Ezekel Alan

This blog is about: cotton candy, cold milo, midgets, mangoes, sex, aged rum – everything but writing my next book

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

The things we find hard to say or talk about

I was 28 in February 1998 when I met a drop-dead gorgeous fashion designer who owned a boutique store in New Kingston. I saw her every day, opening her store as I went to work. I never said anything to her.

I knew she was married, not only because of the blinding lights radiating from her ring finger, but because I had also seen her often with him.

She was older than me, richer than me, prettier than me, better fed than me, sexier than me, healthier looking than me, and, from every conceivable perspective, clearly beyond me.

English: Catherine Malandrino - Fashion Designer

Fashion designer. Photo credit: wikipedia

In April 1998 I finally built up the courage to approach her. I saw her one morning opening her store and I simply went over and said, “I hope your husband looks forward to seeing you the way I look forward to seeing you every single day.” She smiled. The next day when I was passing she smiled again and asked if I wanted to help her.

I cannot write about the things that happened after that, because this blog is child safe. All I can say is that the months that followed were steamy and delightful.

This happened, all of it, but only inside my head.

I never spoke a word to the woman, and never felt her light breath as her lips brushed against mine, with her eyes closed and struggling to conceal all her deepest desires for me. Nope, none of this happened, though I often daydreamed about it, in all its details.

There are things we have often thought about but never had the courage to say. And there are things we also find very hard to talk about with friends or anyone. Thinking about it this morning, I came up with my list of things people seem to have a problem saying or talking about. This is my list:

  • How much we earn. This is particularly true for men, but women fall victim to this as well. We might talk about our salary if we work in the oil industry, or as a private investment banker, because then we’d know that we have a huge advantage over everyone else, but otherwise we shut up and wonder or guess. (For the record, I earn somewhere between “little to nothing” and “great expectations”.
  • What you really wanted to say when a co-worker was sitting beside you and you were both working late one night, and you could smell his/her cologne. You started with, “Would you like to-” but what came out was “finish this report tonight?” instead of the real words you wanted to say. Days and months passed and those real words never appeared, and sometimes you wonder what might have been.
  • The worst thoughts you’ve ever had. I know we are capable, each and every one of us, of evil thoughts, sinful thoughts. And perhaps you have once or twice found yourself in a place where your thoughts were darker than darkness. These thoughts you’ll always keep to yourself and never chat about at a barbecue.
  • The times when you just couldn’t perform (and I don’t mean that you were asked to play Chopin.)
English: "An unhappy wife is complaining ...

“An unhappy wife is complaining to the Kaddi about her husband’s impotence her evidence is a zibik (dildo)” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • How hard it is for you to keep up with the Joneses. We will be at lunch with the Joneses and they will be chatting about their plans for a new house, new car, new Sony laptop, summer vacations, to go to a Lady Gaga concert, etc. And we will chat around it, but never really find the nerve to simply say “My friend, all of that is beyond my means right now.” (For the record, I can keep up with the Joneses, the problem is the Bakers, the Johnsons, the Smiths,…)
Keeping up with the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses (Flicker.com/photos/77005536@N00/29797195

  • Our physical insecurities. True, there are some insecurities we find not so hard to talk about because they are challenges we as men or women have in common, like stubborn acne, or weight gain. With these things we can laugh and talk about our weakness for chocolate or we can chat for hours about how useless certain acne medications are. But when our insecurity relates to size, smell or shape, well… Discussing your own bad breath? The size of your itsy bitsy teeny weeny something? Talking about your crooked teeth? Your smelly arm, etc.? Nope. These are not so comfortable to  discuss over wine and cheese.
  • Our real sins. We are all born sinners and so we know that there is a space reserved for each and every one of us in hell from birth. Some of us go to church, meditate, and do things for charity etc. with the hope that these deeds will help to convey our regrets to the devil and cancel our reservation. Most of us are not bothered terribly as we laugh and talk about trying to give up simple ‘bad’ habits like smoking, drinking, and maybe even cheating. But sometimes there are things we have done that we find it very hard to talk about. Things that may have confirmed our reservation in the front seats of hell. Things we find it hard to forgive ourselves for, let alone to ask others to forgive. These things we don’t talk about at the picnic.
  • Those things a parent, wife, husband, or loved one said to us that ripped us apart and exposed all our dangling frailties. The people who know you best, who know all your fears, weaknesses and mistakes, are usually the ones who can hurt you the deepest. Perhaps it was after something you did to a wife or husband, that led to a biting response which has stuck in your head ever since. Which has now become a living memory. Something said about you, about who you really are, that is so hurtful and terrible and possibly true, that you’ll never talk about it to anyone.

What have I left off this list?

Anyway, when I started writing my first novel I didn’t know how much of the things I’ve always been afraid to talk about I could actually write about. I am surprised at how much I wrote. Even more surprised that I am still writing. About the murders, the rapes, the sex, the beatings, the fears, and the hurtful things that people said in that little village a long time ago. And about the good things that happened as well. I guess, somehow the time comes when all of us must speak, or write.


Now available on Nook!

Disposable People is now available on Nook!

Also available in a range of other formats, including Sony reader, etc.



Click here to go to Barnes and Noble. Special price – $0.99 for the month of June.

Click on image to go to Barnes and Noble

Special giveaway – today and tomorrow only

Here’s something special: if you would like a free copy of Disposable People Kindle version, get it today! Special promo – its free and listed as one of the best kindle books being given away today! Get it before it goes back on sale, which it will. You can access it by clicking here: Amazon, or clicking on the following link: http://www.squidoo.com/the-best-of-amazon-daily-free-ebooks-kindle-ipad. Please remember to read the reviews on amazon and add yours!

Please read the Jamaica Observer newspaper review by clicking here. It is as honest as it gets.

The Nook version will be released in 1 week.

This is simply one of the most honest, practical and useful blogs I’ve read on the challenges of selling self-published novels, and also on how to do it successfully. Very well written and extremely helpful.



I’ve christened May the How To Sell Self-Published Books Month here on Catherine, Caffeinated, but before we get into the nuts and bolts of marketing and promoting your book, we need to have a little tough love session first.

At my most recent workshop I started off by saying to the participants that my aim for the day was to send them home with everything I wished I’d known before I started self-publishing, or in other words everything I had to learn on the job because when I started self-publishing, I didn’t have a clue. And yet clueless and all that I was, I was operating with a huge advantage: realism. Because I’d spent a good decade of my young life poring over every How To Format a Manuscript for Submission To Within an Inch of Its Life Because, Yeah, That’s What’s Going to Be the Deciding Factor (Not!)

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The influence of short stories on my writing

Small sugar cane field on Madeira

Small sugar cane field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love telling stories. I grew up on sugar cane, mangoes, curried crabs, marbles, and stories. They were an essential part of everyday life. Every night on our veranda, with my brother and cousins, we would be telling stories – about ghosts (duppies), Anancy the spider, Big Boy, Obeah (voodoo), and all kinds of things. I listened to them, I told them, and I wet my bed at nights sometimes because I was too afraid to go outside and pee after hearing them. (By the way, when the canes rustled at night evil spirits were often roaming…)

When I was growing up it was very hard to tell the difference between stories and reality. For example, all the things you heard in stories about wicked duppies (evil spirits) doing harm to people, you also heard about in real life. As soon as Mr So and So became sick and started losing weight you would hear even the adults talking about what kind of duppy was ‘riding’ him and sucking him dry.

I think this is the reason so many of my childhood stories stuck with me – they were part of my fears and superstitions. Just the way today I have cousins abroad who go back to Jamaica once per year to have an Obeahman (voodoo man) give them a special ‘bath of protection’, and return to their jobs in metropolitan London and New York, so too I carry with me the stories and superstitions of my youth.

I also still love listening to stories. Indeed, one of the greatest sources of inspiration for me are the New York Times short story podcasts. They are short, intense, and packed with delights. Not only are they specially selected from the works of some of the best story-tellers of our time, but they are also read by famous writers. One of my all-time favourites is a short story by Junot Diaz titled “How to date a brown girl, black girl, white girl…” (There is an extract in the video below, but do sign up for the podcasts – see link below also – and listen to the full story.)

If you know another source of good short stories, whether audio/podcasts or written short stories available online, please feel free to suggest.

Sign up for the NY Times Short Story podcasts here:


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