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Maya Fowler

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category


Once again, I’m a finalist in the Sanlam awards for youth literature, under the auspices of Tafelberg Publishers. Last time, my manuscript Detour made it to the top 5. It was subsequently published as As Jy ‘n Ster Sien Verskiet, after Michelle Cooper of Tafelberg asked me translate it into Afrikaans, which I did myself. This time the manuscript in question is My Life As a Moth. And the competition is looking great, with names such as Jayne Bauling and Jenny Robson – both prize-winners – in the mix. Winners to be announced in October.

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A nod from Woman & Home

Last year, on the sly, I won third place in Woman & Home’s short story competition with Venus in the Bedroom. And now it’s out there for all to see, in a volume of short stories available with the latest issue of W&H. (The white booklet.) And I’m in good company! Other writers in the collection include Deon Meyer, Margie Orford, Penny Vincenzi and Fiona Snyckers. You’ll see some of the magazines have been bagged with the white booklet, and others with a yellow one. The latter contains stories by writers such as Joanne Harris, but also some top local names. Go take a look, before this month’s issue sells out.


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Happy Halloween!

As you know from Mandy’s report, plenty of tricks and treats were to be had at the Book Lounge last Wednesday, and Hy Sê Sy Sê ( asked me to write something about the evening. Here’s the link: One thing I forgot to mention, was that I won the prize for best-dressed author on the night! I’m including a pic for those who weren’t there, and the rest who didn’t realise it was me hiding underneath that pink hair.

The robber bride

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New YA title from … Tyra Banks

Young princesses and those bored by the recent stream of vampires, wizards and steam punk might be interested to hear about the new offering from supermodel turned talk-show host turned talent scout extraordinaire Tyra Banks. Interested, but not necessarily impressed, as Jessica Werb of reports. Take a look and judge for yourself!

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Cover story

As promised, the cover of my new young-adult novel, Om op eiers te dans, which won the Maskew Miller Longman prize for youth literature last week. I’m so pleased with what they’ve done – the mood of the shot, the Karoo scene, that dam … the delicate eggshells – everything’s perfect. (And of course there’s the little gold sticker, of which I’m so proud.) Whereas many of MML’s titles have very much a textbook appearance, as they’re marketed specifically at schools, MML MD Steve Cilliers mentioned they wanted more of a “trade” look for this one, because they hope it might have broader appeal. Fingers crossed it works out that way.

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MML Prize for Youth Literature

Carolyn tweeted from the event on Thursday, but for those who haven’t heard, my latest youth offering, Om op eiers te dans, has just won the Maskew Miller Longman prize for youth literature. Cover image to follow soon!

Well-known writer Riana Scheepers, who selected the finalists, said some lovely things about the manuscript. You can read more at

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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.

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An almost-secret event at Greyton Book Club Fest!

Shortly after the programme was designed, Sally (that would be SA Partridge) and I joined the line-up for the Greyton Book Club Festival, which I think is most fitting, since I went to Greyton way back when to hide from the world to finish The Elephant in the Room. It worked! And so I have an extra-special place in my heart for this very lovely town.

In any case, getting to the point, our event (at Pecadillos, Saturday 6 August, 2.30 pm) is called Stolen Moments and Secret Lives .

And it looks like this: Writers Maya Fowler (The Elephant in the Room; As Jy ‘n Ster Sien Verskiet) and S.A. Partridge (The Goblet Club; Fuse; Dark Poppy’s Demise) talk to each other about brittle dreams, flights of imagination, double lives and the dark depths of the teenage soul.

In any case, we’re hoping that said dark depths will be counterbalanced with the lovely venue Peccadilos (recently refurbished, as far as I know) is.

Please join us!

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The Occasional Insomniac

It was a case of Maya after midnight this weekend, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t up because of troubles in the family. Really, as much as I love to read, the writers that can keep me up past 2am are few and far between. (more…)

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Praise for Lost Ground by Michiel Heyns

Lost Ground, the latest from Michiel Heyns, was released by Jonathan Ball this month. There are very many reasons to recommend it, but here are my favourites: (more…)

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