It’s been a fun few weeks promoting my eighth novel, The Witches of Hogsback. I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Johannesburg to attend the Kingsmead Book Fair. I was originally going to talk about how to write a crime novel, but my final topic was much more delicious – The Midnight Hour, covering our ongoing fascination with all things dark and spooky. I was joined by one of the college’s English teachers, Louisa, suitably attired in crescent moon earrings and a snake ring, and together we covered a range of subjects including the origins of Wicca, Hermione Granger’s suitability as a witch, the bad PR witches got from the Romans, the Brothers Grimm, and Disney, as well what makes small towns like Hogsback perfect for spooky crime stories.
The Witches of Hogsback is a whodunnit set among the mountains and forests of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. The location has such a spooky, magical atmosphere, especially in autumn when all the trees turn red and the forest seems to swallow everything. Its easy to imagine witches and ghosts in those forests, especially at night when the samango monkeys bark unseen from the trees.
In my version of Hogsback, everyone has a secret, and the witches who inhabit the forest make the perfect scapegoats for when things go wrong.
I also drove out to Franschhoek for Bridge House School’s Book Week, which coincided with the Franschhoek Literary Festival. I had a great chat with grades 4-6 about the stories they like to read and then all the seniors at the school assembly. Not scary at all.
Thankfully, some of the students had just completed a hiking trip of their own (like the kids in The Witches of Hogsback) so I could riff off of that to lighten the mood.
I always take heaps of books with me to give away, and always stick around for a while to chat to anyone who has questions. For me, that’s always where the value of these visits lie. Everyone has a story inside them, and sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement to tell it.
Thank you to both Kingsmead College and Bridge House for having me.
Next up, I have a few Exclusive Books events which promise to be fun. Watch this space for an update, which I will post as soon as I know more.