Vincentian writer Peggy Carr releases her first novel
AFTER EIGHT YEARS of work, Peggy Carr, a talented and celebrated Vincentian writer and poet, has finished her first novel titled “Shape of a Warrior”; a fictional story set during the time of the indigenous Kalina people of Hiroon (St Vincent).
As St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) prepares to celebrate its 41st anniversary of Independence, readers may join Carr in travelling back to the Caribbean’s Pre-Columbian era, for what promises to be an exciting tale.
Carr is a journalist, writer, poet, wanderer and storyteller, whose nomad spirit has taken her from SVG to Taiwan, where she works in the news media.
Many may know her book “Honey and Lime” which satisfied the appetites of poet lovers to become her most popular collection. However, she started winning a long time ago, specifically the BBC poetry prize in the early phases of her writing career. Additionally, in 2014, she was selected by the BBC as her country’s representative poet in the BBC Scotland’s Poetry Postcard series for the Commonwealth Games.
Her poems have also gone into collections published all over the world.
However, this is the Cultural Ambassador of SVG’s first novel, and true to form, she chose to delve into her country’s history.
“This story was inspired by my deep desire to know what life was like for the indigenous people of my home country, St Vincent and the Grenadines (Hiroon), before the arrival of the Europeans,” the author notes.
She had read much from the perspective of Europeans – sailors, missionaries, soldiers and settlers – as it relates to the Kalina people. These works, she felt, “in all likelihood would’ve been filtered through the lenses of their own cultural and societal norms.” On the other hand, there was little that was written to reflect the Kalina’s perspective.
“That led me to ponder the words of American author Toni Morrison: ‘If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’”, Carr mused.
And so she began, first by sifting through the works of historians, archaeologists, palaeontologists, anthropologists and naturalists. Using facts and artefacts, she imagined what was, and brought it to life.
“In writing an African character into the story, I leaned on the side of the argument that Africans had been crossing the Atlantic to the Americas for exploration and trade long before Columbus made it to the New World,” she reveals, and did so based on evidence and archaeological reports gathered from her research.
Mainly in cases where there was an absence of conclusive information, she says that she may have taken license with some historical facts in the interest of storytelling. “For example, I could not establish that St Vincent and the Grenadines was one of the native habitats of the peccary, which I chose to refer to as a pig in the story, although its presence was recorded in nearby Trinidad and Tobago and in Central and South America,” Carr stated.
Having created as best a picture as she could with meticulous attention, Carr has now completed her novel.
“Shape of a Warrior” promises to be a captivating tale about “the indomitable
spirit of a young adventurer and her unlikely friend in the battle-centered world of the indigenous Kalina people.”
“On the island of Hiroon, a Kalina girl rescues and helps hide a strange-looking boy who she thinks is a captive escaped from a nearby village. But he’s not. He’s a boat wreck survivor from a distant land that apparently is unknown to anyone else,” the novel’s summary reads.
Character Yurubi dreams of boat building and canoeing, and becomes close friends with Aloo, who is terrified of the sea.
“Together, they secretly explore the forest near his (Aloo’s) cave hideout, learn to make weapons and tools, play wrestling games, hunt, and build small river boats.”
However, this arrangement would be shattered after Aloo is forced out hiding, “and as Yurubi’s unwomanly skills become apparent.”
Conflict enters the story when “Their close bonds rip apart as they are battered by the vagaries of nature and deluged with suspicion, belligerence and ridicule in a village that holds fast to age old traditions.”
Readers will see if the two succeed “Under the cryptic eye of the village shaman,” “to struggle against their anguish, fears and misgivings to fight for a place on an island that’s home to some of the most fearsome warriors on Earth.”
Carr concludes, “The writing of this book has been an intriguing journey in tribute to the people who gave St Vincent and the Grenadines a place in history as the last Caribbean territory to fall to European colonization.”
Shape of a Warrior is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats and should be available in bookstores in SVG in two to three weeks. The book is also available from Carr in Taiwan.