LIT WORLD: Author Diana McCaulay (right) receives warm congrats from Culture minister, Olivia Grange, on being named Best Novelist at the Nov 17 National Creative Writing awards ceremony in Kingston.With the praise for her debut novel, the inspiring, attention-worthy Dog-Heart, still fresh, writer and environmentalist Diana McCaulay turns her precise, incantatory lens on her Scottish family roots for her second offering, Huracán, which has already picked up an award before arriving at the publishers.
For many readers, your award-winning first novel Dog-Heart was pretty hard to shake. What did you make of the acclaim for your debut release?
It was great. I have wanted to write books since I was young. In the book, a woman tries to help some young boys, and so I believe that what the book deals with is a very common thing in Jamaica, and people could relate to the circumstances. Also, people like reading about contemporary Jamaica and the language. It wasn’t difficult to read.
Are any of the characters based on actual people you’ve encountered?
I had an experience like the one presented in the book, but I made up the rest. It’s really fiction based on ideas that came from facts. And I believe all fiction is like that – rooted in some fact.
Your new novel, Huracán, recently copped a silver medal in the 2010 National Creative Writing Competition. What’s this one about?
It’s loosely based on my family history. It’s more ambitious and longer. It’s about three generations of a Jamaican family: an abolitionist in the 1780s, a missionary in the 1880s and a modern-day native living in the 1980s. I’ve always been interested in my family history [her ancestors hail from Scotland] and how they came to this side of the world. It’s a mix of history and contemporary fiction.
Why do you write?
It’s how I make sense of the world. So even if I don’t publish or show it to anyone, I still write. I’ve been writing actively since I was about 13, but even before then I had my first short story published at around five or eight.
What do you want your next work to explore?
The complexities of Jamaican life. I am trying to build an understanding of things avoided by the Jamaican society – issues people tend to shy away from – and get people talking about them through fiction.