If you want to meet determination and creativity in the form of a person, meet Goretty Gordon. Goretty is the founder of READ2MeNiTE, a parent-child reading club, and the author of Mikey and Gloria’s Secrets. Wanting to write a book, and actually writing one are two different things. During a conversation with your girl Kreyolicious, she went over all aspects of her journey, and discussed how her book came about. But just as important as her book is the story of the author who wrote it…and I think you’ll find it just as compelling. Read on…
Kreyolicious: Tell us about yourself.
I am a blessed Haitian lady, married to a wonderful Jamaican man. I am also a mother of three young spectacular children and author of Mikey and Gloria’s Secrets, the first of the Secrets series. These stories emphasize on the importance of all children revealing any and all possible harmful secrets they may keep.
I was brought up in Boston, but have lived in South Florida for over a decade now. I grew up watching my mother work all the time. My dad worked as well. Our job as children was to go to school and do our homework. Reading was always encouraged. I developed a love for reading and writing early on but never truly realized what effect I could have on people who read what I wrote. When I moved to South Florida, I never intended to write, although my actions proved otherwise. I worked many jobs and many times if I had the opportunity, at lunch time let’s say, it wasn’t uncommon to find me writing the time away. Eventually I found less and less time to write. It wasn’t until recently when my past and present seemed to come full circle that I found myself being pushed back into my writing. I was in a state of many emotions and internal conflicts. I honestly believe God reconnected me with my passion for writing as a means to not only tighten my bond with my children—who inspire me daily—but also as a source of escape. The funny thing about that is when following your passions to escape from things you sometimes find yourself using that very thing to help others. I guess that’s when healing really begins, wouldn’t you say? Well, I say Amen for the process of healing.
Kreyolicious: What was the writing and publishing process like for Mikey and Gloria’s Secrets
When I started writing Mikey and Gloria’s Secrets , it was a story I intended for my children. I never knew what the content would consist of. I didn’t even have the title until it was completed. I wanted to be a better mom when it came to reading to my children. I struggled more with the fact that I wasn’t making a more diligent effort at doing it because I was someone who loved to read and write. As a mom—before I had children—I always thought if I ever did have children that reading to them would be my ace in the hole. Not only that, I grew up in a Haitian home and we all know the saying, aller chercher un livre [Go get a book]. So when all the excuses you can think of—“It’s way past your bedtime”, “Okay, the rest for tomorrow”—[were said] after only reading a few lines became a pattern, I had to do something about it. I just had to. I started jotting things down one day as I waited at my son’s school pick-up spot. I decided I would write a story for my babies. Before I knew it, I had a story that pretty much started me in on this message of secrets and talking about [them]. Being a stay-at-home mom now for the past couple of years almost, has been so rewarding in the obvious ways, but there’s something to be said for the women and children out there who do that while carrying baggage of the past in regards to violence and sexual assaults. You’re home most of the day and watching your children sometimes becomes a most fearful experience. The fear of someone hurting your child when you’re not looking—or worse still right under your nose—is a real terrifying feeling. Prevention is important, yes–but let’s be honest–in most circumstances we usually prevent when we know something is up. I say we need to shield my children, your children, our children before we believe something is up. I don’t believe I was given this passion of mine for me and mine alone. Mikey and Gloria’s Secrets and the message of secrets is one all children deserve access to. I started a reading group with the kids as well in which I invited any child or parent who wanted to attend on a bi-weekly basis to come read with us. I figured if someone like me who’s a bookworm at heart finds reasons not to read to my [reading-]craving children, then others might need a little accountability as well. My son’s elementary school motto is, “It takes a village.” I’d like to add the village has to be willing.
Kreyolicious: When you were in elementary school, did you take construction paper and try to make a book cover for an imaginary book?
I don’t remember ever trying to make a cover for an imaginary book when I was in elementary school, but I do recall in middle school I got to make a journal while the other students completed their projects to pass for the term. My requirements were already fulfilled, so I got to choose to make a journal for fun. I used construction paper for the interior sleeves and thicker type of paper—perhaps cardboard—for the exterior. I covered that with a pretty pink fabric with vertical stripes on it. Once it was graded for the sake of being graded and returned to me, I gave it to my mother as a random gift. To this day, I peek through it every so often as I remember her.
Kreyolicous: Do you think school helped shaped who you’ve become?
I believe every experience in life—whether you’re a spectator or a participant—if you’re a witness, it will definitely shape you in some form or fashion. My experiences at school ranged from feeling alone in elementary due to being a minority in a primarily Caucasian school to feeling alone and awkward when I tried fitting in once I reached middle school. The hard part in that was not really being into the slang and boys yet, wearing clothes more than once in a week, my lips were too big and my backside was definitely not in, yet. I was the ugly Haitian girl, the big-lipped girl, and my name was Goretty Spaghetti. To top that off, I was the tallest most of my school years. In high school, things started to turn around a bit, but I by no means knew who the true me was or would be. Of course, at that age, I thought I did [know the true me]. In hindsight, I think school is where I started to learn for myself how I wanted to be treated, and how I would try and treat others. More importantly for me now also, is how I want my children and all children to be treated by each other and by adults.
Kreyolicious: Did you ever feel discouraged through the process?
Of course, I felt discouraged at times. I don’t think anyone can pursue a dream without some frustration. The times I feel most discouraged were when self-doubt started to creep its ugly head into mine. When you’re passionate about something, you’re compelled to see it through. Of course you have those moments. One of my biggest concerns in the beginning of this process was the content. I felt like, yes, I am child-like in many ways and can relate to children, but I am an adult. Will my wording offend anyone? Is the language appropriate enough? Is the message of Secrets: Talk About It clear to readers, children and adults alike?
Kreyolicious: What kept you going?
Those times I prayed, played with my kids and thought about why I wanted to succeed. I reread [the manuscript], asked appropriate people—such as teachers—for critiques, and keep it moving.
Kreyolicious: What would you like to tell those who’d like to become authors?
To anyone who desires to be an author I say, if you have a story to tell, don’t live with regret. Tell it. Face your fears head-on. Write because you can’t help it, and get published because you just have to share it.
Kreyolicious: How do you stay connected to Haitian culture?
I am in the group of Haitians who left Haiti when we were about five or six years old, and haven’t returned. When my parents vacationed there, it was common that one had to stay behind to work and watch us kids while we attend school. That’s one of the drawbacks of working for other people…they tell you when you can take vacations. I speak what I like to call broken Creole, but can definitely hold my own in a conversation. But, they might make fun of me in Haiti to say the least. [Laughter] No matter what, Haiti is in me and I in her. Nothing can change that. Nor would I ever want to. The goal is reach as many children as possible with the message of Secrets. [Get them to] talk about it. My Haitian babies won’t be forgotten.
Kreyolicious: What’s next for you?
The second book in the Secrets series, Secrets of Friends, is now available on Amazon in softcover and kindle as well. I am currently working on the third Secrets: Talk About It book. It isn’t going away anytime soon. For the sake of all children, we need to provide them with this tool that tells them we are listening to the silence and our eyes are open to the unseen. They are not alone. We can’t help if we don’t know. They need to know if they are being hurt—maybe touched or hit—when it comes to harmful secrets like those they need to talk about it. Follow me on this journey and join in on this important message. Purchase a copy for your child, any child. Read with them. Ask questions about the issues the stories bring up. Let’s help them speak out.