Jamaican Novel Writer: Sandra Ottey

By :- Janette Brin

Lifestyle & Culture

Meet Kingston,Jamaica's author Sandra Ottey

P: Tell us a bit about yourself ...

Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, I have resided in New York for most of my adult life.  I earned a bachelor’s degree from Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York and a master’s degree from Polytechnic University.  I am the author of two novels -- Jamerican Connection and the sequel, Runaway Comeback.  I am working on my third novel.   

P: How long have you been writing? 

From as far back as I can remember; but I never took it seriously until I published my first full-length novel, Jamerican Connection. That was when I found my own voice and my own writing style.

P: Are you a full time writer?   I have a full-time job and write part-time. 

However, since I am an independent author, most times it feels as if I actually do write full-time.

P: What was the inspiration behind the novels AND/OR how would you describe the novels?

The inspiration behind the novels was to encourage and inspire high school dropouts to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and still go on to achieve the educational goals and career ambitions they had set for themselves before they dropped out, despite unexpected setbacks and hurdles in their lives.

Set against a backdrop of rolling hills in Jamaica and the pavements ofBrooklyn, the heroine of the story is Rose Thorn.  Rose is a high school dropout, young mother and bride who is determined to get back on track to realize her dreams of getting her degree and becoming self-sufficient; but there is one major hurdle – she is trapped in an abusive marriage.  In a quaint, English-looking rural town onJamaica's Southern coast Rose struggles with her conniving, abusive husband, Donovan, to claim her right to realize the deferred educational dreams and stunted career ambitions she was forced to put on hold, when Rose had gotten pregnant and had to drop out of school during her final high school year.

In the meantime, Laverne Fine (Rose’s best friend), struggles with her doubts concerning her lover, Paul's, true identity and nationality; but Paul's Brooklyn-based mother has a lead-heavy hand in guarding their family secrets.

At the same time. Wendy Arnold (Rose’s mentor), crumbles under the escalating obstacles of her long-distance relationship with her Jamaica-based high school sweetheart, Miles. In the express lane to middle-age both want to marry each other and immediately start a family; but neither of these two lovers is willing to uproot.

The lives of these three Jamaican women, each with her unique connection toAmerica, are woven into an engrossing tangled web of lies, suspense, infidelity, and deceit. Long distance relationships are tested and tried; the true value of female friendships and mentorship is proven; and the advantages of immigration are weighed against the disadvantages.

In Runaway Comeback Rose continues the second part of her journey of overcoming tragedy and starting anew. Rose flees her nativeJamaica after years of physical and mental exploitation and voyaging over intercontinental waters way too many times.  She hides out inBrooklyn with her young daughter.  Rose believes she was dealt an evil hand in marriage because she was a high school dropout, teenage bride and mother. In her quest to realize her dream of pursuing a college degree, she is reunited with her soul mate, Calvin Jones. Rose is ready to divorce her husband, Donovan, but is she really ready to marry Calvin?

Forced to return toJamaica, Rose finds herself trapped in a devastating situation that could jeopardize a lifetime of happiness with Calvin. With the help of her grandmother who raised her, Rose quickly realizes that in order to make a comeback she must turn around and go back to revisit that place where it all started, the place where she first believed, the place where trouble had come and uprooted her.

Runaway Comeback sizzles with secrets, payback, and redemption. The storyline is thought-provoking and enthralling with true-to-life characters and situations.

P:Who are the intended readers of the novels?

Women from all walks of life can relate to the story.  Men can definitely learn from it.

P:When were these novels published and where can they be found?

Jamerican Connection was published in 2001 and Runaway Comeback was published in 2012. The books are available at www.sandraottey.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.vpreggae.com, and on all e-readers including Kindle and Nook.  The book is also available at the Books and CDs store in the departure lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston,Jamaica.

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