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Andrew Miller PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 10:11

Andrew Miller (1974-)is a Joburg based poet and writer. He is the author of Dub Steps, winner of the 2015 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award (previously the EU Literary Award). He performs and lectures on various South African stages and contributes to magazines, on a freelance basis, across the spectrum.

Andrew graduated from the the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) in 1995 with a BA in English and Political Science. He has worked as a full time freelance writer since 1998, specialising in commercial ghost writing and the development of corporate narratives.

Together with his wife, Robyn Field, Andrew ran Unity Gallery in the city of Joburg between 2003 - 2013. Unity Gallery was a privately funded, socially orientated creative space that offered a wide range of career development services to emerging city fine artists, craft artists, poets, journalists and designers. Within this context, Andrew has worked with many young Joburg artists and creatives in the development of their careers, with a focus on critical thinking, narrative development and the effective use of Public Relations.

As a performance poet, Andrew has appeared on different stages, from the Joburg spoken word scene to the WITS Business School, the Daily Maverick Gatherings and various corporate events. His performances feature a mix of personal storytelling, political commentary and poetry.

Prior to winning the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in 2015, Andrew published an anthology of poetry, Hinsta's Ghost (2007) and a collection of essays, Getting Up: Thoughts on Falling (2008). His poetry was described by the The Independent as “an important contribution to the national conscience, as well as to literature.”

Andrew is currently working on [Sic] - a novel about grammar, domestic servitude and social conflict.

 

Selected Work

Extract from Dub Steps (2014):

You

I am an old man on a hill, and my regrets are generic. To the extent that death can surprise, this has been it. It shouldn't be a shock, but there you go.

I regret, most of all, my shrivelled heart. So focused on the numbers. On the maths of my personal equation. Can a man change his heart? Are there ways to improve the spirit of who you are? Of why you choose? It would be nice to think so. But me, now, I am simply ambient. I must be. Into this air I shall shortly slip. The solvent is this running, jagged brain, all angles and contusions, breaks and falls. The surface shines. Teflon. I slip back, and back, into my stories, ideas of her. Whoever she is now, her, the love I refused. Me, angry little peanut.

I should have loved harder. Generic.

I refused to let go. Generic.

I think I will miss the birds, the weavers most of all, but all of them really (the worker birds, more than the exotic. The mynas and the barbets and the robins. The boys on the rush, building and moving, private and fast and swooping). Generic.

Blue sky. It starts to taste like something as you get really old. Something powerful. You open your sagging mouth and let the blue pour in. It's fresh and light and it bubbles like an advert. Generic.

I remember a time on the beach. Well, not really a memory. Just the brush stroke of us, down the shoreline. She took my hand. Gave me hers. It was some kind of gift. A human transmission. I flickered with a deeper recognition I couldn't place.

It all feels like that now. Transmission. Flickers.

It's all on the record, in the archive, on display at the expo. You know what I looked like. What I did. You have the details, the story and all of its bastard children.  Still, I must bleat just once.

Look, I was a c**t. Maybe that's it. Maybe that's all I really want to say. I know it now. It's not a regret. You can't apportion blame - even to yourself. It's an observation. Age makes it easier to actually see. (Generic.)

A c**t on the move. A c**t with intentions. A c**t who cried at his own pain, paper cuts and marriage, it never mattered. I lived filled with tears.

So, there it is. That you are reading this, whoever you are, wherever you are, is enough. I have spoken. You have heard.

The rest is up to you.


Bibliography

2007. Hintsa's Ghost. Johannesburg: Ge'Ko Publishing.

2008. Getting up: thoughts of falling. Johannesburg: Ge'Ko Publishing.

2015. Dub Steps. Johannesburg: Jacana Media.

 




Charlotte Otter PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 09:10

Charlotte Otter (1968 - ) was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg. She attended UCT and Stellenbosch, and worked as a student reporter on The Witness during her university holidays. After graduating, she worked at The Star and The Citizen in Johannesburg as a crime and court reporter before joining Anglo American’s corporate communications department. Charlotte moved to Germany in 1996, where she now lives in Heidelberg and works in IT communications. Her first novel,Balthasar’s Gift, which she describes as feminist crime fiction, was published in Germany by Ariadne Verlag in 2103 and by Modjaji Books of Cape Town in 2014. The second in the series, called Karkloof Blue and also featuring headstrong journalist Maggie Cloete, is currently in the works.

Find out more about Charlotte on her website (www.charlotteotter.com). She blogs at Charlotte’s Web (https://charlotteotter.wordpress.com) and takes her coffee breaks on Twitter (@charlwrites).

 

Selected Work
Excerpt from Balthasar's Gift (2014)

Her head whipped around. She saw faces, sunglasses, but no distinct features. Were they after her or the children? Mbali waved to her from the back of the Combi as she rifled through her options. It was fifty-fifty, but at least she’d know. When the traffic light turned green, she made her decision. Sipho trundled straight across the intersection, but she took a fierce left. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that the BMW was following her. That was good, but now she would have to lose them.

She opened the Chicken’s throttle up Victoria Street. It was usually busy, full of offices and small businesses but on this early Saturday evening, it had emptied to a trickle of cars. A few pedestrians turned their heads at the sound of the Chicken’s engine screaming. The BMW kept up easily, its silent progress along the street shark-like, unsleeping, tailing its prey.

In front of her was a red Opel Kadett with two grey heads in the front seats. They crawled along at a genteel pace. She had to get past them, to put some distance between herself and the BMW. She looked at the oncoming lane. There was a truck, thundering down towards Commercial Road and the highway turnoff. She dropped a gear, flashed past the Opel, earning a loud parp from the driver and an even louder bellow from the truck. She slid in front of the Opel just as the truck bore down on her. Now there was one car between her and her pursuers. The Opel’s driver shook his fist at Maggie and conferred with his wife, who shook her head. They had no idea, she thought, that behind them was a team of thugs, possibly armed, who were after the ill-behaved motorcyclist in front.

She turned right just as the traffic light went red. The BMW driver ignored the traffic light, roared around the Opel and turned right behind her. Now the sedan was sniffing the Chicken’s backside. Her breath caught in her throat.
She needed a plan, and fast.
Her apartment block was coming up on the right. They knew she was close to home and she knew that they knew. What would the BMW driver expect her to do? Buzz the security gate and let herself in, hoping it would clang shut before they could follow her?

That was too dangerous. If they got hold of her behind closed doors, who knew how much damage they could wreak before one of her neighbours woke up to the fact that she was in danger. Instead, she changed down another gear and headed into Taunton Road, scene of yesterday’s run. The Chicken’s gearbox screamed but she could feel the rear wheel torque clutch the road tighter. That was what she needed.

Her plan was to get to the top of the hill, across the traffic circle and down into Town Bush Road, where she could lose herself in the plantations. She went there nearly every weekend with her off-road club, and the Chicken was built for leaping dongas and skidding around tight corners.

Blood throbbing in her head, she urged the Chicken up the hill. What she would give to have Bond’s Z8 right now, she thought, teeth gritted. The titanium plating and armour would be of assistance if these bastards started shooting at her. The missile pad would be good if she needed to shoot back.

Then up ahead, just before the road curved into the ravine, a driver in a battered estate car pulled into the road in front of her and her pursuers. Oblivious to the chase going on behind her, the driver cautiously hugged the road’s curves. A black Doberman in the back of the estate lifted his chops and showed her his white fangs.

The BMW nosed her exhaust. They were trying to run Maggie off the road. Her heart flew out of her chest cavity and landed in her mouth. This was not the way she wanted to go. She would die in her sleep, maybe, or have a spectacular heart attack after a lifetime’s indulgence, but she didn’t want to be strawberry jam on a BMW’s fender. The German car’s engine roared in her ears. She could taste metal.

She overtook the estate. It was time to get lost. She wasn’t going to make the plantations.

She looked at the gulley below. Its clogged bush would provide cover. Pulling the Chicken over to the side of the road, and leaving her flank-down on the ground, she dived into the ravine, feet meeting rocks, arms meeting thorny branches as she plunged into its leafy depths. From nowhere, a root snaked out and tripped her. She tumbled. She felt the ice of pain on her forehead before coming to rest against a tree trunk ten metres into the gulley. She heard her breath, ragged gasps, but it was drowned by mynah birds greeting night with their noisy lullaby.

On the crest of the hill above her there was silence. Had her pursuers moved on? Headed off to nose the town’s underbelly for other prey?
‘Can’t see the bitch,’ came a voice from the top of the gulley. A Zulu voice, speaking English.
‘Ja. Probably hit her head on a rock, hey?’ The second voice had a strong Afrikaans accent.

Through her pain, she managed a wry smile. The thugs were too concerned about their designer suits to come sniffing around in the ravine for her. She heard their feet thump. She would give them a few minutes to leave before she clambered up the gulley.

Then she heard it: the sound of metal on metal. She put her fist in her mouth to stop herself from screaming. They were wasting the Chicken. It sounded like they were using mallets. She felt every crunch, every jolt, as they pulverized her bike. The carnage seemed to go on for hours. Then she heard doors slam and the BMW’s growl as it took off.

 

Bibliography

2014. Balthasar's Gift.  Cape Town: Modjaji Books.



Chris Marnewick PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 May 2015 19:20

Chris Marnewick grew up in what was then the Far Northern Transvaal and went to high school at Potgietersrus, now Mokopane. He practised as an advocate in Durban until recently and now lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where he writes full time.

After a year in the SA Navy, Marnewick studied Law at Potchefstroom and Unisa. He was admitted as an advocate in 1976, and was awarded senior counsel status in 1991. Marnewick completed an LLM degree in 1991 and obtained his PhD in 1996 at the then University of Natal.

Marnewick’s writing career started with a textbook, Litigation Skills for South African Lawyers. His first attempt at creative writing culminated in Shepherds & Butcher, which earned Marnewick the University of Johannesburg creative writing prize in 2009 in the Debut Category, as well as the K Sello Duiker Prize by the South African Literary Awards that same year. Skilled in fusing fact and fiction, Marnewick’s Shepherds & Butcher narrates a courtroom drama where a fictional multiple killing provides the background for a factual exposition of the way the death penalty was administered in South Africa during the 1980’s.

In 2010, Marnewick published The Soldier Who Said No, a work of crime fiction. This was followed by A Sailor’s Honour in 2011. His first work in Afrikaans,Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril (Protea Boekhuis), will be launched during the festival. The English version of the book will also be available.

Challenging the state’s penchant for secrecy by using fiction as a vehicle to expose those secrets, Marnewick reiterates his firm belief that “history has to be recorded by those living through important events, and that the state should not be allowed to keep any secrets in its cupboards”.

Selected Work

Excerpt from Shepherds & Butchers (2008:26-27):

The Sheriff addressed the prisoner by his name, exactly as it was written on the death warrant.

‘Mnuxa Jerome Gcaba, do you have anything to say before the sentence of the Court is carried out?’ he asked. He struggled with the pronunciation of the Zulu names.

The prisoner mumbled something incoherent. He wanted to speak but did not know what to say. Before he could change his mind, the Sheriff stepped back and made a tick on his own clipboard. The Warrant Officer reached behind the prisoner and handed one of the white hoods to the escort. The custom-made hood was an elasticised headcloth with an additional flap, also elasticised, which would in due course be hooked on the prisoner’s chin and cover his face completely. The escort adjusted the hood under the prisoner’s head and pushed the flap back over the prisoner’s head. When he was satisfied that the hood was properly in place, the Warrant Officer handed the escort the prisoner’s name tag. The escort pocketed the tag and held his prisoner in position in the line. The first prisoner was ready.

‘Thank you,’ said the Sheriff with exaggerated politeness as he went up to the next prisoner to repeat the formality.

‘Joseph Gcabashe, do you have anything to say before the sentence of the Court is carried out?’

From here on things would happen fast. In less than five minutes these prisoners would be hanging from their ropes, destroyed by order of the law. Yet every second would feel like an eternity for those in the gallows chamber.

Bibliography

2002. Litigation Skills for South African Lawyers. Durban: Butterworths

2008. Shepherds & Butchers. Roggebaai: Umuzi.

2010. The Soldier Who Said No.  Roggebaai: Umuzi.

2011. A Sailor’s Honour. Roggebaai: Umuzi.

2012. Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril. Pretoria: Protea Boekhuis




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