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I live in South Africa, a land of great contrasts: spreading cities and pitiable poverty; bushveld and cocktail bars; pristine beaches and squatter camps; structured societies and wild freedom.
My first stab at writing happened in high school when my English teacher entered us into a poetry competition. I wrote my poem in the back of the car while we travelled through Zimbabwe, (the place of my birth) on holiday. Much to my surprise it won second place, and was published in a poetry book.
I didn’t consider writing again until a good twenty years later when my life was ridiculously busy and I was desperate for a means of escape. One evening I decided to start writing a story that was sparked by a camping trip I’d been on to the Injisuthi mountains when I was ten years old, where we’d discovered some incredible rock pools, crystal clear, ice cold and as blue as the sky.
Three years, many alterations, and a few rejections from literary agents all over the world later, I was having the tyres on my car changed, (not something I do very often) and browsing the web for literary agents, when I happened to come across the Carina UK website. I sent my letter and first three chapters through. A few weeks later, much to my surprise, I received an e-mail asking for my full manuscript. I’d pretty much forgotten about the whole thing – having had a run in with a self-publishing company previously who had followed a similar process – when an e-mail popped up from a lady named Victoria telling me she’d been very excited about my submission and wanted to chat to me. I was so excited I phoned her immediately, only to get through to voicemail. She tried to phone me back but the dastardly South African phone lines conked out and she could only mail me. I eventually managed to call her while my kids were in the bath. She was very kind, and told me she was a fan of my writing, (if you are a writer you will know what it means to have a complete stranger tell you they like your book – it is AWESOME!!) My husband was watching TV when I came squealing into the lounge and jumped on him. I’m not sure what he thought was going on, but he was soon jumping around the room with me, as did my parents when I called them.
Jess, my little sister, and the person who had insisted I start sending Water out for publication had just boarded a plane to New York, so she did her jumping around the next morning (I know this because she texted me and told me all about it). And then the real adventure began. Water was shaken and stirred, polished and pruned and eventually manicured into the story it is today. A story I really love, and am so excited to share with my readers.