Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is there anyone out there listening? Feels like performing on a stage to an empty theatre. But here goes, my first attempt at blogging.

What I'd really like to talk about is my first completed manuscript, MARULAKOP, written mainly for middle-graders. It's the coming of age story of both a young girl and a country. South Africa is the country. I was born and raised there and it still feels like home.

This week I'm attending the SDSU Writers' Conference - another first. I'm hoping to meet other writers, agents and editors. I'm excited. Wish me luck.

Anyway, here's a little taste of my story.

South Africa, 1989. The white minority, fearful of black rule, clings to power as the armed wing of Mandela’s African National Congress fights to overthrow Apartheid.

GIDEON, a 12-year-old black boy, tends sheep on the farm, Marulakop. Bad spirits are gnawing at his heart. He always thought nothing could ever harm his big brother, Simon, tall and strong as a warrior. Now he is no longer so sure.

SIMON, 19, travels without a pass to Johannesburg to join Mandela's army in the fight for democracy. He eludes the police with the help of an old man. “A cunning jackal can outwit even a mighty rhinoceros.”

SUSANNAH, a 13-year-old girl from an affluent white family in Johannesburg, is miserable. She must stay on her UNCLE MOFFIE'S farm, Marulakop, while her parents are in England. Six weeks on a stupid farm.

KOMMANDANT JOUBERT is determined to preserve Apartheid by hunting black rebels. When an informer incriminates Simon, the Kommandant becomes obsessed with his capture.

Susannah sees first hand the inequality between the races when she befriends Gideon on Marulakop. She becomes an unlikely accomplice in the struggle against Apartheid, helping Gideon shelter Simon before he leaves for ANC training in Mozambique.

The people and events Susannah experiences during her time on Marulakop will define her values and, ultimately, change the course of her life.

Do you know a middle-grader who might enjoy burying his or her nose in that book? I hope so.