Monday, January 31, 2011


I had a passion for unearthing history, since I was seven, growing up in the hinterlands of Jamaica. I would bury my mother's spoons only to dig them back up weeks later and pretend they were relics from the Arawak Indians. The digging soon stopped when I stumbled on earthworms.

Since my favorite genre for reading is anything historical: historical biographies, historical fiction and historical romance. I was moved to write "Escape to Falmouth." I believed marginalized people were under-represented in the historical romance genre and needed their own storylines.

Escape to Falmouth

When a feisty, Cherokee beauty and a strong-willed, male, runaway slave lock their destinies together in a headlong pursuit of freedom, they unleash forces that deny their liberty, threaten to destroy their love and propel them into dangerous exploits.

Displaced by a presidential edict in 1838, Awanessa, and her entire Cherokee tribe, must leave their homeland in the Southeast United States to march thousands of miles on the arduous Trail of Tears. Meanwhile, Awanessa wages a personal battle that leads her to rescue Jeremiah, a slave on the run, who is being attacked by trackers and bloodhounds. As the couple's lives intersect, they yearn to find their place in an intolerant world.

In a desperate race for survival, Awanessa and Jeremiah flee the Smoky Mountains to the Okenofee Swamps of Georgia with the Seminoles, and later, St. Augustine, Florida. By a twist of fate, they end up in post-emancipation Jamaica where they discover a new world of possibilities while confronting jealousy, mistrust, deception and obeah.

As they boldly stake a claim for their future, vengeance strikes, loyalties are put to the test, a life is perilously at risk and they wonder, what price will they have to pay for freedom?

Book Trailer

How did you start out your writing career?

I started out by reading. I read every book I could get my hands on. Then something strange happened: While I was reading I would start imagining different storylines and different endings from the original stories. This turned into daydreaming. It wasn't until I took a creative writing course in college that I entertained the thought of becoming a writer after getting tremendous feedback from my peers and teachers. I began writing short stories then decided I’d like to sprawl out into a novel.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that writing the story is the easy part. It's the editing and rewriting that's the biggest hurdle. The good thing is that I enjoy the entire writing process -- warts and all.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

With a host of African Americans claiming Native American ancestry, I felt that this intersection of cultures has been overlooked and wanted to see a historical representation of this union in novels. I also wanted to write a novel that spanned the entire African diaspora, evoking African, American and Caribbean experiences.

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

I loved them all but Jeremiah was especially enjoyable as I portrayed his strengths and foibles.

How do you keep motivated to write?

I schedule it in my calendar. When I don't feel inspired I just show up. Usually something happens when I show up for writing.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love when an idea grabs me and I get in the zone of writing. I don't like to wake up to a blank screen. So I try to leave something to start with for the next day -- even if it's crap.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. To honor my writing time no matter what
2. To be around more creative, inspiring and supportive people
3. To delegate the tasks that sap my energy

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO: Write through the crap -- the good things will emerge
DON'T forget physical activity. There's a lot of brain work going on with writing that can deplete your energy. Start out your day with physical activity to pump oxygen to your brain.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing is as hard a work as any other job.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

The first character that pops in my mind is Atticus Finch from "To Kill A Mockingbird". He had such integrity, good morals and free from prejudice. I try to live by his creed: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I catch up on my reading, movies and plays. I also entertain family and friends and perform community activities. Travel is also on my list – of course to places with lots of history.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I have a blog, Facebook and Twitter profiles as well as feedback forms on my website. I’m also in the process of scheduling book signings in Charlotte, NC, New York City, Toronto and Jamaica.

Our theme this month is Family Literacy. Do you do anything to promote family literacy?

Yes, a percentage of the book proceeds will help to promote reading at the elementary level in two targeted schools in Jamaica.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that I came into this world alone and I’m leaving it alone so I want to live my life in my own way that makes me happy.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

It’s a sequel that encompasses the intersection of two turbulent times: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica and Reconstruction America.

How can readers get in contact with you? and

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Michelle said...

Lena Joy Rose's true self comes through in this interview - her love for life, love for people and the loving energy and discipline she puts in all she does for herself and others. Despite the one degree of separation which has separated us for most of our lives, we have only just met and it has been my honour and privilege. Lena Joy deserves every success with her new book and I look forward to immersing myself in this romantic historic novel, with a taste of Jamaica.

Anonymous said...

We have only just met and I could feel the passion she feels for people, and history of our island.I wish her every success with her new book and hope there will be many to come.

LaShaunda said...


Thank you for being our featured author. I love historicals.I'm looking forward to reading your book.

LaShaunda said...

Michelle and Anonymous thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments.

Please come back again.

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