When Joanne burgess was young and living in her native Bermuda, she wanted to be a dancer. Encourage children to chase their dreams no matter what, she wrote The Lizard and the Rock, which Kenyan children can enjoy with the recent release of the e-version. Click here for a copy. Joanne- a judge on the local dance reality show Sakata Mashariki on Citizen TV- has lived in Kenya since 2011.
When did you write The Lizard and the Rock and why?
I wrote The Lizard and the Rock in 2002 as a class assignment. The theme of the story features a lizard named Sam who has big dreams but the rest of the lizard community tries to discourage him from believing in his dreams.
Back then I was Sam. Coming from my small island, Bermuda, I had many big dreams but was often discouraged by well-meaning adults. The fact that I had made it to go to college in the US was the beginning of me seeing those dreams realized. It was not until 2007 when I started this story with a close friend who encouraged me to publish it.
I was living in Jerusalem and had just had my second baby. It was not until 2009 when we moved back home to Bermuda that I published it. I have always written down my thoughts and emotions through poetry and story. It has always been a personal thing to me. It is only in the more recent years that the world has been able to share my stories. I am happy that Kenya is now a part of my story.
Why did you feel this was the time to launch the e-book version?
The first edition of The Lizard and the Rock is a large, cardstock book. Although it’s been well received, it is costly to transport across the ocean. My thought was that by publishing a digital version, children all over the world with access to a computer, Kindle or cell phone would read it.
Being from Bermuda, did your native story telling or folklore influence you when you were writing the book?
Yes my stories are full of Bermudian sayings and folklore. The setting, characters and the ways that the characters interact, including the relationship between Sam and his mother is reflective of Bermudian culture. I even explain some of the reasons things are the way they are in Bermuda through this story.
Is writing for children easy?
If you are a writer who is able to think like a child then, yes, it is easy to write for children. If you are a person who can find humor even in the most serious of situations, can imagine magical worlds in the midst of tough times then, yes, it is easy to write for children.
Which book from your childhood do you remember the most? And what impact did it have on your young mind?
I found a nursery rhyme book that my mom used to read to me when I was young. In that book, there is a story of a possum with a flute. He plays his flute and asks all the animals to grab a tree branch to join in the tune.
Soon, the flute reaches around the world and the music is heard everywhere all because of one possum. That story resonated with me and reflects the reason I do what I do now, dance, sing and write around the world.
Working on anything?
I’ve also recently published my memoir, An Underworld Education. It can be found on Amazon.com in Bermuda Anthology of memoir and creative non-fiction under the title, Take This Journey with Me. Click here to find it
Mwikali Lati of Business Daily
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