I wrote my first poem when I was seven, about the death of a dog. The first line was: The old dog lay under a tree. It was deeply tragic, and moved me to tears. My parents failed to keep it - my first lesson in the fickleness of readers.
Undeterred, I discovered an enormous old typewriter in the cupboard under the stairs, and over the years filled my bedroom drawers with diatribes of dubious eloquence. But my first published writing was more prosaic - a story about cold storage workers who lost heir fingers to frostbite, for a newspaper called Grassroots, which was produced by Cape Town’s black communities as an organizing tool in the anti-apartheid struggles. I continued to write for Grassroots, as well as pamphlets for "struggle" organizations such as the United Democratic Front. I dabbled with cartoons, and drew a strip for the Mail & Guardian for a few years, featuring a revolutionary dog called Comrade Joe. I later wrote educational material for NGO’s, school textbooks, poetry and fiction. My short story "Next Full Moon we will Release Juno" was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story competition, and has been published in a Common Wealth anthology: Let's tell this story properly. My story "The infant Odysseus" was runner up in the 2015 Short Sharp Story Award, and is published in The Incredible Journey.
My first published novel, Unbroken Wing, was written in the sleep-starved daze of early motherhood, and draws on on my experiences in the anti-apartheid struggle. The Unseen Leopard, published after 12 years of procrastination and feverish rewriting, reflects my growing concern with environmental issues. Both are primarily stories about our human capacity to both doom and redeem ourselves. My last novel, Notes from the Lost Property Department, explores memory, loss, mountains, and the monumental challenge of forgiving one's parents.
My most recent work, Black Lion: Alive in the wilderness, is a break from fiction: co-authoring the memoir and reflections of my remarkable friend Sicelo Mbatha. It tells the story of his life, growing up in rural Zululand with a deep passion for nature that led him ultimately to become a spiritual wilderness guide.
Outside of writing, I devote my time to helping to restore an urban wetland, the Princess Vlei, and growing passion for nature amongst the youth through celebration, art, observation, dance, processions, whatever blows our way, and I do a running blog on the organisations activities and events. Read more about this here.
Favourite quotes on writing:
'Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.' - Gustave Flaubert
'Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.' - G.K. Chesterton:
Comrade Joe, a weekly strip for the Mail &Guardian, documented those puzzling years when the struggle movement was reinventing itself as a governing power in a new democracy - this one was published in 1992.