Tell us about your background and family life in Cayman.
I was born and raised in George Town, Grand Cayman. I’m the “little wash belly” in my family, as my dad says. I have two older sisters that live with me, an adult brother and an adult sister. My dad is Jamaican and my mom is Caymanian but we’ve always been international. Even though I’ve always been tied to Cayman, we’d travel to the US and Canada a lot.
What was it like growing up in Cayman?
Growing up in Cayman was the definition of community. I couldn’t go out without being recognised for my famous grandmother, Ms Lorris, as everybody called her. But her full name was Lorris Dorman and she was a prison officer for over 20 years. She wrote down everything and maybe I got some of my love for writing from her. I’ve always been involved in the church and have been preaching since I was eight years old. I’ve preached in almost every Adventist church in Grand Cayman and enjoyed doing it every single time. My favourite day of the week was always Saturday. We would go to church and see our church family. My second was Sunday. Not a Sunday went by that I don’t remember some aunt or uncle showing up at the house and sitting down to eat our green banana and ackee that we cooked that morning.
You attend an online school. Tell us about that and what your typical school day looks like.
Attending an online school doesn’t mean that I just sit around in my pjs all day. It takes a lot of discipline. I have chores: I take care of my dog, water the soursop and plantain trees outside, and of course, have worship with my family. When the school day starts, I always have my mind focused on my work during those hours from 10am-4pm. I have five subjects and I’m on the student council.
Have you always had a passion for story writing?
Yes! I always say that I got started when I was nine because that’s when I wrote my very own story. However, my sisters and I would use our dolls and stuffed animals to create storylines and different TV shows for each brand of toy. We even imagined them being broadcasted on our very own TV station, Girls’ TV.
What was the first story you remember writing?
My first story wasn’t a children’s book at all. It was a TV show about five kids in their early 20s living together on their own, trying to figure out what friendship, bills, and house management were for the first time. It was called AnnieBella after the two main characters, Annie and Bella. It had a theme song and everything! I had a good time writing it.
Do you have any plans to release another book?
Definitely! The response I’ve been getting for The Girl With A Million Hairstyles has been so amazing and I’ve loved connecting with the youth of Cayman like this. It’s always been my dream. I already have the book written but I’m not going to give away any spoilers!
What inspired you to write your book, The Girl with a Million Hairstyles ?
If you’ve been on social media or even the news recently, you’ll see that insecurity is one of the main reasons people do horrible and uncharacteristic things. Society does not like people being different. So people, especially young girls, are being pressured to not stand out; to blend in and change how they look and act to meet the status quo instead of just being themselves. This, like most things, starts during childhood. These children then grow up to be the people sitting in big chairs and writing with expensive fountain pens. It’s an issue that suppresses gender, race and age. It must be addressed.
The Girl with a Million HairstylesRozharia Riley
Pick up your copy of Rozharia's book, The Girl with a Million Hairstyles at book stores across Grand Cayman.
Your faith in the Lord seems to be the foundation on which you stand. Can you tell us a bit about your faith?
The Lord has always been the centre of my life. He is my everything. If you want to get to me, you’ll have to meet Him first. I would’ve never gotten through my years of writing and countless hours of editing if it wasn’t for Him. I grew up in an Adventist household and got baptised when I was six, but I started my walk with the Lord when I was about 11. I’ve always loved the Lord and He is truly the One running this business and running my life. I’d be nothing without Him and His love.
Who is your favorite author? And why?
Tut T. Sutherland. She’s the author of the famous Wings of Fire series. I have a whole drawer in my room just for Wings of Fire books! I love how she takes compelling issues, ones that adults are afraid to talk about (like insecurity and child grooming), and addresses them in the form of this compelling, entertaining, and generally amazing Y.A. novel series. She’s inspired much of my writing.
What is your favorite book? And why?
Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom. I’m such a fan of society-building stories. Seriously read her books. They’re amazing.
What is your dream job?
This! Being an author has always been my passion! Even when I was interested in other careers, writing is something I’ve always been doing. The unconscious experience I’ve gotten from just writing a spin-off of my favorite TV show is invaluable.
Who is/are your biggest role model(s)?
I have three role models. The first is the Lord. I, like everyone on this earth, have messed up. We’ve all done things wrong to get what we want. However, the Lord died for you and me and gave us a second chance to have life and have it abundantly. I want to live the life He wants for me. Not the one I see as best in my limited view of the world. My second and third role models are my parents. There’s nothing they can’t do. My mom is so funny, a great cook, and an excellent counselor. She has real Caymanian values and ensures that we all learn how to cook and clean the Caymanian way. She always comforts me when I have anything going on and always knows what to do and say. My dad is so cool. He’s taught me everything I know about business and manages me so well. He’s always been around teaching me, guiding me, and snapping pictures of whatever mundane task I’m doing.
Do you have dreams of going to university? If so, where? And what would you like to study?
Yes, I’m going to go to university. Andrews University. I’m going to get my Bachelor's and Master's in English where I’ll continue to write and build my business. I’ve visited there many times while dropping off my two older sisters who currently go there.
What is your favourite thing to do on a weekend?
Other than sleeping? Well, gardening is a huge deal for me. I have about seven plants in the backyard (not including the trees) and I just love tending to them and doing research on how to grow the specific plant in Cayman’s conditions. I also love hanging out with friends and helping my mom cook.
Where is your favourite place in Cayman?
South Sound. Driving through the South Sound after coming home from church? That’s the stuff. It’s so serene and peaceful and I can look at the sea.