Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WITS hosts Fine Lines Festival

I was quite bummed that I won't be able to go to Cape Town for the International Assembly of Independent Publishers meeting but it looks like I'll be representing Modjaji Books on a panel at next week's University of the Witwatersrand Fine Lines Festival so yay for small wins!

Fine Lines aims to bring a unique perspective to contemporary literary debates, in particular through facilitating conversations between established and emerging writers. The name of the festival speaks to the cutting-edge, to the tenuous boundaries between people, between the literary and the real, between artists and between mediums, and to aesthetic and artistic beauty. It is all of this to which the festival aims to give space, allowing students and future writers to engage directly with those already in the literary world.

One of the festival’s sessions will be devoted to South African fiction- entitled ‘Many voices in the deep.’ The session aims to explore the linguistic alternatives in the South African publishing landscape that is dominated by English. The discussion aims to answer the following question; how, if ever, will this landscape be changed in order to accommodate alternative voices?

See y'all on East Campus next week.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Legend in the making?

About the Book

“World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives. We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon."

A narrative of good and evil, love and passion, right and wrong – and at the centre of the story a strong woman who is prepared to sacrifice everything for the cause she believes in. The Legacy is an action-packed, adrenalin-inducing thrill ride which will leave you riveted long after you have turned the last page.

That sounds fun right? Fun but maybe like we've read this before? Yes, I was thinking likewise. But then, you know, Melissa, the South African author of YA dystopia Legacy, is so lovely and frank that I actually started to think but wait - maybe this is actually not like something we've read before. Rebecca definitely does not seem like the type to pull a Mockingjay either. So I feel encouraged by this and I am very keen on actually reading this book. So hopefully one day that will happen too,

Until then, here's my interview with Melissa:

The Interview

Every new author has to deal with rejections and setbacks before they get published: what was your journey like?

Much like every other author, I would imagine. An emotional rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows. Rejection letters are an occupational hazard, but you have to shrug them off. The day I received my publishing contract was certainly the highlight of my own journey, but I’m not done yet. I plan to keep writing, keep working, keep promoting. The only thing I have learned for certain is that writing is a marathon, it takes time.

Which author(s) do you most respect or admire?

I admire every single author that completes a novel and fulfils their dream. It is a massive achievement, and an incredible journey, and whether it ends in international success, or just another small tick on an eternal bucket list, I applaud them all.

As a South African author, why did you decide to set The Legacy in America?

Firstly, let me say that I adore South African fiction - it is colourful and steeped in history and familiarity. I broke tradition in setting my book in America for two reasons: Firstly, to make it more believable. The trilogy begins with a speculative nuclear war. I needed a setting that would be in the midst of the chaos and very involved in the decision-making that led to this catastrophe. Logically, America being a super-power was a perfect fit. The other reason that I chose America as my setting was to appeal to an international audience, given that my concept is geared towards fiction readers, and our fiction market is relatively small.

The blurb for The Legacy reads much like another version of Allegiant or the 5th Wave: how does one write dystopian fiction that stands out in a market that's flooded with dystopias right now?

The same way you would write romance, or suspense – both of which are far more flooded than the dystopian genre. Authors will always try to capitalize on the rise in popularity of a specific genre. To stand out you must be original, have a novel concept, and you have to write your heart out. Readers will know all too quickly if you have simply retold and repackaged someone else’s story. In any genre there are good books and there are bad books, but the good will ultimately prevail. I think dystopias are taking a lot of heat because the market exploded fairly quickly, but they deserve their place on the shelves. I read across all genres, but I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction.

There's been a real surge of strong female leads in YA in recent year: what about Rebecca puts her in the league of Tris or Katnis?

I am such a fan of Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth, and their characters are remarkable. Rebecca is older and more mature, but she is a super-soldier, and unlike Katnis or Tris, she chooses her path - it is not foisted unwillingly upon her. She does not survive against all odds – in fact, just the opposite. She is exceptional – she has been trained and equipped with skills that allow her to not only survive but excel in the dystopian environment she grows up in. That being said, I wouldn’t want her caught in the crosshairs of Katnis’s bow!

If you could re-write Legacy tomorrow, what would you change?

You will always look back and think “If I wrote that book now, I would change this, or do that...” It’s part of growing older. Your own preferences change. That is why you should keep writing – you cannot go back, all you can do is move forward. Fiction has a shelf-life. A book that is popular now will not be in a year or two, so there is no point changing anything once you have reached the publication stage.

Visit Melissa's blog