Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the future. Specifically I’ve been pondering what book I would like to write next after Children of the Ocean God is completed. Admittedly, I already have a plan for another children’s book, called Ning Ning, to follow up on Fresh Ereba. However, that is not quite in the same realm in terms of literary challenge and writing finesse as a full-length historical fiction novel. So what I’m really trying to figure out is where I should set my literary sights next after getting my first historical fiction novel under my belt.
There are a couple of ideas that are drumming around in my head which are perhaps interesting to share. It seems to me that the historical fiction genre is one which I enjoy very much and in which I would like to continue honing my skills as a writer. With this in mind I have ideas for two (yet-to-be-named) historical fiction novels.
The first book would be a ‘prequel’ to Children of the Ocean, in which I would delve into origin story of the Black Caribs (which to date remains quite a historical mystery). The idea would be to focus on a period nearly 100 years before the events in Children of the Ocean God (the year 1700 to be precise), in which there was a violent conflict between the Black Caribs and the Yellow Caribs on the island St. Vincent. This inter-tribal struggle was resolved through the diplomatic intervention of the then French Governor of Martinique. This led to the creation of what was called the Barre de l’Isle line which divided the island in two parts between the two factions; the leeward part of the island went to the Yellow Caribs and the windward portion was assigned to the Black Caribs. Interestingly, it is alleged that this conflict arose out of a ‘Herod’s decree’ by the Yellow Caribs, in which they attempted to slay all male born babies and young infants of the Black Caribs. This drastic measure was required since the Yellow Caribs felt threatened by the rapidly increasing population of Black Caribs which they feared would eventually lead them to be outnumbered. There is potential here for quite a fascinating story to be told which could be enriched further by including a fictional love story between a Black Carib warrior and Yellow Carib woman. I could imagine highlighting the cultural similarities between the two rival tribes, while at the same time shining a spotlight on the peculiar situation in which a foreigner, a European no less, effectively mediates between two indigenous ethnic groups in the “New World.”
The second book that I have in mind would focus on another enthralling, less well-known story of indigenous resistance to European hegemony. Specifically, this novel would relate the story of a half-Carib half-English Lieutenant Governor of Dominica, affectionately called Carib Warner (also known as Thomas Warner), who was murdered by his half brother, Philip Warner, then deputy Governor of Antigua, in dubious circumstances in 1675. After being arrested and jailed in the Tower of London, Philip was put on trial for murder. It was a sensational 18-month court case which would have dominated the headlines of the day. Miraculously, Philip was acquitted of murder on the grounds that Thomas was found guilty of treason againt Britain for his valiant efforts to protect the interests and way of life of the indigenous Caribs on Dominica. Ironically, despite his noble efforts, to this day Carib Warner is not considered a national hero in Dominica. Perhaps this might change if more people became of this remarkable story. Needless to say, if written well this could be a literary home run since it has all the ingredients for a compelling narrative. There is a history of rivalry between the two brothers since childhood. Both men, have attained the pinnacle of colonial society by being appointed as leading administrators of their respective islands. And they are both fighting for what they believe in – one is faithful to Britain and the other to his mother’s people, the Caribs, who are under increasing threat from European imperial expansionism in the Caribbean. Including a love story, perhaps even linked to the brother’s rivalry, would be the cherry on top.
So, I have a question for you as a reader: which of the two stories do you feel I should write next? and why?
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