A Conversation with Karel Mc Intosh
A qualified communicator, she holds a MSc. in Corporate Communications with Distinction from Thames Valley University (England), and a BSc. in Government with a minor in International Relations (Upper Second Class Honours) from the University of the West Indies (Trinidad).
Diverse public relations, writing and editorial projects have defined Karel’s five-year communications career. Her career started in 1999 when she joined the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday as a freelancer, and soon became a full-time reporter, copping Newsday’s Best Story of the Year Award in 2000. Since then, she has amassed valuable experience writing for communications, lifestyle and business magazines. Currently, she is a columnist with the Jamaica Gleaner’s JobSmart. Karel has also worked in public relations consultancy, where she gained a wealth of experience with companies from various industries, including the energy, engineering, financial, and non-profit sector. Karel has also lectured in the fields of communications, public relations and foreign policy.
Karel is a Member of the International Association of Business Communicators, and actively participates in the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter. You can contact her at email@example.com
Where were you born? Describe current family life.
I was born in Trinidad, and have lived there all of my life, except for a few vacations and the year I spent pursuing my master's in England. I’m the only girl out of four children and I come from a full, nuclear family with Mom and Dad still together, and having always been there for us. I’m especially tickled by my nieces and nephews who I absolutely adore.
What do you do for a living? Why did you choose this vocation?
I work in the field of corporate communication, and love it. Writing was always a strength of mine, so initially I had considered journalism, and law for some reason, as potential careers. During a year off from my Bachelors studies, I took a year off to work with a Trinidad newspaper, and from there kept doing communications-related stuff during my UWI years. By that time I was convinced that communications was for me, especially since I liked the strategic aspect of it. I believe in sticking with what I’m good at, and more importantly what keeps me happy, and communications does that for me.
Who are your three favorite writers? Why?
Gosh, that’s a bit of a tough question for me. I don’t read as much as I’d like to and I haven’t for a while. But growing up – in my pre-teen years – I read DH Lawrence, Chinua Achebe, Michael Anthony, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. I’m really all over the place with writers, but I absolutely love Elizabeth Nunez, and Chinua Achebe.
What was the first book you fell in love with and how have your reading habits changed over the years?
I love, love, love, Chinua Achebe. To me Things Fall Apart was great and riveting. I equally love Green Days by the River by Michael Anthony, and DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers. In primary school, I read the usual Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, but mixed it with great, Caribbean literature from the likes of Michael Anthony and Selvon, and Achebe, Lawrence etc. In secondary school I studied English Literature right up to "A" Levels, and so I read George Elliott’s The Mill on the Floss, Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, lots of DH Lawrence, and other books on the curriculum.
I love Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, but wasn’t impressed by her other offerings. While I was in England I took advantage of lots of free delivery by Amazon and I stocked up on Elizabeth Nunez. In between that I read tonnes of corporate communications, public relations, advertising and marketing books and journals for my Masters. Now, if I’m really bored, I’ll borrow one of my friends’ romance novels, which in my book aren’t real literature. What I really want to do is to create a library of great, Caribbean books. My problem is easy access locally to Caribbean authors (somehow bookstores think that VS Naipaul alone qualifies), so Amazon is going to get business from me.
Honestly though, reading actual published works has taken a bit of a backseat for me since my addiction to the Internet took over my life J
What are you reading now?
The Internet (laughter). Most times I read stuff on social media etc. I do read Bajegirl’s fiction at the Cheese-on-Bread blog though J Currently, I’m searching high and low in Trini bookstores for a copy of Green Days by the River, which I read over 15 years ago, but I remember I loved it, and want to get it badly so I can enjoy it again. So, if I don’t order it from Amazon, Santa’s elves can send me a copy (yes, I’m already waiting for Christmas with bated breath)!
What makes you laugh?
It doesn’t take much to make me laugh, and I laugh quite often. I laugh at ridiculous comments, picong, outright funny jokes, people’s quirky movements, someone else laughing and seriously lame jokes. I’m a winner at stale joke competitions as well, so I have career options. Mostly, I laugh at my nieces’ and nephews’ antics, which most of the time I instigate, and which they do because they know Aunty Karel will reward them with a hearty round of laughter.
What are your other passions?
I love singing, as I used to attend music school, and would like to start that back one day, as well as to get back on my piano. As noted before, I’m really into the Internet, and would like to become a full-fledged tech geek one day, as well as a designer. These will marry well with my current communications skills. These days I’m also in the gym, trying to be a fitness freak. Hopefully, I’ll become really passionate about that. LOL. Otherwise, my overall passion is simply enjoying life to the fullest, living each day thanking God for life, strength, joy, his goodness and family and friends. I’m a real simple person.