Getting published has been my dream for as long as I have been a writer. What could be better than seeing your name in print, than knowing that people all over the world would be reading your story? I always thought that 'making it' consisted of getting my name on a book jacket, but the real achievement was becoming the best writer I could be. My journey to publication required three books, a thick skin and whole lot of faith, so I thought I would get it all down to encourage anyone waiting for their big break.Read More
I should have known it would happen this way.
On Friday evening, 15th September, I was sitting in our garden as the sun set, reading My Absolute Darling when I started feeling gentle waves of pain. I started timing the waves of my phone and speed reading my book - if this was labour, I didn't want to miss the ending!Read More
With my manuscript out on pitch, and my baby due to arrive at any moment, I have been thinking a lot about the power of surrender and living life in this great in-between.
I have always been one to embrace change and never look back, but this has been the first time where my life has felt like a held breath, an excruciating pause before a more definitive statement.Read More
Ali Land spins sentences and characters that punch you in the gut. I read and reviewed her debut novel, Good Me, Bad Me earlier this year, and it still remains one of my top books of the year. While her novel is a page-turner worthy of an all-nighter, it is more than a thriller. It is an intense character study that reveals the emotional nuances of the damaged, sidelined characters we often write off. Ali spoke to me a little about her writing process, and the answers are a treat for any writer or fan of the book.Read More
One of my favourite things to do is cruise Amazon for new books. While I read quite widely, I always gravitate towards thrillers when I need instant, guaranteed entertainment. The thriller doesn't have to be the next big thing, it just needs to have a plot that pulls me forward. Lately I have been spotting some fantastic thrillers on Amazon, and choked on my tea when I saw how cheap they were! So I thought I would share the love, and a few of my favourites.Read More
As I mentioned in my previous post, my writers group has been instrumental in my growth and fulfilment as a writer. Writing changed from a lonely pursuit to a passion that I could regularly share with others. However, with something so intimate as writing, starting or joining a writers group can initially feel as awkward as an introvert trying to join a swingers club.
Here are a few tips to make the process less painful:Read More
Many writers have a sticky, conflicted relationship with their day job. It takes several years to forge a career as a writer, and even then, only the lucky few can write full time. The day job gives you the money to survive, but the more you follow your passion as a writer, the harder it is to go in every day and pretend that it matters.Read More
Falling pregnant is a beautiful, mythical experience rich with opportunities for growth and self-love. It is also a rude induction into a world where, as a woman, you acutely realise that your body and your choices have become part of the public domain. Yet no matter how vocal others are about your physical appearance and the impending challenges of motherhood, it is difficult to find reading material that is real, but also supportive. I have found myself craving tenderness, humour and real stories. Here are a few books that have really helped me.Read More
I have always believed myself to be a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to work and writing. Looking back, I think this was rooted in pride and a young writer's arrogance that my talent was all I needed to sustain a creative career.
Yet over three years ago I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, anxiously scanning for the faces of the new members of my writing group. I had met Cath once before at a Writivism workshop in Cape Town, while Blaize had responded to my call for writing group participants over Twitter. It was just us three, a very small gang, and I was as nervous as someone on a first date.Read More
Suddenly, it is the middle of winter and I am at the start of my third trimester. I am beginning to wonder just how I am going to look back on this time, whether it will feel as ordinary as it does now, or morph into something sacred. Growing a book and a baby to fruition at once is both beautiful and demanding. The parallels could inspire all sorts of obvious metaphors, the sheer labour of it all. However, I think my two greatest lessons have been patience, and acceptance of the gap between expectation and reality.Read More
How often have you looked for a book that will make you feel just a little better, a book you can devour in an afternoon and feel lighter at the end of it? While Namaste Life, by Ishara Maharaj, doesn't shy away from difficult topics, I found it a sweet diversion from the usual dark subject matter thrown at us in fiction.Read More
For a long time, I have felt uncomfortable about the way we discuss South African writers. Bookstores and reviewers are championed for their 'support' of our authors and readers are asked to buy more South African books. I love many South African books and authors, but I feel that in our persistent cheerleading of African writers, we remove the power from the conversation and miss the point entirely. We shouldn't be reading local authors as a favour to them or the industry, we should be reading them because they are good.Read More
Last year, I experienced one of the hardest professional years of my life. I had been running my own communications business for two years while writing fiction on the side and none of it was going particularly well. I was over-servicing clients, never getting paid on time and often not spending as much time writing fiction as I had hoped.Read More
Spire, Fiona Snyckers' latest release, was one of the of those books I went into knowing very little about, yet it grabbed me by its icy fist from the very first page. Caroline is a virologist who has travelled to a remote site on the South Pole to spend the winter conducting experiments on a petrifying arsenal of diseases. She is young, beautiful, accomplished and excited to prove herself. However, from the moment she arrives, things go wrong.Read More
In another lifetime, I sat in a social worker's office with an old bar heater rumbling between us as we tried to talk through my sexual assault. Like many women in my situation, I didn't feel I deserved to be there, I didn't feel like my reactions followed the script or that I was 'recovering right.' It was my most acute experience of how pre-defined the experience of womanhood could be, and how I often fell flailing outside those lines. The social worker, an incredible literary woman who would later help me recover through books and poetry, said something to me I will always remember:
The map is not the territory.Read More
My walk through Delta park this past Sunday was a little different. As I wound my way past the cluster of bright jungle gyms and children's parties I looked a little closer at the families playing there, imagining each of their stories, scratching at the surface of their domestic bliss. It's no wonder, because this is where my latest read, The Park, has its chilling beginning.Read More
Stories have always held the power to transport us to different worlds, but just how far are we willing to travel? Migrations, the new anthology of short fiction from Short Story Day Africa, both challenges our boundaries and breaks them down.Read More
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land is not a comfortable read. It's a compulsive, read-through-the-night-while-drinking-all-the-hot-chocolate read. But isn't that what you want from a thriller?
I have been on a steady diet of psychological thrillers while finishing up the edits to my own. Usually I tear through them and forget the plot (and even the title) entirely. But Good Me Bad Me has stuck for a number of reasons:Read More
After months of writing and editing, hunched over my computer with the devil-may-care attitude of someone who is consciously disregarding their spasming neck, I have finished my latest book. My days are no longer spent muttering dialogue under my breath or boring my closest friends and family on the latest plot kink I have worked out. The end came with a swell of jubilation. A few wonderful, respected agents are reading the full manuscript, and my readers are saying everything I hoped they would say about the new version.
And yet, I find myself feeling empty.Read More
Gail Schimmel writes the kind of novels that grab your hand and tug you through the story. They are the kind of books you want to have on hand when you need to buy a book to relax with on holiday, or to read when you are struggling to keep your eyes open on a Thursday night.
In fact, I had to tear myself away from Gail Schimmel's latest release, The Park, to write up her interview. I enjoy a good domestic suspense thriller under any circumstances, but even more so when the unsettling atmosphere is created somewhere close to home. Gail's story revolves around a park somewhere in Johannesburg, where three mothers meet with sinister consequences.
I met with Gail a few weeks ago to discuss her novel and writing process.Read More