In 2007, a friend told me I should read St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, a short story anthology by American writer Karen Russell. It was the type of book that took you to Neverland, she said. So I bought a copy, and was passed the baton as Russell’s next evangelist, telling as many people as I could about the magical, dreamlike stories hidden inside that much-loved paperback. (Another friend went on to emigrate with my copy.)
2020 is here and I can finally reveal the cover of my upcoming YA novel, Sea Star Summer, published by Human & Rousseau.
All sixteen-year-old Naomi wants to do over December is read books and enjoy a drama-free holiday – but Jeffreys Bay has other ideas…
Set over the December school holidays, Sea Star Summer is a coming-of-age story about first love and self-discovery in the surfing capital of South Africa, Jeffreys Bay.
Jeffreys Bay is a place very close to my heart. It is a place of raging waves, electric skies and wild shores. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in South Africa and my absolute favourite road-trip destination.
I think the cover captures the essence perfectly.
The year is all but over and I have much to celebrate and be thankful for.
I won two literary awards – the MER Prize for Best Youth Novel and the SALA for Youth Fiction. I signed the contract for my sixth novel, coming out in April next year, and I signed with a literary agent who is so enthusiastic about the project we’re working on that I can’t help but feel positive about the future.
It sounds like a lot of good things happened, but for the most part, it was a very difficult year.
For me, the festive season means two things – time to buy presents for my nearest and dearest, and having quality time to catch up on reading. To help you do both, I’ve put together a list of books by some of South Africa’s best female authors that were published this year.
Please do yourself a favour and visit The Book Lounge in Cape Town or Love Books in Jozi and ask for their personal recommendations. There were so many good books published this year that deserve to be taken home. (I cheated and mentioned a few more at the bottom.)
My little love story has come a long way. Since being published in February last year, Mine has appeared on the Exclusive Books Homebru list and won the MER Prize for Youth Fiction. Most recently, it has been nominated for a South African Literary Award (SALA) in the youth literature category.
I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was in grade ten. It was a difficult novel to read, one of those books where you start reading a paragraph and end up daydreaming about something else for ten minutes. It took me a long time to finish. But it was a point of pride. I was on a mission to read all the great works of classic literature I could get my hands on (which were also incidentally free to take out from the library.) To me, Dracula was the classic that defined gothic literature.
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg will knock you sideways like Harley Quinn wielding her giant mallet.
This year, Hachette Children’s Group launched Bellatrix – a series of feminist retellings of classic literature for young adults. If you’re anything like me, your first reaction would be ‘Where can I get them?’
Edyth Bulbring’s The Choice Between Us (Tafelberg, 2019) is a clever little book. (You may remember it as one of my top YA picks for winter.)
I’ve been dying to read Mary Watson’s The Wickerlight ever since I saw the cover reveal on Twitter. The novel follows on from The Wren Hunt, which I reviewed last year. If it was anything as dreamy and atmospheric as the first book, I knew I had to read it.