Booze & Books: Carrie Bee, Paradise Bound

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I recent­ly had the priv­i­lege to read Par­adise Bound, the debut nov­el by Car­rie Bee. This was espe­cial­ly excit­ing because Car­rie is a fel­low author writ­ing in the real­ly minus­cule sub-genre of Jehovah’s Wit­ness-themed fic­tion. (Do we have our own Ama­zon rank­ing yet?)

Par­adise Bound is the com­ing-of-age sto­ry of Ivy, a girl raised in a devout JW house­hold. There is trou­ble in par­adise when Ivy, a white girl, man­i­fests an unap­proved attrac­tion for black guys. Nav­i­gat­ing the Jehovah’s Wit­ness writ­ten rule­book is hard, but deal­ing with the unwrit­ten rules is real­ly dif­fi­cult. Ivy finds this out when she cross­es the line with some­one of a dif­fer­ent skin col­or. What hap­pens next will both shock and move.

Because I also was a young JW dur­ing the novel’s set­ting it was an espe­cial­ly enter­tain­ing time-warp acid wash and hip-hop skat­ing par­ties. Car­rie has a very enter­tain­ing voice and there were sev­er­al laugh-out-loud moments. Read­ers of all back­grounds will find this book humor­ous and heart­warm­ing.

I was able to speak to Car­rie about her expe­ri­ences in the JW com­mu­ni­ty, Par­adise Bound, and the per­fect cock­tail to drink with it.

Carrie Bee, Author PhotoTo start, please tell us a bit about your­self.

I am a hap­pi­ly in love woman and I have three chil­dren and one grand­child that I couldn’t be more proud of. I enjoy the arts and peo­ple who open their hearts to me. I’ve worked in men­tal health and health care for the last 17 years.

What made you want to write Par­adise Bound?

While grow­ing up, I found that I real­ly enjoyed express­ing myself through writ­ing short sto­ries and poet­ry. It was ther­a­peu­tic for me. In high school I took every cre­ative writ­ing class I could includ­ing jour­nal­ism. My future goals were promis­ing. My life took a dras­tic turn when I left the Jehovah’s Wit­ness Orga­ni­za­tion. After years of being shunned by my par­ents, my only fam­i­ly, I just want­ed it to make sense. How could 2 peo­ple seem­ing­ly good peo­ple shun their only daugh­ter? Long sto­ry, short…I researched the Orga­ni­za­tion and net­worked with oth­ers like me and a whole new world opened up. I want­ed to tell my sto­ry through fic­tion.

Are there any sim­i­lar­i­ties between you and Ivy?

She is the per­son that I saw with­in myself years ago. Pre­car­i­ous yet naïve. She also had aspi­ra­tions and dreams that were over­shad­owed by her par­ents desire to live on a par­adise Earth. She and I always had doubts and ques­tions which inter­fered with her rela­tion­ship with her very devout father. We both watched as our moth­ers sur­ren­dered their own sense of being to con­form to what was expect­ed of them.

Ivy was always seek­ing the love of her par­ents who were more focused on their ded­i­ca­tion to their Jehovah’s Wit­ness lifestyle than her needs as a girl com­ing of age. Ulti­mate­ly, my own par­ents con­tin­ue to chose their ‘faith’ over me sim­ply because I dis­agree with their teach­ings. I have been shunned since 1996.

As an ex-JW, what has been your expe­ri­ence with shun­ning?

Every­one has the right to have a rela­tion­ship with their own fam­i­ly. The Watch­tow­er dic­tates these rela­tion­ships with trag­ic results. I was pres­sured into bap­tism at age 16. I had no idea of the con­se­quences or what would ensue years lat­er. That deci­sion is the rea­son why I have be slan­dered, degrad­ed, crim­i­nal­ized and hat­ed.  I could write anoth­er book just on this sub­ject.

Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es pro­mote them­selves as a unit­ed, mul­ti­cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tion. Par­adise Bound presents a pic­ture of a Jehovah’s Wit­ness par­ents who are prej­u­diced and big­ot­ed. What has been your expe­ri­ence with “race” issues with­in the reli­gion?

In the ear­ly to mid 1900s,The Watch­tow­er Soci­ety wove very racist thoughts into it’s pub­li­ca­tions. Now it is to the ben­e­fit of the orga­ni­za­tion that they appear to be in racial har­mo­ny as this tends to draw in more mem­bers. While everyone’s expe­ri­ences dif­fer, mine were not pleas­ant. It was okay to go to the King­dom Hall and wor­ship with black people…just don’t have roman­tic inter­est in one.

What advice would you give to a Jehovah’s Wit­ness teenag­er, like Ivy, caught in sit­u­a­tion of not believe the reli­gion and not want­i­ng to lose fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships?

The Watch­tow­er Orga­ni­za­tion teach­es that the heart is weak and treach­er­ous so fol­low­ing your heart is not an option. My advice IS to fol­low your heart. If the love of your fam­i­ly and friends is only hinged upon your believ­ing the same way they do, THEY are the ones that are mis­lead. If you leave and they con­tin­ue to love you and enjoy that fam­i­ly bond, they are gen­uine­ly show­ing what love is all about. But the WT teach­es just the oppo­site. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in my expe­ri­ence, my par­ents chose their reli­gion over me. They could’ve had both but chose to elim­i­nate me from their lives and in self preser­va­tion, I had to remove their tox­i­c­i­ty from my life as well. There IS hap­pi­ness out­side of the Orga­ni­za­tion.

One of things I enjoy doing is hav­ing authors pair a cock­tail with their nov­el. If Par­adise Bound was had an offi­cial drink what would it be?

Damn. You’re awe­some! I’d have to say a ‘Hpno­tiq Blue Breeze’. It’s a lit­tle sour, it’s sexy-sweet. There’s a splash of insan­i­ty but it will get you to par­adise!

Thanks! It sounds awe­some. Here’s how to make it.

  • 2 oz. Hpno­tiq
  • 1 oz. Pre­mi­um Coconut Rum
  • Splash of Pineap­ple Juice

Instruc­tions:

Pour ingre­di­ents over ice in a rocks or hur­ri­cane glass. Stir, gar­nish with a pineap­ple wedge.

Par­adise Bound can be pur­chased online from Ama­zon and Barnes and Noble. Con­nect with Car­rie  on Face­book.

2 Responses

DLJ CromartieAugust 25th, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I read some of this book and was hooked nev­er had to deal with JW issues but it still made since with oth­er walks of life I end­ed up buy­ing a copy for myself and a few of my friends who also enjoyed it…

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