Bridget McNulty (1982-) was born and grew up in Durban, a city she is still strongly attached to - in real life and literary. After finishing high school, she went to America to study Creative Writing and Theatre at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While there, she discovered her great passion for writing stories about why people act the way they do, and also realised her deep love for South African soil.
She returned to Durban after graduating in 2005, and spent a year writing at home, soaking up the sounds and smells and vibrancy of the city of Durban, and transforming them into text for her novel, Strange Nervous Laughter. “Strange Nervous Laughter is a book about love,” she says, “About being in love and out of love and on the brink, and the strange things it can make us do.”
Set in the hottest summer Durban has ever known, it follows three different storylines that interweave as the characters try to figure out what to do with their lives. With a dash of magical realism and a good dose of black humour, Strange Nervous Laughter is a whimsical look at life through the eyes of some rather unusual characters (a cashier-turned-motivational speaker, an undertaker, a garbageman and more).
Bridget now lives in Cape Town, working as the editor of Sweet Life magazine (www.sweetlifemag.co.za) and has recently co-founded an online novel-writing course: Now Novel (www.nownovel.com) that helps aspiring writers to start - and finish! - their novels.
The relentless summer sun, hotter that year than any other, beat down on Aisha and Mdu from clear, cloudless skies that swelled as the days ended, swelled into white clouds, then grey, then black, erupting into violent summer storms. The heat would lift then, just momentarily, before pressing down on them again with stifling humidity.
They trekked around the country, slicing through the summer heat to taste, see, smell and touch everything they could.
Aisha and Mdu climbed the Drakensberg mountains, camping in narrow crevices, sunning themselves in the hot sunshine by day, and lying on top of each other for much-needed warmth when the sun set and the temperature dropped. The next morning – their noses raw from such pure oxygen, their senses invigorated from sleeping in the open – they discovered a secret spring to skinny dip in, their teeth chattering involuntarily from the icy brown water, their skin goose-bumping and then slowly warming up as they lay naked on the large rocks bordering the spring. They hiked through the desolate valleys of the Karoo, lying awestruck under the millions of stars that burnt holes through the night sky, parking their car and walking and walking and walking until there was no sign of life on any horizon. They wandered deep into nothingness, reluctant to talk or sing or make any noise to disrupt the deep quiet.
They paused to meditate in the stillness of Ixopo, the grassy hills undulating like green waves, crisscrossed with footpaths walked into the earth, dotted with Nguni cattle and young barefoot boys carrying sticks.
They camped in the wild grounds of the Kruger National Park, cooking sausages on a small fire and scanning the bushes nervously for yellow eyes reflected in their torchlight. They woke, alarmed, in the middle of the night, their nostrils flaring from fresh elephant dung, their hearts racing from unfamiliar sounds.
They kayaked down the swollen Orange River and explored its surrounds, captivated by every creature, every plant, every old man and bull, drunk on the smell of kraal fires and roasting meat that rose as the sun set.