I remember sitting on my uncle’s verandah as a kid, watching Star Trek through the living room’s glass-paned window. I remember the voice of Captain Jean Luc Picard speaking of exploring strange, new worlds and seeking out new civilizations, of boldly going where no one has gone before.
Hearing those words for the very first time, I remember, I was electrified. I was somewhere between eight and ten years old, that day I first fell truly, deeply in love with science fiction.
I remember night-time stories of the rolling calf, river mummas and duppies, including some woman named Shirley’s duppy. I remember the lore and superstition that gave me curious thrills of fear and sent chills running down my spine.
I myself may have had a supernatural encounter or two. Like those times I would hear someone call my name when there was no one else there. Like that time I thought I was being chased by a rolling calf.
Hearing and sharing these tales gave rise to my love of horror-fiction.
I remember a land of twisted rivers, seething hills, lush valleys and the gloriously salty sea air—the breathtaking island of Jamaica, where I was raised.
I was a lonely child, uncommonly quiet at times. I was treated unkindly because of that silence, accused of being sneaky and devious by the adults around me. The ominous words “silent rivers run deep” were often thrown my way. This used to confuse me because I didn’t think I was being quiet. After all, it was never quiet inside my head.
I remember reading Ray Bradbury for the very first time. The story was “All Summer in a Day,” and I cried because I thought I was very much like Margot, treated like a weirdo and subjected to the casual cruelty of other children.
Years later, when I read “The Fog Horn” my breath was taken away. My god, was it really possible to put that into words? That desperate, endless yearning.
It was then that I realized that I’d found in writers like Bradbury, McCaffrey, Asimov, and Niven—kindred spirits of some kind.
It was then that I started dreaming of writing a story, a story that had not yet been told. A story that would let some other child realize that there was nothing under the sun or beyond, that couldn’t be put into words.
When I sleep, I dream in sci-fi and horror. I dream of monsters and invading aliens. I dream of chasing and being chased. The flotsam and jetsam of my childhood are always in interwoven within the fabric of my most fantastic nightmares.
In my dreams, I speed along the gnarly roads I once traveled in Jamaica. I smell the cereus that bloomed at night in my great-uncle’s garden and the cool moss and dark greenery of Fern Gully. I grow drunk on the deep, mysterious scent of the earth and sounds of this one winding river that always follows me in my dreams.
Somewhere along the line, my love of reading, dreaming and writing had collided with my love of science fiction and horror. Now, bits and pieces of my dreams and the vaguely remembered lore from my childhood spill from my fingers onto the page.
In the middle of the night, I wake up from terrible nightmares eagerly reaching for a pen.
My name is Tonya. I am a lone speculative fiction writer, uncommonly quiet at times. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m sometimes regarded as strange by others. I believe silent rivers do run deep, but believe me, there’s nothing quiet about me.
After all, it’s never quiet inside my head.