September 27, 2010

A Conversation With...Charmaine Valere

Where were you born? Describe current family life.

I was born in Guyana and I currently live in New Jersey with my husband and three children.     

What do you do for a living? Why did you choose this vocation?

I am a teacher and a freelance writer. The former helps pay the bills, and the latter makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than the things that seem to control most of my days--bigger than the forms to be filled out for every little turn I make (seemingly), and bigger than bills.

Who are your three favorite writers? Why?

These days (because I read to review mostly), I don’t have the luxury of reading more than one work by a writer to declare anyone a “favourite,” but when I was able to do so, I loved (still do) James Baldwin’s fire and bravery,

What was the first book you fell in love with and how have your reading habits changed over the years?

Little Women was my first love (not sure how young I was). I read it several times and to this day my first love (reading-wise) is a novel with an engaging saga.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (translated by Richard Philcox, copyright 1992) for my Caribbean Women Writers blog series. First lines: Abena, my mother, was raped by an English sailor on the deck of Christ the King one day in the year 16** while the ship was sailing for Barbados. I was born from the act of aggression. From this act of hatred and contempt.

Sounds Caribbean, right?

About Charmaine Valere

Charmaine Valere is a literature adjunct professor in New Jersey, a freelance writer on education and parenting topics, and  she writes about Guyanese and Caribbean literature at

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