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Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category

Lauren Beukes: “At Least in Fiction, Unlike Real Life, You Can Get Justice”

The Shining GirlsWith The Shining Girls being chosen as the lead title for the Richard and Judy Book Club’s Autumn Selection, Lauren Beukes has written about how she wanted it “to be a book that is as much about the victims’ stories as the killer’s”.

In an article for the Richard and Judy Book Club, Beukes writes, “Of course, in the real world, real violence is usually not perpetrated by a serial killer. Usually it’s someone the woman knows. A partner or husband or friend or neighbor. But the truth about violence is that it is all domestic”.

She shares a personal story about a young family friend, Thomokazi, who was stabbed and had boiling water thrown over her by her abusive boyfriend. He locked her in his shack and she was only freed after five days, but eventually died in hospital from her wounds. The police failed to investigate and so, when the case got to court, nothing could be done. “At least in fiction, unlike real life, you can get justice,” Beukes writes.

Pop culture has a nasty habit of producing them. You know the type: the girl in the trunk with her long bare legs dangling over the bumper; the torture victim in the basement in a dirty vest and panties; matted hair over her face, the broken ingénue with glazed eyes and her dress fetchingly rucked up and one high heel kicked off and blood pooling under her.

The murder victim becomes a bloody puzzle that has to be solved. She is the sum of her injuries, rather than her life.

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Lauren Beukes Shoots Buck (in HD) in Portland and Discusses the TV Rights for The Shining Girls

The Shining’s co-editor Jase Luttrell, who is based in Portland, attended the launch of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls in his city. At the launch, Beukes spoke about the rights for a 13-part mini series based on The Shining Girls that has been sold, explaining that each episode may tell the story a victim of the book’s time-travelling serial killer, Harper.

After the launch, Luttrell spent some time with Beukes, playing a buck hunting arcade game. Luttrell says, “we found this all very hilarious and I was proud/ashamed to include this as part of her experience of Americana”.

Lauren Beukes has spent several months promoting her newest novel The Shining Girls, a story of a time-travelling serial killer that is set in Chicago, embarking on a worldwide tour that has surely been exhilarating and exhausting. On 8 June Lauren flew into Portland International Airport for a reading at Portland’s world famous Powell’s City of Books. After a rushed, canned introduction by a Powell’s employee (who did not pronounce “Beukes” correctly), Lauren took the stage and read the first chapter of The Shining Girls.

I haven’t been to readings in several years and the most recent were from non-fiction authors. Immediately I was impressed with how quickly Lauren became absorbed in telling the story of Kirby and Harper, the protagonist and antagonist, respectively. With so many readings under her belt already, Lauren appeared a seasoned pro. She effectively changed her inflection and the speed of her speech to make the characters’ dialogue and voices distinct and easy to follow, which I appreciated, as it can be difficult to discern when you don’t have the pages in front of you.

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Lauren Beukes Comments on the Rising Popularity of Genre Fiction

The Shining GirlsElzette Steenkamp from LitNet spoke to Lauren Beukes about the rise in popularity of genre fiction. Beukes commented that books like the Twilight and Harry Potter series have shown that the popularity of genre fiction is a global phenomenon, not just a local one.

“Apartheid is a poison tree – we’ve cut down the trunk, but the roots are buried deep and we’re going to be tripping over them for years to come”, said Beukes in response to Steenkamp’s question about The Shining Girls being set in Chicago. Beukes continued, saying that “no matter how fantastically distorted the lens” is that you’re writing through, if you want to reflect South African society you need to acknowledge the effect that apartheid has had.

It may come as a surprise to some, but South Africa has a rich history of science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, most notably the “hard” science fiction adventures of Jan Rabie, and the speculative fiction of JM Coetzee, Karel Schoeman and Eben Venter. Why the sudden resurgence of interest in South African SF&F and speculative fiction?

I think it’s a global phenomenon – the success of books like the Twilight and Harry Potter series have shown that there’s an appetite for genre fiction, and movies like District 9 have shown that we can do it with a local twist. The Arthur C Clarke Award certainly shone a spotlight on genre fiction in South Africa, but super-agent Oli Munson, who represents Sarah Lotz and me, also has a lot to do with pushing it. PornoKitsch have been soliciting South African writers, specifically after I won the Kitschies Red Tentacle, but other writers, like Cat Hellisen, have done it entirely on their own, while zines and anthologies like Something Wicked, Jungle Jim and Bloody Parchment have been championing local genre fiction for the past few years.

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Video: Lauren Beukes on Nick Higham’s Meet the Author Show

The Shining GirlsNick Higham met up with Lauren Beukes at the Forbidden Planet bookstore in London for his Meet the Author show.

Beukes discussed “how some things keep coming up again and again”, saying that it’s a book about time travel and about those loops but it’s also about the issues that have repeated throughout history.

Higham asked her about ending the book in 1993 and she explained that it was to avoid the internet and cellphones. The serial killer leaves anachronistic clues on the bodies of his victims, which Beukes says the internet would have been all over and would therefore have probably have solved the case in a matter of days.

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Podcast: Claire Robertson Describes Finding Katrijn van der Caab’s Voice for The Spiral House

The Spiral House Because she set her debut novel, The Spiral House, in the Cape in 1794, Claire Robertson was faced with the challenge of getting the language of her lead character, the freed slave Katrijn van der Caab, just right for the era in which she lived.

In an interview with Jenny Crwys-Williams for her Book Show on Talk Radio 702, Robertson says that she read journals of people who travelled to the Cape during that time to get a feel for the “slightly strange” grammar. When she finally “found” Katrijn’s voice, Robertson says it was “liberating” rather than difficult to write.

The interview with Robertson starts 12 minutes into the podcast:

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Keeping Track of a Time-travelling Serial Killer: Lauren Beukes Chats About The Shining Girls (Video)

The Shining GirlsLauren Beukes is taking the book world by storm and her latest sci-fi novel, The Shining Girls, is receiving rave reviews. She recently stopped by the breakfast show Expresso to tell them a bit more about the book. Beukes explains how she kept track of the different timelines in The Shining Girls as the story centres around a time-travelling serial killer:

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The Guardian Lauds Lauren Beukes for The Shining Girls’ Transformation of the Thriller Genre

The Shining GirlsLauren Beukes has been featured by Sarah Hughes in The Guardian’s “Why we’re watching” series. Hughes calls Beukes’ latest novel, The Shining Girls, “a brilliant but brutal sci-fi thriller”. By placing the victims centre stage, Hughes says, “Beukes celebrates each girl’s life and transforms a genre that often seems sickly sensationalist”.

She looks angelic. Appearances can be deceptive. This is South African author Lauren Beukes, and she’s written a brilliant but brutal sci-fi thriller about a time-travelling serial killer. It should be the book of the summer.

A serial killer who can pop up anywhere is a very bad thing. Yes, indeed. It’s called The Shining Girls and was the title of the 2011 Frankfurt book fair, signed by HarperCollins for a reputed six-figure sum after a heated five-way auction. Lauren isn’t a debut novelist – she won the Arthur C Clark Award in 2011 for dark-hued urban fantasy Zoo City – but this should be the one that makes her.

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Lauren Beukes, Author of The Shining Girls, Shares Advice for Aspiring Writers

The Shining GirlsLauren Beukes is undoubtedly a South African publishing success story. Her previous book, Zoo City, won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the release of her latest, The Shining Girls, has been anticipated for months.

In an Author’s Pie interview with Kelly Ansara on her blog It’s a Book Thing, Beukes shared some tips with aspiring writers, saying, “It takes years of hard work and perseverance and honing your craft and developing rejection-coping skills to make it.” Beukes also discussed the future of SA fiction and influences on her work, among other things:

1) Three books (and many anthologies) in a market where ‘local’ fiction writers tend to struggle. Can you give any advice to wannabee writers who are firstly starting out in the SA publishing scene or wanting to get published?

Don’t go in with crazy high expectations (like I did) of cracking the international market with your first book and becoming the next JK Rowling overnight. It takes years of hard work and perseverance and honing your craft and developing rejection-coping skills to make it. Write for the love, write what you love, send it out only when it’s really, really ready (rewrite, polish, rewrite again) and do your research online about how to approach editors and agents and build your career. Be cheeky in asking for what you want, but be nice.

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Lauren Beukes Discusses the Time-travel Model Used in The Shining Girls

The Shining GirlsZane Henry interviewed Lauren Beukes for Obrigado Magazine about The Shining Girls, which was released in South Africa today.

Beukes discussed the relationship between style and content and her time-travel model, which she describes as “Greek Tragedy”, where, “The more you try to avoid your fate, the more you put in play all the forces that will ensure it comes about.”

Read the full interview on page 17 of Obrigado:

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Lauren Beukes: “To Write the Incredible You Have to Make it Credible”

The Shining GirlsJonathan Hatfull from SciFiNow asked Lauren Beukes about her tips for writing science-fiction. She highlighted the importance of basing the story in reality, saying that “to write the incredible you have to make it credible”, and that “you can go wild but you have to anchor it to something to make people buy into it”.

Beukes also warned against the “big infodump scene”, which she says can rather be spread throughout the details of the book:

How important do you feel the “write what you know” rule is when you’re writing sci-fi/fantasy?

I think if you’re going to write the incredible you have to make it credible. And the way I do that is by rooting it in reality. Zoo City is actually a ridiculous conceit, that there are magical animals that attach themselves to criminals. But the fact that I did a research trip to Hillborough and I spent so much time talking to people and walking the streets and finding those journalistic telling details, anchored the insanity and the fantastical. So I think you can go wild but you have to anchor it to something to make people buy into it and to feel the real intent and also risk and danger, you know, to make it believable, to make it credible to put your character in peril.

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