O is for Oops I almost missed it

Lauren Beukes

Well, I did yesterday when I was meant to attend a book launch and then got busy on WordPress looked at the clock and saw I’d missed it.

No need to panic, I went to the next one tonight at Exclusives in Melrose Arch. The poor girl arranging it had a massive panic attack and the guy who took over made in infinitely worse by telling everyone about it.

The launch in question was for Lauren Beukes’s new novel, The Shining Girls.

 “A time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace – until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras, leaving anachronistic clues on their bodies, until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.”

And it is truly amazing.

Many years and some incarnations ago Lauren and I attended the same school. She has always been quietly (and not so quietly) brilliant. One thing she has never lost is her wonderment at her incredible talent and, I think, some awe of far it has carried her.

She had the study across from mine and the walls were papered with stories. Utterly terrifying, blood curdling, nightmare inducing horror. Steven King could have taken lessons. These were utterly addictive and we would sneak in and read them avidly, knowing that tomorrow there’d be new installments.

maverick by lauren beukesWandering vaguely, as one does, through the book store in search of something that appeals, I found a copy of Maverick. Lauren’s first book, a non-fiction account of famous and infamous South African women.

It is sadly now out of print, but she give an often very humourous insight into the women who have in their own ways shaped our history (and not the women you might expect either).

moxyland_cover1-240x368Then I am ashamed to admit, I didn’t read her following novels until quite recently. I felt, strangely, that it was going to be too intimate, too uncomfortable to read the work of someone I actually knew. I realised how stupid this was a few months ago and snatched back my copy of Moxyland from a colleague who’d nicked it.

There is something slightly mystical about a person who can make you confront social issues and political agendas in such a way you don’t even realise you are doing it.

Zoo CityZoo City was even better and won her the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

I tend to find stories set in my home town unbearably depressing, but strangely enough this made me see it in a whole new light.

I have a feeling my spirit animal would be a fat, lazy, sleepy ginger cat with an unerring ability to find a sunny spot to nap in.

 

I think one of the best things about attending tonight, was watching how many people see Lauren as a role model. Good ones are hard to find and she has to be one of the best.

She answered questions with utter humility, humour and endless patience.

No-one deserves her success more.

beukusprofileSo, do yourself a favour.

If you live Johannesburg or Cape Town pop into www.laurenbeukes.com and fit a launch event this week and next into your schedule or at least buy yourself a copy of The Shining Girls.

If you live in the US check her website for the dates of her tour.

If don’t trust me, link to the latest copy of Obrigado or buy The Citizen on Thursday morning, this interview on Geeks Unleashed or another WordPress blog, the Bizarre Assemblage.

The most sage advice for productivity she gave tonight was to download an app called Freedom. It blocks you out of the Internet for a set period of time so you cannot get distracted by new blog posts.

So, there you go.
Now I have to get some work done tonight so I can read my new book.

Follow Lauren on Facebook

Or visit her website to find links to Twitter, Tumblr etc.

 

M is for Madly Running Up the Down Escalator

escalator

My memories of Saturday mornings are filled with skipping hand in hand with my Dad through the shopping mall and running together up the down escalators.

My Mum worked Saturday mornings, so Dad I would sneak out the house avoiding our congealing breakfast and descend upon his friend’s coffee shop – Stephanie’s. Stephanie was a force of nature. We would inevitably be joined by throngs of my father’s journalist friends and I’d eat meringues and cream while listening to their gossip.

Of course, we would visit my father’s favourite shoe shops and no Saturday morning would be complete without looking at about 100 pairs of khaki trousers, of which my father was a connoisseur. They all looked the same to me.

archieheartsSome nights, he’d arrive home when I was already in bed and wake me up with a Archie comic and a chocolate bar, which we’d eat in blissful secret.

My mother trained as a librarian and regarded comic books with utter scorn, so my secret stash of Archie and Veronica was hidden in the back of my closet.

The best times were when he’d come home early on a Friday night and spirit me away to pancakes and hot chocolate.

These nights would always necessitate a visit to the late night book store – a treasure trove of mystery and adventure.

This Saturday my family endured a hard day’s work of enforced DIY. Just an aside, cottage panes look really pretty when someone else has to put in the glass.

Miss Diva helped cook lunch, clean the kitchen and roll window putty into little sausages.

SunsetThe boys miraculously disappeared as soon as work was mentioned and remained unseen for the better part of the day.

So, when everyone else was distracted she and I hopped in the car and drove into the exquisite sunset.

We browsed around Exclusive Books in quiet contentment and then took our prizes to the Green Peppercorn for chocolate pancakes and chilli ice-cream.

macavityWe came home with the Collected Sherlock Holmes, Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats containing our favourite Macavity the Mystery Cat and a sticker book.

I hope when she grows up she’ll remember these little escapes to book stores and ice-cream parlours the way I do.

A little stolen luxury for just the two of us.