Misadventures of a frizzy-haired girl

The God channel, the market, the attitude and the rip off. Yup – another ‘black hair’ story. This made me laugh out loud.

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I was born with the misfortune of having naturally unsightly hair. My Dad is English/Polish and my mum is originally from Jamaica. I’m from Lancashire and my hair looks like dark chocolate flavoured candy floss that has wilted in the rain. Not a good look in my opinion.

Unfortunately I don’t have a cool thick ‘fro like my sister or natural, bouncy ringlets. Countless times people have encouraged me to ‘go natural’, unknowing that many of the gorgeous looking ‘natural’ women of TV, are either very lucky or are in fact wearing a wig. My auntie always jokes “you should never ask a black woman about her hair”; but its true, the reality of the lengths we have to go to is like a sordid secret.

No one has ever told me I had rubbish hair; it’s just the conclusion I’ve drawn from everything I’ve seen since since birth. I…

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China, Jamaica, Trinidad – London Caribbean Literary Salon

China, Jamaica, Trinidad – London Caribbean Literary Salon

Kerry Young, Kevin Le Gendre and Ronnie McGraith – stories that span the islands. 

Kerry is reading from ‘Gloria’, the recently-released second book in an anticipated trilogy.  The first book, ‘Pao’, is, in a sense, the story of Jamaica told through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant who sets up home – and – business in Kingston’s Chinatown.  Kerry is herself Jamaican, of Chinese and African heritage and ‘Pao’ is inspired by her father, who migrated from China to Kingston.  

It is always fascinating to come across the distance between Caribbean islands’ perceptions of themselves and how they are pictured from far away.  People in the UK still assume that ‘Afro-Caribbeans’, or now ‘African Caribbeans’ are the sole residents of the islands, when, of course, most Caribbean islands are shaped by migration (forced and as good as forced), economic churn and colonialism.  All have left their legacy.

While Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana take this multiple heritage as said, across the Atlantic, there remains considerable ignorance.  (Certainly, when I tell people my father’s name was Singh, it raises a few eyebrows…) Kerry wanted to tell tell the story of Chinese-Jamaicans – and how better to reach out then through fiction?  

London Book Fair 2013 – Year Zero

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I have a head full of tips from my first visit to London Book Fair.  I trod the pathways between publishers, squinted at the rows of books and receptionists and consumed latte at prices that made me gulp.

Having never been before, it was interesting to hear that this event was far more author-friendly with a serious focus on targetting self/independently published writers.   There seems a clear move from the disparaging attitude of self-publishing as vanity-publishing to it being not only comparable to ‘traditional’  publishing, but a preferred, sustainable entrepreneurial model.  The strongest advocate for this was Joanna Penn who used her own career highs and lows to demonstrate how independently published writers can build a career; the focus of her seminar was advanced online marketing – practical information you can actually use.  Worth the £30 entrance alone.  There’s a bundle of advice on her website  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/  The pic above is me looking slightly sheepish and Joanna looking as if she’s regenerating.  That can only be a good thing.

Also plonked myself into a session on author branding by Authorprofile.  After deconstructing Rick Riordan (off-duty affable history teacher who has cornered myth) and Jilly Cooper (posh, Tory-supporting purveyor of Carry On sex) we had to brainstorm our own brands.  Describe yourself in three words.  Go on!  I thought hard about everything I’d written.  What did they have in common?  So… My ‘brand’ seems to focus on family stories – whether folk tales or family member tales passed through generations, identity – what it means to be a woman/man/black/mixed race etc, in the UK today and the Caribbean, particularly Trinidad.  Hmm.  Not quite filling the coffers like myth and funny sex.  Perhaps i better work on it.