Book launch fever – How could I compete with whips?
I’ve learnt something from the past week of book events: it’s hard to compete with whips and phone sex lines over brunch.
As you can gather, I’m still in the thick of launch fever, rushing from the Time of the Writer in Durban a week ago to launching The Imagined Child in Cape Town this week.
So there I was, at a Jenny Crwys-Williams brunch in Johannesburg last week. The eminent book journalist always manages to draw such interesting writers to her events so, naturally, I was delighted to be included.
One of them was local thriller writer Jassy Mackenzie, who has produced a new novel called Folly, about a woman who sets herself up as a dominatrix in her outbuildings, armed with a few old riding crops.
Jenny was just saying that she supposed people couldn’t help but ask how much research she needed to do (nudge, nudge). And just as everyone was laughing politely, Jassy, who looks a little like a very pretty librarian, confessed that she’d done some time on a phone sex line as a student.
I was at a loss for words. How could I possibly compete? I thought of saying: “There’s sex in my book too … maybe not quite as much as hers … okay not with whips and things…” but I thought it might sound petulant.
When I regained my voice, I chatted about The Imagined Child – and about South African fiction generally, because we are living in such interesting times. We are producing such wonderful, world-class writing in any number of genres.
The other guest represented what the world has to offer. US writer, Lisa Gardner, who specialises in mystery and police procedurals, has 200 million books in print. And no, that’s not a typo.
The pain of hearing that figure was so excruciating that my hand seized up, causing my cake fork to jerk forward in an uncontrollable spasm, narrowly missing Lisa’s heart. Fortunately she didn’t seem to notice.
She’s probably too used to seeming threatening to others. She says her husband treats her very carefully, since she’s the only wife of his acquaintance who knows twenty ways to poison a man.
Last night I launched at The Book Lounge in Cape Town, but too late for this blog, I’m afraid. I’ll give some more details next week. If you’re in Cape Town, I will be at the Kalk Bay Books this evening with fellow Picador Africa writer Steven Boykey Sidley, whose new book Stepping Out also launched last month. If you’re around, please pop in at 6 for 6.30pm.