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
Tess is an important story, a tale that unfortunately stands timeless and steadfast within the battleground of what it means to be a woman. I read the book and saw the movie in quick succession, which got me thinking about sexual abuse and its representation.Read More
From Bom Boy to The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotso has established herself as a writer that grapples with the complexity of human experience with warmth and grace. I had the opportunity to interview her last week, and feel that I am a better person for it, now you can be too!Read More
Food is one of the greatest ways we tell stories. We create rituals with what we make on special occasions. We use food to celebrate, seduce and show care. The foods we choose to eat every day become a story we tell ourselves - whether its one of compassion or fear and restraint.
Writer Keri Bainborough chooses to tell a story of kindness - to animals, the environment and, ultimately, herself. I have been following her journey as a vegan on Instagram from the beginning, and watched as she's made major strides in illustrating that vegans are not angry, aggressive, unreasonable or fussy, but can be warm and make hearty, comforting food free of animal products. She is real, approachable and the furthest thing from the pious health-instagrammer people often associate this lifestyle with. . I interviewed Keri about her amazing new vegan cookbook, A Guide For Wildflowers.Read More
2017 has begun with a lot of questions. Politically, socially, environmentally, it is easy to look around and wonder 'are we going to be OK?' I can't predict what Trump is going to do next or which celebrity is going to pass away, but I can make sure you're reading something great when the apocalypse comes. I've found some amazing books by local, African and international female writers, that all have a cracking plot in common.Read More
Mike Nicol is, without a doubt, one of South Africa's most prolific authors. His works have been published across the globe, and his uniquely South African brand of crime and espionage thrillers have a loyal following. Yet for all his success, he is not seduced by the hype and remains humble on the subject of his career and his writing process. As a new writer, it was a privilege to sit down with a master and hear how its done.Read More
A few months ago I walked into The Book Lounge for the first time. Eager to buy a piece of the store's atmosphere and of Cape Town itself, I picked up a thin short story book with a sunny, brightly coloured cover. I knew nothing about Jolyn Phillps then, but felt an affinity toward this small South African book. Only later when I read it later did I realise that its size was misleading - I didn't have a book in my bag, I had a world.
Jolyn's stories mainly capture the characters of Gansbaai. Her musical, urgent phrasing is unlike anything you have read before, but it is not idiosyncratic or gimmicky. Rather, her voice pulls you instantly into her world. She answered these questions for me from somewhere in Genadendal, and I am so happy to bring more of her words to you.Read More
In the hazy days before I met Rhys, I was pretty open about my dating life. All my friends, and the many acquaintances befriended at bar counters and pub bathrooms knew the intricacies, hilarity and outrage of my dating exploits. In a certain corner of the Internet, you'll even find a book I've written about it under a top secret pseudonym. Thankfully, I learned a lot through those experiences, and have found myself finding parallels between dating and finding a literary agent.Read More
I think it is safe to say that, for many of us, life in the outside world feels a little raw at the moment. Society is inflamed and burning hot with outrage. Everything feels sore to the touch. Most of the time, I try block it out, I disengage because I don't know how to fix it. I'd say most of my Internet consumption centres around video clips of cute, unlikely animal friendships.
So last night, Penguin Random House hosted a hashtag where you could ask a real, live librarian for a book recommendation. I asked for suggestions on beautifully written books that would restore my faith in humanity, and my, my the book geeks of the Internet (90% sporting profile pictures with comfortingly stereotypical horn-rimmed glasses) delivered. The suggestions were too good not to share, so here they are...Read More
It feels like local writer JT Lawrence is everyone on the local book scene at the moment. Everywhere I turn I see someone recommending one of her novels, or her collection of short stories. Her stories range from domestic thrillers, dystopian imaginings and a raw, hilarious memoir of her own struggle with infertility. Best of all, she is one of the many writers forging a new path in indie publishing, reaching readers and creating a career as a professional writer in the process. In between publishing books at the speed of light, she gave me a few moments to discuss her career to date.Read More