Looking for a good novel to curl up with this weekend? Try Island Pursuits, a romance novel with a difference, written by Trinidadian author Heather Rodney-Diaz and released in June.
A steamy romance novel, Island Pursuits records a fictional relationship between Trinidad-born former US marine Adrian Mendez and Cory Phillips the Trinidadian woman of his dreams. Set in North and Central Trinidad, this book goes one step beyond capturing the traditional elements of a romance novel as the author has injected a Caribbean flavour, which resonates in its tone from cover to cover.
It is the first novel to be published by the 36-year-old writer, though now that she has taken this step, Rodney-Diaz promises to release many more.
Born and raised in Central Trinidad as the sixth of eight siblings, Rodney-Diaz traces her love for writing to her years at elementary school where she said her love for literature was fostered by teachers at the Longdenville Government Primary School.
"I was an avid reader even back then and I think both goes hand in hand," she said. "In order to write well, you must read. I always loved to read, and I guess my love for reading fuelled my love for writing. I started with reading Enid Blyton and Famous Five series and as I grew older, I started to read romance novels."
"I got busted a couple of times when I attended Couva Government Secondary School with the Mills and Boons and Harlequin Temptation Romances," she recalled. "But I just kept on reading."
When she became an adult, Rodney-Diaz began to explore her own options to write.
"I believed that I had a story to tell and I wanted to use my writings to showcase Trinidad and Tobago," she said. "But I never published until now. I just used to write journals and short stories."
All of this changed recently after Rodney-Diaz successfully completed an Associate Degree in Journalism and Public Relations at the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) in 2009. Some time after she graduated, Rodney-Diaz came up with the idea for Island Pursuits—a romance novel where she could make a bold statement about love and relationships in Trinidad and Tobago.
"I started in August and completed the book in two months," she said, "The process that took some time was getting it published."
Rodney-Diaz said after writing and editing the novel, she approached a number of North American publishers, but several responded with reject letters indicating that the book did not meet their requirements at the time.
"After a while I got fed up and in 2011 I left the manuscript for a while," she said. "Then in March this year, I picked it up and sent it again for consideration, and that is when I got a positive response."
This time her efforts were successful and the book was accepted by new romance publishers, Crimson Romance, based in the US.
One of the things that makes Island Pursuits relatable is the matter of fact approach the author takes to real life issues.
From the provoking image of a woman in a barely concealed thong on the cover to the spicy scenes contained inside, this book targets an adult audience though Rodney-Diaz was also careful to explore a number of themes in addition to romance, and these included incorporating the critical message of safe and responsible sex as well as messages about family, friendship, tragedy, loss and forgiveness. If it were possible to keep one completely entertained while creatively addressing these topics, Rodney-Diaz has done a great job and the novel has the potential to keep readers glued to the pages from beginning to end.
And is the book all fiction? Rodney-Diaz, who has been married for eight years, was coy in her response.
"Well," she hedged with a broad smile. "Most of it is from my imagination... a few things might have been what happened to me."
She would say no more.
Island Pursuits is currently available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnobel.com, iTunes and other ebook retailers. Books are also available in print on demand.
And if this novel whets your appetite, you may not have to wait for much longer as the author has kept busy since the book was first released.
"I love writing and I want to continue writing more books," Rodney-Diaz told Express Woman. "I just finished writing my second novel, and it is in the editing stage. I am hoping to send it in to the publishers in the next couple of months... and hopefully they would like it and that would be released next year. Then I intend to start my third book."
For further information on Island Pursuits, Rodney-Diaz can be contacted on the following social networks: