Today, please join me in welcoming Joanne Hichens to the blog… She was recently in JHB on a book tour and this is the amusing tale of her travels with fellow author Peter Church!
Memories of book tours seem seldom to have much to do with flogging books. In the case of the Great Northern Book Tour, it’s a couple of weeks down the line and I’ve at last caught my breath. What leaves the deepest impression was trying to keep up with fellow crime-thriller author Peter Church as he twisted and turned along the passages of Jozi Malls, locating book store on book store to ‘press flesh’ with sellers and managers holed up in the trenches.
You wanna be an author, not only d’you have to put in the hours towards getting a cracking good book done, but you gotta tweet, do facebook, LinkedIn, radio, TV, launches. You gotta market, you gotta sell. This is when born to being a multi-tasking female is a bonus. Though Peter – had to be on a Red Bull drip – was up for the challenge. He came prepared, carrying business cards, a poster, his ‘lucky’ book signing pen. He makes friends easily. He could flog an unwritten sequel in a biltong store.
Peter started writing from age eleven, typing one-fingered on his mother’s Royal typewriter. Apparently his Ma has kept some of those early attempts. Decades later he took a break from working as an IT expert to live his dream and write a novel to the end. Plus he does a sports leader column for the Mail & Guardian. When I took a sprawl on shimmering floor tiles at one of the malls I could just about hear Peter gleefully yell ‘Crime writer snapping smart-phone pics of all and sundry trips on own boots and hits deck hard!’
As far as my working life goes, I too approached the writing life via a circuitous route. The way I see it, every job I’ve held – as waitress, artist, lecturer, counsellor – plus studies, travels, being a mother, lover, teacher, wife, have culminated in writing. Now every exhilarating high, every withering mortification, is exploited for the sake of story.
And when it comes to writing crime fiction, we aren’t at a loss for stories now are we? In South Africa crime is everywhere. It’s close to home. My bank balance is a crime. My wardrobe. My hair on a bad day!
Even my nine-year old son is ofay with crime: ‘Big teeth are a crime. Swimming caps, hats with flaps that cover your ears, rooibos tea, selling rip-offs. Oh, and Justin Bieber,’ he lays on emphasis, ‘is a major crime. And having more than one bottle of whiskey.’
Talking booze, on the Kulula flight back from Jozi to Cape Town, no free G&T was offered to settle nerves. Instead, travellers whiled away the torture with crime-thrillers by Jo Nesbo, Roger Smith, C.J. Box, Deon Meyer. As an attempt at subliminal marketing, I flashed about a copy of my title, Divine Justice. I gave up only to obsess over the words above my seat: In case of emergency Chalecos Salvavidas Dejabo De Su Asiento, which loosely translates as ‘find life saving device under sitplek or die!’. I conjured up scenes of Lost, saw myself stumbling around inland Africa in an inflated lifejacket, blowing my whistle, trying to light my way with a bulb that couldn’t illuminate a doll house stoep. I’m more neurotic about surviving a flight, than about crime, so home at last I figuratively kissed the ground.
Sure, we did fifteen book stores in two days, a Skoobs launch, and a signing at Love Books. As Mercury authors, partners in crime so to speak, Peter and I clocked up plenty kilometres taking wrong turns in those malls, the frenetic pace eased only by breaking for regular doses of Nandos. Book lovers were super friendly, pleased to meet and chat. As David Chislett said, ‘There’s no sea here, or mountain. We have to talk to each other.’ What sticks with me most then is that Jozi, indeed, was a jol.
Hichens is the author of Divine Justice, Church of Bitter Pill, launched in Johannesburg at Skoobs Theatre of Books at Montecasino in February.
Both are Mercury novels, published by Burnet Media, and are available at good book stores and on kindle.
Buy Divine Justice online by clicking here for Kalahari.net
Or buy the ebook on Kindle store by clicking here!
Buy Bitter Pill online by clicking here for Kalahari.net