edge

Delivering a Golden Child

Pictures courtesy Mark Lyndersay
Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Claire Adam and my first novel, Golden Child, is set in Trinidad.

I'm one of those people who look like they could come from anywhere. People all round the world come up to me with, "Hablas espanol?" And they're so disappointed when I tell them no.

I come from Antigua Drive, Federation Park. I lived in Trinidad until I was 18. I live in south-east London, [London Underground] Zone 3, England, now. I got there in 2000 and didn't plan on staying so long. In 2005, when we got the news London would host the 2012 Olympics, my very first thought was, "I'll be gone by then!" But it's 2019 and I'm coming up to the 20-year mark.

I'm the youngest of four kids and the only one born in Trinidad, not Jamaica. A few years ago, my parents sold up and moved to London, about half-an-hour's drive away. We go round by them for a Sunday lunch my mother cooks. My dad was born in Trinidad, my mother in Ireland. She [Mary Adam] was a Trini to the Bone a few years ago.

Being half of the first-ever parent-and-child Trini to the Bone couple is fun! I've read a good few “Bone Trini” profiles and they're so good. The first one I read was about a doubles man.

I was raised Catholic. My mother is Irish, so Catholicism was a foregone conclusion for us! My dad's family was mainly Muslim, but I don't remember anyone ever going to mosque or temple. I always say Catholicism was a force for good in my life. I'm not a believer now – but I still feel the urge to finish that with a 'praise God'.

I'm married to a nice man from New Zealand, and we have two children, aged 12 and 9. The flight from London is long - 24 hours! But the kids are always asking when we're next going to NZ, because they want the 24-hour journey with meals brought to them and non-stop TV!

We didn't study race in our household at all. I knew my mother was white, being Irish, but I only learnt my father was Indian when I heard my mother describe him over the phone as, "a short Indian man." People sometimes ask, “What, in a mixed-race couple, how could you not talk about race at home?” But I think my parents took the perspective of: “What is there to discuss?” I'm grateful [for it].

We used to go to Ireland for the summer every three years to visit my mother's family in County Cork. Our cousins used to drop us to the airport and then go up to the “waving gallery” to wave as we walked across the tarmac. Young people wouldn't remember any of this. All gone now, I suppose. My grandmother looked after her big garden just by a lake on her own. She was widowed quite young. We're talking woods, fields - proper rural Ireland stuff. It was a novelty, having to wear sweaters, and shoes when you went outside.

My brother went to Princeton, one sister went to University of Pennsylvania, the next sister went to McGill, and I went to Brown. We had all been pretty dedicated students at school. My brother went to St Mary's, the girls all went to SJC POS. We worked hard, no doubt about it. One summer, we went to Ireland, and my brother filled his whole suitcase with A’Level maths and physics textbooks, hardly any clothes! I remember him studying all day at the dining table. He won the Gold Medal.

I also did A’Level physics, maths and chemistry. Because my brother had won the Gold Medal, I knew the teachers were whispering about me. I got three As but didn't win any scholarship at all! I got a B in GP [general paper], which was a shame. I would have liked to get 4As.

I didn't have any problems that came about because of race. I mean, I had a relatively privileged upbringing in Trinidad, and so when I got to the US, I was holding my head pretty high, I didn't feel inferior to anyone, and if anyone made micro aggressions to me, it probably went straight over my head! You're also aware of being something of an ambassador for your country; certainly, academically, I was working extra hard to show them that I, as a Trinidadian, was just as good as any of them! Doing science was helpful too, because science is very objective. It's not about how you speak or how you carry yourself, it's about: what mark did you get on the test?

My siblings and I have talked about how we all went from T&T to fancy Ivy League schools and were the equal of any; if anything, we were ahead of them, academically! The Americans had all this fancy-schmancy stuff in high school, summer projects and state-of-the-art everything, and we had the quite basic facilities available in TT in the 1980s. I realise now it was the excellent teachers we had. Trinidad should be proud of that.

I didn't have any boyfriends while I was in T&T! I was in my house beating books most of the time!

When I first realised our evolution was going to put us on the pathway to becoming robots, I was a bit freaked out. But I've come to accept it now. The next step is human-computer hybrids and we're nearly there already. Who knows what will be possible? A stage of our evolution will come when there is no death at all, and that's going to bring lots of interesting [choices]. But I'm glad to be a human and, for me personally, I will choose to resist roboticisation, and accept mortality. People reading this will probably think, "This lady is crazy!" but check me back in five or ten years. It will become clearer then, if it's not already clear now.

I think there was a very sensible approach to religion in TT, actually, probably because there were so many religions bouncing up against each other. I was very grateful for that. I think other countries could learn a lot from Trinidad, in that respect.

My favourite colour is red. I look good in red.

I read fiction, non-fiction, short stories. Things are good now because I sometimes get sent books for free! This is one of the perks of being a published writer. But like everybody these days, I spend way too much time scrolling through news websites, which is a very dreary way to spend one's time...

I should make more time for music. Nowadays I only listen to music in the car, usually Classic FM if I'm on my own. I don’t have a favourite singer, musician or band and I don’t dance. I don't think I could name a single film director! Life in cities ain't all it's cracked up to be - all work and no play!

I get most homesick when I see everybody gearing up for Carnival! Other countries don't have anything like T&T Carnival. Having said that, when I'm actually IN Trinidad during Carnival, I'm like, "This is too noisy! There's nowhere to get any peace and quiet!"

[Sex and the City star] Sarah Jessica Parker has been great. She's an avid reader, and genuinely loves Golden Child! The book had already been picked up by Hogarth and SJ was reading Hogarth manuscripts, to see which ones she felt most passionate about, and she picked this one [for her own imprint]. The collaboration has been wonderful. The media stuff in the US was fun, and not as scary as I thought it might be. It's been a pleasure. The only problem is, I can't keep up with the emails – apologies to anyone still waiting for a reply – but it's quite a nice problem to have.

I'm enjoying the NGC Bocas Lit Fest that I've watched from afar many times. It's an honour to be invited. And it's probably quite good to get a change of scenery, meet other writers (and readers) and so on. But it does take away from actual writing time. I watched a few poetry slams by livestream on Facebook in past years and can't wait to be in the room with these energetic amazing poets.

The best thing about writing Golden Child is that it's DONE! For many years, I didn't know if I would ever see my way to the end; I felt stuck in a maze. I'm glad to have it out there, and to feel satisfied that I gave it my absolute best. There isn't that much of a downside, so I'm kind of making stuff up here, but the worst part might be the worry that, though I'm ready to move on with my life, write other things, do other things, Golden Child will follow me around like a shadow for the rest of my life...

To me, a Trini is somebody not to be underestimated.

Trinidad & Tobago means the place where I grew up. I feel lucky to have been born here, to have grown up here. I sometimes feel very homesick for Trinidad, but I know I won't come back here to live.

Delivering a Golden Child

Pictures courtesy Mark Lyndersay
Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Claire Adam and my first novel, Golden Child, is set in Trinidad.

I'm one of those people who look like they could come from anywhere. People all round the world come up to me with, "Hablas espanol?" And they're so disappointed when I tell them no.

I come from Antigua Drive, Federation Park. I lived in Trinidad until I was 18. I live in south-east London, [London Underground] Zone 3, England, now. I got there in 2000 and didn't plan on staying so long. In 2005, when we got the news London would host the 2012 Olympics, my very first thought was, "I'll be gone by then!" But it's 2019 and I'm coming up to the 20-year mark.

I'm the youngest of four kids and the only one born in Trinidad, not Jamaica. A few years ago, my parents sold up and moved to London, about half-an-hour's drive away. We go round by them for a Sunday lunch my mother cooks. My dad was born in Trinidad, my mother in Ireland. She [Mary Adam] was a Trini to the Bone a few years ago.

Being half of the first-ever parent-and-child Trini to the Bone couple is fun! I've read a good few “Bone Trini” profiles and they're so good. The first one I read was about a doubles man.

I was raised Catholic. My mother is Irish, so Catholicism was a foregone conclusion for us! My dad's family was mainly Muslim, but I don't remember anyone ever going to mosque or temple. I always say Catholicism was a force for good in my life. I'm not a believer now – but I still feel the urge to finish that with a 'praise God'.

I'm married to a nice man from New Zealand, and we have two children, aged 12 and 9. The flight from London is long - 24 hours! But the kids are always asking when we're next going to NZ, because they want the 24-hour journey with meals brought to them and non-stop TV!

We didn't study race in our household at all. I knew my mother was white, being Irish, but I only learnt my father was Indian when I heard my mother describe him over the phone as, "a short Indian man." People sometimes ask, “What, in a mixed-race couple, how could you not talk about race at home?” But I think my parents took the perspective of: “What is there to discuss?” I'm grateful [for it].

We used to go to Ireland for the summer every three years to visit my mother's family in County Cork. Our cousins used to drop us to the airport and then go up to the “waving gallery” to wave as we walked across the tarmac. Young people wouldn't remember any of this. All gone now, I suppose. My grandmother looked after her big garden just by a lake on her own. She was widowed quite young. We're talking woods, fields - proper rural Ireland stuff. It was a novelty, having to wear sweaters, and shoes when you went outside.

My brother went to Princeton, one sister went to University of Pennsylvania, the next sister went to McGill, and I went to Brown. We had all been pretty dedicated students at school. My brother went to St Mary's, the girls all went to SJC POS. We worked hard, no doubt about it. One summer, we went to Ireland, and my brother filled his whole suitcase with A’Level maths and physics textbooks, hardly any clothes! I remember him studying all day at the dining table. He won the Gold Medal.

I also did A’Level physics, maths and chemistry. Because my brother had won the Gold Medal, I knew the teachers were whispering about me. I got three As but didn't win any scholarship at all! I got a B in GP [general paper], which was a shame. I would have liked to get 4As.

I didn't have any problems that came about because of race. I mean, I had a relatively privileged upbringing in Trinidad, and so when I got to the US, I was holding my head pretty high, I didn't feel inferior to anyone, and if anyone made micro aggressions to me, it probably went straight over my head! You're also aware of being something of an ambassador for your country; certainly, academically, I was working extra hard to show them that I, as a Trinidadian, was just as good as any of them! Doing science was helpful too, because science is very objective. It's not about how you speak or how you carry yourself, it's about: what mark did you get on the test?

My siblings and I have talked about how we all went from T&T to fancy Ivy League schools and were the equal of any; if anything, we were ahead of them, academically! The Americans had all this fancy-schmancy stuff in high school, summer projects and state-of-the-art everything, and we had the quite basic facilities available in TT in the 1980s. I realise now it was the excellent teachers we had. Trinidad should be proud of that.

I didn't have any boyfriends while I was in T&T! I was in my house beating books most of the time!

When I first realised our evolution was going to put us on the pathway to becoming robots, I was a bit freaked out. But I've come to accept it now. The next step is human-computer hybrids and we're nearly there already. Who knows what will be possible? A stage of our evolution will come when there is no death at all, and that's going to bring lots of interesting [choices]. But I'm glad to be a human and, for me personally, I will choose to resist roboticisation, and accept mortality. People reading this will probably think, "This lady is crazy!" but check me back in five or ten years. It will become clearer then, if it's not already clear now.

I think there was a very sensible approach to religion in TT, actually, probably because there were so many religions bouncing up against each other. I was very grateful for that. I think other countries could learn a lot from Trinidad, in that respect.

My favourite colour is red. I look good in red.

I read fiction, non-fiction, short stories. Things are good now because I sometimes get sent books for free! This is one of the perks of being a published writer. But like everybody these days, I spend way too much time scrolling through news websites, which is a very dreary way to spend one's time...

I should make more time for music. Nowadays I only listen to music in the car, usually Classic FM if I'm on my own. I don’t have a favourite singer, musician or band and I don’t dance. I don't think I could name a single film director! Life in cities ain't all it's cracked up to be - all work and no play!

I get most homesick when I see everybody gearing up for Carnival! Other countries don't have anything like T&T Carnival. Having said that, when I'm actually IN Trinidad during Carnival, I'm like, "This is too noisy! There's nowhere to get any peace and quiet!"

[Sex and the City star] Sarah Jessica Parker has been great. She's an avid reader, and genuinely loves Golden Child! The book had already been picked up by Hogarth and SJ was reading Hogarth manuscripts, to see which ones she felt most passionate about, and she picked this one [for her own imprint]. The collaboration has been wonderful. The media stuff in the US was fun, and not as scary as I thought it might be. It's been a pleasure. The only problem is, I can't keep up with the emails – apologies to anyone still waiting for a reply – but it's quite a nice problem to have.

I'm enjoying the NGC Bocas Lit Fest that I've watched from afar many times. It's an honour to be invited. And it's probably quite good to get a change of scenery, meet other writers (and readers) and so on. But it does take away from actual writing time. I watched a few poetry slams by livestream on Facebook in past years and can't wait to be in the room with these energetic amazing poets.

The best thing about writing Golden Child is that it's DONE! For many years, I didn't know if I would ever see my way to the end; I felt stuck in a maze. I'm glad to have it out there, and to feel satisfied that I gave it my absolute best. There isn't that much of a downside, so I'm kind of making stuff up here, but the worst part might be the worry that, though I'm ready to move on with my life, write other things, do other things, Golden Child will follow me around like a shadow for the rest of my life...

To me, a Trini is somebody not to be underestimated.

Trinidad & Tobago means the place where I grew up. I feel lucky to have been born here, to have grown up here. I sometimes feel very homesick for Trinidad, but I know I won't come back here to live.