Glynis Guevara was born in Barataria, Trinidad, but has lived in Canada for more than twenty years. She attempted to write her first novel at fourteen, and even though it was never completed she never gave up her love for writing. Several years after completing high school, she moved to London, England to study law. She successfully completed a Bachelor of Laws (honours) degree and was admitted to the bar of England and Wales and Trinidad and Tobago.
Glynis enrolled as a student at Humber College School for Writers after she was laid off her job at a Toronto hospital; she hasn’t stopped writing since. She was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary (short fiction) prize in 2012 and the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Under the Zaboca Tree (Inanna Publications, 2017) is her debut novel. Her second YA novel, Black Beach was published in September 2018. She currently works as an adult literacy instructor in Toronto.
In 2005, I was bumped from my job as a technical writer / computer trainer at a Toronto hospital. I was suddenly unemployed and didn’t have a clue how I was going to close the townhouse I’d already signed the contract to purchase. I totally remember my first day at home without a job. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I decided to write about my life. I didn’t have any plans to write a novel then; I just wrote to deal with the pain. The days passed, and I couldn’t stop writing. I got up early every morning and wrote all day long. I eventually began to put my focus on drafting a manuscript called Pain of My Imperfections. Eventually, I enrolled as a student at Humber College School for Writers. I was lucky to have Rabindranath (Robin) Maharaj as my mentor. During this course, I worked on the Pain of My Imperfections manuscript. After the course ended, I put that novel aside and began to write Under the Zaboca Tree. It became my debut YA novel, published in June 2017 by Inanna Publications.
Under the Zaboca Tree
Under the Zaboca Tree tells the story of ten-year-old, Baby Girl as she moves from Canada to Trinidad with her dad. Baby Girl can’t recall ever meeting her mom, but she never gives up her dream of one day reuniting with her. Many people have told me that Under the Zaboca Tree seems true to life but is fiction. My childhood was very different from Baby Girl’s. I had a very stable childhood, while Baby Girl has to learn how to deal with constant changes in her life. She and I are similar in that we both love books and using our creative energy to deal with difficult situations.
Black Beach tells the story of 16-year-old Tamera who lives in a tropical fishing village with her parents. While Tamera tries to find herself, she must deal with numerous issues including her mother’s illness, the absence of her boyfriend who moves out of the village to work, the disappearance of a classmate and an environmental disaster that hits her community affecting the villagers’ health and livelihood. I was motivated to write this book after reading about an oil spill in south Trinidad in 2013. Black Beach was published by Inanna Publications (2018).
Currently, I’m writing a sequel to my debut novel, Under the Zaboca. The biggest difficulty so far is dealing with a challenging health issue, but the manuscript is already written in my head. It is just a matter of finding the time to commit my thoughts to paper. The working title is Poui Season and it follows Baby Girl as she returns to Toronto for the first time at sixteen years old. Besides writing Poui Season, I’m also seeking a literary agent for my solo adult manuscript Pain of My Imperfections which I’ve revised within recent years. Pain of My Imperfections is written in a man’s voice and deals with the many trials immigrants face after arriving in Canada. The novel is based in Canada, Trinidad and Grenada.
Glynis Guevara visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, starting at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Priya Ramsingh, Anthony Easton, Rocco de Giacomo, and guest speaker Anne Laurel Carter presents us with tips on “Writing for Younger Readers: Three Essential Strategies.”