Writer Spotlight: Kereen Getten
With the Writer Spotlight Series, we create a positive image for Black girls to refer to, by having conversations with different writers and illustrators. This month we have been doing Q&As with many writers, to get to know more about them and their work. Here, we are showcasing all the questions we have asked Kereen Getten the author of When Life Gives You Mangoes. You can find more book reviews in our new issue, available to buy here
Congratulations on the launch of When Life Gives you Mangoes. What inspired the idea for this book?
Thank you! I really wanted to write a story about my hometown, the small village life, the way everyone knew each other and the freedom I had as a child, but I didn’t know what the story was going to be about for quite some time. All I knew was that I wanted to write about home.
What came first the plot or the characters, when you were writing When Life Gives You Mangoes?
The plot came first. I knew I wanted to write about friendship so I based the story around two best friends and their ups and downs, but then the characters took over and it became more about the characters and their journeys.
Sadé is half Jamaican and the book really resonated with her, especially the detailed descriptions of all the wonderful exotic fruits and food, how important was it for you to capture this amount of detail within the book?
I’m so happy it resonated with her! The details were so important to me. After I wrote the story, I went back over and filled it in with all these details that made it as authentic as possible. Writing a story about home was more than the weather and the sea. It was about the people, and the food, the music. All the things I identified with home. I wanted to add details that most people would recognise but some details only a Jamaican would know. The food was just one of those details.
If When Life Gives You Mangoes, was made into a movie, what celebrities would star in it?
Oh, that’s such a good question! And one I have thought about often and still can’t decide. I think I would love for someone unknown or new to acting to play Clara and Gaynah. Maybe Billy Porter for Eldorath? I would just be happy to see it made into a movie that would be a dream.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love travelling and exploring new places. I go for long walks a lot, read and watch Netflix. I’m pretty low key.
What’s your favourite spot in Jamaica to visit? And what makes it special to you?
I still love visiting the small town where I was born. Our old house sits on a hill that overlooks the town and the sea. From the front yard you can see the curve of the island and Montego Bay in the distance. It’s still so quiet and peaceful up there even after all these years. At nighttime the city lights up and it’s a beautiful backdrop of dotted lights behind the ocean. I love it because it brings back lots of memories, but also because it’s so peaceful. I also love Negril’s seven-mile beach, just because it’s seven miles of white powdery sand and no matter how busy it gets you can always find a quiet corner.
When Life Gives You Mangoes
by Kereen Getten
Find out more about Kereen here
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