Exploring Heritage and Resilience in the Novels of Norma Jennings

Exploring Heritage, Resilience, and the Power of Storytelling

Award-winning author Norma Jennings shares her journey, inspirations, and insights into crafting compelling narratives that span cultures and generations.

Norma Jennings, a four-time, award-winning author, unveils the intricacies of her literary journey and the profound inspirations behind her captivating narratives. As she prepares to Releasing her latest masterpiece, The Irish Connection, on July 7, 2023, Jennings invites readers into a world where heritage, resilience, and cultural diversity intertwine to form the fabric of her storytelling.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Jennings found herself pondering the origins of names like Gavin O’Connor and Olivia Murphy among her classmates, sparking a quest for understanding that birthed The Irish Connection. With a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a wealth of corporate experience in both the United States and Jamaica, Jennings brings a unique perspective to her narratives, enriched by her deep connection to her ancestral roots and her frequent visits to her grandmother’s sugarcane plantation, Twickenham.

Jennings’ literary prowess has garnered acclaim, with her novels Daughter of The Caribbean and Passenger From Greece earning her recognition as one of the 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading. With themes spanning across different countries and historical periods, Jennings delves into the complexities of relationships, the consequences of betrayal, and the enduring power of resilience.

In this exclusive interview, Jennings offers insights into her writing process, drawing from her own experiences and encounters to craft compelling characters and narratives that resonate with readers. As she teases her upcoming work, “Closure, Interrupted,” Jennings promises a poignant exploration of emotional landscapes and the quest for closure in the aftermath of betrayal.

Join us as we delve into the world of Norma Jennings, a master storyteller whose narratives transcend borders, weaving together the threads of heritage, family, and resilience into unforgettable literary tapestries.

What inspired you to write stories that span across different countries and historical periods, like in The Irish Connection and Daughter of the Caribbean?

Multiculturalism was an important part of my childhood in Jamaica, since many of us are mixtures of more than two ethnicities. My ethnic mix is British, Scottish and black, with some Indian in there too. Writing about different cultures and people comes naturally, and I’m fascinated by facts revealed during research. These facts motivate me to take the story into thought-provoking, unforeseen directions. Also, having traveled extensively as a flight attendant in my youth, I experienced and embraced many countries and cultures.

Your novels often explore themes of heritage, family, and resilience. How have your own experiences and background influenced the narratives you craft?

I come from an extremely rich and exotic cultural background, to which I’m well-connected. In school, we were taught to embrace our heritage and our fight for freedom, with pride. Growing up in a British colony required great resilience and survival skills, and the determination to never let anyone or anything diminish you.  This makes writing about cultural, familial ties, and resilience both enjoyable and fulfilling. 

In Passenger from Greece, you delve into the complexities of relationships and the consequences of betrayal. What draws you to explore these emotional landscapes in your writing?

Passenger from Greece was actually inspired by my concerns about drug trafficking and its effect on the Caribbean. While developing the story and characters, I also needed to explore the complexities of the characters’ relationships. Although I did not experience most of what they did, I had to put myself into their heads in order to effectively portray their emotional journey.

 Your protagonist in Passenger from Greece, Olivia, is described as feisty, resourceful, and adventurous. To what extent do you draw from real-life experiences or people you’ve encountered in shaping your characters?

The main character, Olivia, in “Passenger from Greece” was very much like me, so I was able to get into her head as she swam in the sea of complexities and disappointments. Also, having been a Flight Attendant, I was able to draw on experiences as I navigated the trauma of a plane crash. Drawing on real life experiences and talking with people I know, about how they would handle certain situations, do help with character development.

Can you share some insights into your writing process? How do you approach research and character development when crafting your novels?

My best writing takes place in the morning, so I usually wake up early, walk 1.5 miles, have a healthy breakfast, and get on the computer. On nights when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep, I do some edits. I’ve been known to dream about my main character, jump out of bed and write what I’ve dreamed before forgetting it.

Your upcoming novel, Marooned, sounds intriguing. Without giving too much away, what themes or stories can readers expect to encounter in this new work?

 Marooned takes readers on a journey of the bravery, determination, and ferocity of a Maroon woman warrior, who led and won the fight for freedom against the British red coat army. Did you know that the Jamaican Maroons were ferocious escaped slaves who earned the reputation as the first freedom fighters in the New World? This is compelling since, in 1739, nearly 40 years before the United States achieved its independence from England, the Jamaican Maroons, some tribes led by women, had already won their wars for independence in the Caribbean.

award seal
Editor’s Choice, Award of Literary Excellence  is presented to Norma Jennings and a select group of exceptional authors by Reader’s House magazine.

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