Author Devi Di Guida has released her debut novel The Cayman Hustle and she tells BookTrib about the inspiration to write this multicultural suspense-romance with a deaf protagonist.
My deaf sister who cannot function without a hearing aid in each ear has been my true inspiration to write this novel with a deaf protagonist. Being hearing impaired did not stop her from doing things she wanted to do. She has a Master’s Degree in IT and Management.
In ways, writing The Cayman Hustle set its seed when I met a six-year-old boy who rang my doorbell one day in Montreal. His hands and fingers were moving in all directions. I tried to have a conversation with him and he continued with more hand movements, all the while smiling. I misinterpreted this unusual visitor as a rude child and so I waved him goodbye and closed the door. He returned five minutes later with his voice – his older brother who explained that they had just moved into the neighborhood and his deaf brother was looking for friends. He wanted to play with my children. This deaf child was a constant visitor and an absolute joy to our household until his family moved away.
I always had a desire to write a novella about my sister and this amazing child. I started to draft out the novella on a beach in The Cayman Islands when I coincidentally met a twenty-five-year-old deaf college student whose field of study was Neuroscience. He and his friends were having a reunion. The Cayman Hustle took form that day and the novella changed to a novel where the little boy grew up and became a man who was ready to take on the world despite his disability.
The novel is written in three parts with three genres – merging coming-of-age, romance and suspense. What sets it apart from other books is the multi-cultural theme and cast of characters, that is very representative of today’s ‘melting pot.’
In researching, statistics show that there are an estimated seventy million deaf people in the world but it is not clear how many are unemployed. In The Cayman Hustle, the protagonist, Kaman Colioni is a 25-year-old deaf college graduate who cannot find employment. He is heart-broken after a painful breakup with his girlfriend, India Weinberger. When a mysterious fan of his deaf blog offers him a ticket to the Cayman Islands, he grabs the opportunity at a new beginning in the world’s second tax haven. His arrival on this idyllic island coincides with the appointment of a new governor, Emma Wedgewood who has her own agenda. Kaman finds his life taking an unexpected turn when he gets rolled, losing his money and Identification, runs into his ex-psychotherapist who lures him into writing a memoir about being deaf, unwittingly stumbles into a stash of gold in a tropical underwater rainforest and is set up for possession of illegal substances that lands him in jail – all within a weekend. During his incarceration, he hears a rumor that the gold is actually the set-up of a billionaire’s game. Upon his release, Kaman finds himself being drawn into a world of suspense and intrigue where his life and that of Governor Wedgewood intermeshes.
The Cayman Hustle is set mainly in The Cayman Islands and Montreal, Canada. I chose an Island paradise and a big city as it shows the contrasts and complexities of two worlds. Both locations boast over one hundred different ethnicities, and are rich in multiculturalism. Being very familiar with these worlds made for easy language use… there are at least five languages incorporated within the narrative, but all used in ways that the reader is not lost.
My intention was to realistically present, in fictitious form, some of the social prejudices that are often seen in a ‘melting pot’ society towards people who are different. In Kaman’s case, he experienced these prejudices at two different levels; being of a multi-ethnic background and being hearing impaired. I wanted Kaman to be a strong, street-smart hustler who captivated readers and drew them into his fascinating deaf world. Helping him along is Om-7, his hearing device, a character by itself, who becomes his conscientious sidekick. Their conversations vary from serious to hilarious and are very entertaining.