On the heels of an intimate launch for her new novel, Huracan, at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge over the weekend, author Diana McCaulay tells TALLAWAH how the book finally came together and what she’s poised to do next.
TALLAWAH: How did you manage to weave together strands of fact and fiction to create a compelling whole?
McCaulay: It was a major challenge to keep it logical for the readers and not interrupt the flow of the story. So it was something that I worked on for a very long time. The writing took about three years and the research about seven months. And of that writing time, that was probably the most difficult thing. It’s about 200 years of history, so that was a big chunk of time to handle.
So have your relatives shared their reactions with you as yet?
No, not all of them. Well, the book only came out on Friday night. And some of them bought it, and I’m pretty sure they have not finished it yet. But I’m waiting for everyone’s responses, not just my family, because I would say the book is more about Jamaica’s history than my own family history. It weaves together a historical figure, various family stories and a completely fictional modern character to make one whole. I talk about it as being an imaginative retelling of my family story. Part of my family story.
That’s quite interesting. Have you found inspiration for your next book?
I’m going back and forth over two different ideas. One is about my environmental work and I’m already way down that road with about 86 pages. And I wrote a story which won the regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize in early June called “The Dolphin Catcher,” and now I’m looking at that thinking there’s a novel in there. So you have to stay tuned to see which one I do.
Let’s talk summer reading. What pageturners currently occupy your nightstand?
Right now I’m reading Toni Morrison’s Paradise. It’s not a new book, but I never got through it when I first tried to read it. A friend of mine had recommended it, so I’m giving it another try and greatly enjoying that right now. And the last book I read before that is called River of Smoke, and it’s by an Indian writer called Amitav Ghosh.