When Sabrina Ramnanan enrolled in the School of Continuing Studies’ Creative Writing Program in 2010, doors started swinging open. There, Ramnanan (BA 2005 UTSC, BEd 2006), whose parents grew up in Trinidad, began her first novel. It chronicled the comical goings-on in a Trinidadian village after a young woman is caught in the mangrove trees with the village pandit’s son. But the story had never made it past her front door. To take her story into the world, Ramnanan needed a mentor.
Into the classroom walked Rabindranath Maharaj, an instructor tailor-made to be her coach. Like Ramnanan, Maharaj writes about Trinidad and lives in Ajax, Ont. “I bump into him at Starbucks,” says Ramnanan. “He has taught me lots about character development and how to use dialogue effectively.” Maharaj also encouraged her to submit a short story to Diaspora Dialogues, which published it in one of its anthologies.
For new writers, the publisher’s door can seem nailed shut. But another instructor and mentor, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer (MA 2013), and the Creative Writing program head, Lee Gowan, used their contacts to have Lynn Henry, then Doubleday Canada’s publishing director, read Ramnanan’s half-finished book. Soon Ramnanan was strolling into the boardroom where Henry slid her card across the table and told Ramnanan to send her the completed novel.
Ramnanan can write three or four chapters a day, sometimes laughing out loud as she does. “I know instinctively when I’m writing well because I’m enjoying myself,” she says. “I’m so happy when I write. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Doubleday will release Ramnanan’s novel Nothing Like Love in April 2015.
Read an excerpt from Nothing Like Love…