Friday, August 29, 2014
What inspired this book?
I was inspired by the way stories bind us together as families and connect us, even after someone dies. When the main character in Black Dog Summer is murdered, she finds that she’s still tied to her sister and her daughter by their continuing stories as they battle to make their way the a world without her. She becomes drawn in, unable to leave until her story has been told.
I was inspired by the possibility that within the violent reality of the world we all live in now, when things seem at their worst, there’s hope for redemption and healing. I wanted the book to take the reader on a journey: through the dark places in which the sinister spectre of a black dog (the embodiment of all that violent energy) stalks through the narrative, and into a space where the light finds a way through.
What was the best part of putting together the book?
I’d say the best part was the sense of peace I gained from writing every day, from chipping away, even when I didn’t feel like it, even when I was working on a part of the book that seemed so impossibly difficult that it felt as if I was being scraped raw. That discipline to keep coming back to the page, to keep defying that terrible, blinking cursor in its blank white space, to push through the doubt and the fear that comes when you’re trying to create something, that was incredibly empowering, and has left me changed.
What's been the response to the book?
The book has been out in the UK for a few weeks now, and has already received some truly heartening reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, mentioning that it was ‘beautifully written’ and kept them turning the pages. It was also made ‘Book of the Month’ on Hive.co.uk, which was a big thrill for me, and hugely encouraging. I hope my fellow South African readers find it as engaging, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts.
What new projects are you working on?
I never say much about the book I’m busy with until the first draft is safely done and dusted. I feel that telling anyone even a tiny aspect of the story tends to lessen the urgency to write it, and I need that urgency to power through the difficult writing days. I will say though, that it’s a new novel that features (amongst other things) a vegetable garden, a secret grave, and a dead horse. That’s all I'm giving away for now...
Anything else you'd like to say?
When I was little, there was a massacre on a rural farm that resulted in the death of someone I knew. It was the first time my life was touched by violence and it affected me deeply. Black Dog Summer was born from the fears and questions that had been plaguing me since.