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.


  1. The saying "Once you've been to Africa, it never leaves you" is so true. There is something wonderfully special about the people and the place. The history and future of the continent are unbelievably complex, a natural amphitheatre for amazing stories and experiences.

    Imagine a 7 year old girl on an 8 day vacation in a town with SeaWorld, Legoland, the beach and The San Diego Zoo - paradise right? Yes. Throw into that however, the California Highway experience and it corrodes the excitement a little - that is unless the said 7 year old has a riveting book to read. And that is what she had.

    Ann was kind and brave enough to hand over her manuscript of MARULAKOP to my daughter for the duration of our stay. The story became an integral part of our travel plans, and had to accompany us just about everywhere we would allow her to take it. It quickly became apparent that the story had checked into the folds in her mind, when comments, advice and suggestions about the book started heading Ann's way. She completed the book before we left, and apart from thoroughly enjoying it, unwittingly proof read her first novel!

    Thank you Ann for giving her this unique experience and friendship. I realy hope that many more children get to experience the joy of reading and learning about an incredible place, with such rivetting history and characters.

    With two recent Hollywood movies about South Africa (Invictus and District 9), Ann's timing for launching this book could not be better!

  2. Like your friend Michael, I have been fortunate enough to have read Marulakop. Through her descriptive writing, Ann transported me back to my childhood in so many ways; growing up in Johannesburg and then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the story within Marulakop unfolded as if I was present. Thanks so much, Ann. You have brought the essence of Africa alive in many adventurous and exciting ways. Marion.

  3. Dear Ann
    Your book is probibly going to get published.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your book.I'm holding my
    thumbs that it gets published, because it is
    a great book!
    I think all my friends would enjoy it.
    Love, Thandi