Kereen Getten, the celebrated author behind the acclaimed When Life Gives You Mangoes, is back with another hit!
Introducing The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe, the latest installment in her captivating children’s series, “Di Island Crew.” Set in a Jamaican village, this series follows a band of unlikely friends unraveling mysteries.
We spoke to Kereen about her current triumphs, the inspiration behind her new series, and her exciting plans for the future …
Please introduce yourself …
My name is Kereen Getten. I am a Jamaican born author living in the UK. I write Middle Grade books mostly set in Jamaica.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence.
What started you on this particular career path?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I was eight years old. As soon as I started choosing books for myself, I wanted to create stories just like the ones I was reading. For a long time I wrote just for myself. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in stories like mine. About eight years ago I decided to give it a serious go and entered short story competitions. I then wrote a book which I pitched on Twitter for #DVpit a yearly event where writers pitch their books to industry professionals, and I got my agent.
Tell us about your latest book – The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe …
The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe is the second book in Di Island Crew Series where a group of kids form a detective agency on a small island off Jamaica. In this second instalment the kids return to the island during school holidays and are offered a mystery by one of the local inhabitants who has been hearing strange sounds inside her house. There is also a second mystery when the kids receive an anonymous letter threatening to reveal their secrets.
What’s the inspiration behind, Di Island Crew?
When I was younger I loved reading adventure and detective books like the Famous Five and Secret Seven. I really wanted to write something similar but with black kids.
How did it come about?
After writing my first two books When Life Gives You Mangoes and If You Read This which were more serious books, I wanted to write something light-hearted and fun. I had the idea of a group of kids on an island solving mysteries and the rest came to me quite quickly.
Highs, lows, solutions …
The highs for me when writing a book is always the beginning when you have this idea and it takes shape on paper. Following the story to see where it takes you is always the best part. The obstacle I faced was writing a detective series which I had never done before. It was a lot more complex than I anticipated. I solved this by doing some basic research on writing detective books for kids and then tried not to think too deeply about it. Things work best when I have gone with my gut and trusted myself.
I also wanted to include Patois in the book, but knowing my main audience would be English speakers it was difficult knowing when and where to put it. I eventually settled on the main character speaking it to her mother and when she felt comfortable around people, but also addressed the fact that she was made to feel uncomfortable speaking her native tongue amongst this new group of people.
What is your current plan B?
To own a small bookstore on a Caribbean island.
What are you watching right now?
I am currently watching Hijack on Apple TV with Idris Elba.
What are you reading?
Quiet Storm by Kimberly Whittam
What are you listening to?
I had some time off this year and did a complete revamp of my Spotify playlists that I’m lowkey proud of. I am currently listening to my Korean R & B playlist and some old skool Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot and Whitney.
What’s the last thing you saw on stage?
It’s been a while, but I think it was an Oliver Samuel’s play I saw with my mum.
What’s on your bucket list?
To have one or all of my books made into movies. To write a screenplay. To write an adult book.
Where is your happy place?
In nature going for long walks. By water. On a beach somewhere listening to the waves comes in to shore.
Celebrate someone else …
Michaela Cole. I think she is a genius writer and an inspiration for creating realistic and deeply authentic and relatable characters.
Celebrate yourself …
As someone born in little Lucea, Westmoreland who barely left her town, my first book When Life Gives You Mangoes was sold in the US, UK, Czech Republic and Italy. I now have over fourteen award nominations for my books. My first story in Di Island Crew Series: The Case of the Lighthouse Intruder was Waterstones book of the month and my books have been featured in Oprah Magazine, Vogue and Hello.
Whose footsteps are you following in?
Miss Lou who I would listen to every Saturday with all the kids in the neighbourhood. Malorie Blackman, Patrice Lawrence, Angie Thomas all inspired me with their black books about black kids.
I am about to start the fourth instalment in Di Island Crew Series. I’m also switching between plotting an older MG book, an adult and a YA book.
How do we get a copy of The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe?
The Case of the Haunted Wardrobe is available in most large bookstores like Waterstones. You can also get it on Amazon and on pushkinpress.com. You will need to check with independent bookstores if they stock it
What’s your socials?