of new friends I hadn’t yet met. My heart thumped loudly against my chest, so I pressed my sweaty palms against my thighs and tried to calm myself; instead a burst of energy overtook me, and I rushed even farther ahead.
“Baby Girl, wait,” my father said very softly, calling me by my pet name. Back then he hardly ever called me Melody. I spun around and, as Dad stepped toward me, I heard the babbling voice of a nearby infant. The baby’s mother’s eyes caught mine, and I saw her smile as she glided by me, the gurgling baby in her arms. I was instantly overcome by a sense of loss as I remembered the animal sounds my dad would make when he used to play with me. He’d bark like a dog and moo like a cow; he was especially good with his trumpeting elephant noises. The first time I heard him bark, I tried to imitate him. My bark didn’t sound as real, but in time—and with his coaching—I improved. Dad, however, stopped playing those games shortly before my stepmother, Charm, left us.
--from UNDER THE ZABOCA TREE (2017)
What’s next for you?
GG: My next project is to begin writing a sequel to Under the Zaboca Tree, and also to resume working on an unfinished manuscript tentatively called, Shady Lane that I started writing several years ago, but put aside due to ill health. I have four completed manuscripts still to be published. Inanna Publication will publish my YA novels, Black Beach in 2018 and Barrel Girl (Hopefully in 2019).
Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
· Website: www.glynis.guevara.com
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorglynisguevara/
· Twitter: @GlynisGuevara
· Book buy Links:
It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.