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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

How to Get Published – Ms Conception Author Pamela Power Shares 3 Hard-Learned Lessons

Ms ConceptionPamela Power, author of the novel Ms Conception, has written a blog post about the process of getting published.

Power offers three pieces of advice: “don’t make changes until you have a contract”, “don’t send them the whole book until they ask for it” and “don’t give up”.

She shares the story of how she learned these difficult pieces of wisdom: three publishers, four years and dozens of dashed hopes after first beginning to write.

Read the blog post:

It has taken me four years to get my novel published. Yes, people. Four long years.

I first sent off a few chapters to an ex-student of mine who worked at one of the major publishing houses in Joburg. She liked my writing and forwarded the chapters to the commissioning editor, who thought it had possibilities. Unfortunately that’s as far as her enthusiasm went and she never offered to publish it. But the fact that someone liked it was enough to encourage me to finish it.

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Read Taiye Selasi’s “Poetic Tribute to Natural Hair”: Love Your Curls

Ghana Must GoTaiye Selasi, best-selling author of Ghana Must Go, has written a short ebook entitled Love Your Curls: A poetic tribute to curly hair inspired by real women, as part of a Dove campaign.

The book, which is aimed at children, is available as a free download, and is intended to instill self-confidence and empowerment in young black girls with curly hair.

Read Selasi’s author’s note:

When my sister and I were younger, we used to play this game. We’d place our towels over our heads and tuck the cloth behind our ears. It was a gesture that we’d seen our straight-haired friends make every day. For us, the gesture embodied ease, beauty, self-assurance. Trouble was, our hair wasn’t “tuckable.” Our short, soft, springy Afros—while lovely to the touch—were too tightly coiled to be tucked behind the ear. No sooner had a chunk of hair been tucked in place than it bounced back. And so we turned to towels.

One night, with my towel-wig on, I went to brush my teeth. I was leaning over the sink when plop! My “hair” fell off. As I straightened up and looked in the mirror, I found myself staring back: me, as I was, no terrycloth-hair hanging down my back but a small buoyant Afro framing my face. Suddenly it dawned on me. I would never have straight hair. The ear-tuck would never be my trademark. But my pillow-soft coils—strong, beautiful, delicate—could be. Looking at myself in the mirror that night, I fell in love with my hair.

This book is dedicated to all the curly-haired girls, big and small, who have fallen in love with theirs. For the little girls whose buoyant, boisterous hair reflects their personalities; for the mothers who see in their daughters’ ringlets free and fearless spirits; for the women who have learned to love—lo, to flaunt!—their natural hair, whose curls tell the world who they are: this is for you. May you find in these painted pages a reflection of your beauty, a celebration of your uniqueness and an expression of your grace. Here’s to you and your gorgeous curls!

Curly and proud,
Taiye Selasi

Selasi chatted to The Cut about why she participated in the project, as well as about her views on about skin lightening, her poetry, and the objectification of natural hair:

Have you always worn your hair naturally?
I had straight hair when I was young and I never want it again. But you know what? It doesn’t suit me. I want to be really clear. I don’t say that as sort of a pat on the back. My sister wears her hair straight. She looks amazing with it. It’s her choice. What I love is that she made that choice being fully empowered. She doesn’t feel like she has to have straight hair, she’s just enjoying this haircut right now. And I don’t look at her and think, You’re self-hating. But me, I just like it better like this. I have a big face. I have a big mouth. I have big cheeks. I have big eyes. I have big shoulders. I should have big hair.

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Podcast: Christopher Hope Speaks About the Strange, Odd, Dark and Terrifyingly Funny World of Jimfish

JimfishChristopher Hope, author of Jimfish, was recently interviewed by Nancy Richards for SAfm.

In the interview, Hope tells Richards about where the title character of his latest novel comes from and what he hoped to do with the character. Jimfish, Hope says, emerges out of the sea and is a kind of fairytale Everyman. “I wanted a boy that was human, but at the same time slightly mysterious, and who could set off on this series of travels.”

No-one knows quite what to do with Jimfish in any of the places he visits “up through Africa.” Jimfish is, in turn, astonished “that the world could be so strange, so odd, so dark and in some ways so terrifyingly funny.” Richards says that this is part of what makes the novel feel very close to home.

Listen to the podcast:

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Podcast: Christopher Hope Talks About His Charmed and Incorrigibly Serene Hero in Jimfish

JimfishJenny Crwys-Williams recently interviewed Christopher Hope about his new book, Jimfish, for her CapeTalk/702 radio show.

Crwys-Williams asked Hope five questions about the novel and the ideas that inform it. The author explained the origin of the title Jimfish, and how the slightly derogatory term relates to his slippery, fairy-tale character.

Jimfish, Hope says, is a character who “appears to be charmed” because he faces improbable quantities of trouble, and “somehow or another he emerges on the other side serene, and on he goes.”

Listen to the podcast (the interview starts at 25:40):


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Racy, Honest and Wickedly Funny: Pamela Power’s Debut Novel Ms Conception

Ms ConceptionNew from Penguin Random House South Africa: Ms Conception – balance is a foreign concept for Jo de Villiers as she juggles two kids, a hubby and career:

Jo has a three-year-old son, a six-month-old baby and a husband who’s feeling left out. Her marriage to Nick and her job as a scriptwriter for a local soapie both seem to be heading south, along with her breasts. Between toddler tantrums, dirty nappies, potty training and the nursery-school run, she squeezes in writing assignments and meetings, while dealing with a boss from hell, a self-centred mother, an overly genteel mother-in-law and the “Blonde Bob Brigade”.

But will she be able to hang on to her job, and what is she going to do about the floozy who is pursuing her man? With the help of her George Clooney-lookalike therapist Jake and best friend Jasmine, Jo discovers an unusual remedy for an ailing relationship …

Racy, honest and wickedly funny, suburban life with small children has never been so entertaining.

About the author

Pamela Power was born in Pietermaritzburg, and educated in Zimbabwe, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg. She trained as an Aids counsellor and worked with a drama-in-Aids-education company and got involved in stand-up comedy. She has worked as a director and scriptwriter on South African television shows Top Billing, Generations and Muvhango. In addition to her writing work, Pamela co-owns a guesthouse in Melville, Johannesburg. She is married and has two children.

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Gareth Crocker’s Superhero Series, Jongo, is on its Way to Prime Time International Success

The Last Road TripJongo, the superhero series created by Gareth Crocker, looks set to make the move from free-to-air channels and video on demand platforms to a show broadcast internationally in prime time slots.

Sue Blaine wrote an article for Business Day about Jongo. She spoke to Crocker, who is also author of The Last Road Trip and a number of other successful novels, about what makes this series something special, and what its growth will mean for him and the rest of the team.

Read the article:

We didn’t want immortal — if you have that you can’t kill the damn guy, says author Gareth Crocker of his latest creation.

Instead, Eli King, Africa’s first homegrown superhero, can run superfast, jump awe-inspiringly high and is very strong, thanks to a blue crystal his dead father left him.

King is the central character in a new TV series, Jongo, filmed mostly on location in Johannesburg by independent Johannesburg film studio Motion Story. Negotiations are under way with South African and international broadcasters who have made prime-time slot offers for the show. Jongo has been taken up by Amsterdam-based international film and TV distributors FCCE, which won the International Digital Emmy Award for Digital Programme — Non Fiction in 2013.

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Karin Brynard Talks about Weeping Waters, Farm Murders and the Skin-deep Nature of Peace

Weeping WatersPlaasmoordIn the latest issue of The Big Thrill Joanne Hichens interviews Karin Brynard about Weeping Waters, the translation of her debut Afrikaans novel, Plaasmoord.

Starting with the concept of farm murders, which Hichens calls “specifically a South African phenomenon”, Brynard says: “When I started writing the book, there was a new wave of media interest in the phenomenon of ‘farm attacks’, which triggered the itch in the political journalist side of me.”

The author describes how she grappled with what was happening and continues to take place in South Africa. “Farming on this continent and specifically in Southern Africa has never been ‘simple’ and uncomplicated, because it carries a lot of historical and political baggage.”

In the in-depth interview Brynard talks about her crime novel, the farm murder as modus operandi, the outsider figure of Inspector Albertus Quartus Beeslaar who is sent to solve the mystery and the land issue which became a convenient “red herring”. The author also shares her thoughts on the translation of the novel, race, prejudice and much more.

At the heart of it all Weeping Waters remains a crime novel filled with suspense, friendship and love.

Read the article:

Tell us a little more of how the mystery unfolds …

Without giving too much away, I can say this: Inspector Albertus Quartus Beeslaar, the newly-appointed detective who has asked for a transfer from the chaos and crime of Johannesburg to a quiet, rural post in the deep platteland, is suddenly confronted by more than one farm murder. Prior to the killing of Freddie and her adopted daughter Klara, two farm workers on a neighbouring farm are murdered. These murders are attributed to a sophisticated and most brutal gang of stock thieves terrorizing the area. There is considerable pressure from both Inspector Beeslaar’s bosses and the farming community to stop the thefts. The pressure is heightened in the aftermath of the murders on Freddie and her adopted daughter.

Your disgruntled cop Beeslaar has many of the characteristics of the classic detective. How does he fit into this insular community?

Beeslaar is the classic outsider. He is a bit of a dinosaur, having started his career as an ‘old school’ policeman during the last days of apartheid. He is white, he is Afrikaans speaking and he is trying his best to find his feet in the modern day police ‘service’, where the rules have slightly changed. On top of that he is also an outsider in the farming community where he hopes to find some peace. But he soon discovers that peace in this kind of community is but skin-deep. .

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The Root Names Taiye Selasi in its Top 10 Afropolitans: Artists and Entrepreneurs You Should Know

Ghana Must GoTaiye Selasi, the author of Ghana Must Go, was included in The Root‘s list of “The Afropolitans: 10 African Artists and Entrepreneurs You Should Know.”

The list names 10 of the most impressive creative young Afropolitans. They operate in many fields: literature, fashion, technology and business. All are of African origin and are “finding unique and innovative ways to express their worldview”.

Selasi, who is responsible for coining the term Afropolitan, is deserving of her place among the savvy innovative minds on the list.

Read the article:

Taiye Selasi — who coined the term “Afropolitan”—is the author of Ghana Must Go, a critically acclaimed novel published in 2013 that tells the tale of the complex relationships between members of a Ghanaian family brought back together after their patriarch dies. The author recently partnered with Dove to write a digital book around the beauty brand’s Love Your Curls campaign.

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“It’s a Real Struggle to Get South Africans to Buy SA Fiction” – Steve Connolly (Podcast)

The Last Road TripSteve Connolly recently joined Nancy Richards in studio at SAfm as part of her “Book Club Member of the Week” segment on the Literature Show. He shared more about his journey in books, from falling in awe of Africa and its stories as a youngster in the North West of England, to becoming managing director of Penguin Random House South Africa. He speaks from a position of over 30 years in books, and over fifteen years in the trade industry.

On the topic of local fiction, Connolly says: “It’s a very niche area. One of the big frustrations I have is South African fiction. We invest a lot in South African fiction. We publish a lot of South African fiction”. He goes on to say that investment from the publishers’ side is not enough to sustain the industry, and that local readers are hard to figure out:

“It’s a real struggle to get South Africans to buy South African Fiction. Obviously we sell a lot of International fiction so we see the figures for both international and local. We are trying all sorts of campaigns to encourage South Africans to give South African fiction a chance.”

One reasoning that often comes up, Connolly says, is that South Africans seem to believe that all local fiction is dark and depressing. Richards presses him to give examples of local titles that contradicts this, and he concedes by recommending his personal “book of the year so far”: The Last Road Trip by Gareth Crocker.

Listen to the podcast to find out why Connolly enjoyed this book so much, more about the local book industry and tips for those hoping to be published (the conversation starts at 25:57):


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Join Michele Magwood and Christopher Hope for a Talk on Jimfish at Hermanus FynArts

Christopher Hope and Michele Magwood

JimfishThe Hermanus FynArts Festival and Penguin would like to invite you to a discussion between Michele Magwood and Christopher Hope on his latest novel, Jimfish.

Hope will speak about his “odyssey of a South African everyman” on Sunday, 7 June in the Municipal Auditorium from 11:15 AM to 12:05 PM.

Tickets are R60 for adults, R30 for children and R50 for early birds and are available through Webtickets.

Don’t miss the chance to meet the writer of this dark comic satire!

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