Talk is what drives my stories; they derive their energy from the desire to speak out. They contain references that are diverse and eclectic: literature, history, myth, fragments of folk songs, sayings, biblical knowledge, and so on. They combine the Queen's English with the Jamaican vernacular. These are all elements of my stories because they are part of who I am.
All of us writers are probably shaped by the place where we spend our earliest years. I myself write the way I do because I spent my earliest years in the mountains of colonial Jamaica. Although at the time schooling was seen as the only means of upward social mobility and book learning was valued, the vast majority of the people were unlettered, and so it was the oral culture that prevailed.
Yet the proverb says, “Before you set out on a journey, you own the journey. Once you have started, the journey owns you.” Today, I inhabit both the island and the metropole and feel the pull of both. Part of that tug is between my need to affirm and acknowledge the continued significance of the oral culture and still give appropriate weight to what I do today, that is, engage in consciously “literary” constructions. I am forced to find ways of reconciling the two, to be true to the world that shaped me while creating work that has literary validity and universal accessibility. I realized that as I move further into the journey I am moving closer to artifice; the people I speak to and the