Adventures in Lit Land


Frankly, 2016 is such a cock-up, it needs to be put in rice so I’m not going to talk about any of that I’m going to distract you with my writing adventures thus far…

In January I started writing for the sitcom Gauteng Maboneng. Originally I was asked if I wanted to be the head writer, but as I had a pretty full work load on Muvhango and was writing a novel, editing two others besides still promoting my first one at the time, I thought that would perhaps be the proverbial straw that had @pjvos calling his divorce lawyer. As it turned out it was a good decision as the head writer they chose was waaaaaay better than I could ever have been. Plus I’ve discovered that I really, REALLY like writing for sitcom. I met some fabulous writers and got to work with one of my faves from Muvhango - the lovely @Nthuthu_M which was wonderful.
In February I headed to Cape Town to do a bit of corporate wifing and to launch my first novel Ms Conception. The only thing I have in my favour is that I am amusing, otherwise I would give my performance as a corporate wife a solid D. I told rude jokes to the very religious head of the company, did not have anything intelligent to say about Kirstenbosch and didn’t even go to the employees’ dinner the one night because there was a much more interesting book launch happening @book_lounge. I also pitched up at the dinner with the big boss from America slightly wasted as I had just arrived from having lunch with @karinamszczurek, @missyv, @heckitty and @karinschimke.
Karina Brink cooked the most delicious lunch for us and had even made my favourite dessert – crème brulee. It was washed down with pink champagne from our adorable work husband @taxi2venus. We were very sad he couldn’t be there with us. But it was totally mind blowing for me to be in Andre Brink’s house, to see the study where he worked and his fabulous library. It also was wonderful to meet Karin Schimke who translated Ingrid Jonker’s letters and Helen Moffett whose rants I’ve read over the years and so admired, not to mention my writing buddy from NaNoWriMo, @MissyAnnV. It all felt a bit unreal to be honest.
The actual book launch was a complete comedy of errors. It was the same night as the opening of parliament so half the people who were supposed to be there couldn’t make it because the roads were blocked off. I had not had time to have a manicure so darling Missy gave me one at the Book Lounge (as the teen would say: keeping it classy, I see, Mom). Karina Brink was supposed to be interviewing me but was late. She walked in fifteen minutes before we were due to start, looking totally dazed and with a huge bump on her forehead. She had been in a car accident, had written her car off and hitched a lift from a stranger to get to the Book Lounge. Helen immediately offered to do the interview even though she hadn’t read the book, but Karina insisted on doing it and was AMAZING! I felt so relaxed and although there weren’t many people there, it was incredibly special to have old varsity friends, school friends and the PRH peeps there supporting me.
In April, one of my fave Random Penguins @whatyoutoldme asked me to do the Sylvia Day sleepover at the Maslow Hotel to coincide with the release of Syl’s latest book in the series. I had never read these books but had to do a crash course in them over the next ten days. I was crapped on for referring to them as girl porn on Twitter. Apparently they are ROMANCE books (ps…they’re complete porn). My verdict: better written than Fifty Shades of Grey but I preferred all the BDSM in FSOG. Clearly I was born to be a dominatrix (ask the long-suffering @pjvos ). The sleepover was a lotta fun, I got to meet some great bloggers, drank eye-wateringly strong cocktails and had a pyjama party with the prize winner @Tamsw9 (we still need to have coffee!). My only bitch is that I would’ve liked a bath in my room. Reading in the bath is one of life’s greatest pleasures along with coffee and chocolate (no, @Oga_Chisanga, I am not referring to Idris).
Next @taxi2venus and I decided to do a dinner to promote a couple of our fave cookbooks: #SimplyDelicious by @zola_nene and #BreathOfFrenchAir By @janhendrikvdwes. I knew from the outset that I wasn’t going to be doing the cooking so I roped in @pjvos and my darling bestie @kittybgrant. We decided on the menu and I was sent off to do the shopping. Am still angry with @WOOLWORTHS_SA that they don’t stock chestnuts. I was eventually lying on the floor in the wine section, glugging straight from a bottle of Rupe&Roth Classique because I couldn’t find those damn nuts. Also couldn’t find anchovy fillets so bought a jar of fishpaste instead. Kit wasn’t impressed and I got an earful. @pjvos eventually went off to source the required ingredients esp after Jan tweeted me to say gently that the ingredients were quite important.
The dinner was a rip-roaring success. My old drama school mate, Chris Catherine was there with his lovely American husband, Eric and my beautiful niece, Sinead was out from the UK. Kit and the husband nearly came to blows and the fillet was totally overdone but it was an incredible evening and I highly recommend the cookbooks. Zola’s recipe for chocolate fondant is orgasmic. (Ps…look out for Zo in #Muvhango. She’s coming up to shoot some scenes in a couple of weeks). 
Next my gorgeous Mrs Brink was up in Joburg for the launch of #FlameInTheSnow. She arrived at my house, full of flu and the first thing I did was to ply her with pink champers and make her take a saucy pic with @taxi2venus and me on my bed (with handcuffs, a #DutchCourage postcard and teddy bears). I had been asked to interview @paigen for the launch of #DutchCourage at Beefcakes in Joburg and I took my duties as an interviewer VERRRRY seriously. The launch of #FlameInTheSnow was as incredible as I expected it to be. I got to hang out with @ZeldaLaGrangeSA who interviewed Karina. I was also reunited with the lovely @rosybic and finally got to meet @louiswiid who so kindly gave me a copy of his thriller #Submerged. But most memorable for me was a literary breakfast I hosted for Mrs Brink at the Service Station. Basically everyone who attended fell in love with Karina and the morning ended with me signing my contract for my psych thriller #ThingsUnseen with @worktheclock. Yup, my next book will be published by @Clockwork_Books in October. Eeeeek!
Towards the end of April I did a talk at the Rutanang Book Fair @RutanangTlokwe on what goes into creating a soapie from a writer’s point of view. What was special for me about this Lit Fest was the people I got to meet. I hung out with booksellers from all over Gauteng and it was great to connect with the guys from @BooksOfAfrica who stock 80% African books which is nothing short of fantastic. I’m still hoping to do some kind of event there. We also went to the husband’s old army barracks. He found it moving to go back to the place he had not returned to for 30 years and to chat with the army guys there. It felt appropriate on Freedom Day to be dealing with old demons.
In May I attended my first Franschhoek Literary Festival. It was a totally thrilling experience for me. First up, I got to spend the afternoon with my darling Mrs Brink and went to one of my fave hotels for lunch – the Vineyard Hotel. We then went to the launch of a book about David Astor at Solms Delta. I met the hilarious @capearchivegirl, reconnected with @elinorsisulu and also got to hang out with poet and lit agent @isobeldixon. I immediately started asking her the most personal questions, as one does - sorry about that, Isobel #NoFilter. Later on we went to dinner with the Random Penguins and assorted authors. I was reunited with my lovely work husband who I had been away from for WEEKS. As we hugged each other I did hear @EllenatPenguin shouting “get a room”. I also got to meet @laurenbeukes and @scarthomas and made a complete arse of myself with #ClaireRobertson who was remarkably patient with me.
On Friday night I was part of #TheEveningofTalesAndTastings at the Allora restaurant. Such a brilliant idea matching wine with books and I was thrilled to be at a table with @zola_nene and @IamMzilikazi. @michelemagwood was stunning as was Mark from @porcupinewines. Also got to meet the gorgeous and v funny @ingehoffman from Porcupine Wines. Was a bit miffed I couldn’t read the ‘lipstick on the penis’ scene from #MsConception because Darrel Bristow Bovey was supposed to be doing a penis scene and then changed his mind *sigh*. Still, it was a lovely evening and I got to mingle with some great writers and readers. I hope they repeat the event next year at #FLF2017.
On Saturday afternoon I had coffee with @louiswiid and he told me his UTTERLY fascinating life story. Am really hoping someone publishes it, it is quite amazing. The announcement of the shortlist for the Sunday Times Lit Awards was on Saturday night. The humiliation of being practically the only Penguin author not to make the long-list was ameliorated by the fact that I got to sign my new contract with @PenguinBooksSA on the night and with Andre Brink’s pen!! I also discussed my new novel with @umuzites and he was wonderfully supportive as always. I confessed to @michelemagwood that she had been the person we all aspired to be when I was at the KZNP drama department and we had a lovely time reminiscing about Maritzburg varsity. Eugene De Kock being at the event just added to the general out of body experience of it all and provided excellent fodder for our coffee morning with Mrs Brink the next day. Personally, I liked what @palesamorudu wrote about the whole situation.  
I had barely returned from #FLF2016 when I had to prepare for @paigen’s launch of #DutchCourage at Beefcakes. I had met Paige for two minutes at Franschhoek so we arranged to meet and get our nails and hair done and have a general chat before the actual launch. The way the two of us clicked with each other, it was like adding hot water to instant friendship powder.  It was a stroke of genius on the part of @taxi2venus to get the two of us together. She is just the most amazing person and sooooooo incredibly generous. The launch at Beefcakes was in a class of its own. It was the first time I had ever interviewed anyone so I decided to be as comfortable as possible and wore my underwear (as one does) with Doc Martins and the ubiquitous handcuffs hanging off my wrist. Needless to say, I think the launch was a resounding success, although my handcuffs have never been the same *side-eyes @ingehoffman* and next time I will not use the pink stuff for my body shot (extremely sticky).
The next weekend was the Kingsmead Book Fair #KBF2016, which I’ve also never been to. I was blown away by the size of the event, I was also very excited to see my name at the top of the leaderboard for Tweeting but those bastards @Radio702 soon overtook me even though I made @rubless_ tweet for me. My panel was fairly uneventful but I did connect with @lorimilner the CEO of #BeyondTheDress who is just lovely. I look forward to being her guest at a networking lunch at the end of the month. We also spent a lovely evening listening to live music, drinking the delicious @porcupinewines and chatting to @paigen, @khayadlanga and the Random Penguins.
I’m not going to talk about all the fabulous book launches I’ve been to over the last six months or the stunning panels I’ve attended because we’d be here all day. I feel like attending book launches and Lit Fests is practically my profession at this point. As I have said, Tweeting is my gift to the world (like to say that because it makes the kids make vomit noises and roll their eyes). And it was my tweeting that led to me being asked by Colleen Higgs @modjaji_bks to write a “shout” for the front cover of #NamasteLife by Ishara Maharaj @My9LivesSA. It made me feel like a real, grown-up writer to be asked to write a shout, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book so please look out for it.
The final event that I want to mention is the talk I gave for the Bloggers’ Breakfast organised by the founder of @kidsemporium #LaurenDeSwardt. I had never been to the venue before which is this incredible place @Emoyeniestate in Parktown. The breakfast was delish and I met some incredible women who are juggling careers and kids and doing it with humour and aplomb. They were so inspiring, it just reinforced how lucky I am to be published and to get to meet all these incredible people. Thank you to those who read #MsConception and took the time to write a review. I am very grateful.
And a final shout out to some of my fave bloggers who are all wonderful writers: @janjanmel, @AmyHeydrenrych, @MissyAnnV, @KerrySharper and @BelindaMountain. You gals rock!
Ps...I forgot to mention the yummy lunch we had at the Radium Beer Hall in Joburg to say goodbye to my original commissioning editor @louisgreenberg (had a bit of a blub when I said final farewells). Got a lift there with my lovely neighbours @stevensidley and @KateSidley and we had a good bitch about the sheer awfulness of teenagers. It was verrrrrry exciting to meet Shelagh Foster @FranLitFest and to see my lovely friend @GailSchimmel again (watch out for her new book next year - it's a thriller!). I met @georginaguedes IRL for the first time and she and @WathrynWhite_za were being thoroughly ungovernable and kept us all entertained. @FionaSnyckers popped in and suggested that I should get involved with the Jozi's Books and Blogs Fest in Lenz @jozisBBF which I'm happy to say I'm going to be participating in on the 31st July. Oh and I also got a lecture from @JoanneMacg about believing in myself as an author, apparently saying "Yes, I've written a book but I don't think you'd like it" is not great marketing. Who knew?? ;-)
Book List:
Little Suns by Zakes Mda
Bare and Breaking by Karin Schimke
Strange Fruit by Helen Moffett
Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin
Simply Delicious by Zola Nene
A Breath of French Air by Jan Henrik Van der Westhuizen
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Wasted by Mark Winkler
Nothing Left to Steal by Mzilikazi Wa Afrika
Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse
Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner
Powers of the Knife by Bontle Senne
The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe
Dutch Courage by Paige Nick
Submerged by Louis Wiid
The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Always Anastacia – A Transgender Life In South Africa by Anastacia Tomson
Sigh The Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo
I’m The Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
Affluenza by Niq Mhlongo
Recoil by Joanne Macgregor
Snitch by Edyth Bulbring
I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers
Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohele
Cold Case Confession by Alex Eliseev
Nombulelo and the Moth by Susie Dineen
Own Your Space by Nadia Bilchik and Lori Milner
Namaste Life by Ishara Maharaj
Landslide by Arthur Sithole
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan