This week it is my pleasure to re-interview Magdel Roets who first appeared on my website in 2016. Would you please introduce yourself, Magdel and bring us up to date with your writing.
When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
My first book is an Afrikaans religious "cosy" with some not-so-cosy nail biting moments in more than one chapter. At first I wanted to publish a few short stories in one book, but as I'm not a big fan of short stories, I worked out a way to compile these stories into a novel, drawing them together into a plot that would connect the characters and impact on each other's lives that knotted all the loose ends together. I self-published this novel on Smashwords about five years ago. The title is: "Die Laaste Areafees".
Would you like to tell us something about your latest books?
Two years ago I found a publisher who published my English books, "My Father's Will", "The Bigger Fish" and "Man in a Picture".
My Father's Will handles the different ways in which people react to sudden riches. Mostly it causes their down fall, but there are exceptions. Some learn the hard way that money can disappear, others take responsibility not only for themselves, but those around them as well.
The Bigger Fish was written for and about young adults; college students. The two main characters are art students who come from the same kind of background, reacting to their abused past in different ways. One girl drowned her pain in substance abuse, the other over achieved at preparing for a career. When the opportunity to finally deal with their issues in a healthy way, they once again reacted differently; one with suspicion and indifference, the other grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
In Man in a Picture the hero is a parrot who, after the family searched high and low for this unknown man on the photograph of their late granny, caused the final puzzle piece to fall in place. Of course social media also played a big roll in the search and connected half of what they were looking for, but there it ended. Another twist in the tail ensured a happy ending.
Is Anton Joubert still your favourite character?
Oh, yes! Absolutely. He started off in Die Laaste Areafees, reappeared in My Father's Will and has to solve many problems in my next novel.
Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
Surely. Following is a short piece from Man in the Picture:
Early the next morning the old man and his bird were back on the patio of his unit in the luxurious retirement village in the north of Durban. After a breakfast of Weet Bix, raw oats and mixed fruit yogurt, it was time to clean the cage again. The old man was very particular about the health and cleanliness of his beloved Polly. Like every morning he removed the soiled newspaper, folded a new one and put it just so, at the bottom of the cage. Every morning and every afternoon, without exception.
"You shit too much, you know that? Polly? I should stop feeding you," he said as he pulled the soiled newspaper out of the cage. He must ask Dougie for more old newspapers, or he'll be running out. Then his hand froze. His eyes widened, he shook his head reading the words again and again: 17th October 1935. His own birthdate. No! No! No! It cannot be! No! He wanted to scream, but no sound found its way out of his throat. It is a mistake, must be a mistake. He read the words again. They haven't changed since he read it seconds ago. There in black and white it is in the obituary columns of the newspaper, name and birthdate:
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
Each book is like a child. Each has its own personality. As I love my children; one as much as the other, I love them each in a different way. Same goes for my books. I enjoyed them each in a different way finding as much pleasure in one as in the other.
What is the best marketing tip you have received?
Be consistent and never give up.
Are you still painting and gardening?
I find very little time to paint, but fit in a few days during the summer holidays to make a few paintings. I did the paintings for the cover images of my latest two books and next summer I hope to finish a number of small sea scapes. I have enough photos and beautiful beaches to work from.
Gardening? Unfortunately I now live in a place where that is no longer possible. I miss my flowers and especially my veg garden where I could pick whatever I needed for a salad or stew.
I know you like to holiday on tropical islands. Have you managed to fit in any holidays in the past two years?
I did, but not on a tropical island. Our favourite place to go to is Bloubergstrand on the west coast of the Western Cape. The sea water is cold, but I don't mind. I just love to walk miles on the white beach, inspect creatures in the rocks and tiny fish in the rock pools; collect shells and watch the breakers splashing their foam on the rocks. I have hundreds of photos of waves and breakers and foam shooting meters up in the air. Someday, God willing, I'll use them to make lots of big paintings.
In your last interview you related a lovely story about Meraai. Is she still alive and did you keep any of her kittens?
Meraai, sweet Meraai, the cat that never fully tamed died mysteriously one night. We found her body in front of the living room window. According to the vet, it might have been a heart attack.
I kept two of her kittens, Rofty and Tappet. They were brothers who followed each other everywhere until Tappet got feline aids. Rofty died shortly after we moved to Cape Town. No more pets for me. Losing them is heartbreaking. And it is just as well. Because where I live now pets are not allowed.
Are you still reading John Grisham novels? What is the biggest factor for you when choosing a book to read?
Authenticity. A story can be concocted from the biggest nonsense, as long as it is presented in a believable way, like the TV series A-Team, my all-time favourite.
I will probably always read John Grisham's books, unless he messes up and stops writing good stories. I still like his style, although I am a bit disappointed in the last book I read: "Camino Island". The story is about books, and of course I love books. The plot was excellent as always. It seems, though, that Grisham's books portray immoral live styles more than before. Perhaps I just missed it in previous works because I got pulled into the story so deeply. But this is what I meant by authenticity. When a man writes about female sexuality, most men use the Hollywood model, which is far from the truth. In both books, Blue Mountain and Camino Island, John Grisham falls into that trap. In both books, the main characters are female and the way they live out their sexuality is just not real.
Do you have your own website?
I have a website, but my publisher put up a website for a number of his writers where our books are made available. The idea is to make the reader feel welcome and show that every author is approachable. The genres vary widely and there is something for every taste:
Are you working on a new book at the moment?
With progress going at a snail's pace, I hope to finish religious thriller within a year. It sounds like a long time to spend on a novel, but the research takes longer than I anticipated. Now that I am working full time in a Hospice bookshop, my time is very limited and the going is slow.
Do you have any events or book promotions coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I have a webinar that is still available on this link:
At the end of October there is a market in Centurion, Gauteng where a friend will be presenting a number of copies of my book, My Father's Will, together with her own books and a few other writers as part of a promotion for S A Skrywers (S A Writers) Facebook group.
Next month, September my module for the writers online school will be presented. My module is about dialogue and character and I am looking forward to reading the creative dialogues of my students. It is very interesting and I myself, learn more in the process.
On the 20th October S A Skrywers have their graduation ceremony at the Language Monument in Paarl, Western Cape.
I do not have a release date for my next book yet.