While I was in Barbados, Ian Bourne from Bajan Reporter interviewed me about Hurricane Fever, and how a part of the book is set on Barbados (part of the research day trip I took while down there was to see if I could better firm up some details in the latter part of the novel so as to get things right).
A note: I grew up in Grenada, with a British received pronunciation accent while at home and often at school (because teachers let me get away with more if I used it) and sometimes an accent while playing around with friends. I was never sure where or when different accents would come. In the USVI I mainly dropped RP and adopted a pseudo-midwest/mild mid Atlantic accent. It wasn’t until university that I began to read about linguistics and understand why sometimes my accent would switch. I could write a whole essay on it, but Barbados/Grenada sound like home and a little bit of edges in when I visit (maybe because I miss it so now that I live away from it). I even tried to shoot a video for a case review for a gadget site while down there, and had to give up because I couldn’t flip the switch quite right and was struggling with accents (I often feel like the Martian kid in that one Bradbury story).
Either way, here I am with the slightest of Caribbean accents, if you’re so curious. I know a few people at Worldcon were taken aback on the first day when they ran into me, as it was still in that mode and moving back over to the midwest accent many know me as having. In the past I was very nervous about it, as some accepted it as a kid, some didn’t, some threatened to report me to my mom, and it’s actually a huge psychological mess that I carried as a kid not being sure what I should sound like. As an adult, who no longer cares and just flows with it, I just go along with whatever my hindbrain wants (which is to sound like everyone around me).
It’s a thing. You can read more about it by googling ‘code switching.’ (And long preface is because it often confuses my American audiences, sometimes at readings where I’ve switched the dialect without planning to as well). Yes, sometimes I wish I’d just ended up with one distinct accent so that I didn’t end up wondering about what my identity really was, but seeing as that I actually do have Caribbean birth certificate, UK passport, and an American green card, it’s not surprising I’m linguistically a little bit complicated, and most people from the islands get where I’m coming from (thank you).
In the meantime, here I am talking about Hurricane Fever, and my short story Toy Planes with BajanReporter.