January 5, 1973 – Joanne C Hillhouse was born to Ronald Hillhouse (Seaview Farm, Antigua) and Josephine John-Hillhouse (of Dominica). She was raised in the Ottos Community first at Willow Bend, near Antigua Plumbing & Hardware before the family settled at Bird Road.
Her early schooling was faith based: the Holy Family and the Christ the King High Schools, following with the A ‘levels Department of the Antigua State College. She pursued tertiary studies at University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus where she earned a degree in Mass Communications. Her interest in reading and creative writing was evidenced in her efforts while at university to gain as much as she could from the creative writing and literature courses.
Her keen interest and consistent, steady performance resulted in her nomination and participation in the Caribbean Fiction Writer Summer Institute, University of Miami. This experience paved the way for the writing of her first Novel in 2002, The Boy from Willow Bend, published by one of the world’s leading publishers Macmillan Caribbean (UK).
She has since published six novels (2 adult novels, 2 teen/young adult novels and 2 children’s picture books) in partnership with renowned international publishing houses. Her novels have received international and regional recognition.
Among her most notable awards are the UNESCO Prize of Honour for contribution to the development of public reading and to the literature of Antigua and Barbuda (2004), the David Hough Literary Prize from the Caribbean Writer and the JCI West Indies Outstanding Young Person Prize for Excellence, for commitment to Antiguan and Barbudan society (2011), the Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award for perennial and exemplary contributions to the advancement of Antigua and Barbuda and the 2nd place prize for CODE’s Burt Award for Young Adult Caribbean Literature for Musical Youth (2014).
2020 was a standout year for Ms. Hillhouse. She received the Women of Wadadli Award for Literature, made the long-list of the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Competition for Writers in the Caribbean. Musical Youth received another round of accolades making the Kirkus’ top 100 indie books of 2020 list as well as featuring on the list of top teen/young adult and top romance indie books.
Joanne has been our traveling literary ambassador for more than a decade, participating in various literary workshops, conferences and events. She has assisted with manuscript critiques of other writers while maximizing opportunities to share her work.
In December 2021 Joanne took home the 3rd place prize in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) Journalist Challenge, Clean Oceans. The regional competition was organised to bring awareness to the escalating problem of marine pollution, particularly as it relates to plastics.
Joanne is a co-author of many publications, a few of which include: Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, where she penned the story ‘Amelia at Devil’s Bridge’; A Letter for My Mother where she wrote “A Saint in Everyday Clothes”; She Sex, Prose and Poetry, Sex and the Caribbean Woman, with her poems “One” and “A Religious Experience” ; In The Black, an anthology, with her story “Man of Her Dreams”; and Fish Outta Water, written by Joanne and illustrated by Zavian Archibald. In addition to her novel writing, Joanne maintains two blogs: one at jhohadli.wordpress.com and the other at wadadli pen.wordpress.com.
She has been a freelance writer for many local newspapers for the past 16 years as well as a contributor to all leading magazine publications.
Most notable is her work with the Cushion Club and her dedication to the maintenance of two blogs wadadlipen.wordpress.com/ and jhohadli.wordpress.com/ providing reliable and regular information on the cultural industries of the twin-island and a detailed history on the publications of books and other writings by Antiguans and Barbudans worldwide.
Her most impressive contribution to the continued development of the literary arts outside her own publications, is the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize founded in 2004. Hillhouse and the associated workshops for young writers, with the aim of nurturing and showcasing the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. This project has provided the foundation for the growth and development of many published authors and remains a significant contributor to the development of the national literary arts.
In her citation for the 2014 Leonard Tim Hector Memorial Award (10th) Joanne shared on the positive impact of writing on her life. “It is through writing that she “makes sense of things,” and expresses her every emotion. Writing gives her thoughts and ideas a voice – giving her a platform through which to declare her presence in and opinions of this vast and richly interesting world. That aside, her writing provides her with a living and has taken her on unexpected adventures, many of which introduce her to people and places beyond our 365 shores.”
* On Becoming (poetry), 2003
* The Boy from Willow Bend, Macmillan Caribbean, 2003; Hansib, 2009,
* Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Macmillan Caribbean, 2004; Insomniac Press, 2014
* Oh Gad!: A Novel (Zane Presents), Strebor/Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2012,
* Musical Youth, Caribbean Reads Publishing, 2014; 2nd edition 2019,
* With Grace (illus Cherise Harris), Little Bell Caribbean 2016
* Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (illus. Danielle Boodoo-Fortune), Caribbean Reads Publishing, 2017,
* The Jungle outside – Collins Big Cat Children’s Series, 2021