Bermuda pair included in fiction collection
It's said that writers who find their niche will enjoy greater success. Local authors Elizabeth J. Jones and Damion Wilson have found their place in an anthology of speculative short fiction by up-and-coming talent from the Caribbean.
Edited by Barbadian Karen Lord, New Worlds, Old Ways is the third publication of Peekash Press, an offspring of Peepal Tree Press and dedicated to new Caribbean writing.
The umbrella of speculative fiction includes fantasy, science fiction and alternative history and Ms Jones and Mr Wilson were chosen not long after taking part in a writing workshop organised by Folklife officer Kim Dismont Robinson two years ago.
During that week, Grenadian science fiction writer Tobias Buckell introduced the group to Ms Lord via Skype.
“I duly submitted my story and was delighted when she accepted it,” Ms Jones said.
The freelance writer has lived in Bermuda since 1973.
No stranger to the anthology, she has been published numerous times, including in Bermuda Recollections, an anthology of oral history.
The former English teacher regularly contributes to magazines, newspapers and guide books about all things Bermuda.
“Land conservation is a very important issue for me, particularly in Bermuda where land is so scarce,” she told Lifestyle.
“A significant part of Bermuda's open space is part of family estates established in the 18th and 19th centuries that are now privately or Bermuda National Trust-owned, so the setting for this story is an old Bermuda house with extensive garden property that has stayed in one family for many generations.”
Her short story The Ceremony “focuses on an entailment created to save the property from being covered with multi-storey buildings”. She added: “The entailment both benefits and curses women through its requirement for a ceremony to be followed. The story shows how entitlement can corrupt even children.
“Though it is set in the future, the story has a 19th-century Gothic flavour, thus fitting with the anthology's title.”
Ms Jones, 66, writes “most days”, adding: “I usually write in my study because it is quiet and my Bermuda books are all around me. I love writing about all aspects of Bermuda — especially nature.”
Ms Jones also writes the column “Naturally Speaking” for The Bermudian magazine.
Mr Wilson, 49, is a software developer, martial artist, former bicycle racer and self-labelled “nerd”. He has been programming since he was 14. This is the first time his work has been published.
“I've got a stack of works going back to 2006 that I'm prepping for blind submissions but this is the first call to submissions that I've answered,” he said.
Laughing, he added: “I've got to get these other stories out so that I can really start getting rejections.”
Daddy is “a first-person perspective story of a woman whose father has started to teleport”.
Mr Wilson added: “She's had family issues and some issues of loss and in the middle of all of this her father becomes afflicted with Alzheimer's and he begins to teleport, so you kind of get to follow her relationship with her father based on where he goes and the fact that, both in physical terms and metaphorical terms, she's trying to find her father.”
The idea came to him in a critiquing session during the workshop, but he said he drew inspiration from “anywhere”.
“When I started writing stories, they were based on anything I'd see or hear or read,” he said.
“I'd take friends and put their character in the story. I don't follow one particular thread. I sit somewhere and observe and pick up a story right from where I'm sitting. Originally, I wrote horror in the 1980s and then I stopped. Until you finish a story, it lives in your head. Having horror in my head all the time was disturbing, so I stopped doing that.”
The former Berkeley Institute student said he had always loved to read, favouring “early” Stephen King and science fiction.
He said he liked the freedom the two genres provided.
“Science fiction as a genre is particularly forgiving because you can take a story about anything you might think of and then you can project into the past or project into the future,” he said.
“With science fiction, no one's going to complain that your garden plants are suddenly sentient.”
The father of two has found a way to fit writing into his daily schedule.
“I was a competitive cyclist for about 20 years — I started when I was 14 — and I've been a martial artist for 20 years,” he said.
“The training times for both activities was typically 5.30 to 8 or 9pm daily. My computer programming would always happen at night — anywhere from about midnight until the sun comes up. Fast-forward to now and I have children, so if I engaged in that sort of behaviour, they would only see me on weekends. Now 5.30 to 9pm belongs to the family.
“Essentially, there was a block of time that I was guaranteed to be creative,” he continued. “From the age of 14 it would be from 10pm upwards. After children I backed off a little bit until I realised I wasn't being creative anymore. So I opened that time slot up again.
“Now, every night I'm up until about 2 or 3am. I get about five hours of sleep and I don't drink coffee. It's believed that I am the only computer programmer on earth that doesn't do caffeine.
“The psychology of it is that I have an expectation of myself to be creative at a certain time, so it's regular. Because of that I've noticed I get more ideas through the day simply because there's a subconscious expectation that it will get exercised later on.”
• New Worlds, Old Ways is available on Amazon