I love the charm and humor of the narrative voice in this piece. People say humor is difficult to write. Do you have particular techniques you use to get humor right in fiction?
Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. No, I don’t have a particular technique. I wish I did, because it would make writing humor easier if I knew what I was doing.
For me, the heart of this story is about finding passion and happiness despite adversity, and regardless of circumstances. The characters (Mable and Treevia and Oswald) make this piece sing. What is important or special about this story for you? What do you want readers to know about it?
I wanted to write about a woman learning to do something difficult, for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to remind myself that it’s important and vital to do things just for fun.
The opening idea, where Mable has this really random inspiration, which she follows through to its conclusion, kind of reminds me of writing and that similar creative process. And what she’s doing is art. How did this story start for you—what was the inspiration and how did it develop?
The title came to me first and I envisioned a woman inserting her toes into the bottle openings and dancing on them like a ballerina on toe shoes. That got a little complicated, so I changed it to her rolling on the bottles. The roaches came into the story because she was practicing in the yard and they would naturally be out at night. I had to do research on roaches, look at pictures of them, because I wanted the readers to like Treevia and Oswald so I had to like them too. I alternated between freaking out and laughing at myself as I jumped away from the computer screen.
Mable is so beautifully developed, and even the side characters are well-drawn in brief lines. Do your stories usually tend to feature great, developed characters?
I would say that most of my stories are character-driven. I’m trying to get better at plot. I do like stories where the characters are quirky and memorable.
On your website, you say, “The first time I saw myself—A Black Caribbean Woman—in print was in Merle Collin’s novel Angel.” But you have also moved back and forth quite a bit, between St. Thomas and the States. Does having lived in different places, experiencing different communities, inform or impact your writing in specific ways?
It can be a little confusing. I’m working on a story now that is set in Harlem, NY, but every once in a while I find myself describing something on St. Thomas and I have to remind myself where we are. Having had the opportunity to live in and visit several different places does give me a sense of fearlessness in my writing, especially in this genre, because I can mix and match anything.
Your website also mentions that you write in standard English and in Caribbean Dialect. Do you find that the mood or vibe of a piece changes depending on the language you use?
My attempts at humor tend to be in Caribbean Dialect. My Standard English humor tends to be misunderstood, so far. I’m working on that.
For new readers who have become fans after reading this story, what should they read next? And what are you working on which folks can look forward to?
If a reader liked “Glass Bottle Dancer,” then they might enjoy two older pieces, “Single Entry” and “The Dreamprice.” They are both in Dialect and have a light-hearted tone. Right now I’m having a good time with a story about the colors of fire dealing with a rent increase in hell and the human woman brought to hell to mediate.
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