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Welcome a New Writer- Melissa Sargeant -Questelles

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In recent years a number of young Vincentian writers have been emerging, trying their hands at Poetry, Short Stories, Play Writing and Novels. While many of them write and keep their works to themselves, with the Internet, they are now able to access publishing houses catering to young aspiring writers. The writer I want to introduce to the Vincentian public is young Melissa Sargeant-Questelles.{{more}} She is the daughter of Norman and Bascille Sargeant and is married to Kenroy Questelles. She has an interesting background, having studied Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Technical College. After graduating from College she worked for two years at a Tourist establishment before preparing to embark herself on a career in Teaching. Melissa, who has just graduated from the Teachers’ College, has recently completed her first novel “Dangerous Passion”, which she described as a “mixed genre of romance and drama (and) that seeks to educate and entertain its readers.” Melissa likes reading and reads anything that crosses her path. It was for her a natural step from reading to writing, and writing has become for her a passion. She feels free when she is writing and believes it is something in her blood. Three years ago she began her first novel with little assistance except from her husband who encouraged her and read her early chapters. Melissa was determined to succeed, and today she now has the finished product that is available at bookstores in Kingstown.

“Dangerous Passion” is a real life story. Do not expect to read this novel and go away, believing that they lived happily together ever after. It is not that kind of novel. It starts with the disappearance of a plane, leaving two young children, both boys in the care of their grandmother. In fact the story centres on the lives of these two boys, full grown men in the novel. It is really a love triangle because it involves one woman, the wife of one of the brothers who never knew each other and certainly not that they were brothers, until the story ends. Much of the plot of the novel is built around the work places of the brothers. The book is described as a fictional novel with a Caribbean setting. Throughout, however, the sights and sounds, references to images and stories are all unmistakably Vincy.

Although there is a main plot built around what I already referred to as a love triangle, there are many sub-plots. We see different relationships, husband-wife, mother-son, sisters and relationships at work. We get a glimpse of attitudes and ‘ole talk’ on mini-vans; a mini-van passenger saying to others in the van “Small up yuh self, small up yuh self everybody want to go home.” Then there are the remarks of a passenger to a fellow passenger who had exited the van but whom he did not notice until that time, “Hi Sexy, look Snaky, “called a seemingly excited passenger at the back. The shabby-looking dreadlocked man pushed his head through the open window of the vehicle, only to be ignored. “I could have sliced in two words and try me luck; I didn’t even notice she was in the damn van,” he said. As the vehicle began moving again, he hissed to draw her attention.” One of the main characters in the novel on leaving the van and heading for his work place passed two curious young ladies one of whom remarked, “look at that handsome face, with those black charming lips and he’s so tall, he can feed me cardboard box for the whole night. I will eat just to be next to him.”

The book relates to everyday life. Melissa captures the language, sights and sounds of the environment she is writing about. Each character has his/her special peculiarities and blends into the whole plot of the novel. Initially I had a somewhat negative reaction to the book, thinking that it was filled with too much tragedy. In fact most of the characters turned out to be tragic figures, but then Melissa is writing about real life situations, about infidelity and its consequences. This is no Fairy Tale. Toward the end of the story, the author, through one of her characters, lets us into her thinking “that in life there were dark secrets which must be kept confidential, otherwise lives could be destroyed.”

One of the main characters is an Engineering Teacher and the other an Engineering Manager and through them in their work situations a lot of technical information is provided, reflecting Melissa’s background as a graduate of the Technical College in electrical engineering and air conditioning. At the Hotel Complex where a large part of the plot is centred, the workers who relate to one of the central characters are constantly working on fixing the air conditioning units. We are told that they are the best A/C Technicians in the country. We get glimpses of the attitude of workers and what goes on at a construction site.

It has to be emphasized that this is Melissa’s first novel, something she has accomplished without any professional help. I am quite impressed with how she handles her characters and how she pulls the plot together, building on the sub plots. The book educates and entertains and caters to the average reader with its mixture of romance and drama. I must congratulate Melissa for writing this book. It is not the work of a seasoned, professional author but something for which the author can be extremely proud. She is already working on her second novel and naturally will build on the experiences and peoples’ reactions to this first effort. I expect great things from her. She likes what she does and that is a good start. She feels driven to write and is moreover a voracious reader. You can give her the support she needs by purchasing her book and making your comments.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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