Category Archives: Detective Series

An Introductory Letter to Dennis Haysbert:

 

Dear DH:

From the first time I saw you, on the screen, you aroused me, and still do. Love the beard with the grey – the maturity and appeal – it’s scotch bonnet hot – you that is!

I am sitting in my office recovering from knee replacement and just finished watching you in Secret Obsession and have been a fan since I first saw you in Love Field — confident, defiant, riveting.

You have aged sturdy like a mahogany tree, a solid welcome, a come lean on me girl, I’m here.

When I lived in Oakland, Ca, after my divorce, and I learned you were from San Mateo, and that you were divorced, I said to myself I should marry that man –you of course, all  6’ 5” and to my 4’ 10” –I don’t know how well we would waltz together, but I am sure we would have fun.  I don’t even know if you love dancing. Just so you know I love to dance and laugh out loud, unapologetic.

I am inviting you to come to Jamaica and look for me; we’ll have lunch, hang out on the beach, talk, so I could get to know you. ( This is not a Stella Got her Groove back kind of thing.  I have never lost my groove, and I suspect neither have you).  I have this feeling that you might be the type of man friend I would enjoy having/have been seeking. Who knows, if you are not involved, we could be lovers?  I suspect with those wonderful lips of yours you are a good kisser.

So often we think about people, but we never share our thoughts, our good thoughts –did I say you are a talented actor—about them.  I am a fan, but this is not a fan letter.  This is just to say at this stage in my life I feel free to say what I feel/think publicly, but perhaps I always have as a writer, but too there has always been a sense of censorship – if I say this publicly folks are going to say that Opal is crazy, rather than  brave or open, or an exploring woman casting her net in the dazzle of the afternoon sun making diamond with the water.

Anyway, here’s to you Dennis Haysbert,  and happy to see you back on screen, not just for All State.  Just in case our paths don’t cross soon, I think it is important that you know how I have been undressing you, and cheering you on in your career and imagining what my hands would feel like clasps in yours.

Nuff Respect

P.S.  Also, I envisioned you playing Desmond Burton, the character in my novel, It Begins With Tears…Despite the title, it is a triumphant story about community and love and fear and jealousy, identity and belonging. You see we have business to discuss.

Walk Good,

Opal

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The Shad Series: Jamaica’s Detective by Gillian Royes

OPA:  The Rhythm of August Rain  is your 4th title in your detective series that is set in rural Jamaica. Are readers to believe that Shad, the bartender who plays an amateur detective, has real skills to seek out facts, or is he to be perceived as one who dabbles – this is just a hobby?

 

GR:Shad’s true vocation is being a detective. In another culture or time, he would have made it. However, due to his prison term and his lack of formal education, he is limited to working as a bartender and practicing his vocation on the side. He has few skills when the series starts out but tries to educate himself as it goes along. Above all, he is immensely curious.

 

OPA:  What distinguish this series as a detective genre?

 

GR: The series was created as a Caribbean parallel to Number One Ladies Detective Agency. Both fall into the category of “cozy mystery,” not the typical blood and guts form of mystery. There is more character and plot development than mystery to this genre.

OPA: How did you arrive at the title, which has a very poetic ring?  How does the title connect to the central story of this novel?

GR: The title came to me one night in Ann Arbor in a dream. A woman in a bright blue dress said the words and told me it was the title. I got up and wrote it down.

OPA:  There are at least 3 competing stories, Shad and his impending marriage, his boss Eric and his relationship with Shannon, the mother of his daughter, and his daughter, and then the story of  Katlyn, the missing woman from Canada 30 years ago and her affair with a Rasta who is/was a member of one of the Rasta sects. Was it challenging during the writing process to juggle these three story lines and keep each going?

GR: No, I’m used to having one main plot and three subplots, part of the formula I use for the series. The subplots are ongoing, i.e., Shad’s relationship with Beth, Eric’s haphazard life, and the development of the hotel. The main plot differs with each novel. In this case, it’s the story of Katlyn and her entanglement with the Rasta community. By the way, I did know a Canadian woman who went into a Rasta community and came out dying.

OPA: What research did you do to writer about the Rastafarian community?

GR: I read several books written by Rastafari or about them. Barry Chevannes, Yasus Afari, Gerald Hausman, Leonard Barrett were some of the authors. I also discussed the philosophy and lifestyle with Yasus Afari.

OPA: What do you want readers to learn/take away about Rasta culture, it’s various sects?

GR: The point of including Rasta culture and history was to set the record straight, particularly for foreigners who don’t understand or appreciate the origins. I also wanted to show that prejudice has existed toward the group since its inception and, to a certain extent, continues today. Jamaicans are proud of the music, but many still would not want their daughter to marry a Rasta.

OPA:  Eric has not reached out to his daughter, Eve since she was born, and while you do reveal some initial tension between the two when they are reunited, she is a teenager, and Jamaica is very different from her Canadian environment, but it seems that all is forgiven rather easily.

GR: The relationship between parents and child is a complex one, in all cases. Eve is at an age where her emotions are heightened. She hates her absent father, but she’s curious about his world and wants his acceptance. She begins to see that he’s not a bad guy after all. I think a big part of her coming around is that she likes Jamaica and wants to return. Adolescents tend to be very egocentric.

OPA:   Classism and colorism are big social issues in Jamaica still, yet  it seems non-existent in the novel, in that Shad is accepted by Eric, even though American, his best friends are brownnose Jamaicans, who appear to be also accepting of Shad and his family? I don’t know if I have a questions so much as I would like to hear your opinion of these social constructs that impact relationships in Jamaica.

GR: In each novel, I have attempted to deal with a single social issue. I think it would make it too confusing if I’m following several plots and subplots and trying to introduce all the problems existent in the island. In my first novel, The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, the issue was political corruption. The second  — The Man who Turned Both Cheeks — discussed homosexuality and homophobia. The third was The Sea Grape Tree. I went into class and color prejudice in that book.

OPA:At the close of the novel, everything is resolved amicably, and all puzzles  are in place.  Given the context of Jamaica, would it be that easy to solve a 30 year mystery of a white woman in rural Jamaica who goes missing?  And given that tourism is such a big part of Jamaica’s economy, would the government have just brushed that case aside, like it apparently did?

GR: Fiction is not real life, just a reflection of it in the lens of a writer. I always leave things unresolved that are not going to leave the reader with an unfinished feeling. In August Rain, I tried to wrap most things up, in the event that I would end the series. Unfortunately, we never had a real resolution to the death of my friend Sharon.

www.gillianroyes.com