While I was growing up in
, I was obsessed with a single, nagging question: Why aren't there more novels depicting the rich, vibrant history of the Danish West Indies and its colorful characters? After all, the islands have been praised for their beauty and natural wonder for centuries. The capital, St. Thomas , possesses one of the most scenic natural harbors in the world. All a writer has to do for inspiration is gaze at her rolling green hills of tropical foliage, colorful array of exotic flowers, shimmering turquoise blue water, and the charming red-roofed houses that dot the hillsides. Charlotte Amalie
Since no novel had yet been written yet, I decided to write my own. Where to start?
The most momentous event to occur in this former Danish sugar colony was its 1917 sale and transfer to the
I decided to tell the story through the eyes of a blossoming young woman. For purposes of cultural exoticism, I made her a member of
When I was a child, one of the questions that had often swirled in my head concerned the ubiquitous island name Maduro. Lots of Virgin Islanders are named Maduro. It's almost as common as Smith or Jones are in the States, even belonging to a certain popular Senator. But the name always struck me as unusual, odd even. Island names such as Maduro, Robles, De Castro, and Henriquez exist even today. They are exotic, having an unmistakable Spanish-sounding ring to them. But where did they come from? How did these West Indian natives of a former Danish colony wind up with Spanish-sounding names? In my research, I learned that the name Maduro was actually a Sephardic Jewish name, brought to the island by 18th and 9th century immigrants whose roots spread all the way back to Holland, Portugal and Spain. This surprising discovery made my curiosity grow by leaps and bounds.
The name Maduro was adopted by 16th century Conversos from the Hebrew tribe of Levi who fled the Iberian peninsula for