Sparkle Richards’ Trini Erot­ica - MOKA

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FEATURE - By A. Z. Sharpe

“I wanted to cre­ate some­thing more re­lat­able to the Caribbean di­as­pora . . . I felt like the world needed a quin­tes­sen­tial Caribbean love story.”

Sparkle Richards has ev­ery­thing to beam about. She re­cently re­ceived the news that her book has been sold out at Nigel R. Khan Book Stores in Trinidad, the sole dis­trib­u­tor of ‘Moka’, top­pling world-renowned (and one of her favourite au­thors) Stephen King’s ‘End of Watch’. She is liv­ing a writer’s dream. Fur­ther­more, ‘Moka’ has re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from its read­ers who ex­pressed their fer­vent love for its pro­tag­o­nists, So­nia Kirk and Thaicion Ortega. “My ex­pec­ta­tions have gone past my ex­pec­ta­tions,” she quipped.

And rightly so! The twotime author who took a writ­ing hia­tus af­ter her first novel, ‘D Next Bac­cha­nal’, was once again in a quandary when she had to hit the brakes on progress while at­tempt­ing to get to the junc­ture of pub­lish­ing. Though this time she en­vi­sioned a lit­er­ary agent who would rep­re­sent her writ­ten work, knock­ing on ev­ery pub­lisher’s door and gen­er­at­ing sales on her beloved, she found her­self, once more, an in­die-pub­lisher. See­ing her own book through from raw ma­te­rial to fi­nal prod­uct was to be man­aged. A chal­leng­ing task, yet one that brought her new­found in­spi­ra­tion. “I wouldn’t want to lose con­trol of ‘Moka’,” she said. “The per­cent­age in roy­al­ties might have been great but it would never be good enough a re­place­ment for my cre­ativ­ity. My work will not be mine and I couldn’t live with that.”

To­day Sparkle Richards is en­joy­ing not only all the suc­cesses but all the PR du­ties that come with the cre­ation of a novel. Trav­el­ling by air from her home in Queens, New York where she moved at the age of 16, to her home­town in Trinidad where her fam­ily re­sides, ttend­ing sev­eral ra­dio shows and host­ing var­i­ous launches at Nigel R. Khan book­stores is now the or­der of the day.

Her In­spi­ra­tion? In 2011, with the ad­vent of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ writ­ten by English author, E.L James, the erot­ica genre was about to take the world by storm. In 2012 it did. E.L James later re­leased ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ and ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ and has sin­gle-hand­edly cap­tured the cov­eted role of best-seller-of- all-time in her own home­town. She sub­se­quently saw the adap­ta­tion of her nov­els into films in 2015 and 2017.

“I think she’s a fan­tas­tic author and one day I hope to be as pro­lific as she is,” the 33-year-old writer pro­fessed. But as pro­lific as E.L. James has been, the English author failed to com­pel the lo­cal writer to walk a mile in her shad­ows. “It was hard for me to un­der­stand (pro­tag­o­nists) Chris­tian (Grey) and Ana’s (Anas­ta­sia Steele) dy­namic. There were too many gaps in their con­nec­tion that I couldn’t un­der­stand.”

Sparkle, in­stead, opted to cre­ate some­thing more re­lat­able to the Caribbean di­as­pora, choos­ing Trini di­alect as her writ­ing style. “I felt like the world needed a quin­tes­sen­tial Caribbean love story,” she says, “one that’s per­sonal, that goes deep, that gets gritty, that rep­re­sents the mi­cro­cosm Caribbean her­itage that we are; for peo­ple who are blue col­lar like us and in­ject some colour in­stead of shades of grey.”

And as clearly as the author saw her vi­sion, she ad­mits that she was daunted by what her read­ers might think of her lat­est in­stall­ment. “My fear was that peo­ple would view the book as purely sex­ual and dis­miss the fac­tor of an artis­tic li­cense that went into draw­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ences, the cul­ture and our beau­ti­ful is­land, Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

On the sub­ject of in­ti­mate scenes, it speaks on the very artis­tic li­cense to which Richards refers as its rep­re­sen­ta­tions come from the bow­els of her own cre­ative en­ter­prise. “The more the re­la­tion­ships of my char­ac­ters blos­somed, the more I was in­spired to de­pict their sex­ual en­coun­ters in the purest form from my own imag­i­na­tion.”

‘Moka’ is your quin­tes­sen­tial new-mil­len­nial erot­ica that does not bor­row from the same for­mu­laic plot as other nov­els of its kind. It’s dar­ing and it tells of a for­bid­den re­la­tion­ship be­tween a mar­ried woman and a sin­gle man. It ap­peals to the needs of those who know what it is like to be cheated on, duped and have sought re­venge. It is tai­lored for the work­ing class with its big dreams and end­less po­ten­tial. The novel takes read­ers through the on­go­ing bat­tles of for­give­ness ver­sus re­venge.

The Caribbean author, who was pleased to put her sig­na­ture on some­thing pa­tri­otic, be­lieves, de­spite the ob­sta­cles, her small na­tion is ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing its own in a grand way. “We do it each year for Car­ni­val; I be­lieve we can sup­port our lit­er­ary work as well,” she said.

Richards har­nessed a fas­ci­na­tion of books at an early age and has been in­spired by the works of Caribbean au­thors Earl Lovelace and VS Naipaul.

She re­vealed that writ­ing is not her only pas­sion but part of a fam­ily of pas­sions which en­com­passes her love of fash­ion (she holds a de­gree from Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy). It also em­braces her love of art which is dis­played on her Facebook fan page Sparx Richie, and her fan­tas­tic makeup tu­to­ri­als that she per­forms al­most ev­ery day on her­self, as well as her clients.

The suc­cess of ‘Moka’ has im­pelled the writer to pro­duce a sec­ond edi­tion which will be launched soon. Her new novel, ‘Red’, is of the same genre and will be de­buted al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously with it.

“I want to put Trinidad on the map in a unique way by al­low­ing our for­eign coun­ter­parts some in­sight into what Caribbean love is like and what Caribbean sex is like and what our gen­res of writ­ing can bring about,” she shared.

‘Moka’ can be found at Nigel R. Khan book­stores, or on­line: www.trinirot­ica.com.

Trinida­dian author Sparkle Richards.

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