This week’s interview live with Marita van der Vyver in France
Welcome to Cocktail Hour on The Good Book Appreciation Society.
At 5pm on Sunday 15th November, Terry Ellen Raats chatted to Marita van der Vyver about her incredible book, A Fountain in France live on The Good Book Appreciation Society. Here is an exerpt of that interview.
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Terry Ellen Raats Thank you Bea Reader! And hello Marita van der Vyver
Marita van der Vyver Hi there.
Terry Ellen Raats In the aftermath of Friday night, our deepest sympathy, Marita, to you and your adopted and beloved France. We trust that you and your loved ones, Alain, Hugo, Thomas, Mia and Daniel, and their loved ones, are all safe ….?
Marita van der Vyver Thank you. We are all sad and shocked, but fortunately everyone I know personally seems to be safe.
Terry Ellen Raats It must feel strange, having grown up in a country where terror was used to fight for ideals, to be in a similar situation again … How are you feeling as you witness the events of this weekend … ?
Marita van der Vyver Very strange. Kind of déjà vu? My 15-year-old daughter sent an SMS Friday night: ‘Maman, I am so glad they are not attacking small villages. But if they do, where do you think we can go and live?’ This was not a question I ever thought I’d have to answer in the heart of ‘civilised’ Europe.
Terry Ellen Raats So tragic in so many ways ….And now to our book A fountain in France ends with “…why would
Marita van der Vyver Why would I want to be French?
Terry Ellen Raats “Why would I want to become French when I can stay Afrikaans – and along the way become a tiny bit provencal too”. How do you manage your dual identity?
Marita van der Vyver I don’t see it as being torn, I see it as being enriched. I often quote a friend who says she has her roots in Africa, but her branches and leaves are thriving in another country.
Terry Ellen Raats How beautiful!
Marita van der Vyver Yes, I wish I thought of it first.
Terry Ellen Raats And with your writing- that is so heartfelt, from the heart, is there a difference between the character Marita, and the Marita who writes?
Marita van der Vyver Ooh, that’s a difficult one. But I suppose the answer is yes, because the moment I write about myself, even in non-fiction like this book, I fictionalise myself. Have you noticed that when you read writers’ autobiographies there is often more fiction in there than in their fiction?
By which I don’t mean I’m lying all the time!
Terry Ellen Raats No, of course not, but as writers we can make up as much as we want to …
Your book Where the Heart Is has been described as an autobiographical novel – did this influence how your wrote A fountain in france?
Marita van der Vyver I’m still struggling to define both Where the Heart Is and Fountain in France (FIF). They’re not travel books, they’re not novels, they’re not autobiography because I’m not old enough to write a ruthlessly honest autobiography (I have to wait for a few people to die first), so I think the reader can call my writing whatever he/she wants to call it.
Terry Ellen Raats Your books read like a travelogue – and some sections feel like a handbook on how to manage/survive a household of teenagers … was that planned, or does your natural humour just make it feel that way?
Marita van der Vyver What I do know, is that I have to be more careful of ‘real’ people’s feelings when i write non-fiction. In fiction you can literally get away with murdering your characters.
Terry Ellen Raats There is a strong dose of humour in your writing – and i’m reading your English versions – to what extent do you feel your sense of humour translates – or is it lost?
Marita van der Vyver Sorry, I added something to your previous question. I never plan humour. It always comes uninvited, even when I try to write quite seriously. But then I console myself with the fact that even Shakespeare wrote some very humorous passages.
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A reader, reviewer and some-times-writer and poet, Terry is mostly a Reader!
Steeped in a career of communications, marketing and copywriting, she has facilitated writing courses and creative workshops in Joburg and Cape Town. She also confesses to being a serial Literary Festival attendee. Terry’s work has also been included in a number of short story collections. Her poetry was selected as the Women’s 2002 Finalist in the Ottakars et Faber Competition, in Banbury, England.
Marita van der Vyver was born in Cape Town and holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of Stellenbosch. She published three novels for adolescents before her first adult novel, Griet skryf ‘n sprokie, became a best-seller, winning the M-Net, Eugène Marais and ATKV Prizes in 1992. Since then she has been a full-time writer of fiction for readers of all ages, producing novels, a collection of humorous essays, a collection of short stories, picture books for young children and numerous stories included in anthologies. She has won several awards as well as a bursary for international study from the SA Foundation for Creative Arts, and was invited to take part in the renowned writers’ programme of the University of Iowa in the USA. All her adult novels are translated from the original Afrikaans into English, Dutch and German, while Griet skryf ‘n sprokie has been translated into a dozen languages including Chinese and Icelandic. She lives in a small village in the south of France with her French husband, Alain Claisse. They have 3 sons and a daughter.