Back in late September of 2014 I was the Writer in Residence for the island of Bermuda, where I taught a 3 week long science fiction and fantasy workshop for island writers. Dr. Kim Dismont-Robinson, Folklife Office from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs invited me to head this up, and it was one of those amazing life moments. I got to bring together both my Caribbean roots and experience and my genre writing credentials all together. It was like ‘this is the moment I’ve been waiting for!’
Out of that project came a follow-up discussion, would we be able to create an anthology of Bermuda speculative fiction out of the writers we had, plus an open call?
I thought we had enough talent and agreed to the project, and we’ve been working on it in the background throughout 2015 and 2016.
On Tuesday, I flew out to Bermuda to formally launch ‘The Stories We Tell’ for the island of Bermuda.
When I left, my little palm in my basement office had just died due to spider mites:
So I enjoyed camping out next to the palms near my room at the Grotto Bay hotel in Bermuda:
My room faced northish, so I got both sunrise and sunset from my balcony. I woke up each morning just drenched in sunlight. I live off sunlight, so it was welcomed. I was up each morning for a swim and wrote nearly a thousand words of fresh fiction each morning. The sunlight cleansed me off some weariness and post-winter blues I was still struggling to shake.
Wednesday morning I met ‘The Captain,’ a local radio personality, and talked about the important of Bermuda voices in genre and about the book launch. He shared a quick island ghost tale from his childhood, which was perfect:
Kim, who noted how much I loved Graham Foster‘s artwork, which we used a great deal of to illustrate the stories in the book, took me to Bermuda College library so I could visit the Brian Burland Centre (Burland was a Bermudan writer who became rediscovered by the island in the 2000s, just before he passed) and see the mural he did for that.
I also spent a lot of time looking over Burland’s poster board outline for one of his books, which was amazingly cool from a process standpoint, I might write a whole other post about that.
On Thursday we had the actual launch, but before that I visited Prospero’s Cave, an underground cave right near my hotel room. Just a few hundred feet away.
Sketchy looking entrance. Then you squeeze through these rocks:
And bam, you are here:
and from above a bit:
I’d explored it the day before, but I came back on Thursday to swim it. The water was brisk, Bermuda is at the same longitude as North Carolina and out in the middle of the Atlantic. The water is still cold out there right now. But I got this snap of me jumping in and swimming right back out:
The book launch, Thursday night, was great. It was held in the National Gallery, with the Hon. Nandi Outerbridge JP, MP, Minister of Social Development giving opening remarks, and then I gave a few notes about how the anthology came to be and how honored I was to be a part of bringing these voices together. Here we are before opening doors, getting sound and video set up:
Many of the writers were there, and for many it was their first published story. Reading here is Nikki Bowers. Her story opens the anthology:
and here is Damien Wilson, who also has a story in Karen Lord’s anthology of Caribbean SF ‘New Worlds, Old Ways.’
The anthology is ‘The Stories We Tell’ and here is the cover:
And here is the table of contents:
The launch was successful. I got to have a last dinner with the director of the department: Heather, Kim (Folklife director) and her husband Jay (we bonded of Seagulls, small outboard engines, air cooled), Veney who runs many things behind the scenes and worked hard to make sure I got to my hotel room and settled in well and got where I needed to go, and the Minister. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone after great conversation.
So the question everyone on twitter has asked is ‘how do I get a copy?’
Right now the book is for sale at bookstores (and in the libraries) in Bermuda, so if you’re passing through look for it. There are some conversations about how to make it available elsewhere, so I’ll pass that on when I can. Distribution throughout and around the Caribbean is complicated with books, it’s something being worked on.
So now I’m packed up. I’ve had one last swim in the ocean (it’s still very cold here, out in the middle of the Atlantic, but I wanted the salt water in my hair), and I’m waiting for a taxi to take me back to the airport and back home.
I return curiously refreshed, excited about these stories, excited about telling more of my own, having gotten more writing done here sitting on my balcony looking at the ocean and enjoying soaking up sun like the little lizards that were scampering about underfoot.
I also return with an amazing gift from the people who worked so hard to put all this together, a Graham Foster painting of my own:
Now to navigate that through airports and customs back to Ohio!