Jann Turner (1964 - ) spent her childhood in the Cape until 1978 when her father, Rick Turner, a Natal University academic and anti-apartheid activist, was assassinated. She then left South Africa with her mother and finished her schooling in the UK. She read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University and then studied Film at NYU's Graduate School of Film & TV. In 1994 she won an Emmy award for sound editing on National Geographic's “Wolves of the Air”. Whilst living in the U.S. she began writing her first novel, Heartland , whose central characters battle with exile, identity and coming home, experiences with which Jann is familiar.
After her return to South Africa in 1996 she spent two years working as producer on SABC TV's Special Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for which her team won the Foreign Correspondents Award for Journalism in 1997. Jann then worked for a further two years on SABC TV's daily soap, Isidingo , before leaving to finish her second novel, Southern Cross. The idea for Southern Cross was planted during the years she worked on the Truth Commission and draws on her own experiences of investigating her father's assassination.
Home Is Where You Find It , written in 1977 as her Standard Five class holiday project, was later published by Maskew Miller Longman in 2001 in the Stars of Africa Series. “What spooks me about this book,” says Jann Turner, “is how it prefigures all the big themes of my life and my later writing. Loss, dislocation, rootlessness and somehow – whatever happens – making the best of things. It's a book I am intensely proud of”. Turner still writes scripts for film and television. She has also directed episodes on television shows like Jane the Virgin, The Catch and Scandal. However, she sees herself first and foremost as a novelist and is currently working on a new novel.
Adapted Source: Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal).
Extract from Southern Cross (2002)
"How benign Johannesburg seemed at night. All the dirt and violence concealed by the glittering lights. Annas face shone as she looked around at the small gathering, at these friends who had become her family. She felt the hope pulsing through each of them and she saw it humming in Pauls eyes as he looked to the horizon, waiting for the appearance of the Southern Cross, for that magical moment when the first, tiny, dazzling diamonds of light would pop through the seemingly infinite velvet blue of the sky. There it is ! he cried. And there they were, the four stars that long ago had pointed the way south to the Europeans navigating their way across the seas in search of spices and the east."
1997. Heartland. London: Orion Books.
2002. Southern Cross. London: Orion Books