We're BACK with another rendition of RADAR's GLOW feature, where we spotlight QTPOC writers in the community. Did you miss us? We're very lucky to showcase Yodassa Williams! Her debut novel, The Goddess Twins, was released this past May and it's a fantastic magical adventure that takes the reader from Ohio to London. The novel follows identical twins, Arden and Aurora, as they develop their telepathic and telekinetic powers while uncovering ancestral secrets. You're not going to regret picking up this book!
Yodassa Williams is a Jamaican American writer, speaker, and award winning performing storyteller, passionate about using her curiosity to spark fires inside others. Yodassa is an alumna of the VONA/Voices Travel Writing program, the 2018 Fortify Writers Retreat, and a writing residency with Nefe Nof. She is a blogger for the 2020 Debutante Ball. In October of 2019, Yodassa launched ‘Writers Emerging’ a four day wilderness writing retreat for women of color and non-binary people of color, held at Fly Ranch. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy, details the adventure of seventeen year old Caribbean American twins discovering they are goddesses when their mother goes missing. The Goddess Twins, published by SparkPress in May 2020, is now available on Amazon and IndieBound. Yodassa grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in the Bay Area.
I was recently at a workshop where someone asked us, “Tell us what place means to your writing.” I struggled for a bit, then realized it is not place, but actually the lack of place that continues to drive my storytelling. I am compelled by the struggle to find home and in the broader sense identity, family, and purpose in life. Both my fiction and non-fiction work come from a quest to find peace with all that you carry inside of you while on this search for home. I write to connect with others who also feel compelled by this mission to create belonging.
The Goddess Twins - Chapter 2 excerpt
I massage my temples, willing my sister to stop talking. I know I can’t open my mouth without throwing up, but I can’t hear this anxiety spiral anymore. My head feels like it’s been hijacked by a tiny construction crew. Closing my eyes, I beg the universe to remind me to never drink again. Even if I weren’t drowning in an ocean of alcohol, I still wouldn’t be spinning in a wild state of worry over Mother. I know she wouldn’t worry for us.
When Arden and I were seven and we spent a few months living in the Bahamas. My memories of that time are filtered by the bright sheen of sun, sand, and ocean. Mother was performing on a luxury cruise ship. Arden and I practically lived outside near the water. Mother called us “beach babies” and joked she was going to send us off to be raised by mermaids.
One day, as I was swimming in the ocean, I got lost in the feeling of my body gliding so easily in the water, in rhythms of breast stroke and back stroke. Before I knew it, I was out so far I couldn’t see the shore in any direction. The ocean floor became a dark mystery below me. In a panic, I forgot how to swim. I splashed like an injured seal, yelling for Arden and Mother. My mouth filled with salt water. The sun blinded me. My body got tired and weak. I was going under.
Then suddenly, I felt strong arms wrap around me, lifting me upward, keeping me afloat. Too exhausted to open my eyes, I clung to the warm, curvy body that moved me swiftly through the water. Mother, I thought. Who else would save me? Who else would hold me with such care? I knew my mommy would save me, was my final thought before I passed out in her arms.
When I came to on the sand, Arden was the only one there. She was frantic, shaking me. “Aurora, are you okay? Can you hear me?” I nodded, coughing as I slowly sat up.
“Where is Mom?” I said, my throat burning with sea water.
“I don’t know. But are you sure you’re okay?”
“Mom carried me out,” I said.
“No, it was someone . . . a woman I’ve never seen before. With long hair and skin so dark, it looked like midnight. She pulled you to shore, then she disappeared into the water so quickly, I couldn’t even say a word. I’m just glad you are okay!”
Arden embraced me tightly. Behind her back I looked out into the ocean, wondering who it was that rescued me. Because it certainly wasn’t my mother. Later, Arden and I found her giggling with him under a canopy. I will never forget how she turned to us and flippantly said, “Oh, you two. You’re having fun and staying safe, right? Good.” She turned right back to snuggling the cruise director without waiting for us to respond. Because she didn’t actually care if we were all right or not.
Neither Arden nor I ever told Mother about the near drowning incident. We just agreed that since I was fine, we would move on. But I’ve never moved on. From that moment I stopped calling Selene anything but Mother. No Mommy or Mama or even Mom—I felt they were too soft, too intimate. If Selene can’t even see me and save me when I’m drowning, if she is more concerned with her affairs than her children’s lives, then she doesn’t get to be Mommy.