Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Research By Happenstance

A little over two weeks ago I mentioned I was going to Dominica for a family function and to conduct research for my current WIP set in the Nature Isle. I also promised to tell you how it went next time I blogged. Well here goes....

A lot of my research was centered on being in the right place at the right time.
1. The time was ideal for experiencing the culture of the country
October to November is the height of Dominica’s cultural celebration. October is Creole month and November is their independence celebration. Quite a bit of history is recapped at this time and the people wear their national dress and eat their local and traditional foods at this time. I attended cultural pageants, ate a whole lot of breadfruit, green fig, and dasheen, calalloo, and Titiwi Accra

2. I spent a lot of time at the local library
Because my 8 year old missed almost three weeks of school I had to do a little home schooling to keep her on track. I found it best to go to the local library and let her do her lessons. While I was at the library I was able to look up books written about the history and lives of the indigenous people, the Kalinago people or the Caribs. One book in particular, written in 1971, was written from the perspective of a young, preteen Carib. He spoke about their daily lives, their lost language and religion, their interactions with the rest of the island and most importantly the cultural changes as the push to educate the local population increased.

3. Through family gatherings and outings I was able to scout out areas where I would like my romantic settings
When people think of romance in the Caribbean, they think of a sunset on a white sand beach with coconut trees. Well when a book is set in the Nature Isle, white sand beaches is not an option. But of their many rivers, streams, crater lakes, hidden waterfalls, and beautiful mountain vistas, I was able to find way more romantic settings than I ever would need for my book.

4. I got to experience the island like a local
I was able to visit the Carib Territories, see the crafts made there and enjoy the cassava bread. I spent time in the quiet countryside in the mountains where banana, coffee and cocoa are farmed. I engaged people in discussion about the changing culture, new ethnic diversity. Most of all I was able to see the development and compare the island now, to the island I visited first in 1993 and every few or so years since.

5. I got to relive some romance of my own
I was able to visit the beautiful Peninsular at Scotts Head, that separated the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. Why is this area sentimental to me? It was on this peninsular that my husband proposed to me over a decade and a half ago. I was able to share this with my three children.

Overall, it was a successful research trip and an even better family vacation. And in all this how much actual writing did I get done? Exactly two pages.


Charles Gramlich said...

Lovely pics. Definitely inspiring.

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, lovely post! I wouldn't even try to write on a vacation like that - I'd be too busy taking mental (and other) notes and having a good time.

I'm finding I'm becoming more fascinated by the indigenous people of the Caribbean. Such a pity that the general perception is that the life in the Caribbean began with the arrival of the Europeans. I'm part indigenous myself, but from the Venezuelan connection.

You've given me some ideas for continuing my research. What's the name of that book you mentioned?

Lynn Emery said...

I would love to visit again. Such beauty, and a dream to see the culture close. I went as a tourist, but I love your chance to really get into the setting and talk to the people. Wonderful.