Roslyn Carrington was born and raised in Trinidad where she still resides. She attended the St George’s College in Barataria and obtained her BA in Language and Literature at UWI St Augustine. She has written over 14 romance novels, one of which she penned under her alias Simona Taylor. She now owns her own writing company called the Scribble Pad and has just completed her latest romance novel titled Intimate Exposure. The T&T Guardian had the pleasure of interviewing this daughter of the soil.
Q: How did you get into writing?
A: I have always loved books and came from a family that loved to read and who still spontaneously breaks out into quoting the classics. There was a room full of books in my house, and the shelves were so full we kept piles of books on the floor.
What was your first piece?
I remember writing my first novel (Enid Blyton style) when I was nine. I also wrote a few romance novels in secondary school but never finished any of them. I think A Thirst For Rain was the first thing I ever completed.
What would you call your style of writing?
Hopefully, relaxed and unpretentious. I like to relax when I read so I want my readers to relax when they read me.
What are your novels based on?
Most of them have a strong romantic element—but I like to include themes such as family, redemption and self-discovery.
What would you say is the best writing you have ever done?
Probably an angry open letter I wrote to the man who murdered my father by speeding on the highway. It was carried in all the papers four years ago and people still talk to me about how it affected them.
As a Trinidadian was it difficult to get your work out internationally?
I got lucky. I managed to be in the right part of the Internet at just the right time (when my agent was about to open her agency and looking for clients) so it all fell into place for me. She now has hundreds of clients and is one of the most sought-after agencies in the US. She continues to represent me even though I am not a US citizen, and manages my US affairs on my behalf. A local writer would probably have to do that all on their own, and I am sure there are many legal challenges. I think the Internet has opened up the world to local writers, as we no longer have to do like the Selvons and Lovelaces and travel to be published.
The challenges now are probably more due to the shrinking market and the large publishing conglomerates dictating what is published and by whom, but e-publishing has changed that and has put the power back into the hands of the self-published author.
Do you have any particular writers you regard as mentors or authors you are inspired by?
Not particularly, but I was inspired by the fact that people like Merle Hodge and Jamaica Kincaid, black West Indian women like myself, had done it. I figured I could do it too.
What would you say is your greatest writing accomplishment?
Publishing 14 novels at roughly one a year. I have to remind myself that some people would find that incredibly hard, but it feels like a hazy dream to me.
How are you motivated to write?
It’s not so much a question of being motivated to write as it is that if I don’t write I feel physically ill. I feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Writing fills some kind of gaping hole in me and lets me feel at peace.
Can you list a few of the books you have written?
Dear Rita, May Summer Never End, Then I Found You, Candy Don’t Come In Gray and my latest, Intimate Exposure, are just a few. I have written over 14 novels, ten of which I have written under my pen name Simona Taylor.
Where can copies be obtained?
At the moment they are only available on sites like Amazon but I spoke to Nigel Khan a few weeks ago and he seems interested in carrying some.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve received as a writer and from whom?
Professor Ken Ramchand, who was my lecturer in UWI. He once said that when you write Creole dialogue, there is no need to write ‘dis and dat and dem’. He said you write normally, and we as West Indians will hear the dialogue correctly in our ears. This means that my dialogue doesn’t look like a farce, and is more approachable for my US readers. He also said if you are hugely impressed by anything you write, delete it, because you are just showing off.
Are you currently working on any novels?
I have one completed which I intend to self-publish, and another in the works. They are both romances.
From your knowledge of local writers would you say that they are celebrated enough?
The big guys, the Lovelaces, get the respect they deserve, but there are a lot of new writers on the market these days, as the electronic world makes it easier to get published or to do it yourself. It would be nice to see them get more coverage in the media, and for more bookstores to carry their work.
Has there ever been an adaptation of any of your novels?
Thirst For Rain was published in three different English editions, and once in German. Every Bitter Thing Sweet was also translated into German. I received a grant from the T&T Film Company to write a screenplay on ATFR, and I am working on that now. I’d like to finish that this year.
Have you met any influential people through your writing?
Lots of fellow writers, most notably Sandra Kitt, who is a very popular multicultural writer and who was very nice to me when I was a newbie.
What is the main thing you want readers of your books to capture?
Representing our people and the region is important. I try to always include something Caribbean.
Any advice for budding writers?
It’s okay to have mentors as they can help guide you.