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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Myths of motherhood and maternal misadventures – Pamela Power’s Ms Conception launched at The Book Lounge

Pamela Power

Pamela Power and Karina M SzczurekMs ConceptionNothing in life comes easy. Not publishing your first book, not attending your book launch and lastly, but most definitely, not motherhood. However, at the launch of Pamela Power’s debut novel Ms Conception these facts were trumped by one simple truth – the author’s resolve to face problems laughing.

The event was a joyous celebration from start to finish, and could not be hindered by a forgotten manicure, a car crash or SONA 2016 rehearsals. Power’s friend and fellow author Karina M Szczurek made it to the launch in the nick of time to host a lively discussion of a book that “reminded me why I am not a mother”.

Unbeknown to the audience, she was not almost late due to traffic caused by road closures around Parliament for the 2016 State of the Nation Address, but due to having just survived an accident on the N2. Fortunately she was unscathed and in good spirits, ready to roll on with a fascinating interview.

Gathered in The Book Lounge were old and new friends, blood and bookish family and, of course, fans of Power’s work. With the sounds of a marching band practicing in the background, Power shared the story of her long journey to being an author published in paperback. Having started her novel as a reaction to motherhood and her husband doing his MBA, she faced challenges getting it published. In 2012, Louis Greenberg took a chance on her, publishing Ms Conception in digital format. Three years later the manuscript caught Penguin’s attention, with Fourie Botha signing Power on to their roll.

Ms Conception is a hilariously twisted and very realistic take on being a mother – from the pain of childbirth to the yearning for a time before the constant smell of vomit. Power insists that the story is all fiction, but admitted to being heavily influenced by her own experiences of being a mom.

We were sold that myth that you can have it all and do it all, and in actual fact you can’t. You can, but not all at the same time. I think that’s what people are realising more and more, that you are not going to have a fabulous career at the same time as spending time with your children. It’s just not going to happen …

It’s only once you’ve had the baby that you realise that you are going to be in a milk and vomit stained dressing gown, 10 kg overweight, possibly weeping, having had no sleep – you are not going to be going to a meeting!

Dark humour and dialogue was highlighted as two strengths of the novel and the author alike. Power said that her sense of humour often gets her into trouble and that the challenge was to tone it down at certain points. The jokes and dialogue come naturally to her, as she earns a living by writing and editing television scripts. “If I could write an entire novel in dialogue I would!” Power said, admitting to struggling with the narrative parts.

Not that the narrative of Ms Conception is lacking. The story sweeps readers along, rushing them to turn page after page as they read about Jo de Villiers’s maternal misadventures. Despite what it might sound like, this book is not just for woman. On the contrary, Penguin Random House MD Steve Connolly pointed out in the Q&A session, “It’s the funniest book I read last year!”

What’s next for Power? A psychological thriller, very different to Ms Conception, will see the light later this year, and then readers can expect another domestic suspense novel, in a similar vein to her first book, next year.

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Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the launch, using the hashtag #MsC:



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‘South Africa put me on the map, discovered me’: Listen to an interview with Rodriguez

Sugar ManSixto Rodriguez, the American musician better known as Sugar Man, is currently in South Africa to perform his sixth tour.

Africa Melane spoke to Rodriguez on Talk Radio 702 to talk about his remarkable story, the documentary that led to his “resurrection” and the subsequent book by Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen Segerman, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez.

When asked why he loves South Africa so much that he keeps coming back, Rodriguez says: “The thing is, South Africa put me on the map. South Africa discovered me and now I’ve become a global product in the the music business.”

The legendary musician specifically ascribes his current success to Strydom and Segerman’s dedication to his music which led to the Academy Award-winning documentary.

Listen to the podcast to hear Sugar Man’s story, as told by himself:


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“The mashup is a wonderful thing” – Lauren Beukes on her new comic book series, Survivors’ Club

Lauren Beukes and Joey Hi-Fi

The exciting new comic book series by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen (Joey Hi-Fi) and Ryan Kelly – Survivors’ Club – is growing strongly, with the third and fourth instalments available for your reading pleasure!

This series takes its inspiration from various 1980s horror films, picking up the pieces where they left off. It’s the story of six people who survived terrible things as children – from being possessed by a poltergeist to having a killer doll – who meet on the internet, drawn together by the horrors they experienced in 1987 when a rash of occult events occurred around the world, with fatal results. Now there are indications that it may be happening all over again. Is it possible that these six aren’t just survivors – but were chosen for their fates?

When describing the series, Beukes says: “The mashup is a wonderful thing!” Survivors’ Club has some of everything, from blood and guts to spirits and monsters.

The fifth and sixth instalments of this horror series will be on sale in February and March respectively.

Last year, while Beukes and Halvorsen were in the US to promote the series at various events, the duo met up with the guys from the indie geek culture movement Geek and Sundry to talk about their work on Survivor’s Club and elsewhere. What followed was a riveting interview with The Pull Whitney Moore covering everything from Halvorsen’s amazing book cover designs and Beukes’ bestsellers to bad jokes, superheroes and an interesting card game.

Watch the video:

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How to Beat Writer's Block and the Ogre of Insecurity – Rahla Xenopoulos and Irna van Zyl Share Their Best Tips

TribeRahla Xenopoulos, author of Tribe, and Irna van Zyl, who is publishing her debut thriller next year, recently shared their advice for conquering writer’s block with Media Update.

The feeling of fear inhibits one’s ability to perform and it affects all sorts of people, not only writers. No matter when or where it hits, though, there is a reliable way to beat it.

Xenopoulos says that she imagines writer’s block as “this ogre we feed that thrives on insecurity” – the best way to beat it is to starve it.

Van Zyl advises avoiding writing when you are tired, because: “You need a lot of energy to stay with it.”

Read the article:

“It has been said that writers have tidier houses than other people,” explains author, Rahla Xenopoulos. “When I start colour co-ordinating my underwear and sitting on Facebook, I know the god of literature is sending [me] signs.”

Writer’s block has many names and forms and each writer experiences it differently. But one thing is for sure, whether you’re a poet, novelist, copywriter or journalist, you will – at some point – come up against it.

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The Hardest Thing Lauren Beukes Has Ever Written, and Why She Wants to Eat Jennifer Egan's Brain

MaverickBroken MonstersThe Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes was recently interviewed by Alex Segura for Pen America about her “enthralling and immersive fiction”.

Segura asks Beukes about how she came to write for a living, and where she writes. The author admits that she would like to “absorb” Jennifer Egan’s powers, by means of eating her brain if necessary.

Beukes says that she would like to have been a anti-apartheid activist because the enemy was simple – she wishes that “current social issues were as easily defined and that there was a clear path of resistance.” This leads into a discussion of the hardest thing she has ever had to write:

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever put into words? Why does it stand out for you?

The most daring thing I’ve wanted to put into words was vetoed by my editor. I wanted to describe my terrified heroine’s heart thumping “like an avalanche of ponies.” I still like the metaphor. Can’t you just see it? The ponies tumbling down the scree, all clattering hooves and dust? But the hardest thing to write, which still upsets me and makes me sick and angry, was the essay I wrote, “All The Pretty Corpses,” about the murder of my cleaning lady’s daughter in 2010 and how I believed in the fairytale of justice until the moment in the prosecutor’s office when he told us he was going to have to throw the case out. It was devastating, and it has fed into how I write about violence—what it is, what it does to us, how we talk about it, what it means when we lose someone, how violence is shocking and contemptible, how we shouldn’t let this shit go.

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White Power Today: Christi van der Westhuizen Chats to Aubrey Masango (Podcast)

White PowerChristi van der Westhuizen recently took part in the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) “Roundtable on Whiteness – Whites, Afrikaans, Afrikaners: Addressing Post-Apartheid Legacies, Privileges and Burdens” where thought leaders like former president Kgalema Motlanthe, Achille Mbembe, Mary Burton, Mathews Phosa, Ernst Roets and Nico Koopman disucssed topics like “Being White Today” and “The Place of Afrikaans”.

CapeTalk’s Aubrey Masango invited Van der Westhuizen, an associate professor at the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS & Gender at the University of Pretoria, on his Late Night Talk show to reflect on what was said during the event. Her topic on the day was “White Power Today”, following up on her 2010 book White Power: The Rise and Fall of the National Party.

“Apartheid has officially come to an end, but white power persists. Whiteness derives its power from operating invisibly. It is an unspoken regime of oppressive norms and so it is absolutely necessary to disturb whiteness by making it seen,” Van der Westhuizen wrote in an article for the Sunday Times after the discussion on whiteness, expanding on some of the things discussed at the event.

Read the article:

Whiteness is not skin pigmentation, but the meaning attached to pinkish, whiteish skin. People with such skin are seen as “naturally” belonging to the top, while darker-skinned people are racialised as black, to be placed as “naturally” at the bottom. This has a wide-ranging effect on the distribution of resources, resulting in white privilege and black deprivation.

Democracy has been good to white people in South Africa. The average annual income in white households was R125,495 in 1996 – in contrast to R29,827 for black households. White households’ average annual income rose to R530,880 in 2013, in contrast to R88,327 in black households. Out of 4.5million whites, only 35,000 live in poverty, according to StatsSA.

Masango wanted to know more about Van der Westhuizen’s article and the MISTRA conversation in general. She opens the interview by explaining: “If there is anything like ‘an Afrikaner’ I regard them as part and parcel of the South African nation. Within the South African nation there is of course different ethnic groups and I regard them as one of them”.

Van der Westhuizen identifies three different groups of Afrikaners: Afrikaans African Nationalists, the Neo-Afrikaner Enclave, and Afrikaans South Africans. Listen to the podcasts to understand this differentiation and for Van der Westhuizen’s fascinating insight to Afrikaners and white power today:

Listen to part one of the interview:


Listen to part two of the interview:


For more about the MISTRA Roundtable on Whiteness, read here:


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The Mystery, the Musician, the Movie, the Book: Sugar Man Authors Chat About Sixto Rodriguez

Sugar ManLeroy Glam recently sat down with Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen Segerman to talk about their amazing true story as related in Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez.

When asked how the book differs from the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, Segerman says: “The movie covers the period of the search to his tour in South Africa. The book tells my history, Craig’s history, Rodriguez’s history, how I met [filmmaker] Malik, making the movie, getting to Sundance, the Oscars and what happened to Malik. A lot happened in that time. So it has a lot of information that’s not in the movie.”

During the interview the two authors give a breakdown of the book; share what it was like working on the project of finding and “resurrecting” Sixto Rodriguez; how the death of Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, who created the documentary, affected them; and what attracted them to Rodriguez’s music as teenagers.

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Not to give away the details, but can you give us a breakdown of the book?

Craig: The movie’s 83 minutes, covering two years of the story. The book covers the whole story. It’s split into four parts. There’s ‘the mystery’ – that’s the story, Sugar, myself and this journey that became a collective journey. Then ‘the man’ and what I would call a biography of Rodriguez. Then there’s ‘the music’ – how the album was released through Light in the Attic records. Then there’s ‘the movie’ and how it was made.

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“Digital Vigilantism is Something We Should All be Concerned About” – Emma Sadleir (Podcast)

Don't Film Yourself Having SexWhat happens when someone decides to name and shame their rapist on social media?

This is the question that Stephen Grootes, host of The Midday Report on 702 and CapeTalk, recently asked Emma Sadleir, social media law expert and co-author of Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: and Other Legal Advice For the Age of Social Media.

Sadleir says that when people take to social media to out their attackers it’s usually a last resort after being failed by the police or the justice system.

“I call this digital vigilantism,” Sadleir says, reminding listeners that people are innocent until proven guilty. She explains that it could be very dangerous to put this kind of content on social media, and that the victim also runs the risk of being sued for defamation of character.

Sadleir adds that she understands why people would try to get justice through social media, but she remains concerned about people using social media for the wrong reasons. “Digital vigilantism is something we should all be concerned about,” she says.

Listen to the podcast:


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"Stay Well with All Our Secrets" – Ingrid Jonker's Last Letter to Andre Brink in Flame in the Snow

Flame in the SnowVlam in die sneeuKarin Schimke recently wrote an article for Marie Claire about Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink and Ingrid Jonker.

Schimke en Leon de Kock were responsible for the translation of the collection of letters, which is also available in Afrikaans as Vlam in die sneeu: Die liefdesbriewe van André P Brink en Ingrid Jonker.

In the article, Schimke writes tenderly about Jonker’s suicide and how Brink responded to the public scrutiny and gossip. She also shares a line from the last letter Jonker ever wrote to Brink.

Schimke spoke to the people who were involved in helping these precious love letters see the light: Umuzi publisher Fourie Botha and Brink’s widow Karina Magdalena Szczurek, as well as to Willie Burger, professor of Afrikaans at the University of Pretoria, who said:

“The letters are a knock-out blow to the idea that she was a bubble-headed blonde with a few good verses. She displays clear political thinking, good literary discernment and sharp insight. She had a particularly difficult life. Towards the end of the correspondence it becomes clear that her loneliness has become more desperate, while he slowly withdraws. It’s the stuff good novels are made of.”

Read the article for more about Jonker’s last days and her final letter to Brink:

In the weeks before her suicide, friends noticed a change in Ingrid. Where once she had taken enormous pride in her looks, she had become sloppy. Her cheerfulness had receded into an almost constant bleakness. An extremely difficult childhood and adult life, and a possibly genetic predisposition towards depression and anxiety, had caught up with her. She was poor, had worked in soul-destroying bureaucratic jobs and could not find safety and succour from the maddening world with any of the men who loved her. It is clear, from all the literature available – and now these letters – that the talented poet Ingrid Jonker had run out of the emotional resources required to go on with life.

Her last letter to André ends: ‘Stay well with all our secrets…’

For extracts in English and Afrikaans, quotes from the contributors, articles and more news about Flame in the Snow, visit the website



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Why Sally Andrew Invented Tannie Maria: "To Teach Me How to Love … and Maybe How to Cook!" (Podcast)

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria MysterySally Andrew was recently interviewed by Nancy Richards for SA FM about her newly published debut Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery.

In the interview, Andrew tells Richards about the authors and influences that affected her choice of genre for this book. She says she was interested in exploring the theme of love, although she doesn’t like to write romance. “I really like the genre of the old-fashioned, cosy, mystery writers,” she says. Her love of “the slow moving writing of Alexander McCall Smith and Herman Charles Bosman” also affected her chosen style.

Andrew says she invented Tannie Maria, the lovable and irrepressible narrator of her novel, to “keep me grounded and laughing, and to teach me how to love … and maybe how to cook!”

Listen to the podcast:


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