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Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

“I’d Like to See More South African Science Fiction and Fantasy” – Charlie Human

Apocalypse Now NowKill BaxterNadine Maritz recently interviewed Cape Town-based author Charlie Human about his first two novels, Apocalypse Now Now and Kill Baxter.

In the interview, Human shares the story behind the magical and mystical creatures and unique characters in both these books, chats about the harder parts of writing fantasy and reveals what his fans can expect from him next.

In answer to the question, “As an author published locally, what would you like to see for authors in South Africa?”, Humans says: “I’d like to see more South African science fiction and fantasy. More writing based in our own culture, mythology and history.”

Read the article for more about the man behind the Baxter Zevcenko series:

What gave you the ideas for your magical and mystical creatures?

A lot of the creatures are based on African mythology. I research magic and mythology from across the continent and founds things that would fit within the story.

Why call your character Baxter?

I honestly can’t remember how the name Baxter Zevcenko came to me. It’s almost as if he just appeared.

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Charlie Human Dishes on the Harry Potter In-jokes and Dark, Twisted References in Kill Baxter (Video)

Apocalypse Now NowKill BaxterApocalypse Now Now author Charlie Human joined Jennifer Sanasie in the News24 studio to discuss his new book Kill Baxter, the sequel to his debut novel.

Human shares why he decided to write this second book, dishes on the Harry Potter in-jokes he wrote in both books and offers ideas for which actors would be best suited to play in an imagined film adaptation of his books. He also shares what readers can expect from this second book in the series.

“To me Harry Potter always seemed very chaste for the kind of age that they were, you know, so I thought, okay, that’s not what 16-year-olds are doing and thinking about. So Kill Baxter sort of reflects that a bit,” Human tells Sanasie. He also discusses Ronin, Baxter’s supernatural bounty hunter side-kick.

Watch the video:

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Human also told Sanasie how he, a generally cheery and lighthearted person, writes such dark and twisted stories and says that people often seem surprised when they get to know him.

“Maybe it is just kind of channelling those darker parts that everybody has that gives me an excuse to say all the sarcastic and bitter things that one cannot say in normal life; it all goes through the lens of Baxter,” says Human. He also shares which was his favourite scene to write for Kill Baxter:

Watch the video:

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Alex Smith and Andrew Salomon on Being a Literary Couple: “There’s Never Any Explaining Necessary”

Devilskein and DearloveTokoloshe SongLocal author and academic Karina M Szczurek has started a new series on her blog in which she plans to interview literary couples – a topic close to her heart as she is married to award-winning author André Brink.

The first couple she has interviewed is Devilskein and Dearlove author Alex Smith and Andrew Salomon, author of Tokoloshe Song. Szczurek asked them to describe their partner’s creative process, if they are each other’s first readers, what their favourite piece written by the other is and all about the reality of sharing life with a fellow writer.

“The best aspect is that you share your life with someone who understands the deep desire to write, to tell a story. So there’s never any explaining necessary about the need for time and space to do this, and we support each other in creating that time and place,” Salomon says.

Read the article:

Are you each other’s first readers?
Andrew: Definitely, I know I can count on Alex to be truthful in her assessment, but also kind in the way she delivers it.

What is your favourite piece written by your partner?
Andrew: Alex’s latest novel, Devilskein and Dearlove is a wonderful read, and I am also a big fan of the book that came from her experiences living and working in China, Drinking from The Dragon’s Well – it’s a book that depicts her experiences very truthfully and that also paints an intriguing picture of a place caught in extremely rapid change, so rapid that now it could probably serve as an historical snapshot.

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Devilskein and Dearlove Tours England: Dates and Venues for Events Promoting Alex Smith’s Book

Devilskein and DearloveArachne Press, the British publisher of Alex Smith‘s CILIP Carnegie Medal-nominated youth novel Devilskein and Dearlove, is taking the book on a short but sweet tour, stopping in Brentwood, London and Lewisham.

Unfortunately Smith will not be able to join in the fun as she has duties to fulfil on home soil. However, Arachne Press have come up with a creative solution: Smith will answer questions sent in by readers on a video filmed specially for the three events. On the respective days Greg Page, the voice heard on the trailer for this riveting YA book, will read from Devilskein and Dearlove, after which the video interview will be screened and Cherry Potts, UK publisher, will discuss the industry at large.

If you find yourself in the UK on 21 or 22 January, or 5 February, don’t miss this exciting opportunity to support South African fiction!

More details:

Brentwood Theatre
15 Shenfield Road,
CM15 8AG
(in partnership with Chicken & Frog Bookshop)
Wednesday 21st January 2015 13:30

With Greg Page (who voices Mr Devilskein on our animated trailer) reading. We will show the trailer, together with a video of author Alex Smith answering questions from Cape Town, South Africa) and Cherry Potts, Arachne Press owner will talk a little about publishing.
£10 including a copy of the book

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Five Writing Tips from Alex Smith and Maire Fisher: “The Main Thing is to Enjoy the Process”

Devilskein and DearloveBirdseyeAlex Smith, author of the adventure-filled Young Adult novel Devilskein & Dearlove, and Máire Fisher, author of Birdseye, a debut novel “brimming with quiet confidence“, recently sat down with Catriona Ross to share their top five writing tips.

Both Smith and Fisher agree that inspiration can come from anywhere – you just have to be open to it. They advise against using a busy schedule as an excuse, saying that you can always find a gap to write. Their third tip is to “be prepared to change course” and allow your characters to take the story forward as it evolves. Both authors say it is important to find “a friendly first reader” who could offer constructive criticism and, as a final tip, they stress: “The main thing is to enjoy the process”.

Read the article:

It was exactly the sort of event I love: two authors in conversation in a coffee shop on a balmy weekday evening. Alex Smith, author of the young adult novel Devilskein & Dearlove, and Maire Fisher, author of Birdseye, dispensed writing wisdom:

The inspiration for a novel can come from anywhere – a moment, a name, an intriguing item. For Alex, her interest in antique keys was a catalyst: ‘I knew my heroine ended up with a bunch of keys, and that meant she’d opened a series of doors.’

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Watch the Book Trailer for Alex Smith’s Carnegie Medal-Nominated Devilskein and Dearlove

Devilskein and DearloveWatch the trailer for Alex Smith‘s Young Adult novel Devilskein and Dearlove, which was recently nominated for a 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal.

The Carnegie Medal is the oldest and most prestigious children’s book award in the United Kingdom, and is awarded annually. The nominations are put forward by CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), while the longlist will be announced on Tuesday, 10 February, 2015, the shortlist in March and the winners in June.

Devilskein and Dearlove is a sinister, quirky tale, following the story of 13-year-old Erin Dearlove, who has a dark secret, and her friendship with a neighbour, Mr Devilskein, who also has something to hide.

Watch the book trailer:

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Submerged Wonderland: an Extract from Devilskein and Dearlove by Alex Smith

Devilskein and DearloveDevilskein and Dearlove, the new young adult novel from Alex Smith, is dark and colourful, intriguing and peculiar.

The novel tells the story of Erin Dearlove, a 13-year-old who is struggling to adjust to living with her aunt in a bustling part of Cape Town. Erin is clever, precocious, and troubled by a dark secret. She develops a friendship with Mr Devilskein, her upstairs neighbour, who has secrets stranger than her own: he guards the keys to six mysterious doors. When he shares access to the magical worlds behind the doors with Erin, danger, friendship and adventure ensue.

In this excerpt, Erin discovers an underwater paradise:

* * * * * * * *

A smile crept onto Mr Devilskein’s hideous face, and it would have been fearsome had there not been a twinkle in the monster’s eyes. ‘I have heard, or let me be honest, overheard, that you have an interest in the sea.’

Erin stared at the inside of her cup, where a last drop of tea rolled away to reveal a delicate image of a lady’s face. ‘You mean surfing?’

‘That involves the sea, doesn’t it?’ He frowned.

‘I guess so.’

‘Well,’ he clapped his hands together, and produced from his palm a key. ‘This is the key to the turquoise door and it will take you to your surprise.’ He placed the key before her. It didn’t look at all like the key Erin already possessed for that particular door. It was older and more brassy and ornate. She felt she was being tricked. She stared at the key without touching it.

‘Oh for goodness’ and badness’ sake!’ Mr Devilskein looked fierce. ‘Finally, I give you permission and a key and all you do is sit there. Run along, child, and see what is beyond the door.’

Erin looked from the key to Mr Devilskein and then at Calvados, who had opened one eye and was watching with interest. ‘Where is Zhou?’

‘You will not need the cricket for what is behind that door. Now go before I change my mind.’

Quite slowly and reluctantly, Erin left the kitchen where they had been having tea, passed through the shadows created by the towers of shoeboxes and up to the turquoise door. The lock had definitely been changed. It had a wider gape, fit for a fatter key than the one she owned. She inserted the key and gave it a turn. As she stepped across the threshold, she was sucked inwards into a cool, green, underwater realm. The door was no longer visible. Ah! He has found me out and now he is murdering me: a deep-sea death. At first she thought she would surely drown, because try as she might to surface from the salty world, no matter how far up she swam, there never was a brim or top or surface. There was water everywhere. Soon she realised she could see quite well in spite of the salty atmosphere and that she wasn’t struggling to breathe. On the contrary, a stream of bubbles moved with her as she went, and when she touched her cheeks it felt like she had developed gills. How curious and how glorious! As she was beginning to enjoy being like a fish, from nowhere came the whooshing sound of water bodies and momentarily she was overwhelmed by thousands of translucent jellyfish, brilliant yellow arrow squids and indigo-blue flying squids, all with waving, feathery legs like those of dancers. If the sight of them hadn’t been so beautiful and strange, Erin might have been frightened, especially since if they so chose, the jellyfish could have stung her to a painful demise. But the creatures were not interested in harming her. They were on their way to an important gathering and they were moving at a rapid pace. Soon they left Erin behind in the peace of the ocean and its corals of many hues.

It was dreamy and serene until the swishing of currents and kelp was outdone by a clatter of armour-coated claws and feelers. Coming up on Erin’s left was a vast orange and red battalion of lobsters, spider crabs, horseshoe crabs, and porcelain crabs. Erin yelped, for fear that they would trample her as they went their way, but she need not have worried, for they parted briefly to accommodate her presence.

‘What is this place?’ Erin asked nobody in particular, since there was nobody to ask, except the slither of ten thousand green and blue sea snakes that, like the crabs and the squids had appeared from nowhere, and were heading somewhere in a great hurry. Never having been a great fan of snakes, Erin froze in horror at the sight of all those beady eyes and lithe, patterned bodies. Again her trepidation was unnecessary; the creatures had no interest in the human who was not hurrying to the ball, like every other body in that watery realm.

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Alex Smith’s Devilskein & Dearlove Launched at The Book Lounge with Verushka Louw

Alex Smith

On what must arguably have been the wildest, wettest night of the Cape of Storms’ winter, a gathering of devoted Alex Smith fans gathered at the Book Lounge for the launch of Devilskein and Dearlove.

Keys and doors, secret gardens that exist deep in a block of Long Street flats, and French poodles that speak Polish and Mandarin … No topic was ordinary. No character predictable. This is what the audience who came to celebrate with Smith heard – and relished!

Devilskein and DearloveThe multi-talented author, who has a travel memoir under her belt, two adult novels, and now, a second YA novel to her credit, chatted to The Book Lounge‘s YA and children’s literature specialist, Verushka Louw.

The bookseller said Devilskein & Dearlove is amazing, praising the finely wrought development of the book’s main characters, Erin, aged 13, and Albertus who is more than a thousand years old. “There’s a thing in Alex’s head that makes magic. And she knows how to write it down.”

Louw said that the book is a magical, fantastical story set in Cape Town that never allows the reader to forget that daft things happen. Smith spoke about the importance of not forgetting, and of retaining balance: “Nothing is all good or all bad. I try to keep that going throughout the story.”

“There is Erin’s version of what happens and the reader’s perception as he or she reads between the lines. Erin’s aunt explains things after talking to a psychiatrist friend. Although the young teen has created an altered reality to feel safe in the world, there is only so much make believe, so much that can be ascribed to psychological disturbance.”

Louw spoke enthusiastically about the guessing game that the reader inevitably plays with themselves as they makes their way through this lively, powerful read.

Smith read a few enchanting extracts from Devilskein & Dearlove, including a spectacular passage describing an underwater scene. The research for this scene took her to Miller’s Landing, where she enjoyed the experience of snorkelling.

Louw gestured up the stairs, at the sound of the rain pummelling against the wooden doors. She said, “I was afraid that nobody would come tonight when the rain was lashing down at the horizontal. But this book is about Cape Town. I knew that true Capetonians would not be deterred by a little wetness. Devilskein & Dearlove is simultaneously about the city, and about how we find ways to overcome the impossible things that we face everyday, wherever we live.”

* * * * * * * *

Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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Alex Smith Explains How The Secret Garden Inspired Her YA Novel, Devilskein and Dearlove

Devilskein and DearloveAlex Smith spoke to Matt Imrie about how her recently published YA novel Devilskein and Dearlove was inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“To me it’s about finding happiness and magic where you least expect it,” Smith says of The Secret Garden, explaining that it was one of her formative reading experiences and has happy memories for her. “I wanted to bring its kind of unencumbered charm to a South African contemporary context.”

Smith also mentions that she finds that there’s more creative freedom when writing for a younger audience and that her favourite parts of writing are “The first chapter, the last chapter and editing the final draft.”

Hi Alex, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. For those readers that may not have come across your work before would you like to introduce yourself to the audience please?

Thanks Matt. I was a teenager in the last days of Apartheid, it was a violent and oppressive society, and themes that seem to recur in my novels are alienation, escape and finding ways of dealing with injustice and trauma. I’ve spent time living in China, Taiwan and the UK, and have travelled a fair bit around Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe, and so somehow also, travel/migration, culture, religion and the experience of being a stranger in a new place seem to find their way in most of my stories.

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Join Alex Smith for the Launch of Devilskein & Dearlove at The Book Lounge

Devilskein and DearloveUmuzi and The Book Lounge would like to invite you to join them for the launch of Devilskein & Dearlove by Alex Smith on Thursday, 17 July, at 5:30 for 6 PM.

Smith will be in conversation with Verushka Louw.

See you there!
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