Before the eleven stories in “How to Love a Jamaican” were collected together, I thought I was writing two separate collections. The first one, which I started during my first year at graduate school in Iowa, was broad in scope. The second collection was about Jamaicans too, but was woman-centric, and interested in gender and sexuality. By this time, I had graduated, and was still living in Iowa City with two Caribbean roommates. My writing had come closer to what I was feeling and thinking, and how I was living. When one of my ex-roommates read “How to Love a Jamaican,” it interested her to see how some of our conversations as Afro-Caribbean women inspired stories in the collection.
The oldest story in the collection is “Slack.” I had a little bit of a crisis after writing it. It was unlike anything I had ever written—it’s such a dark story. I wondered, why did my imagination go there? Now, I know that that’s a naïve question to ask. Soon after, I wrote "Cobby" and “Mermaid River,” and a few months later, "How to Love a Jamaican." I can’t imagine writing any of these stories now. It’s weird. I admire the skill that went into writing these stories, but it feels like a long time ago. Now, I feel personally closer to newer stories in the collection, like “On Shelf,” “Island,” and “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands.”