Hello my Freaky Darlings,
The Franschhoek Lit Fest ended a week ago and I’m still recovering from it. It was an amazing weekend, filled with interesting panels, great food, fantastic parties and even better company.
The Spec Fiction panel was on the Friday and the first panel I attended that weekend. I first went to the wrong church (yes, the spec fiction panel was held in a church and yes, I actually had to set foot in one, but it was for a good cause) and ended up having to run quite a few blocks in heels. I unfortunately missed the introduction given by Delphi Carstens, who (to be honest) I’d never heard of before. The panel consisted of Sarah Lotz (half of SL Grey and Lily Herne), Lauren Beukes (if you don’t know who she is you’ve been living under a rock and really need to come out from under it) and Mer Roberts (Don’t worry, I also didn’t know who she was). I kept waiting for the cross above their heads to start spinning and then burst into flames. I was rather sad when that didn’t happen. I have to be honest, I was really disappointed by this one. I barely understood anything that Ms Roberts said. In fact I got the impression that she wasn’t strictly speaking on this planet at the time. Thankfully Lauren and Sarah were present and as interesting and amusing as ever. Spec fiction is on the up in South Africa. Lauren winning the Arthur C Clark award just proves that. The highlight for me was getting a shout-out from Sarah. It’s always nice getting mentioned by panellists, especially when you’re not on any.
After that I rushed off to another panel on what, exactly, a krimi is. Moderated by the Dark Emperor of South African Crime Fiction – Mike Nicol. The panel consisted of Jassy MacKenzie, Sarah Lotz (she was a very busy girl that weekend), and the incredibly humble Sifiso Mzobe (who is short listed for the Sunday Times Lit Award). I’m not entirely sure they managed to pigeon hole the genre, because lets face it, you can’t. Crime Fiction is what it is. You can’t put it in a nice, neat little box and label it. It’s too wide and has too many facets. But they were amusing and incredibly interesting as they tried to do just that.
My absolute favourite panel of the weekend took place on Sunday. Skop, Skiet and Donder, which is Afrikaans for kick, shoot, and thunder (which basically means beating the crap out of someone. There really isn’t a proper English translation for donder). On the panel were Mike Nicol, who was in high form, Colin Cotterill, and Tony Park, who was kind enough to mention my brother and I during the discussion. Jenny Crwys-Williams had the tough job of trying to keep these boys in-line. I don’t think I stopped laughing throughout the discussion. There are so many stories that stand out, but I think I’ll narrow it down to two.
Pretty early on some blond bimbo took offence to one of Tony Park’s stories and walked out, after which Colin Cotterill called for the doors to be locked so that nobody else could bail. I’m still scratching my head, trying to figure out what he said that was so offensive and can’t come up with an answer. The second was a Mike Nicol story about when a well known American Crime Writer arrived in Cape Town the day a well known Cape Town gangster was killed in a drive by shooting. Apparently someone rode up to his car, which was stopped at a red light, on a motor bike and shot him with a .22. Not exactly the most powerful weapon of choice but it did the job. The American writer asked Mike if that sort of thing happened regularly. Mike answered in the affirmative to which she replied: “God! You’ve got competition!” South African crime writers really do have their job cut out for them. These days you just have to open up a Newspaper to read about the most horrific crimes, the sort of things that most crime writers would have a tough time coming up with and that most people in the rest of the world simply wouldn’t believe. It certainly makes South Africa an interesting place to live.
Have you attended any interesting literary events of late? Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to share?