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The Good Book Appreciation Society

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Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

1-Question Interview: Sarah Lotz

Introducing a new series of 1-question interviews on The Good Book Appreciation Society.

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(Click on image to enlarge.)

The Good Book Appreciation Society is a secret book club on Facebook with over 4000 members. To join the club, friend Bea Reader on FB or email

Sarah Lotz is the author of a ton of different books under a ton of different names, her most recent is Day Four. Steven King says: ‘DAY FOUR, is really good. It’s the cruise ship from hell.’

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This week’s interview live with Marita van der Vyver in France

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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.

To join The Good Book Appreciation Society simply friend Bea Reader on Facebook or email

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.

To enjoy the rest of the interview simply join The Good Book Appreciation Society. Friend Bea Reader on FB or email

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.

You can buy Marita’s novel here

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Charlie Human interviews Lauren Beukes

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Welcome to Cocktail Hour on The Good Book Appreciation Society. We have a special treat this evening. For the next hour, author Charlie Human will be grilling Lauren Beukes on her international smash hit, the newly launched Broken Monsters. Lauren will be posting under the Ann Author account. Charlie will open up for questions at about 8:15. Over to you Charlie…

‪Charlie Human Welcome Lorraine Beukes, author of Zoolander and The Shining, and here to talk to us today about her latest novel, Monsters Inc. Lorraine are you there?

Lauren Beukes I am here, Mr Human. or should I call you Mr Inhuman?

‪Charlie Human So I thought this was an appropriate quote from Broken Monsters to start off with. Are you ready to dance, monkey?

Lauren Beukes Always. Can we do a robot apocalypse dance-off?

‪Charlie Human Let’s hope that quote goes as far as Zoo City’s “Fashion is only different skins for different flavours of you.”

Lauren Beukes Where did you find that quote or did you make it yourself?
 Stalking Pinterest again? I’m still bummed about the fashion flavours quote.

‪Charlie Human I found it on a little thing I like to call THE INTERNET

Lauren Beukes Ah yes, I am familiar with The Internet. It is one of my favourite things.
 For research.
 Not procrastination

‪Charlie Human With any luck Facebook will use the Broken Monsters quote as part of their official marketing

Actually I think the full quote is better: “Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online.”

Lauren Beukes That would be awesome marketing. God, if I could leverage Facebook

‪Charlie Human OK, so give us the blurb for Broken Monsters the way you see it. What does this story mean to you?

Lauren Beukes Oh you bastard.Ann Author That’s a horrible one. It’s a book about being seen. Or not. About how we’re all broken inside (a little) and it’s how you live with it. And that even the monsters don’t work – they’re broken, non-functioning, they don’t exist, because the only monsters are us and our monstrous ambitions and desires and failings.

Holy existential crisis on a Sunday night, Batman.

‪Charlie Human You’ve talked a bit in the past about the internet as a kind of collective unconscious for the planet, a database of desire. This connects to dreams in Broken Monsters, particularly The American Dream. Why was this something you wanted to explore?


Lauren Beukes Oh, but it’s also a book about strange hybrid bodies turning up in Detroit, the detective trying to solve the case, her daughter getting into catfishing online, a journalist trying to break a big story (and save his career), a man on the street trying to hold his family together and a rather tortured artist.

‪Charlie Human So, you’re pretty weird and messed up. Sorry, that was more a comment than a question.

Lauren Beukes Yeah, there’s a great quote in the movie Paprika, which I only know from the image I found on Tumblr. But yeah, the collective unconscious, desire, fear, loathing, different guises of the self.

How we express ourselves online. I collected a lot of images of obfuscated faces on my tumblr.


And yeah, pretty weird and messed up would cover it.

‪Charlie Human Your publishers did this cool personality test that analyses your tweets to see what kind of serial killer you are: ‪ So, what kind of serial killer are you?

Lauren Beukes Psychopath!
 Quelle surprise.
But not a Broken Monster. I don’t think I’m antisocial enough. Although Joey Hifi, the SA cover designer did tell me “It’s interesting you wrote a book about someone possessed by a creative urge that takes them to dark places”

‪Charlie Human Yeah I was interested in the fact that they used those Dark Triad character traits as a way of analysing tweets.

Lauren Beukes It was very cool that HarperCollins put the test together. It’s actually devised by Jonno Haim. Intertextual.

There’s a Dark Triad? Is that you, me and Sarah Lotz?

‪Charlie Human Yes! So the three Dark Triad traits are narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. You’re psychopathy….

Sarah kinda has to be Machiavellianism, right?

Lauren Beukes Which would make you Narcissim

‪Charlie Human *looks in mirror* Yes, Narcissim suits me fine, just fine

Lauren Beukes watch it, I’ll turn this Interview around and start asking you about Kill Baxter (Your new book, out at the beginning of the month in the UK. I saw your agent in London. He says hi)

‪Charlie Human People taxidermy with meat glue is quite extreme, even for a psychopath. Where the hell did that come from?

Lauren Beukes Hahaha. As someone pointed out to me on Twitter: “So, you basically killed Mr Tumnus”. (from Narnia)
 Which is a very insightful reading actually.

I read about meatglue on the Internet, it proved irresistible.
 But I interviewed leading transglutinimase expert and chef Wiley Dufresne about the intricacies of meat glue.
 And how to use it. I did take some artistic license.
 Because in reality, there’s not enough MEAT to use meat glue if you sever someone at the waist.
 So don’t try this at home.

Although if you come to the Detroit launch of Broken Monsters on 19 September, Mickey Alice Kwapis, the taxidermist I interviewed for the novel, is planning to do a taxidermy workshop. No meatglue though.

‪Charlie Human You heard it here first: Sticking a corpse together with meatglue is not a practical way to display your victims

Lauren Beukes She really did describe taxidermy like “peeling a really gross orange” and the kangaroo story in the novel really happened to her.

‪Charlie Human That was pretty gross. Why can’t you write about something more wholesome like zombie strip clubs?

Lauren Beukes I know, I know. I’m not depraved enough to go there, I think. Not like YOU.

‪Charlie Human So next actual question: Your dialogue has always been annoyingly good but it’s really, really great in Broken Monsters. Give us a little dialogue tutorial. How do you get the voices right?

To read the rest of this interview join The Good Book Appreciation society by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or emailing

Massive, huge, obscene thanks to ‪Charlie Human‬ for running this mad, wild, dark, funny interview. Hopefully he’s keeping count of all the Bonus Points Lauren won. Charlie’s latest novel, Apocalypse Now Now, has been very highly acclaimed, and you can check it out here.


And of course major thanks to Lauren for adding the GBAS as a stop on her world tour. Broken Monsters has had high praise from around the world, including huge support from Steven King. Click here to pick up your own copy:

Broken Monsters

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Gareth Crocker Interviews Casey B Dolan

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Welcome to an excerpt of Cocktail Hour at The Good Book Appreciation Society where Gareth Crocker grilled Casey B Dolan on her fictional debut, When the Bough Breaks. Gareth will open up to the floor for any questions at about 8:15. Over to you Gareth…

‪Casey B Dolan ‪Gareth Crocker yoohooo…over here!!!!

‪Gareth Crocker Yes, yes. I’m right here. You’re so pushy, Dolan

‪Casey B Dolan correct

‪Gareth Crocker So Casey, firstly, I assume you look lovely this evening? You were looking particularly ravishing this afternoon when I was staring at you through your kitchen window. You probably didn’t see me given that I was wearing my trusty lamp post disguise?

‪Casey B Dolan Was that you that the dog took a whizz on?

‪Casey B Dolan And I am in my pink PJ’s with a hot water bottle awaiting your barrage of interesting rhetoric

‪Gareth Crocker So, for those who may have been living in a cave for the past decade or so, a quick recap: model, radio personality, voice over artist, TV star, film star, supermom, animal activist and humanitarian. On the surface, and for those who might not have read your autobiography, An Appetite for Peas, it seems as if one success has naturally led to another. But that’s not quite true, is it? It seems to me that you’ve had to fight very hard to get where you are today. Yes?

‪Casey B Dolan Well, yes…I am not sure fight is quite the word, I have kept my head above water and kept swimming

‪Gareth Crocker Having read your magnificent (and I mean that) autobiography, An Appetite for Peas, I think I’m right. You’re the sort of person who really goes after what you want. Your tenacity is a key part of your make-up, yes?

‪Casey B Dolan I think any career in the creative arts takes a lot of perseverance to be able to make any headway and then a rather thick hide to take the plethora of whippings dolled out on a far too regular basis. Yes. Tenacious is definitely apt. Along with a few other choice words that are not as flattering hehehe

Gareth Crocker Please, Casey, let’s keep this conversation professional. All this talk about whipping is getting me a little hot under the collar. But seriously, you’re clearly a tremendously focused person. Which is great, given that the book world is known for dishing out its fair share of beat downs. Did I mention that my first novel was rejected like 500 times?

‪Casey B Dolan Really??! Was that Finding Jack??? But it was met with critical acclaim…wow…

‪Gareth Crocker …and enough about me. So, Casey, in your writing you have an extraordinary gift for dialogue. Some of the best, I’ve ever read. If your dialogue had a fight with my dialogue it would pull its hair, punch it in the stomach and send it home to cry. Where does this ability come from?

Casey B Dolan I think the aspect of my writing that may be slightly unique is perhaps dialogue only because I have waded through 20 years of zipping up characters getting in their heads enough to convincingly portray them. i don’t necessarily just write a scene I see in my head, I actually “play” the role of the character I am writing…it comes a lot easier to me than writing extensive narrative and imagery. So I suppose at some point I may stretch myself but for now I so love writing scenes where the dialogue really portrays everything I haven’t described (does that make sense?)

Gareth Crocker Yes, of course it makes sense. It now also explains why, Mondays to Fridays, you run around your bedroom gesticulating as though your hair is on fire. Always wondered about that. Anyway, I digress. Tell me a little about your process. Do you plot your novels up front? Or do you simply kick off with an interesting premise and allow the story to take its natural course?

To read the rest of this interview, and more, join The Good Book Appreciation Society, by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or email

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Helen Moffett interviews Jassy Mackenzie

Welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. For the next hour, Helen Moffett will be chatting to Jassy Mackenzie about writing erotica, publishing internationally and her latest projects. If you have any questions for Jassy, Helen will open up to the floor at about 10:15. Over to you Helen…

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‪Helen Moffett without further ado… Jassy, you had a solid rep as a writer of hard-boiled thrillers, often quite terrifying. Tell us why you made the, er, switch to erotica.

‪Jassy Mackenzie I’ve always been intrigued and amused by the idea of BDSM – in fact, I wrote a short story on the topic which was one of the first short stories I ever wrote. When 50 Shades started becoming such a talking point, I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at the genre again – I wanted to do something different, and erotica is such fun.

Helen Moffett It IS, isn’t it? You were brave to tackle BDSM — we battled a bit with that (well, I certainly did). To recap for readers, yr 1st 2 erotica titles, Folly and Switch, star Emma Caine. I found her a very appealing heroine – an exhausted broke sad 40-something housewife, rather different from the 20-something wide-eyed gal looking for adventure.

The premise is that desperate to pay the bills after her husband’s accident leaves him essentially a vegetable with hideous medical costs, Emma converts the cottage on her grounds into a sex dungeon where powerful men pay her wodges of cash to beat and humiliate them.

What I LOVED about the dungeon scenes is that you have clearly done yr homework and you don’t mock the “scene” — but many of the encounters Emma has with her clients are cryingly funny…

‪Jassy Mackenzie Exactly. I realised quite early on when I started writing Folly that there was no way this could be a serious book. How on earth do you make the picture of a CEO crawling round on the floor with a pair of frilly panties and a ball gag, sound serious? It was an impossible task.

‪Helen Moffett Yes! This is what we found writing the Girl books too. Sex is so many things, but it’s also funny. I think you did an amazing job of balancing HOT sex scenes with the dungeon merriment.

*draws Jassy closer* Now then girlfriend. How did you manage to write all those sex scenes? Spill your trade secrets. I’m taking notes

‪Jassy Mackenzie From reading the first Girl book, I can appreciate that you had the same challenges, and handled them with aplomb! The most difficult part was getting a balance between the more amusing scenes, and the serious red-hot love scenes where of course no snigger can pass the reader’s lips.

Hmmm…. well, I also want to hear this from you! The most difficult part of writing the sex scenes for me, which I think you’ll sympathise with, is that there are just not enough words in the English language to describe erotic activities without becoming repetitive.
 I mean… if you start using “thrust” more than twice in a paragraph, your editor starts getting all passive-aggressive!

‪Helen Moffett AHAHAHAAA!!! I confess I read yr sex scenes with great collegial interest: “OOH, there’s a word we can use… hmm, so that’s how she gets around the tricky words ‘crotch’ and ‘groin’… etc”. As everyone knows, I used to wish for a sex thesaurus…

And tell us about the editing, if you like! Some of the straight-faced mails between our US editor and us were hysterical (“the fabric of her bra can’t rub against her nipple, it means the bra is too big…”)

‪Jassy Mackenzie There needs to be one (sex thesaurus), and when one is published, I will invest in several signed copies of it. I also got a great piece of advice on writing sex scenes from an interview with Sylvia Day of the “Bared to You” series fame. She said that every sex scene has to move the characters forward, and give the reader more insight into them from one angle or another. They can’t just be gratuitous. I found that very helpful.

‪Jassy Mackenzie Love the fabric of the bra comment!

My South African editor gets very, very angry with me if I use the same word multiple times. By the end of the manuscript, she’s seething and WRITING IN CAPITALS and highlighting the offending word in BRIGHT RED!

(and accusing me of driving her to drink!)

‪Helen Moffett That is hysterical, Jassy. We called them word echoes, and mostly dealt with them ourselves (they drove ME to drink, I was forever mailing the others begging them to find a word, any other word, and then we would, and it would IMMEDIATELY pop up three times in the next para!). Re moving characters forward, I think in yr Folly novels, you manage that incredibly well in ALL your scenes. I got the feeling that yr sense of plot, as a thriller writer, really made yr erotica gallop along, things were always HAPPENING. We were lucky because we had Sarah (also a thriller/horror writer) constantly kicking our plots along, Paige giving the human touch, and me nagging everyone about finding a synonym for “gasp”.

‪Helen Moffett It was SUCH fun writing as a threesome — did you share your erotic writing process with anyone? Did you have cheerleaders, beta readers, and so on?

‪Jassy Mackenzie A helpful tip that I got from my American editor was to make the non-erotic activities in the book more sensual, so that the heroine doesn’t just cut up an avocado, but cups it in her hand and softly slices through its rounded form…!

‪ As far as beta-readers go, my beta-reader is Dion and he, luckily, enjoys reading my erotic romances. In fact, I think he prefers them to my thrillers. I also email the books to my sister Sophie in the UK. She is a writer as well – she writes chick-lit – so it’s reciprocal.
 (for all those who don’t know, Dion is my amazing partner.)

‪Helen Moffett Great, so you have a family business going there… and kudos to Dion! And yr US editor sounds ace! That’s actually EXCELLENT advice she gets — I got similar advice from a writing friend — to include lots of delicious sensual non-sexual activities: which is why we have what the three of us call “food porn”, “scenery porn”, “shopping porn” etc. I LOVE writing that stuff, esp the food… I LOVED the food in all yr erotica books…

‪Jassy Mackenzie But I envy you writing as a threesome. I think that must have created a lot of synergy and helped to avoid those days when a plot glitch feels like an unclimbable mountain.

Food, cooking and eating are such sensory activities and they seem to go really well with erotic romances. Every heroine in my books will have to have a healthy appetite – no picking at salads and diet shakes.

‪Helen Moffett Writing as a threesome was such such such fun. Someone else always has yr back. It can be cumbersome (we have to OK all decisions and the mails go back and forth), but I LOVED it. But I’m SO GLAD you mentioned the diet thing — I can NEVER believe heroines who claim they’ve lost their appetites, but who are then sexually ravenous.

‪Jassy Mackenzie And I love the phrases “scenery porn” and “shopping porn” – I’m thinking softly rolling hills and jutting rocky outcrops…

To read the rest of this titilating interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society by emailing or by friending Bea Reader on Facebook.

Enormous throbbing thanks to both Helen and Jassy for joining us this morning, to chat all things erotic.
Both these authors have so many books available, it’s hard to know which to link to, but let’s start here.
Jassy is the author of a series of crime thrillers, as well as Folly and Switch, and Breathless which is due out in September. Click here to take a closer look at her titles:

And Helen Moffett is not only the editor of books like Lauren Beukes’ Shining Girls and Broken Monsters, and Sarah Lotz’ ground breaking, The Three. But she’s also an author in her own right of both poetry (Strange Fruit is available here) and erotica (As Helena S. Paige).
You can check out those titles here:

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Amanda Coetzee interviews Mike Nicol

Good morning and welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. This morning Amanda Coetzee will be chatting to prolific local and internationally published crime author, Mike Nicol. If you have any questions, Amanda will open up to the floor at about 9:45. Over to you Amanda… — with Amanda Coetzee and Mike Nicol.

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‪Amanda Coetzee Thanks Bea Reader for the warm welcome. Morning early risers and of course, Mike. Would you sum up ‘Of Cops and Robbers’ for anyone who may not have read it yet?

‪Mike Nicol Can’t we start with an easy question. Like what’s my favourite colour?

‪Amanda Coetzee Stop misbehaving. Let me sum it up for you but don’t moan if I get critical points wrong…

‪Mike Nicol I’m much better at correcting the mistakes of others. Gives me a sense of superiority.

‪Amanda Coetzee There speaks the creative writing teacher. Ok. It’s based on historical crime (sort of) that impacts on the present in a violently but entertaining read.

‪Mike Nicol And it features a stunning beautiful duo – the surfer boy (who is modeled on me, of course) and his amazing girlfriend who predictably won’t move in with him as she has a gambling habit and a nice flat in the city and she’s a lawyer. What more could you ask for?

‪Amanda Coetzee Err, who is the beautiful girl modelled on? Your long suffering wife? Where did the detail for the gambling addiction come from?

‪Mike Nicol Oh, that’s all made up the gambling part. The beautiful girl part? Well that would be to reveal secrets. Have to add in something about my setting right now. I’m in Langebaan in a cafe looking out on a street. The lagoon is down the road but I can see it if I stand on a chair.

‪Amanda Coetzee A comment on its distance not your height of course. Have you ever had a ‘baby-shit yellow Ford Granada’ in the interests of researching an unforgettable phrase?

‪Amanda Coetzee A serious question for anyone still listening. Why the decision to base the plot, loosely, around historical events?

‪Mike Nicol No. But my father owned one in the 1970s. Or at least he had the Granada part. The yellow part came because g-daughter Kate had just been born and so there was a lot of that colour stuff around.

I suppose because history has always been present – no clever word play there of course – in my fiction. But apart from that I have long been fascinated by the hit squads that the apartheid forces let go on the country. I wanted to reference their doings and then a sense of poetic justice as they came to confront their actions in the new country.

Amanda Coetzee Do you feel a sense of responsibility as a social commentator as a crime writer based in South Africa or is this poetic justice a personal response?

‪Mike Nicol No. But my father owned one in the 1970s. Or at least he had the Granada part. The yellow part came because g-daughter Kate had just been born and so there was a lot of that colour stuff around.

I suppose because history has always been present – no clever word play there of course – in my fiction. But apart from that I have long been fascinated by the hit squads that the apartheid forces let go on the country. I wanted to reference their doings and then a sense of poetic justice as they came to confront their actions in the new country.

‪Amanda Coetzee Do you feel a sense of responsibility as a social commentator as a crime writer based in South Africa or is this poetic justice a personal response?

‪Mike Nicol Ah the question that lies at the root of so much… I guess because I grew up at a certain time and started writing in the 1970s when everything you wrote was political, writers couldn’t help but by social commentators. As a crime writer – well, as any writer really – I think one has to carry on the tradition of commenting on the country. Especially as we have a lot to comment on right now. Also the poetic justice is probably also a personal response, but mostly that novel is about telling a story and mixing some fact into the fiction.

Amanda Coetzee Talking about the mix of fact and fiction, your character Jacob Mkezi of the crocodile shoes is a complex man who clearly sees himself as beyond the petty rules of society. Sadly so many of our politicians do – was your choice to include his relationship with a white woman and a liking for young male prostitutes as part of this character trait?…

To read the rest of the interview join The Good Book Appreciation Society on Facebook by emailing or by friending Bea Reader on Facebook.

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Liesl Jobson interviews Alex Smith

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Morning and welcome to another Sunday morning Pajama Flash Festival on The Good Book Appreciation Society. Today Liesl Jobson is interviewing Alex Smith on her highly anticipated new novel, Devilskein & Dearlove.Over to you Liesl…

‪Liesl Jobson What a delight to be here, talking to an author I greatly admire. Despite finishing Devilskein & Dearlove at three this morning, I am wide awake with this fantastic and fabulous narrative. In the fullest sense of both those words it is a fable of the fantasy genre and it is buzzing wildly in my head. It’s a book you simply can’t quit until the last remarkable page. Doors open into doors, ever darker worlds open up, a cast of quirky and fully realised characters have their say, and, most courageously, the heroine gazes upon impossible and unimaginable faces of evil without flinching.

The feisty Erin Dearlove is just 13. She’s instantly recognisable as the archetypal prickly adolescent. Anyone who is intimately involved with teens might have seen her sort! She is short to the point of rudeness, intolerant of others, and smart as a whip. Her curiosity and willingness to suspend belief means that an improbable encounter with a demon is teased into reality.

Erin is, significantly, a survivor. She defends herself from the anguish of her new life by re-imagining the hideous attack that left her orphaned. Her vibrant imagination is aided by her rare command of the English language. And her refusal to go to school, which leads to a hilarious encounter with a school psychologist! Erin is brighter than most of the adults she interacts with and has a way of projecting herself into and onto the world so that nobody knows what she most cares about. I’m curious about the liberties that writing YA fiction affords you. How did the voice of Erin come to you?

‪Alex Smith Thank you Liesl, for that – you put it so beautifully even so early on a Sunday morning. First the names came – Devilskein and Dearlove. I knew they’d be opposites in some way and like the ‘D’ they share, they’d be similar too. I have teenagers in my family, nieces and nephews and I think Erin Dearlove’s voice grew out of their collective vulnerability, their wisdom, their many moments of grumpiness and at times their uncanny abilities to be hurtful (which shows how much insight they have into the souls of adults… in fact, sometimes I’m not sure there is such a distinction between adults and young adults (teenagers), apart from the legal things … maybe my head is blurry from late dinner party last night, but even my two-year-old son has an extraordinary understanding of how to get his way in the world. I think adults think they are wiser than they are and adults underestimate the wisdom of children and young adults.

‪Liesl Jobson I’m with you all the way, Alex, which is why I’m never entirely convinced that the designation “YA” is necessarily apt. The crossover between childhood and adulthood is a liminal space that I’m not sure we ever properly exit. Your narrative also touches on issues that affect adults and children alike. The experience of evil, the way we make sense of it, the possibilities of enduring through trauma.

‪Alex Smith In terms of liberties, I think YA (although I’m not such a fan of categories, though they’re essential for marketing I know) allows a particular kind of fantastical, not fantasty, but it makes space for being playing with fantastical possibilities. So instead of YA I like to think of my genre as Fantastical Real.

‪Liesl Jobson Snap!

‪Alex Smith Haha, yes, I agree completely. The issue of evil was a hard one to grapple with.

‪Alex Smith You know in some philosophies there’s the idea that there is no real evil and since I’m an atheist, in some ways I go along with that, But then things you see in the news…sheesh, they make evil seem very real.

‪Liesl Jobson Recently, at Lauren Beukes’s launch of Broken Monsters, she said, “We’re all broken… we’re all monsters.” That resonated. Your Erin Dearlove has a sense of her own power, for good and for craziness. She walks such a fine line. Grappling with evil is our daily reality in South Africa. Actually, it’s a global reality. Not peculiarly homegrown. I’m interesting in the way you allow the reader to wonder if she is telling the truth, when she clearly isn’t. It’s paradoxical.

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Jennifer Crocker interviews Helen Walne

BEA READER: Good morning and welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. Jennifer Crocker will be interviewing Helen Walne on her debut, The Diving. I’m told both are in pyjamas (of some sort) and drinking coffee as we go. Jen will open up to questions from the audience at 9:45, so if you can hang tight till then. Over to you Jennifer… — with Helen Walne and Jennifer Crocker.

all three

‪Jennifer Crocker Hallo ‪Bea Reader thanks for having ‪Helen Walne and letting me tag along. Hi Helen my fingers are frozen but in we go,

‪Helen Walne Hello all and sundry. I hope you look equally rancid at this time of the morning.

‪Jennifer Crocker Very rancid, so along with first gifted question: It’s not a spoiler to say that your book is about your brother Richard’s suicide? And promise not to give away too many details, but what made you decide to write a book about something so, in a sense intimate?

‪Helen Walne After my brother, Richard, drowned himself, I went looking for literature on suicide — something that would resonate with me; make me feel less alone. And at the time there wasn’t very much, so I decided to try to mend that.

‪Jennifer Crocker And what we are given in The Diving is a very different kind of book, you have a very edgy style and it seems almost cinematic at the time, you include the funny side of life too was this hard?

‪Jennifer Crocker Actually what I should have picked up on in that answer was the theme of mending because the story is about trying to mend something and finding that there is stuff that just can’t be mended, but that the ripping apart is terrifying, it so isn’t a self-help book and it so is as well?

‪Jennifer Crocker Argh sorry you are probably still typing ….

‪Helen Walne It’s not a self-help book, but there are some insights that will hopefully make people feel less isolated. I also hope it’s not a book that only people who have experienced suicide will be drawn to — I hope it resonates across all human experience.

‪Helen Walne As for the mending, it’s an attempt at some darning. I’m not sure these things can be forever fixed.

‪Helen Walne blaf blaf blaf — (thats’s the dogs barking at a man)

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ I think there are insights that will do that, I was drawn to the book before it even came out because of the way you write your column which is so insightful and frank, so I do think it does help, although I have experienced a little of what you did, but every experience is individual and I suppose there are commonalities as well which is what this made it a book I read in one gulp overnight, when did you start to write it (crush crush sound of game requests coming in)

‪Helen Walne‬ STAY AWAY FROM THE CANDY CRUSH!!! I think I started writing bits and pieces in the months after Richard’s death — scribbles in notebooks and on backs of till slips. But it only started taking book shape a few years later when I had managed to process quite a lot of what had happened and felt still enough to tackle it as a writing project rather than as an outpouring. I strongly believe in the craft of writing to convey the sense of things.

‪Helen Walne‬ I am boiling the kettle. Tea anyone?

‪Helen Walne‬ And I’ve just had the BIGGEST sneeze. Waaaaaaaa-hoooooooooo. I think the neighbours have called ADT.

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ Yes am trying you will be horrified ot know that another author who shall not be named just sent me one! I think as writers (and I am not an author) but I do write do try to make sense of life through scribbling down stuff, so when you realised you had a book how did you approach a publisher were they receptive to the idea of the topic? And I am going to say something very meaningful after that

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ Oh and will have two sugars please

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ Actually rather coffee if you don’t mind

‪Helen Walne‬ I sent the manuscript to two publishers. The first said it didn’t it their marketing profile; the second was very kind and nearly took it but the supporters of the book were out-voted — probably by the numbers dudes. Then, when I took it to Penguin, I was overwhelmed by how much they loved it.

‪Helen Walne‬ Mmmmmmm, English breakfast tea,

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ Oh how we love marketing profiles, not, I am so glad Penguin loved it, because for those of you who haven’t read this book you actually have to go and buy one straight after this, because it is a piece of literature as well as an intensely personal memoir, it should be upfront in book stores and every teenager should be forced to read it

‪Helen Walne‬ The publishing industry is a pretty intense place. I realise that now.

‪Helen Walne‬ It’s commerce — whether we like it or not. When I was a student, I dreamed of working in a bookshop. I had romantic notions of being around books all day and convincing people to read Bellow. Hahaha.

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ One thing I am interested in is that part of your life is filled with subbing and I aways was scared that ediiting stopped me from writing but clearly that isn’t the case with you? But it is a very disciplined book every word is there for a reason and you write like a dark poet at times, always been your style?

‪Jennifer Crocker‬ I still dream of working in a bookshop, but then I remember being told how poetry has to be kept but is never bought so it’s sort of written off on the books before it hits the shelvs (lovely pun somewhere in there) and that made me sad so I became a journalist instead

This is just an excerpt, to read the rest of the interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society, by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or by emailing

And please join us again next Sunday 29th June at 9am when Liesl Jobson will be interviewing Rebecca LLoyd, author of View From Endless Street.

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