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Maya Fowler

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

And … the secret’s out!

On Saturday Sally Partridge and I hosted our event Stolen Moments and Secret Lives at Peccadillos in Greyton. We talked about how addictions, loneliness and alienation give rise to secret lives, and we talked about what it’s like to have to go to dark places with a character during the writing process. Sally asked me about Lily, from The Elephant in the Room (an adolescent in the clutches of an eating disorder), and what it was like to explore such lows with her. My answer was that it was as difficult as you’d expect, which is why, I think, I struggled to write more than 500 words at a time on that project.

The issue of hope also raised its head once more. “If we go to such dark places, then, where is the hope?” was the question. My answer: whereas in young adult fiction one perhaps needs it to come forward more overtly, in books like Elephant, aimed at a more general audience, much of the hope lies in the reader him or herself. If she finds herself horrified at a situation, and then endeavours never to place herself in that position, or never to allow her daughters, sisters, friends to go there, that in itself is a promising situation.

Really, one can find hope in almost any text, because meaning isn’t some concrete thing embedded in the work; it’s an event: a relationship between the reader and the text.

As for the rest of the weekend, one of my favourite events was a poetry reading in which Finuala Dowling and some of her students read their own poetry. Those who couldn’t make it will find these poems in Dowling’s Doo Wop Girls of the Universe, and Difficult to Explain (ed. Finuala Dowling.)

One of the highlights was the gala dinner on Saturday night, at which we met members of local book clubs. We were set the terrifying task of standing up and having to talk about what it means to be a woman. I said it then, and I say it now: I hope never to have to follow Margie Orford or precede Christopher Hope in speech making ever again! They agreed, though, that as the Marmite in the sandwich, I did OK.

And lastly, at the same dinner, to my great and utter delight, I met a basset hound.

It so happens I have a special place in my heart for these dogs. So much so that I’ve written a children’s book called “Slobber the Pirate Dog”, yet unpublished. Warmly received by a local publisher, but for the time being turned down due to its international, rather than local, flavour.

All that remains is for me to thank Liezel Nicholas of the Little Birdy Bookshop in Greyton. She did a sterling job of putting the whole weekend together.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Carolyn</a>
    August 8th, 2011 @15:52 #

    Dit klink baie interessant. Jammer dat ek dit nie kon maak nie!


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