It is with great pleasure that we shine the spotlight on this young, Caribbean American author, Belle Antoinette. Her new novel, REMAINS, hits the stores this week in both paperback and eBook editions. We always encourage and support those who choose to pursue a positive path in life, especially when it is in the Arts. So this week, we sat down with Belle Antoinette for a little one-to-one. Here's what she had to say...
1. Greetings. Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Belle Antoinette, author of the paranormal romance novel, REMAINS. I am Black. Specifically, Caribbean American. My parents and most of my siblings were born and raised on an island called Montserrat. I was born in Boston, MA. I've been writing and drawing since I was a little girl. I didn't attend art school like I wanted to but I designed the cover for my book.
2. Can you please share what growing up in Boston was like for you as a Caribbean American?
Growing up in America with West Indian parents was difficult. My family had stricter rules and it was a completely different culture than that of my friends at school. The biggest challenge for me was trying to fit in. I pronounced some words differently and had the tiniest hint of an accent. I wasn’t that familiar with most slang. I was really self-conscious about standing out. On the plus side however, I love the music, food, and overall happiness of my heritage. I wouldn’t trade my family for the world.
3. What stereotype did you encounter most frequently?
The biggest stereotype I’ve seen is the idea that everyone who has dreadlocks smokes weed. Or rather, that's all there is to them. As a result of these misconceptions, there's a lot of negative connotations that go with having dreads instead of it being viewed as something unique and cultural. So you have a lot of people who don't belong to the culture appropriating it and making a mockery of it.
4. Your new novel, REMAINS, debuted this week. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?
Honestly, my complete lack of interest in the literature I was reading my last year of college is what inspired me. I was bored. I felt like I was reading the same pretentious story about some young (usually wealthy) boy at the turn of the century who was bored with life and all the privileges he was born with. It was just the same story with a different title, sometimes in a different era but still practically the same. I wanted to read something different. Sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal...anything that could keep my interest. I was finding it hard to focus and so I started writing my own dialogue instead of taking notes.
5. What did you learn about yourself throughout the process of writing REMAINS?
I learned the importance of timeliness. I wrote the entire first book out of order and it was a nightmare organizing it. I also learned that I needed to write a paranormal story with a Woman-of-Color as the main protagonist in order to have any peace. I guess it's been bugging me for years without me realizing it.
6. What message you would like your audience to take away with them after reading REMAINS?
I didn't really write it with a specific message in mind, but I guess I would say not to put yourself in a box when writing. If it's a story about a girl, she doesn't have to be obsessed with love. If it's a story about a boy, he doesn't have to be cold and detached. Most importantly, there is more than one race in the world. You can write about characters who don't look, speak, and think like you. Be inclusive because there are tons of readers out there who want to see themselves in characters but are continually ignored and erased from their favorite stories.
7. Do you have any advice to share with others, especially young people who are striving to pursue a writing career?
My advice is to write about something you love. I feel like if you enjoy what you are writing, it will translate on paper. Also, don't let anyone make you feel embarrassed about what you like. I used to hide the fact that my favorite genres aren't Romance or Classic Literature because those are the genres "smart people" enjoy. But I prefer Harry Potter over Jay Gatsby any day. That's just how it is.
8. Where can we purchase our copy of REMAINS?
*Barnes & Noble
9. Where can we find you on social media?