Roundup of recent events

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.

Out this May – The Witches of Hogsback

Inspired by the absolutely breathtaking mountain town of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, and my love of a good old-fashioned whodunnit, comes my eighth book for young adults, The Witches of Hogsback.

It has been a dream in the making.

As a child, I devoured anything by R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and yes, Agatha Christie. I love the fast pace, whittling down the list of suspects and navigating the red herrings. Today there has been a resurgence in the good ol’ teen crime caper, and I am beyond excited to have finally added my own interpretation to the mix.

My crime solver and lover of true crime podcasts, Zelda Scott is a detective for the new generation. Smart, quick-witted and razor-tongued, she’s ready to put herself in danger to unmask killers, and find justice for those society has turned its back on.

After a humiliating breakup, she gatecrashes a school hiking trip to Hogsback, and discovers a wild world of intrigue, secrets and mystery.

Here’s the blurb: 

A girl on a high school hiking trip to the mountain town of Hogsback.
A fatal accident.
A coven of witches who seem to be the obvious suspects.
None of these are what they appear to be.

Zelda is a self-proclaimed do-gooder who simply cannot stay silent if she sees something wrong. Unfortunately, this doesn’t win her any popularity votes. Even her boyfriend Dylan couldn’t put up with it anymore.

Desperate to escape from everything for a while, Zelda signs up for a school hiking trip to Hogsback. Her illusion of having a nice, relaxing time shatters when she stumbles across a mystery nobody seems to care about: the death of local teen Stefan Dale.

Soon, Zelda finds herself knee deep in trouble: from having her room vandalised to nearly being killed by an unknown assailant. Someone clearly doesn’t want her looking into Stefan’s death. Her prime suspects are a group of teenagers known as The Witches of Hogsback, but are they really the most dangerous people in the forest?

The book will be hitting all good bookshops and online stores in the coming weeks. I’ll update this post with links when they become available. 

Cover reveal! The Witches of Hogsback

Happy New Year! It’s January, which means I can officially reveal the cover of my new YA murder mystery, The Witches of Hogsback, coming out in May this year with Lapa.

Here’s the short of it:

Seething from a recent breakup, wannabe sleuth Zelda Scott ditches Muizenberg and heads to magical Hogsback, where mystery and murder lie in wait.

The novel was inspired by my own holiday in Hogsback, which is a wonderland of forests, waterfalls, valleys and clear night skies full of stars. Its the perfect small mountain town to set a murder in, with a suspect pool of some very strange characters.

This book was a joy to write, so expect plenty of mystery, twists, love, friendship and of course MURDER.

Here is the cover in its full glory, teasing one or two important plot points from the story! I’d love to know what you think.

The Girl Who Chased Otters audiobook featuring Daniel Lasker

The Girl Who Chased Otters will be available as an audiobook from 1 August 2022!

The main character, Nathan, is voiced by actor Daniel Lasker, who many will recognise from TV shows like Raised by Wolves and Noughts + Crosses.

The book is written in first person and told from the perspective of Nathan, a keen observer of human behaviour. I can’t wait to hear him speak in a voice that isn’t mine! And based on what the character looked like inside my head, Daniel is perfect!

Here’s Daniel at Kirstenbosch Gardens next to the otter statue. I was told by producers that he really loved the book!

The audiobook was produced for Modjaji Books by BiB, Africa’s Audio Library. Check out their app on 1 August.

If you’d like to read the book, you can buy the paperback version here.

Some love for The Girl Who Chased Otters

The Girl Who Chased Otters is a sensitive tale of friendship, love and acceptance set in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. A keen observer of human behaviour, Nathan has never cared about fitting in, but when Olivia asks for his help becoming popular, he can’t refuse.

The Girl Who Chased Otters has been out for a few months, so I thought I’d do a quick round up of some of the love its been getting in the press.

Continue reading “Some love for The Girl Who Chased Otters”

What to read of mine in 2022

It’s a new year of …. much the same really. I’ll be the first to admit that getting back to (the new) “normal” has been extremely difficult. Sometimes it feels like the rest of the world has switched off their panic button, but mine seems to be stuck in place. But I hope to panic less and to write more this year. And most importantly, to live. The world just has to stop being so scary. 

Last year was quite a productive one, with both English and Afrikaans novels and several short stories hitting shelves. So far this year I have one novel out and one short story coming soon. 

The Girl Who Chased Otters is out at bookstores now. The story is about a boy who befriends a girl and neither of their lives are ever the same again. It’s a slice of life tale about being young and feeling different in contemporary Cape Town.

Buy it now:
Exclusive Books

Next month I have a short story out in Please Like What You See and other stories. Mine is the title story, about a girl obsessed with social media. Having just taken a break from Instagram myself, I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to just live to live, not just for a picture’s sake. The anthology also features stories by Pamela Newham, Nerine Dorman, Toby Bennett, Dumisani Hlatswayo, Ekow Duker, Cicely van Straten, Edyth Bulbring, Fred Khumalo, and others.

Please Like What You See and other stories will be published in February.

If you would like to review a copy of The Girl Who Chased Otters or request an interview, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you and get the word out about my books. 

LEGO book review: Blood to Poison

Seventeen-year-old Savannah is angry, its an anger that has travelled through her family as a curse – a curse she is determined to lift. But blood curses are nearly impossible to break, and in her quest to discover the answers, Savannah finds herself in the middle of a war between rival factions of witches. Blood to Poison is Mary Watson’s third magical young adult novel (YA) with Bloomsbury, and it’s just as immersive and wonderful, with just a lick of darkness to set it apart.

Continue reading “LEGO book review: Blood to Poison”

LEGO Book Review: Confessions of a Ginger Pudding

Any South African reader will tell you that Zelda Bezuidenhout is a huge deal in the local young adult scene. Her books are extremely popular and she has a huge following. So naturally, I was ecstatic when she was chosen to translate my novel Sharp Edges into Afrikaans. Skerwe was released earlier this year and I get a thrill every time I see both our names on the cover.

Continue reading “LEGO Book Review: Confessions of a Ginger Pudding”

Cover reveal time!

How exciting for an otherwise dull Monday. As soon as I saw the email I shouted a little ‘woohoo’ for myself.

This is the cover for my upcoming novel The Girl Who Chased Otters, which is being published by Modjaji and will hopefully hit shelves in September. It was illustrated by artist Carla Kreuser. The cover scene features characters Nathan and Olivia hanging out at Kirstenbosch Gardens – one of my most favourite places on earth. I love how it fits in with the Modjaji style – soulful and dreamlike, and distinctly local in flavour.

Continue reading “Cover reveal time!”