Gayle Gonsalves is an adept Caribbean Canadian storyteller and recipient of three indie awards for her first novel, My Stories Have No Endings. The story is set in Antigua and follows Kai, a spiritually intelligent young woman who can hear the voices of our ancestors. The author’s ability to address the poignant effects of colonialism extends a compelling read. Each chapter introduces a new layer of challenges of dark, historical secrets. The stories in this novel will leave readers yearning for more.
I had the privilege of interviewing Gayle at The Black and Caribbean Book Affair held at A Different Booklist Cultural Centre. Her poise evokes the indistinguishable colours, textures, and dimensions as her written words.
Yolanda: What inspired you to write “My Stories Have No Endings”?
Gayle Gonsalves: The characters in my first published short story, “Tamarind Stew”, gave birth to the novel. Once I completed the short story, the characters kept whispering to me, telling me there was more to say. I had to give them life. My pen continued to write, which led to “My Stories Have No Endings.”
The metamorphosis to novel was a writing adventure. As the plot took many twists and turns, I moved away from the original short story. I rechristened Julie “Kai.” I redefined the original Julie (Kai) because Julie didn’t embody the traits of a heroine and wasn’t interesting to develop. As Kai, she became much bolder, more spiritual. Tony became “Hayden.” As Hayden, he underwent a metamorphosis—he was now a teenager claiming manhood. Julie’s (Kai’s) mother took on a name (Sharon) which allowed her to become an explosive force with an identity and a history. She also retained her original voice. Sharon was always a truly interesting character, and I was honoured to finally find the pages to give texture to her. Finally, the breeze that blew the Ancestors voice to me completed the final layer for this story.
Kai, in my opinion, is an embodiment of a sharp and spiritual person. How much of yourself is mirrored into this character?
Gayle: Although a bold line separates me from Kai, we share some traits. The most obvious is that we’re both writers. As writers, we enjoy our solitude which allows us to tap into our creative spirit to write words. Where we diverge is our inspiration. While Kai dips her ear into the wind to hear stories, my stories come from different inspirations like walking and yoga. From a very young age, Kai is comfortable with her creative spirit, but it took me longer to find my writing voice. There’s a part of me that asks the question—what if I’d embraced my writing much earlier? This leads to another question—would I have written My Stories Have No Endings?
What message(s) do you foresee will leave readers wanting this story never to end?
Gayle: The one question that I’m always asked—are you writing a sequel? I’m also asked—what happens next to Kai? I also receive feedback that the book was aptly named. Kai is the heroine and readers fall in love with her. Her mystique is her ability to dip her ears into wind to hear the Ancestors telling her stories from the forgotten past. I believe it is these two overlapping storylines that leave readers wanting more and saying they didn’t want the book to end. Kai is still a young woman when the novel ends, and this timeline lends itself to many questions. What next will happen to her? How many more stories will she write? Is she happy?
How does it feel to win multiple awards for this brilliant novel?
Gayle: My writing life has taught me patience and a very simple truth—writers want to be read. I get a lot of joy from someone reaching out to me and telling me they enjoyed my book. However, the awards took me by surprise. Yes, there was jubilation and a sense of satisfaction when I received the first award, but more importantly it helped to solidify all the praise that I was receiving. Writing a book that has received three awards to date is truly humbling and exhilarating: (i) 2021 NIEA Finalist Multi-Cultural Fiction; (ii) 2021 CIPA EVYY Awards—2nd Place Women’s Fiction; and (iii) 2021 NYC Big Book Award—Distinguished Favorite Multi-Cultural Fiction.
My Stories Have No Endings is available at A Different Booklist store, Amazon, and Indigo.
Author’s website: www.gaylegonsalveswriter.com