In March this year, I was invited to The Caine Prize Workshop in Hermanus. I was briefly torn as it meant leaving the toddler in the sole care of the husband for twelve days – four days was the longest I’d been away from her at that point – so it took me three whole seconds to hit the reply button on the email. Don’t judge me – after two-and-a-half years of reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, twelve days spent writing, workshopping and discussing the seminal works of literary greats other than Eric Carle was akin to dropping chocolate on an island inhabited by premenstrual women. The toddler didn’t stand a chance.
At the workshop, I hooked up with some of Africa’s most talented. One of them, Lauri Kubuitsile, could be considered an inspiration simply for being a super-prolific and diverse – she pens everything from children’s and YA books, to romance, detective, comedy and literary works, keeps a weekly column ticking over and still has time to walk her dogs, run a fish farm and lie by the pool in the afternoon – but she is more than just a hardworking multi-genre scribbler. Lauri gets people, no matter who they are. Ask any teenager that’s read Signed, Hopelessly in Love, and they’ll claim she’s one of them.
I felt really lucky when Lauri contacted me last month asking if I wanted to take part in The Next Big Thing, a chain-letter type blog initiative that gets writers discussing the work they’re currently busy before pointing their followers in the direction of other writer-bloggers (yes, it is all about us). I immediately agreed. So, next Wednesday, I will answer questions about my new novel, Sister-sister. If Kwela, my publisher allows it, I may even give you a sneak preview of the gorgeous cover. In the meantime, I convinced Lauri to let me publish an excerpt from my favourite Lauri Kubuitsile short story, Moving Forward, which she happened to write during The Caine Prize Workshop (read it by clicking on the “shorts” tab). I’m not easily moved to tears, but while I was reading Moving Forward, my vision blurred.
Moving Forward was originally published in African Violet and other stories., It’s also available as part of her recently released collection, In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories (Hand’s On Books). Her story of the same name was shortlisted for The Caine Prize in 2011.