Interviews

Interview with Joelle Cohen Wright Author of “A Soh Wi Do It”

Written by Orrain Lee

This week we interview Joelle “Wendy “ Cohen Wright who recently penned her first book “A Soh Wi Do It!”.   Many of her ‘Jamaicanized’ stories and original sketches have been ‘viral’ on the Internet for several years. Many who have read her work has been known to laugh uncontrollably from the hilarious portrayal of the characters in the sketches. Wendy’s impressive writing portfolio includes the very funny Jamaicanized version of the Titanic, Cinderella (Punchinella) and most recently the sketch on the American Airline crash in Jamaica. Her work is featured in the Jamaicans.com forums and  “Wendy’s Story Corner”   for over 12 years and also enjoyed by many around the world. Here is our conversation with Wendy.

What prompted you (an IT professional) to write this book?
After my last sketch on the American Airlines Flight 331 went viral, I was encouraged by a multitude of friends and family to showcase my talent in another medium. So after being pounded with some tough love from my supporters, I decided to embark on the project. I give them all the credit. 

What, if any challenges did you face getting published
Trying to find a publisher to take an “unknown” like myself seriously. When I decided to self-publish, I then had the challenge of organizing myself. I had to write and set up the business end while maintaining my full time job all at the same time. Pretty daunting stuff.

When you were doing your research for the book, what surprised you the most?
What I find surprising is that the book industry demands as much dedication and tenacity as any other industry you are trying to penetrate. Also, I researched very long and hard to find a book of sketches and I didn’t find one.  That was surprising. I am not sure if “A Soh Wi Do It!” in its sketch format, is the first of its kind.  That would be great to pioneer that sort of style of literature.

Do you have a favorite story or parody in “A Soh Wi Do It!”?
The book has four series and I have to say the GPS series is my favorite. I would pay a million dollars to have  a “Yaad GPS” such as the one in the book developed. This GPS has a very short fuse, is ill-mannered, nosy and most of all – very funny. The series is based on how Jamaicans give directions and I thoroughly enjoyed writing this series.

Are you working on another book?
Yes – definitely! I already have readers of the first book banging on my door for another one. So I started writing just recently. Writing and making people laugh is my passion, so I don’t mind giving the people what they want (smile).
Can you give us a hint on what it is about?
I will continue to do what I do best – writing Jamaican sketches. It will follow the same theme as “A Soh Wi Do It!” but with some new series. Lots more funny characters will be portrayed in this book and I will definitely make sure the GPS makes a comeback.

What are you reading right now?
Right now my schedule is consumed with promoting “A Soh Wi Do It!” and writing the follow up so it leaves me little time for reading. I do however, have plans to read “Stages of Me” by Courtney White.

Who is the most influential author you have read?
Based on the type of writings, I am more influenced by actors and icons in the drama and literature category. I am mostly influenced by Oliver Samuels, the late Louise Bennett and Roger Mais.

On your website,  you mention Michael Jackson inspired your first writing parody, where do you draw your inspirations from today?
From Jamaicans!! They are the funniest people on planet earth. You put Jamaicans in any situation, meet them anywhere -meet them in the market, on the bus, in a taxi, watch them on YouTube  and you are bound to get a good belly full of laughs. They make it easy for me to create my characters.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Don’t do it for the money. Do it for the love of writing. I so agree!

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Know your audience and write for them. I had doubts that because I write in Patois, a dialect not a lot of people can read or understand, I was limiting myself but I had to just realize Jamaicans are my audience and I shouldn’t be thinking about writing for say –  Australians. Your audience will appreciate you for that. Keep your focus on them and give them characters they can relate to.

On behalf of the readers of Jamaicans.com thanks for providing us with this interview. Do you have any closing thoughts for our readers?

Sure. If you have a passion for something, follow through and believe in yourself. I use to fear failure but I have learnt that failures are just life lessons and they only make you better. If you decide to push forward and pursue a dream, surround yourself with positive energy. Keep your mind clear of negative vibes and you can realize a dream – no matter how small or grand it is. 

A Soh Wi Do It! Is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

About the author

Orrain Lee