Roslyn Carrington

Roslyn Carrington
Every Bitter Thing Sweet

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
August 18, 2002

1. Who is Roslyn Carrington?

Well, for starters, she's a split personality. She works all day as Public Relations Officer for a large state company in her home island of Trinidad, churning out serious stuff, like advertisements and educational material. By night, however, she is magically transformed into a slightly mad, harried writer who cusses the keyboard and talks to herself. She's a low-maintenance girlfriend, as she spends so much time on her writing that there is little time left for her to nag her boyfriend to take her out for dinner. She is an animal lover, with two huge dogs who scare just about everyone, even though she protests staunchly that they have a deep and abiding love for humanity. She also has a cat, Simona, from whom she has derived the pen name under which she writes romance for BET/Arabesque. Simona makes a great under-the-desk footrest, although it's often like putting your feet down on a pin-cushion.

2. What inspired you to write the novel "Every Bitter Thing Sweet?"

It was a sequel to A Thirst For Rain, which I had published 2 years previously. I felt that I really needed to find out what had happened to my characters, especially Rory, because I cared for them so much. And for me, the only way to find out what happens next is to write it!

3. How did you come about the title "Every Bitter Thing Sweet?"

I found it in the Bible, in Proverbs 27:7. I like the idea of everything bitter in your life becoming sweet. It's the idea of personal development, putting away things that hurt you, finding new direction, and actually being happy. It's what I want for myself, so why wouldn't I want it for my characters?

4. How did you come about Odile character?

I suspect that Odile is a little about who I was when I was her age. Very rebellious, but longing for affirmation from my mother. Bright, but prickly. She's a typical young woman who wants to get by without any help from anyone, and doesn't want to take advice because she thinks it will make her less independent. She hates the idea of "becoming her mother", but realises that she needs to understand her mother before she can move on and be herself. (By the way, her name is pronounced Oh-deel. She was named after a girl I once knew as an exchange student from Martinique.)

5. How did you come about Vincent and Miss Ling character?

In a way, I thought Miss Ling was just supposed to be a funny, wacky character, but as I wrote, I realised that she was serious stuff, a strong woman with a devastating past. I chose Chinese characters because I wanted to show the world the cultural diversity that you can find in Trinidad. But if you want to know a secret, I chose Vincent because I have always been VERY partial to Asian men....

6. How did you come about Myra and Jacob's character?

I can tell you a secret: Jacob was the first character I wrote about in A Thirst For Rain: The book actually began with him and grew out of him. He is tall, broad, very sexy, with dark skin and eyes, totally masculine. Physically, he is actually patterned after a doctor I once had. I won't be indelicate enough to say EXACTLY what kind of doc he was, but I think that my women readers can pretty much guess.... Myra was, well, the kind of woman I thought Jacob deserved.

7. How did you come about Saul and Rory characters?

They just developed in their own way. In A Thirst For Rain, Saul didn't even have a name. He was just the brutal father that shaped a boy like Rory. And I had first conceived Rory as the pesky boy next door, an interesting background character. When he started bugging Odile and following her around, he grew on me as much as he had grown on her. I fell in love with him. As I said, Rory's salvation was the main reason for writing Every Bitter Thing Sweet.

8. How did you come about the plot for "Every Bitter Thing Sweet?"

I'm not a plot-driven writer at all, so I can't really answer that. For me, I sit at my desk and start writing. The characters pretty much do whatever they want. I actually have those experiences where I an busy typing out a story, and saying to myself about a character: "I can't believe he did that!"

9. How long have you been writing?

I've been writing all my life. I wrote my first book (ha!) at age nine. I tried to form a writer's club in school at that time. We had about 3 meetings during recess and then the other members lost interest. I was totally ticked off.

10. How many novels have you written?

I've written three under my real name, Roslyn Carrington: A Thirst For Rain, Every Bitter Thing Sweet, and Candy Don't Come In Gray, which was released this August. Under the pen name Simona Taylor, I've published four BET/Arabesque romances: Night Heat, Mesmerized and Soul's Desire. My fourth, Love Me All The Way, will be released next year.

11. Could you tell us a little about your new novel "Candy Don't Come In Gray," that will be out this month?

Candy is about the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy, well-known gentleman who has always been very good to her, but has always warned her that she is not to reveal herself to his wife and daughter. She becomes convinced that he has the power to affirm or deny her existence, and is terrified that if he denied her, she would become invisible. Her father dies suddenly, and she is thrown into a crisis. Her father has been such a powerful influence in her life, that now he is gone, will she just fade away? Her solution is to seek out his family. She learns, eventually, that she is the only one who has power of her own existence, not her father or anyone else.

12. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A cool room, for one, because when I write my skin heats up. I call it "the burn", and it's always a sign that my writing is doing well. The more excited I get about a story, the hotter my skin gets. I've been known to start stripping at my desk, and finally wind up writing in my underwear. I also need quiet. No music, no conversation. My boyfriend knows to leave me in peace when I get started. A cat sleeping on my feet is always welcome, though.

13. Are there any of your personality traits in any of your characters?

I think that in the same way there's a bit of every mother in her children, there is a bit of me in every character, but I don't use them as a mouthpiece for what I believe. They can actually hold entirely opposite views from mine, and I'd still love them.

14. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "Every Bitter Thing Sweet?"

The value of our collective history, passed down through the generations. The experiences of our mothers and fathers are vital for our understanding of ourselves, and holding them in disdain, and refusing to learn from them, will just cause us to wind up wandering aimlessly. Family links us, and our history is a road map we must follow, or risk getting lost.

15. How did you come about the plot surrounding Zenobia and Rory?

God, I have no idea. I loved Zenobia's character. She was so selfish and callous and yet so weak and needy. And funny too, at times. I suppose sexually importuning young boys was exactly what a woman like her would do, so I let her have her way. I realised afterward, though, she was an archetype of Pophitar's wife, from the book of Genesis. Remember, she made advances toward Joseph while he was in Egypt, and when she was rejected, she cried rape. Typical spoiled-brat wife.