Supernatural Mysteries of Barbados – Two Author’s views on what makes a Mystery tick

Many people feel Urban Fantasy started with shows like “The Dresden Files,” “Dead Like Me,” “True Blood,” or “The Gates,” in fact it went back further than that – you can tend to say much of today’s trend to look at if magical creatures were placed in modern situations may have its genesis with a number of men from the USA in the early 30’s, like H.P. Lovecraft who examined a very dark mythos in modern society while Thorne Smith took a way lighter scrutiny at a similar vein, who was known for “Night Life Of The Gods”  which was more than likely the inspiration for Ben Stiller’s “Night At The Smithsonian” when statues came to life after hours, but Thorne Smith was immortalised with his madcap adventures of formerly stodgy attorney Cosmo Topper and his still wild clients but now ghosts George & Marion Kerby who as a last good deed show Cosmo life is not purely counting beans or measuring which stocks and bonds to invest (Thorne was the main inspiration for the realBewitched,” not the 2005 travesty with Will Ferrell & Nicole Kidman).

Thomas Armstrong was recently speaking with academics at UWI's Bruce St John Room on Cave Hill

Topper,” for short, was made in many subsequent versions over the years – even for TV both in 50’s and late 70’s… But Contemporary Magic or Urban Fantasy has been around for a long time, now Bajans and those captivated by Barbados are easing into the genre via Literature.

You may recall late last year we took a peek at what’s on our bookshelf and one of the books was Canadian-born Thomas Armstrong who wrote “Of Water And Rock” which was the 2009 winner of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment. He took his manuscript to DC Books in Canada and made a significant impact with his book, despite resistance from the local bookstore-chain Pages, he is now looking to continue his forays into writing of things Barbadian.

“…When Torontonian Edward Hamblin steps off the plane in Barbados, in the winter of 1969, he crosses more than the tarmac at Seawell Airport. As he navigates the island’s racial and cultural boundaries, he leaves behind an empty life of comfort and discovers a vibrant world of simple beauty, an undiscovered family, and reconciliation with the memory of a long dead father. Powerful converging themes give the novel an emotional strength: Edward Hamblin’s immesion into the post-colonial culture of Barbados; his unresolved animosity towards his long dead Barbadian father who deserted his family when he was young; the poor black peasant farmer, Sissy Braithwaite, and her unrequited love for an abandoned daughter; the wealthy white Mary Collymore’s disconnected life of privilege and racial intolerance…”

As a white author describing a black premise in a tropical setting, Thomas had a tough time in Canada establishing his rightful place in bookstores with his debut novel {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

While Thomas feels “Of Water & Rock” should be in Black Literature, he thinks when books are so rigidly structured they are limited in their appeal to the public when displayed in such a partitioned way.

This time around it combines a detective type of adventure while looking at the myths and supernatural creatures of Bim in “The Out Man,” which is a variation of Bajans may better know as The Heart Man which is what many North Americans would consider as an Urban Legend…

Thomas and his family (he’s married to a Bajan, with kids) recharged their Bim roots recently, while vacationing he took time to chat with some of Barbados’s Literary Community at UWI and we learned while visiting how the unusual continues to captivate Thomas {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Armstrong reveals how his short story “Evan” was based on certain ideas inspired by Howard Phillip Lovecraft’s elder gods Universe.

Felicia Lashley's book can be found at both Pages & Amazon - like Thomas Armstrong, Felicia had her own challenges on dealing with Pages who need to show more respect to Bajan writers... If it is a foreign author who bases a book on a plot from indigenous bloggers then they are treated with near Hero status...

While Lovecraft may catch his fancy, he prefers to browse Edgar Mittelholzer who’s the Caribbean version of examining similar mystical situations in mundane settings {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

My Bones and My Flute” was a very contemporary story from Mittelholzer yet highly supernatural, another author which Thomas enjoys is Geoffrey Drayton

Thomas Armstrong also gave the Cave Hill luminaries a taste of his upcoming novel {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Used With Permission © Thomas Armstrong – 2011

Another author whose latest work cannot be pigeonholed, is Felicia Lashley – this Bajan who lives in the USA, examines lives fulfilled or unfulfilled in “5 DEAD WOMEN: Sheldon and Megan” {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Felicia feels too many people only live a third of what they can really achieve and she wants her writing to unlock that hesitation

The Bajan writer is concerned how so many folk do not realise their complete satisfaction in being alive {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

The book is created with characters who are a mixture of various people she met over the years

She indicated the book has a definite supernatural twist – “Thirty-two-year-old Sheldon Kingsland cannot believe her good fortune. Once a troubled, young, poor black woman, she is now blessed with a handsome, successful husband; three children; and a beautiful home. But she ignores her body’s warning signs, and is given a grim diagnosis, one that no one wants to hear. Sheldon struggles with the reality of her looming death. Megan Wells met her husband Bill in college. For a time, their relationship was everything she dreamed about. Soon, Bill’s ugly side emerges as he drinks heavily and abuses her. Megan tries to hide the abuse, but Bill’s violent side has dramatic consequences. An ongoing series, 5 Dead Women shares the stories of Sheldon, Megan, Alex, Brea, and Drew. They’ve never met, but one day they wake up on the same stretch of unfamiliar beach. They realize that to solve the mystery of where they are and why, each needs to relive and share their story. It is then the women discover the power they each have to make the decisions to do what needs to be done.”

Planning to have more books in this series, she also uses the stories to encourage other woman to come forward and share their pain so as to move on and heal {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Her strong desire to turn every potential headstone into a stepping stone and learning experience has turned her into an advocate for women who have suffered any and all types of abuse…”

Bajan Reporter thanks the author for her candidness and taking the time to do an Interview on such short notice!

In hearing what her concerns were about folks living lives of quiet desperation, we asked if she ever did anything unusual herself? {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

After a night on the town and a good few rums & beers – Felicia went to the bathroom on the side of the road in Oistins back in 2009, and she has no regrets!

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