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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Maire Fisher interviews Yewande Omotoso on GBAS

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This evening, over on The Good Book Appreciation Society, a secret book club on FB with over 5500 members (friend Bea Reader on FB to join the club) author Máire Fisher interviewed Yewande Omotoso, about her highly acclaimed new novel, The Woman Next Door.

Here is an exerpt of that interview, to read the rest of it simply join The Good Book Appreciation Society by friending Bea Reader on FB.

Máire Fisher Okay, I’ll start by saying how much I enjoyed reading The Woman Next Door. I swallowed it whole one afternoon and have since enjoyed going back to it more thoughtfully. That’s the sign of a good book for me, one that happily bears rereading.
It’s such a beautifully constructed book. With that in mind, and of course, looking at your life as an architect, do you think it’s accurate to draw a comparison between designing a house and creating a story?

Yewande Omotoso Thank you. Means something to hear that. We’re doing a few translations so I have vey keen editors and readers combing through the book and it keeps me on my toes. I always wonder – can the book withstand all this?!! In terms of the arch-writing comparison…
My favourite is to use the various lexicons as metaphors. Yes, foundations, scaffolding, drafting and so on.

Máire Fisher Its foundations are solid …

Máire Fisher How much planning goes into your stories when you write them, or is it a more organic process?

Yewande Omotoso Planning wise very little initially
Initially it’s a lot of feeling the thing out. Wondering what the heck it is
That can take a draft or 3. And then the planning does come in eventually

Máire Fisher I like the idea of feeling it out. Getting to know the people you’re going to put inside the house …

Yewande Omotoso Exactly. It can be scary though.
A lot of stuff NEVER makes it to the book!

Máire Fisher Once a building has been constructed, bricks in place and mortar set, we tend to think of it as being set in stone. And yet, like life, nothing ever really is. Walls can come tumbling down, renovations can change the character of a building completely
it might not make it, but I think a shadow of what has been written stays behind.

Yewande Omotoso Sure. I see shadows all the time. I see the lines that got cut!!! he he

Máire Fisher Even the people who live in a place can make it into something different, cause it to lose its perceived value to us. So continuing with the idea of designing a book, I loved what you did by putting Hortensia into the very first home that Marion designed.
Was this something you’d thought of from the very first moment of writing – or was having Hortensia set up home in the house Marion saw as being hers more of a ‘what if’ moment in the story?

Yewande Omotoso Yes! That idea arrived one day! Definitely not from the beginning. I begin withvey VERY tenuous strands I confess. I keep writing and the story finds me at some point
I begin with character, let me say that

Máire Fisher Writing towards story.

Yewande Omotoso Yes, keep writing till the story appears.
(There must be easier ways!!!!!!!!)

Máire Fisher So Hortensia and Marion were quite strong from the get go?

Yewande Omotoso I always begin wwith quite clear characters, yes. I started with Hortensia

Máire Fisher The whole idea of writing “what you know” bears looking at as far as both Bomboy and The Woman Next Door are concerned. How can you ‘know’ a character as lost and lonely as Leke in Bomboy? How are you able to step into the white narrow (-minded) shoes of Marion, or into the irritable, irascible life of Hortensia?

to read the rest of this interview simply join The Good Book Apprecation Society by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or email

Máire Fisher is a freelance writer and editor. She also runs creative writing workshops and is a regular member of a writing retreat group that meets at the Grail in Kleinmond. Her work has appeared in Twist, Just Keep Breathing, South African Writing, A Woman Sits Down to Write, Women Flashing and Writing the Self. Several of her poems and short pieces of fiction have been published online. Maire lives in Fish Hoek with her husband, Rob, and her two sons Daniel and Kieran. Birdseye is her first novel, it comes highly recommended (plus I really LOVED it) and you will find it right here.


AND, Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados. She grew up in Nigeria and moved to South Africa in 1992. Yewande trained as an architect and is a designer, freelance writer, poet and novelist. After completing a Masters degree in Creative Writing, her debut novel Bom Boy was published in 2011 by Modjaji Books. It won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012, and was the runner-up for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature.


And you can find this phenomenal book that is sure to sweep all the prizes next year, right here.


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Ayesha Kajee interviews Kagiso Lesego over on The Good Book Appreciation Society

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Here is an excerpt of the first Cocktail Hour Interview of the year over on The Good Book Appreciation society, between Ayesha Kajee and award-winning author Kagiso Lesego.

The Good Book Appreciation Society is a secret book club on Facebook with over 4500 members. To join simply friend Bea Reader on Facebook.

Ayesha Kajee Hello everyone, I’m so excited to be interviewing Kagiso this evening. If you haven’t read it yet, TBBMB is essentially a brilliant coming of age novel, but on other levels it also addresses issues of patriarchy within families and the greater society, as well as providing subtle commentary on upward mobility and moving out of the loxion, a theme that also occurs in Kagiso’s previous novel, the Mending Season. Kagiso, did you set out with these themes in mind, or did they evolve organically as you wrote TBBBMB?

Kagiso Lesego I think they evolved organically. I get ideas through conversations, news, etc. So it’s all really stuff I think about and then if I’m passionate enough, it turns into a book

Ayesha Kajee Wow that sounds amazing. In view of the frank (and sometimes devastating) conversations about racism and White privilege that have kickstarted 2016 in SA, one of the book’s most graphic scenes is the one where Basimane is prevented from playing in a rugby match where important selectors would be watching. Was there a specific real incident that spurred you to include this event in the novel?

Kagiso Lesego Yes, actually. I had a friend in high school who was a rugby star and that incident was taken from his experience on the field. The funny thing is that’s the one incident editors and publishers disputed. I was asked: is this realistic?

Ayesha Kajee I thoiught it was very realistic. And still relevant even. Considering Hashim Amla’s stated reasons for why he quit as cricket captain, for example.

Ayesha Kajee Though I feel your books are well suited to adult audiences too, you’ve said previously that the greatest challenge in writing for young adults is staying honest, staying real. Do you perhaps have one or more young adult beta readers who keep you on track? I ask because that searing honesty was evident in both TBBMB and TMS, and I’m awed!

Kagiso Lesego Yes! But there’s a lot of denial and I think that’s because between people of different colours, the other’s experience is often unimaginable. We’ve been taught not to know what’s going on on the other side of the fence. That’s been the power of apartheid, one of its long-lasting effects.

Kagiso Lesego Not really. I think I really connect with my 12 year-old self. And I connect with my readers. I’m open to their experiences, even when they’re hard to hear.

Ayesha Kajee Well, for what it’s worth, I think raising the issues in young adult novels is an excellent start at dismantling that. I lent TBBMB to my goddaughter and she enjoyed it, and we are planning to have a serious discussion about some of the themes you raise. She’s sixteen. When you writte, and with the hindsight you now have, is there any advice you’d have loved to have been given when you were sixteen?

Kagiso Lesego I don’t know about advice, but definitely adult presence would have been nice. Looking back, I wish I’d had adults who’d been reassuring. Townships are rough. You’re on your own in ways we don’t always care to explore. Adults are overworked and oppressed and exhausted. I wish I’d had the benefit of happier, more present adults.

Ayesha Kajee I can certainly empathise with that. And am sure young people today would too. Perhaps one of the biggest questions raised in TBBMB is societal endorsement of GBV and the manner in which women are often constrained to become complicit (albeit passively) in the abuse of other women. As a society, do you believe we’re making any progress towards lessening such invidious complicity?

Kagiso Lesego There’s some really powerful work being done to move forward. If you look at women rising against GBV now, you’re really inspired, but at the time I wrote the book, it was awful. Many older wome’s reaction to President Zuma’s rape trial, for example. I’d rather not remember that.

Ayesha Kajee Eish! yes.When you were at Time of the Writer at UKZN in 2013, you received much flack about comparisons that were made between the situation in the book and the rape trial of Mr Zuma. Did you find that somewhat ironic, given that to some extent it mirrored Naledi’s situation in the novel?

Kagiso Lesego Ironic yes, but generally quite frightening. I was scared when I was at ToTW. I remember us running into the elevator! My experience of the festival was ruined by that. There were many objections to me even just saying he raped his victim, just naming that at all.

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

Ayesah Kajee is a development and media professional with extensive governance and rights experience. She directed the Freedom of Expression Institute and the International Human Rights Exchange Program at Wits University, and headed the Political Parties Project at the SA Institute of International Affairs.
Her work includes consultancies for various local and intergovernmental organizations, and her research focus has included hate speech, genocide and incitement to violence. You can follow Ayesha on Twitter on @ayeshakajee

Ayesha also writes book reviews for The Sunday Times, like this one:

In 2002 Toronto-based TSAR published Kagiso Lesego Molope’s debut novel, Dancing in the Dust. Oxford University Press later picked it up for Southern African readers and translated it into three South African languages. Dancing in the Dust was the first book by a South African of African descent to make the IBBY list in 2006. It is also set work in South Africa and read for A levels in Zimbabwe. The Mending Season was published by Oxford University Press SA in 2006 and in 2008 (in German) by Baobab Books in Switzerland. Her third novel, This Book Betrays My Brother, has won the 2014 Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for Youth Literature. Molope has just completed her fourth book and first adult novel.

You can pick up Kagiso’s book, This Book Betrays my Brother, here.

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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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Jeanne-Marie Jackson interviews Tendai Huchu on GBAS


Welcome to Cocktail Hour at The Good Book Appreciation Society. Jeanne-Marie Jackson will be chatting to Tendai Huchu about his highly acclaimed novel; The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician.

Here is an excerpt of this interview, to read the whole thing join The Good Book Appreciation Society by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or email

Jeanne-Marie Jackson Hi everyone, thanks for joining us. And – mhoro munyori – waswera sei kuEdinburgh? First, let me note that I’ll be using “MMM” to refer to Tendai’s novel more quickly. I also want to start off with a quick plot summary here for anyone who may not have the novel ready to hand. The Maestro, The Magistrate, and the Mathematician is essentially an interweaving of three different Zimbabwean diaspora novellas across the shared terrain of Edinburgh. The Magistrate is, well, a (former) Magistrate; the Maestro is a solitary, serious reader who also works at a grocery store; and the Mathematician is a grad student in economics. The different plotlines don’t cross, at least for the most part, but I’ll stop there at risk of offering too many spoilers (which I’m sure I’ll end up fumbling into anyway).

Tendai Huchu Mhoro JM, taswera maswerawo. Thank you guys for having me here.

Jeanne-Marie Jackson And now for my first question! Tendai’s first novel, as many of you know, took place entirely in Harare. It is very much grounded in ZANU-PF politics and “new Zimbabwean” wealth. MMM, in contrast, takes place completely in the UK, and the only glimpses of life in Zimbabwe are afforded through phone calls, Skype, etc. So I’d like Tendai to speak a bit to the different challenges of depicting Edinburgh vs the challenges of depicting contemporary Harare. It seems too simple just to say that MMM is a “diaspora novel,” without unpacking what that means, especially given its epigraph from Hugh MacDiarmand’s lovely and understated poem ‘Scotland.’

Jeanne-Marie Jackson While Tendai is typing, here’s the first line of ‘Scotland’ for people who don’t know it: “It requires great love of it deeply to read / The configuration of a land…”

Tendai Huchu I suppose the thing I find about most of my writing is it’s set in cities and urban environments, which give you quite a lot to material. I think writing about the countryside is so much more difficult, unless one is well embedded into that culture and way of life.

Tendai Huchu But Edinburgh and Harare are two very different cities, if I can just go on for a bit longer…

Jeanne-Marie Jackson By all means! smile emoticon

Tendai Huchu I sort of try to have the city as a strong background character in its own right, and each city has a vibe of its own, a personality, if I may call it that. Edinburgh is a small city, lower tempo, much slower than Harare. But I think you find that as you write, you just play by ear and go with how you feel about each space and what you think, rather where you think the soul of the place lies.
Please tell me that makes some sense.

Jeanne-Marie Jackson Of course it does. And it seems that on that score, MMM is part of a larger momentum toward depicting the “global” city, instead of focusing on the characters who inhabit it as the primary point of exploration (which isn’t to say you don’t have characters, of course). I’m thinking of Zadie Smith’s NW, Teju Cole’s Open City, a lot of Ivan Vladislavic’s work on Joburg, etc.
One thing that occurs to me here is that moving from Harare to Edinburgh is also a way for you to emphasize “downward mobility,” as opposed to the novel’s traditional domain of upward mobility.
By that I mean that novels have focused mainly on how characters’ develop and better themselves to move through an increasingly stable world: the Bildungsroman in broad strokes, but also in contemporary African lit in particular. Think about Chris Abani, Adichie, or Nervous Conditions in a Zimbabwean context.

Your characters in MMM, though, are former officials and highly educated people who end up working low-wage jobs at nursing homes and grocery stores. So my question for you is: how does this downward mobility figure into the way you actually structure the book? What’s the correspondence of social reality, here, to form?

Tendai Huchu I envisioned the novel as a book of illusions. It is kinda hard to get stuck in without spoilers, but here goes. The title of the novel itself is a misnomer. It is presented as a literary novel but it is actually a genre novel of a very specific kind, The reader will find that though the narrators of all three novellas are reliable, they are still being lied to. So in that sense, looking at the “downward mobility” thing, I suppose most of the novels I read about diasporas are about folks on a sort of upward trajectory and I kind of wanted to go in the opposite direction to those narratives.
The question of form is a little trickier.

The final structure and language in the text were because of the failure of my first drafts of the damn thing which envisioned a more integrated, conventional narrative. When that didn’t work, I riffed off Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy and decided to have the three characters in the same city, but inhabiting distinct universes.

Jeanne-Marie Jackson It’s a very revealing failure, don’t you think? The book ends up, as far as I’m concerned, even more reflective of contemporary discontinuity and global mediation than do a lot of more fluid, or even “Afropolitan” novels in which characters seem to glide across oceans and skies with ease.

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

Jeanne-Marie Jackson is an Assistant Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale, and also works in Russian, Afrikaans, and Shona. Her first academic book is South African Literature’s Russian Soul: Narrative Forms of Global Isolation (Bloomsbury 2015). She’s now researching a book on Zimbabwean intellectual culture, and also writes for outlets like n+1, Africa in Words, Bookslut, and The Literary Review.”

And Tendai Huchu’s first novel The Hairdresser of Harare was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and has been translated into German, French, Italian and Spanish. His multi-genre short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Manchester Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Interzone, Shattered Prism, AfroSF, Wasafiri, Warscapes, the Africa Report and elsewhere. He is a creative writing PhD student at Manchester University. Between projects, he translates fiction between the Shona and English languages. His new novel is The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician. Find him @TendaiHuchu or on .

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Henrietta Rose-Innes interviews Helen Macdonald on GBAS

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We’re super excited to announce our biggest International Pajama Flash Festival ever!
This Sunday 11 October at 9am (South African time) HJ Rose-Innes will be interviewing Helen Macdonald on her bestselling international smash-hit, H is for Hawk on The Good Book Appreciation Facebook page.

To join the club simply friend Bea Reader on Facebook or email

We’re also offering club members this incredible ebook at a massive discount. So do join us.


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Carol Campbell interviews Jonny Steinberg on GBAS ccamp

Welcome to an excerpt of our final Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival for the year. For the next hour, author of Esther’s House, Carol Lesley Campbell, will be interviewing multi-award-winning author, Jonny Steinberg. Over to you Carol…

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ Morning Jonny, thanks so much for being here..where are you?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ Hi Carol. Great to be here. It’s still pitch black here in Oxford!

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ Oh wow! you are 2 hours behind us right? we got you up this morning!! hahahaha

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ no problem! I’m an early riser. Been up a while already.


‪Bea Reader‪ (Oops! Didn’t realise. Sorry Jonny Steinberg)

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ Jonny, you travelled the world for this book…going to places that were dangerous..tell us a bit about that?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ Mainly East Africa. Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa. Some of these places were familiar, but I saw them for the first time through the eyes of the Somali diaspora which made them completely different. Amazing borrowing somebody else’s eyes to see what you thought was familiar.

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ There couldn’t have been any creature did you live on the road? these are parts of the globe where famine and drought are part of life…how did you deal with meals and water?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ actually, I travelled in middle class comfort! B&Bs. Fairly comfortable homes. There was no hard‬ living involved. Sorry to disappoint!

Carol Lesley Campbell‪ hahaha! I was wondering how I would have coped…it seemed to unfamiliar‬. This is a work that strips away everything…

family, friends, stuff…on a personal level how did you feel when it was all over?‬

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ So many feelings. Hard to summarise. I guess as I was anxious, above all, to know whether I’d told the story well. This is something one cannot judge for oneself. One loses perspective. So I waited with some apprehension to see if people would read the book, if they’d be absorbed by it, moved by it. Once I started getting positive feedback, I could sit back and start feeling other things!‬

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ Yes, I can understand that….how do feel about humanity after this? Are we more good than bad?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ We’re both. Really. We are equally prone to good and to evil. And we will keep committing both for as long as we’re around.

‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ Asad…he was a complicated man…gosh…

that someone could still get up int he morning after what he went through is testament to the human spirit
. How is he now?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ He is complicated. I guess we all are. I spent a lot of time with him. Spend a lot of time with anyone and they will look complicated!

I haven’t seen him in over a year now. And we’re not very good on the phone. I need to spend time with him to discover how he’s doing. But on the face of it, he seems to be doing well. I don’t want to say too much and give away the end of the book!



‪Carol Lesley Campbell‪ hahahaha…this is tricky…because I have to know about Foosiya?

‪Jonny Steinberg‪ For the benefit of others: Foosiya is Asad’s first wife. They parted under the saddest circumstances. Asad did not allow me to look for Foosiya and the children. So I did not. He himself will only look for them if he is successful in the US. He does not know how he’d reunite with his kids as a poor man. So I will have to wait, probably many years, to find out about Foosiya. It will be worth the wait. It is wonderful to watch stores evolve over years.

Carol Lesley Campbell‪ oh wow…the heartbreak was breathtaking…but really that is Somalia isn’t it… so many families cleaved in half
. With Sadicya (Asad’s second wife) it’s like he is pulling away from being a Somali…‬

To continue reading the rest of this interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society, by friending Bea Reader on Facebook.

The Good Book Appreciation Society is a book club with over 2700 members, it’s situated in a secret corner of Facebook.

JONNY STEINBERG is the author of several books about everyday life in the wake of South Africa’s transition to democracy, including Three Letter Plague (Sizwe’s Test in the US), as well as Midlands and The Number, both of which won South Africa’s‬
‪premier nonfiction literary award, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize. Steinberg was also a recipient of the inaugural Windham Campbell Prizes for Literature, awarded by Yale University. He teaches African Studies and Criminology at Oxford University. His latest book, A MAN OF GOOD HOPE, chronicles the journeys of a young Somali across the African continent and is available here

And marvellous, intuitive interviewer, Carol Campbell, is the author of the acclaimed novels My Children Have Faces (also published in Afrikaans as Karretjiemense), and Esther’s House (‘n Huis vir Ester). She has been a journalist for 23 years and lives in Durban where she is the night news editor of The Mercury. You can click through to her books here.

We’ll be back with more live interviews next year. Have a great bookie break everyone, and be sure to let us know what your summer reads are. Also a million thanks for your support this year. This group continues to grow from strength to strength and we couldn’t do it without every single book lover on the page.‬

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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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Fiona Snyckers interviews 

‪Melissa Baumann Siebert

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Welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. For the next hour, Fiona Snyckers will be chatting to Melissa Siebert about her debut novel. If you have any questions for either author, Fiona will open up to the floor at 9:45. We hope you enjoy the show. Over to you Fiona.

‪Fiona Snyckers Morning ‪Melissa and morning everyone. Melissa, I will start with a brief summary of the novel (no spoilers) to introduce everyone to it and then lead off with my first question…

‪Melissa Baumann Siebert sounds great!

‪Fiona Snyckers Okay, Garden of Dreams is about the abduction in India of a teenage boy, Eli de Villiers. Eli is half South African and half American. He is abducted into the sex trade in Delhi, although it’s not certain if that is the ultimate intention of those who have kidnapped him. We follow him on an epic journey across India as he variously escapes and is recaptured. In a way, the setting is one of the main characters of the novel. I’m interested to know where your familiarity with India comes from. You take us confidently from the brothels of Delhi to the mountains of Katmandu. Tell us a bit about the research that went into the creation of this novel.

Melissa Baumann Siebert I did a lot of research for the book, both on the ground, online, reading humanitarian reports re child trafficking and so on. India is an obsession of mine, and I spent several months there in the mid-eighties, but knew I had to go back, so I did for just over a month, and then on to Nepal in 2011 — novel research. I spent time trawling GB Road, Delhi’s red-light district, interviewing pimps and prostitutes and in Nepal interviews counter-traffickers, as the book deals with trafficking of kids from Nepal into India, probably the world’s biggest hotspot for child trafficking. I also watched videos on Youtube — testimonies and doccies on child trafficking. And when in India and Nepal, took tons of notes and photos to help me later conjure it all on the page…

Fiona Snyckers Yes, I could see that your research was immensely thorough. I’d like to unpack the character of Margo – Eli’s mother. She is taking him on a trip through India to visit his father Anton who lives in Katmandu. Then one day she decides to return to South Africa for a journalistic assignment, leaving only a note for Eli. Unsurprisingly, the strangers she leaves him with don’t lead him safely to his father and he ends up getting kidnapped. You imply in the book that Margo suffered from Post Natal Depression, one that she might not fully have recovered from. Is that a factor in determining the decisions she makes?

Melissa Baumann Siebert Absolutely. Margo, at one point a relatively successful journalist, suffers from recurring depression, and at the start of the book, on holiday with Eli in the magical town of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India, Margo is already starting to fall apart, succumb to another bout of depression. Depression recurs in her life, and though she loves her son at the point where the novel begins she also wants to offload him in a way — onto Anton, her estranged husband, who has been absent in their son’s life. In a way it is a classic rite-of-passage, a boy being handed over to his father at the age of 13. But of course not all goes according to plan.

Fiona Snyckers Margo is also torn by the classic working-mother dilemma. Her career is very important to her and she is good at what she does. And there is no doubt that her family responsibilities are slowing her down. In fact, when she returns to SA she finds that the job has been given away to someone else – a younger, single woman who has no family commitments. Do you see this struggle of the working mother as something that can be resolved any time soon? Will it always be with us?

‪Melissa Baumann Siebert Not sure I can answer that one! As you probably guessed, the character of Margo is LOOSELY based on me (and Anton and Eli are based on my husband and son, respectively, again loosely)…I am not as deranged, thank heavens, as she is…not yet anyway! But I have basically raised our son Rafe (model for Eli, now 17) on my own since 2002…and had to give up a lot of my career to do so. I really wanted to have a child and it took me seven operations/treatments to get Rafe — and this is reflected in the book. But also reflected are the tensions and dilemmas, what one has to sacrifice to have a child, particularly if one is raising him/her pretty much single-handedly.

And also, I’d like to add…how incredibly life-changing having a child is, in ways one never anticipates, and how much more vulnerable it makes you…

‪Fiona Snyckers I wondered about it when I saw the gorgeous, golden-haired creature that is your son on your Facebook page. He looks exactly as you describe Eli! Still on the subject of parenting, Eli’s dad Anton abdicates parental responsibility to become a mediator in war-torn Katmandu. It is hard to criticise him because he is doing something very important – helping to return child soldiers to their villages. It is also hard to criticise Margo because she is trying to keep her career alive. But ultimately in parenting SOMEONE has to step up to the plate. And Eli is unfortunate in that both his parents are reluctant to do this.

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

To check out Melissa’s book, click here.

And to connect with Fiona, click here.

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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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