1 of 3
Blood of Belvidere
"Blood of Belvidere" was written by Dunbar (DC) Campbell
2 of 3
Dunbar (DC) Campbell
Dunbar (DC) Campbell, author of "Blood of Belvidere"
3 of 3
Image of Book
Front and back cover of "Blood of Belvidere" written by Dunbar (DC) Campbell
We are delighted to bring you this interview with Dunbar (DC) Campbell, author of “Blood of Belvidere”. We have had the pleasure of knowing DC and his beautiful wife, Susie, for the past fifteen years.
DC is a passionate writer, he devoted a lot of time and effort in recent years to completing this book. We waited and waited for its publication and our patience was finally rewarded last month.
This interview is very special to us because it involves a dear friend and a country we love. We visited Grenada for the first time two years ago and had the pleasure of meeting DC and Susie’s
family. They shared a lot more stories about Grenada, accompanied of course by great rum cocktails!
We hope that, through DC’s novel, you too will capture the richness of Grenada’s history and that you will have the opportunity to visit it in person, to experience their culture and hear more stories from the Grenadians themselves.
We wish DC much success with this novel and with all future ones.
Luis and Margaret Ayala, Publishers
DC, I know you live in the United States now, but you are originally from Grenada, a beautiful island in the Caribbean, rich in history. As a young man, you were there when your island faced some very turbulent years, is it this part of history that inspired you to write your book “Blood of Belvidere”?
First of all, thank you both for inter viewing me for “Got Rum?” magazine. I am excited to share some background on my novel with your readers around the world.
In answer to your question, I get my inspiration from both the turbulence and the experience of island bliss. Not that I had much materially growing up. Some of my happiest memories were of the years in the fishing town of Gouyave, before it had electricity. Back then we learned to read and write under kerosene lamps, made our own toys, kites, slingshots, ran away from school barefoot to swim and fish. Gas lamps were street lights, lit by Mr. Ferguson, who died a few years ago at the ripe age of 104.
The nights came alive with stars, moonlight, and storytelling. I went to sleep to the sound of waves, with moonlight and starlight coming through the window. The Gouyave experience embedded in me a sense of appreciation for the value of simplicity, history, and intrigue. But it also influenced me with a sense of appreciation for the richness in people. Simple people living profound lives. I wanted that experience to live on forever.
The political turbulence quickly changed that for me. Many teenaged Grenadians during those later years had to grow up fast and leave those early memories behind. My last year in Grenada was spent in protest marches, riots, and in rage. My writings take readers down both roads.
When and where does the novel take place?
Luis, the events span twenty years, from 1963 to 1983. It star ts in Gouyave, moves to St. George’s, and returns to Gouyave and Belvidere at the end. But there are a few detours, as the main female character moves to Trinidad and the main protagonist does some traveling as well. Those detours were small parts of the story, but had profound impacts on the characters’ motivations when they return to Grenada.
Who is the main character in the novel? Was this character developed based on someone you know in real life?
The main character is Scot t McDonald, the descendant of a family who inherited Belvidere Estate. This estate was owned in the eighteenth century by Julien Fédon, a mulatto of French and African blood who started a slave rebellion in 1795.
Fédon is a true historical character who disappeared mysteriously after the British crushed the rebellion. He became a legend, with several myths explaining his life and disappearance. In the novel, Scott’s family lives under a cloud of one of those myths. His youth is spent trying to unravel the truth behind the betrayals and violence that plague his family. The more he learns, the closer he gets to a Fédon truth that will change his life forever.
Most writers reach into their own lives for inspiration, events, and personalities. The story and characters are essentially fictitious, but I had a front seat to some of the events that unfold as modified versions in the book.
Sounds like this is a historical fiction novel, but I can’t help but notice some very strong parallels with your own life. Am I wrong? Can you elaborate?
Grenada is such a small country it is easy for readers to see characters they might recognize as someone they know. I prefer to keep the fiction label on the book. Like the disclaimer says, any similarities are purely coincidental.
What is it about Grenada that , to this day, continues to be both alluring and misunderstood at the same time?
Margaret, that ’s a great question. I believe one of the reasons for the misunderstanding is that most of our literature and history were written and interpreted by people who did not know Grenada. I recently had a conversation with someone who said the U.S. invaded Grenada because a thousand American students had been held hostage. No such thing ever happened. Yes, everyone on the island, American students and Grenadians alike, faced danger during the 1983 coup and the invasion that followed. But no one was held hostage. It’s painful for Grenadians to see and to read things like this.
When I was in the Marines, I constantly had to remind people that I was not from Granada, Spain, but from Grenada in the Caribbean. That ’s when I discovered we also had another Grenada, in Mississippi! I hope my experience, both growing up in Grenada and in experiencing the misunderstandings from abroad, would go to great lengths to not only entertain readers, but educate as well. My story does not whitewash Grenada’s history, and I hope readers see it as an authentic story, based on years of research.
As a writer, do you always envision your characters the same way, or do you see them evolving as you get older?
Yes, indeed. People change as the years go by. Characters in novels also change. My characters are molded by motivations and events that had profound impacts on their lives. They change, they grow, they become wiser in the danger and challenges they face in the book.
Our readers are avid rum lovers, does rum play a role in your book?
Luis, absolutely! There are Grenadians who will argue that you can’t experience the authentic Grenada without spending time in a rumshop. As a boy about eight years old, I followed my father from rumshop to rumshop. Heard all the jokes, the stories, and the colorful fables that grew with every shot of rum. Some of this also shows up in the book.
Rum also played a role in Grenada’s history, not only as a byproduct of the slave sugarcane-economy. But also in the 1795 rebellion. When the British counter-attacked Fédon in Gouyave, he abandoned the town and retreated to Belvidere, leaving behind a generous supply of rum for the thirsty British soldiers. Next morning, the British plan to attack Belvidere quickly fell apart as the inebriated troops preferred to remain in bed or to have another drink. The general who led that charge was in such despair, he committed suicide. The lost momentum against the rebellion caused it to last another year. As a matter of fact, the opening paragraph of Blood of Belvidere shows a British general helping himself to a drink of rum straight from the bottle.
Is there anything else you want to share about your novel or your experience writing it?
Writing this novel was a labor of love. I was motivated to write a book Grenadian readers would immediately experience as authentic, while readers from other countries would place the book down after reading the last page and say they understand, respect, and love Grenada a little more. The Grenada I know and love.
Where can people purchase your book?
They can go directly to my website www.DunbarCampbell.com. It has more background on Blood of Belvidere and a link to order it from Amazon.Com.
Any plans on writing more novels in the near future? If so, what other adventures do you have planned for your readers?
Margaret, I recently completed another novel called The Bianca C Still Burns, and I hope to have it published in the coming year. It ’s based on the Italian cruise ship that burned and sank a mile off shore from Grenada in October 1961. As lifeboats were crippled aboard, almost 700 passengers and crew had to be rescued by Grenadian boats, yachts, and even row boats. It’s another under-told story of Grenadian courage and generosity. I am currently working on a third Grenada novel, but this one is too early in the research to reveal yet.
If people want to contact you, how may they reach you?
My website www.DunbarCampbell.com has a contact email, or they can email me directly at email@example.com.