Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


And … To Print We Go

Balthasar’s Gift in English is about to become a real thing. I have been working on this baby since 2008, had the joy of seeing it go to print in German last year, and now in June 2014, it becomes an English novel, with my name on it, that can be bought in shops.

I feel hysterical. And giddy. And grateful. And quite weepy.

I have so many thank yous. There are people who have encouraged me to write since I held a stub of pencil in my chubby fist. I think of my grandmother Elise Cooper, who bought me my first copy of The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook when I was nine, and to whom I dedicate Balthasar’s Gift. My mother, Toni Jubber, who named me in honour of two famous writers, because she believed the baby in her belly would be one too. A couple of teachers, Cheryl Stobie and Colleen Irvine, who gave me stars and asked for more. My school friends, Dani Cohen and Kerry Hancock, who read my words, even the crappy teenage dirge stuff, and told me to carry on. Thank you to all of you.

balthasar cover_lowresThen there were the wilderness years. The only writing that I did was university essays, journals and journalism. Even though I didn’t write creatively, I always gravitated to storytellers and book freaks (among these, one Isa-Lee Jacobson and one Georgia Dunning Morris). I managed to find jobs that involved writing, so that I could still call myself a writer. However, I put in my ten thousand hours, and am grateful to all the teachers who helped me learn to write leaner and cleaner. Thank you to you.

When I took the plunge in 2008, and started writing again for real, the teachers flocked in. A whole flood of amazing people off the Internet presented themselves as guides and mentors. Their feedback was rough, sometimes brutal, and I had to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it toughened me up. This was a necessary lesson, because getting published is freaking hard and there is no room for delicate flowers. I still talk to these people on a forum and though I have not met one single soul in real life, they are all as real to me as if they were standing here next to me. For talking tough and teaching me everything, I thank all of you.

I thank those of you who have supported my blog since 2006 and shared your words of wisdom and encouragement with me. Thanks to Lia Hadley, who jumped out of the Internet and became a real life friend, and a real life midwife to Balthasar’s Gift. Thank you for the hours you dedicated to reading, your ideas and your very firm adherence to timelines and facts. I also need to thank Rebecca Servadio, who told me to get the book the hell out of the first person. (Glad I listened to her.)

In the acknowledgements to Balthasar’s Gift, I thank three people in the publishing industry who saw a spark in Maggie and decided to take a risk on her and me. Thank you to Michaela Roell, Else Laudan and Colleen Higgs – and the amazing teams that stand behind you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A very special thanks to my dear friend Angela Briggs, whose beautiful painting forms the cover of the novel. Thank you to you.

I have a ton of cheerleaders; friends, colleagues and family whose job it is to say ‘Just keep going! You can do it!’. The leader of this motley crew is my husband, Thomas Otter, ably supported by my children, all of whom provide huge draughts of enthusiasm about what I do. How lucky I am to have each and every one of you. Thank you.

I am also grateful to Maggie and Balthasar and Lindiwe and Mbali and Sanet and Spike and Ed and Zacharius and Aslan and Cora and Nkosazana. You take your own journey now, independent of me. Thank you for filling my head with your conversations and obsessions and craziness for all these years. I release you to inflict these on the world. Goodbye and good luck!



Writing Distractions

Just so you know what’s keeping me out of the cellar:

1. The World Cup

I used to pooh-pooh soccer, now I’m obsessed. I think it’s less to do with the game itself and more to do with the fact that it’s taking place in my homeland. South Africa is proving itself to be a great host and not only is the World Cup running smoothly and well, but tourists are having a fabulous time. Our team may not have been the best, but South Africa is a world champion host country. Here’s Shari Cohen of the Huffington Post on what the World Cup has meant to her. It made this expat wipe away a tear of pride. Also, I’m loving the sound of vuvuzelas in the Burg. A little bit of Africa floating to me on the night air.

2. Work

I have a great part-time position as an in-house journalist for the next three months. I am really looking forward to being in the working world again.

3. Marketing

The time to start marketing Balthasar’s Gift, a 75,000 word murder mystery set in South Africa at the height of AIDS denialism, is upon me. I am researching agents, writing query letters and synopses and thinking about the  best way to sell my book.

4. Summer

We are going to the pool a lot. It is a mere five minutes’ walk from our house, so we are there as often as possible. I have two-and-a-half swimmers, so the experience is more relaxing than it used to be. I can now read my book and do some lengths if I want to.

5. Parties

Loads of parties! Summer parties, farewell parties, got-a-degree parties, soccer parties, work parties. We are up for a party chez Otter, we love a bit of music and dancing and chatting to people we know and don’t know.

Hope summer is turning out just as lovely for you. Here’s the World Cup Waka Waka to put you in the mood: