The Blog

Marie Claire Magazine’s Favourite Books Of 2017 (So Far)

In some very good company, and topping this auspicious list at number one, was Bone Meal For Roses! Here’s what they had to say:

Gardening and healing

It may seem dreamy and wishful to think that growing things can also be healing things, but amazingly enough, science does seem to back this up.

Talking about writing to junior school kids

This is the transcript of a speech I gave to grade sixes and sevens at a junior school in Johannesburg. It's about persistence, story-telling and overcoming self-doubt.

A girl in a garden

It was a picture in my mind that wouldn’t let me be…

Book magic

Books have been around for ages. Pretty much as far back as people have been communicating with one another. Even before the printing press was invented, humans have found a way to share their thoughts by scratching on stone or painting on papyrus. Considering this, and the fact that there are so many of them, we often forget just how astonishing books actually are. They’re powerful in a way that is entirely unique.

When setting becomes a character

Maybe I’m too fussy (fastidious, some might say), or perhaps I just like making life difficult for myself, but I’m one of those people who are incredibly affected by the way my surroundings look and feel…

Writing about abuse – guest post on Chouett

We all carry them: the scars within, many of them inflicted before we could even form thoughts. They criss-cross our inner landscape, their invisible hills and valleys forming grooves that, much like a record, can be replayed over and over again.

A South African Setting

South Africa is a BIG country. For a kickoff, it’s geographically big. You can fit the UK inside it. Five times. As a result, it’s also pretty big in terms of climate: we have tropical, humid jungle-y stuff on one coast, arid desert and icy seas on the other, and a varied collection of mountains, gorges, forests, cities, farmlands and savannahs all hanging about in the middle (complete with some pretty big animals loping around and munching on the scenery).

Reading should be chocolate, not broccoli

This interview about my writing life was published in the Sunday Times on the 13th November 2016.

Snapshots of a landscape

Setting the scene for Bone Meal for Roses Winter vinyards . The Breede Valley . Western Cape . South Africa

Short story published in the Sunday Express

‘LemonPoppy Seed Cake’ was published in the Sunday Express in the UK on the 2nd of October 2016.

Digging down to the roots

When writing a guest blog article for Head of Zeus to co-incide with the UK launch of Bone Meal for Roses, I had to begin with this disclaimer: I have been known to abuse innocent metaphors.

Blood on my hands

Fiction-lovers are peculiar creatures. Whilst going about our daily lives, like anyone else, we’ll do pretty much anything to avoid death. We don’t want to think about it happening to anyone we know, and we don’t want to imagine it happening to us. However, the moment we get some downtime and pick up a novel or switch on our favourite TV series, we crave it, relish it, almost demand it. When we sink in to our preferred kind of fictional escape, we expect (and possibly, deep down, want) someone to die…

Want to hear a story?

Let me set the scene: the bathroom features chewing-gum pink 1970s wall tiles and a big old bathtub. Inside this, sits a diminutive, fluffy-haired toddler wearing nothing but a smear of bubbles on her chin and a determined expression.

Starting Down the ‘Black Dog’ Road

I suppose it’s unavoidable in a tale narrated by a dead woman, but Black Dog Summer has a seam of something unashamedly mystical running through it. Perhaps it's because I grew up in a country where myth and magic are often lurking beneath the surface of things, but I’ve always wanted to write a story in which this otherworldly element makes its presence felt alongside the realism.

Reader reviews on Goodreads

The first readers of Black Dog Summer shared their thoughts about the book on

‘Book of the month’ thanks to

I’m thrilled to mention that on the eve of the UK launch of Black Dog Summer, has chosen it as their ‘book of the month’!

Meet the Trees – The Lucky Bean

“In the centre of the yard, the lucky bean tree was just starting to flower, and its bare branches were bristling with vibrant crimson spikes. Beyond the clearing, the lush long grass glowed tall and green and singing with life…”

Meet the Trees – The Fever Tree

“…spiky aloes, succulent elephant plants and pebbles flank the paths, and between each two adjoining driveways stands a pale-green-barked, white-thorned fever tree.”

Meet the Trees – The Baobab

“In the distance, the solitary baobab reached its sculptural branches towards the sky. I leaned my body against the chicken-wire of the gate and pressed myself against it, feeling each little wire diamond cut into my skin.”

Meet the Trees – The Jacaranda

“I remember what it was like to drive on the streets beneath the jacarandas where the tar was carpeted in soft purple trumpet-shaped fallen flowers. If your car tyres crushed them from just the right angle, the trapped air in their bases would escape with a glorious popping sound. It was like driving through a giant bowl of Rice Krispies.”

Meet the Trees – The Tipuana

“The first thing I notice is that the Tipuana tree is gone. I remember the vast reach of its strong curvy limbs, the perfect thumb-print rows of leaves, whirling helicopter seed pods, and the exuberant yellow, crumpled-tissue-paper flowers that used to litter the ground beneath it.”

The Early Hours

I wrote much of BLACK DOG SUMMER in the early hours of the morning.

Too Afraid to Write

If I’d known what I was embarking on before beginning this book, I’d have been too terrified to write it…

Questions About Violence

When I was little, there was a massacre on a rural farm that resulted in the death of someone I knew…