The Harlem Writers Guild Press, an imprint of iUniverse, Inc., introduced readers to my debut novel, An Ocean
of Jewels at readings and book signings throughout the New York City area in June 2006. Since then, I have
had many pleasant opportunities beyond any dreams I could ever have conjured up in my lifetime, with the belief that there
are more fascinating adventures for me on the way.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that my
father spoke Gullah Geechee. I had spent my entire childhood in foster care, and I never understood the language my father
spoke when I lived with him and my mother before I went into foster care.
When I entered college, I
read a novel by brilliant author Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and it opened up a new world
for me. Many of the phrases in the novel were identical to things I grew up hearing my father say, such as "Tie
yuh mout'," "Don't be actin' so siditty," and "Yep, Ah reckon' so!" I wanted to bring that
pidgin to creole language as well as culture back in a modern-day manner, and preserve it, just for myself.
I write about Gullah Geechee infused experiences in standard,
modern English. I also focus on the themes of foster care, family, education, and history. During my research about
my culture, I learned that Gullah is the pidgin to creole language African slaves spoke in America during slavery along the
coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Just for the record, African culture didn't begin with
the African American Slave Trade. African history is a treasure of amazing natural resources, skill sets, and culture
that has influenced the world we live in today for centuries. Gullah language has done the same. For example,
up tuh duh notch," is a Gullah phrase that means "That's delicious!"
Scholars and historians believe African countries were the original
homes of the Gullah Geechee people. Geechee
is the language the African slaves spoke whenever they were in the presence of people who did not understand the Gullah language.
For example, someone unfamiliar with the Gullah language would still understand the Geechee meaning of this statement, "We
haffuh hol on tuh we own land.
I hope that I have done more than preserve the language of Gullah Geechee in the novels I write. I also share
with the reader, the culture and history of a Gullah Geechee community by introducing the reader to the fictional places of
Jewel Park, New York and Eva Creek Island, places where the major characters' ancestors lived before they were forced to leave
their beautiful country of Sierra Leone to horrifically be forced into enslavement.
The modern day characters I like to write about are rich, passionate, and inviting.
The setting is descriptive, and many of the neighborhoods reflect the town's opulence.
Other cultural additions in the novel refer
to the Gullah Gecheee Island Prayers Houses, worship services, and of course, traditional beverages like teacola tea, and
food such as sweet potato pone, spoonbread, frogmore stew, shrimp and grits, and grilled mullet. So, join me as I sip
some teacola and enjoy a taste of sweet potato pone, while I conjure....