Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2015 Contents B4
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, March 26, 2015
Amalie Howard wrote her first book
at age nine. It was written out by hand
in a copybook and was about a girl
with magic tattoos.
At 15, she won a Commonwealth
essay competition for a story about a
man who played the violin as a way to
communicate with his dead daughter,
whose soul was trapped in a weeping
She had a vivid imagination that was
nurtured at home by her mom, a sec-
ondary school French teacher, and her
dad, a primary school principal.
"My parents never stifled my creative
drive at all," she recalled.
Howard has parlayed that creativity
into a career as an author, carving out
a niche in the increasingly crowded
young adult fantasy genre, which has
exploded in the last two decades, with
the success of book/movie series Harry
Potter, Twilight and The Hunger
Howard is about to release her sixth
novel and is even in talks to have one
of her books made into a television
Howard s success is especially impor-
tant to T&T because she was born here
40 years ago as Reshma Amalie Gosine.
She migrated to study and work, spent
time in Boston, New York and France,
before settling in Colorado with her
Howard s mom, Nazroon Ramsey, a
retired French teacher, said she knew
her daughter was special when at three,
the little girl had a battle of wills when
an aunt offered her juice in a plastic
cup when Howard wanted a glass.
"She said, No thank you. I don t
want the juice . That showed me that
she had a mind of her own," said Ram-
sey.Howard recently returned to T&T
for the first time in ten years. The trip
was a brief vacation and to celebrate
her mom s birthday, but she took the
opportunity to hold a book signing at
Mohammed s Bookstore in La Romaine,
which carries her books, make TV and
radio appearances, and to visit her alma
mater, St Augustine Girls High School.
She gave a classroom of wide-eyed
teen girls advice on writing and on life.
"Dare to be different. Be the excep-
tion not the rule. Your differences are
what s going to make you you," she
"Don t be afraid to take chances or
try anything new because you ll never
know if you ll be able to do it or not,"
she added. "Believe in yourself and you
can t fail. Be resilient."
She was swarmed afterwards by eager
students wanting her to sign books and
bookmarks and answer more questions.
Her presence gave hope to those with
ambitions to write. "It made me realise
I can do it," said 13-year-old Amba
Mohammed. "I shouldn t stop writ-
Howard always dreamed of writing.
But she deferred it in favour of a cor-
porate career until five years ago. A fan
of fantasy novels and the young adult
genre---she admires JK Rowling, JRR
Tolkien and Anne Rice---she thought
she could do better than Twilight author
"My biggest problem with Twilight
was that Bella was so weak," she said,
referring to the series teen protagonist.
"I wanted to write about girls that
inspired other girls," she said.
She wanted to send the message to
young readers that "no matter if you re
born with a disability or other problems
you can surmount that."
She wrote her first book, Bloodspell,
got an agent, who got her publishing
deals for that and subsequent books.
Bloodspell is about a 17-year-old girl
who discovers she s a witch and faces
a curse. Waterfell and Oceanborn are
a series about a mermaid hiding in the
human world and seeking to reclaim
her lost birthright from enemies. In
Alpha Goddess, the human avatar of
the Hindu goddess Lakshmi has to fight
to save the world from an evil god.
The fearlessness of the characters is
reflective of Howard herself.
On her Web site she boasts of exten-
sive travel, bungee-jumping 765 feet
in China, and attending a Halloween
party at the Playboy Mansion.
St Augustine Girls economics teacher
Pearl Balgaroo remembers Howard as
a "brilliant student" with "an inquiring
"She challenged what you had to say.
She didn t take anything as is," said
Howard hopes her success can send
another message: Race and gender
shouldn t keep back any author. Neither
should being from a small island.
"You write a novel, if you believe in
it enough, you get an agent, they send
it to a publisher and you get published.
You can totally do that from here," she
"I m an international writer. One of
my publishers is British. That didn t
stop them from publishing me," she
added. "Publishers are looking for a
In fact, Howard said, her Trinidadian
heritage has helped her work.
"Growing up in a place that is multi-
cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious
is phenomenal. It gave me an appre-
ciation for different cultures, different
stories," she said.
"There s so much folklore and imag-
ination, richness and diversity," she
"It was a huge contribution."
Amalie Howard, centre, with some of the students at her alma mater St Augustine Girls' High School.
Howard, a young adult fiction writer, told the girls to be fearless in life. PHOTO: ERLINE ANDREWS
Amalie Howard comes home...
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