Apples for Zebras

Nicc - apples cover

Prairie AlphabetA copy of Prairie Alphabet by Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet in 1999, shown to Nicci Earle during a visit to a friend at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada, gave birth to the thought that her home country of South Africa needed a similar book.

An alphabet showing the multi-hued folk of her homeland became a mission that finally bore fruit in 2019.

She began and wrote most of the delightful alliterative text as an alphabet incorporating South African life with children in all aspects, while working as a physiotherapist in Australia in 2000, but it got shelved as life got in the way. She returned to practice in the UK for awhile, then back to South Africa to drastically change career direction.

Accepted in the University of Natal from January 2001 to December 2002 for a Master’s degree in Social Development Studies, she briefly considered politics to make a difference. She soon realised that it would be policies and not politics that would make the difference, and in that she has certainly done her small but vital part.

While studying, she was acquainted with Justin Barnes who later persuaded her to join his company, Benchmarking & Manufacturing Analysts where she worked in the automotive sector until 2004.

Nicci - Social Work book.jpg

SOCIAL WORK in Social Change by Nicci Earle

When an expected transfer to Gauteng didn’t materialise, she joined HSRC, Human Resources Research Council from 2005 to2007, as part of their research teams. Her book Social Work in Social Change (The Profession and Education of Social Workers in South Africa) – ISBN 9780796922083, published by HSBC Press in 2008 remains the primary reference for the subject.

For the possible publication of her Alphabet book, Nicci approached a small publisher specialising in the education sector, who was a huge help with suggesting other forms of the book such as a blank version for colouring in, and a guide for teaching in introducing younger children to the alphabet. But the main, and most obvious requirement was of course for an illustrator. Knowing the expense involved in hiring a professional, the publisher asked if Nicci knew of anyone who might be suitable.

Of course she did! Her step-mum, Sheila Maling (Earle).

By this time, 2004, we were living in Uniondale at 10 Rose Street. Nicci came to visit and showed Sheila her text drafts. She needed a full-page picture for each letter, as well as a few alternative covers to select. After coming to an understanding as to Nicci’s requirements, and including Sheila’s suggestions, so it began. With each letter taking more than a week, it was a lengthy project, but I was blown away by Sheila’s fine carefully constructed work, including a lot more items than what the text called for. It became a challenge to see if one could find all the things or the activities beginning with that particular letter.

Finally complete, the publisher raved about it and set about approaching the education department for financial committal, but the problem finally became clear – each grade had its own separate budget for books and because the kit would cover several grades, nobody could decide on how the cost package would be distributed. Without this assurance, the publisher could not risk her own finance without a buyer.

The project became dormant.

Nicci was married in July, 2008, to Frederick Malleson. Children followed, but, as these demands became more manageable and Nicci rejoined Frederick in the entrepreneurial market place, her thoughts about the book resurfaced.

Eventually, deciding that it was worth the risk of committal, she has opted for self-publication. With Jacana Media taking an enthusiastic interest and committing to be a distributor, printing went ahead just recently. Potential for an expanded educational kit and a funnel from bedtime stories to colouring book to alphabet introduction and self-reading is obvious. This could just be the beginning.

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Nicci Earle Malleson & Sheila Maling Earle

It is also a showcase for Sheila’s artwork, and, who knows, maybe there are other stories out there just waiting for a talented illustrator?


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Monday, 12th April 2010: Having returned my hire car to Avis on top of a multi-level carpark in Manchester, UK, I caught my flight to Serbia, flying via Zurich. I had hardly landed when my phone rang and my nephew, Stephen Earle was telling me where to meet up with him. Getting through Immigration was a doddle and soon we were heading north to the city of Novi Sad.

The road was badly potholed, so Stephen had to swerve continually to avoid them. We stopped for an hour at a roadside bar for my first Serbian beer and my first Serbian word: Juvilee! (sp?) Cheers!

Stephen had settled in Serbia after finding the right timber there and cost-effective labour that he needed for his proposed window factory. Having worked to install windows with his uncle in the UK, he realised there was a market to fill in making the wooden windows and doors. The Serbian girl he met in London became his translator, and then his wife. I liked Jelena instantly, an intelligent woman with a good sense of humour who made me welcome in their little flat attached to the factory in the little village of Beocin on the bank of the Danube River. The following day we drove to another village on the river, where they had had their wedding reception, then to the Novi Sad Castle, an ancient bastion overlooking the river, where we had a traditional Serbian pork dish for dinner.

There was still the drab block-like architecture of the Soviet type everywhere, giving the country a depressing feel, but all very eye-opening for me.

iceland_volcanoFlying back to Heathrow on the Wednesday was fortunate as it was the day before Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland erupted and the subsequent ash cloud shut down Europe’s airspace for days. Again, I was welcomed to stay with my friend Brian Nicholson in Reading.

LBF2010The ash cloud prevented a lot of exhibitors from flying in to be at the London Book Fair, which Brian and I trained to Earl’s Court to attend on Monday, 19th April. £40-00 may not have been a lot of money for the entrance for Brits, but it dented my Rand budget a bit. That year’s country of focus was my own South Africa, but here again the exhibitors were scarce. The books on display were there, having arrived well beforehand.

Deon Meyer

Deon Meyer – author

Our thriller writer Deon Meyer had been expected, but there was a bearded friend of his trying to stand in for him. A lot of stalls were simply empty.

A book fair is more about the publishers showing their wares, making deals, getting rights and so on, rather than for illustrators and authors. New sign-ups are as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Orion publishing director Jon Wood, said he believed the money was still there for established authors. “People who’ve got brands are desperately trying to hold on to them, and money is going up for the right author,” he said. “It’s the decisions at the bottom of the market, when you’re thinking ‘shall I bid or not’, where people are being very cautious. You’ve got to feel very passionate to buy. It’s risky because you can’t get books into shops without massive promotion budgets – and if you don’t get the promotion, you don’t sell the books.”

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Festival of Writing – 2010.

Having had both my books, PURGATORY ROAD and THE BARROS PAWNS, kicked into some sort of shape by The Writer’s Workshop, I grabbed the opportunity to attend their FESTIVAL of WRITING in the city of York, UK in April of 2010. But that wasn’t just down the road; I flew from George to Johannesburg on 7th April 2010 and boarded the evening flight to London.

Landing at Heathrow in the morning, it was easy to grab the Avis shuttle to their depot not far away and hire a car, having done the same only a year before. Again, my friend Brian Nicholson in Reading had kindly agreed to give me a base to move from and a bed for the night. After a warm welcome and catch-up evening, I set off for York the next morning, Friday, with a cheeky bit of machinery on my dashboard called a Tom-tom, which seemed to spend most of its time telling me to turn around…


Harry Bingham

Approaching York from the west, I took a circular drive south to get to the University, where I booked in before 13h30 and parked as near to my student room as possible. It was tiny, but more than adequate. I attended a workshop with Harry Bingham, the creator of The Writer’s Workshop, and Helen Corner, whose Cornerstones Literary Consultancy goes from strength to strength.

Harry was/is a lithe dynamic man with a penetrating stare that seemed to read me at a glance. I introduced myself and showed him a copy of my two books. Later, in a workshop on publishing by an Orion publisher, when she got to the option of Self-Publishing, he bounded up to my seat in the auditorium to grab them and wave them at the audience.

“These are two of the best self-pub books I have yet seen!” he announced. My ego wriggled in pleased embarrassment.

The evening was a satisfactory dinner laced with wine and good craik with over four hundred authors and wannabes literally exchanging thoughts and impressions.

katie fforde

Katie Fforde – author

On Saturday 10th April, the Festival was formally opened with the keynote address by that best-selling romantic novelist, Katie Fforde who was a delight to listen to and laugh with. We then split up into our various chosen workshops, or one-on-one sessions.

Each attendee was supposed to have two sessions – ten minutes with an agent or publisher during which they had a chance to pitch and discuss their work. This opportunity was, to my mind, the main draw to the Festival, but was a failure for me personally. Others, more fortunate, gained a huge amount of insight into their work, having also submitted a sample a month prior to be analysed. In my case, my first one-on-one target didn’t arrive at all, and the other was a stand-in for somebody else who was ill. The stand-in was a timid lady who read a bit of my submission as we sat through the ten minutes allotted. Her remark that she didn’t like all the violence blew me away. Just what her own genre was, I don’t know. Maybe cooking?


Fergus Smith – author

However, despite that, it was worth the networking with, and camaraderie of, so many like-minded folk and in some cases to make a life-long friend, like Fergus Smith who has since published two great novels.

After a good buffet lunch, the afternoon kicked off with an address in the form of ‘Confessions from…’ featuring literary agent Simon Trewin and publisher Barry Cunningham – both of whom provided humorous insights into their chosen literary fields.
Of the workshops that I recall attending, ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ given by Jeremy Sheldon stands out, then I had to miss a couple when I left the university to dash into York to find a travel agent to book a ticket to Serbia from Manchester to visit my nephew, Stephen Earle, who has settled there.

Meeting so many writers, published and unpublished, all of whom have an absolute passion for their work, was the highlight of the Festival for me. All of us learning to hone our skills, prune our excesses, establish our targets and avoid the pitfalls of our ignorance.

I set up a table to sell my books from in a quiet corner after breakfast on Sunday, but Harry shoved me into the open where passers-by had to swerve to avoid it! Sometimes you just have to push to get noticed, I guess.

From another table, I bought a copy of R.J.Ellory’s ANNIVERSARY MAN, at the time his latest, which he signed.

Then it was time to set off for Manchester to overnight with my old friends, ; always a pleasure to see them.

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TO DURBAN – Many Birds, one stone.

Joe Coetzee

Joe Coetzee

Setting off from home in Haarlem at about 08h00 on 2th August 2009 in my 1976 Peugeot 404 on the 650km journey to the east of East London, I had two goals in mind. The first was to find my old friend Joe Coetzee, working as the Resident Engineer on the N2 upgrade near the town of Komga.

I do so love walking in on friends who are not expecting me to see the look on their faces. I was not disappointed, but got a surprise in return when his 2IC was introduced as Ray Hamilton. Our lives were linked by a whole list of coincidences, beginning with being at school together at Pretoria Boys High. We’d re-met when he was surveyor for the road construction company LTA and I for SNA, the Consultants on the Warmbaths-Nylstroom job, and again in Maun with his family as he was on holiday there while he lived in Gaborone. To top it off, his wife was also Sheila and his son also named Ryan.

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Bruce Barichievy

The second was to spend the night with and catch up with Bruce Barichievy, who featured in a lot of my adventures throughout the Seventies. I wasn’t to know that I would only see him one more time as he passed away a few years later, so I treasure that visit and our evening of reminiscences together.

While traversing the old Transkei the next day, the towns en-route were crowded with locals and Bruce had warned me to be careful not to bump anybody or I’d be caught up in a mob. All was well until near the old Natal border past Mount Ayliffe when the Peugeot’s clutch packed up. I cruised to a halt half way up a pass and pulled well in to the kerb. There was a long and anxious wait while I phoned Dave Gardiner to find me a tow service in Kokstad which was only some 20 km away. Dave was a childhood friend whom I had not seen for years, but was dying to meet again at his home in Durban.

I arranged with the Powerhouse Towing & Auto to rescue me and managed to beat them down from over R900 to R750-00. While waiting for them to send a truck an Indian fellow, about 25, stopped to offer me a tow as he said it was a dangerous place for hi-jacking. I thanked him and refused as I had already made the arrangement and also arranged to hire a car from Avis in Kokstad. Then he tried to force R200-00 on me when the tow-truck did arrive! A weird, but touching, kindness from a stranger.

The first buildings in Kokstad were a filling station that housed Avis, so the truck driver dropped me there and took the Peugeot off to their workshops. My ride was a natty new little Mazda 2. I got directions to Powerhouse and went there to collect my case and box of books and to pay for the tow. Then I hit the road for Port Shepstone. It took me an hour and a half driving through a lot of mist over rolling, forested hills, by which time it was dark.

Then the nightmare really began; I took the N2 highway up the South Coast to Amamzimtoti. I had phoned Dave who told me what off ramp to take, but it was difficult to read the signs. I stuck to the fast lane to avoid the trucks and left my lights on bright to see the signs, regardless of the poor oncoming traffic. And drove at 140kph or faster most of the way. Take the next off ramp after ‘Toti, I followed Dave’s directions to his Bowls Club’s carpark and phoned him. He told me to put my hazard lights on, the only way he could find me. Neither of us would have recognised the other; it had been 44 years since we met! He is the chairman of his club and it is his birthday, so all were very friendly. His wife is Noreen, a severe looking woman, but really very pleasant. We had a couple of beers and took some home when we left, me following him back. They live in a 13-storey condo near the beach called Belfry Towers in Doonside. We caught up for an hour or two, ate a pizza and hit the sack. I was very comfortable in their spare room.

On Saturday, sunny and pleasant, I went to a small shopping centre about 4 kms down the road on the beach front to meet up with Dave who had brought his mum and we all had breakfast together. She was Rollo Brent-Meek’s cousin; she reminisced about her days in Warmbaths, as did Dave and I.


Brad Drew & Amanda (Raw)

My next target was to attend the wedding reception of friends, Amanda and Brad Drew from Maun, Botswana, so I set off through Pietermaritzburg to Greytown. I booked in to a hideously expensive B&B, but sold a book to the receptionist to help pay for the room.

It was a great reunion with the couple and their parents, all of whom I had met in Maun. I took my leave of them all on Sunday afternoon to return to Durban. Just before dark, I found and booked into the Nomads Backpackers situated just down the road from where I would take my books on Monday. The youngster at the desk put me in a dorm that holds 14, but there was only one other inhabitant. When he heard that I own the Backpackers in Uniondale, he said there would be no charge as that is their policy – free to other Backpacker staff. Later, when his boss came in, she put me in a double with en-suite bathroom!

The Musgrave Centre was just up the street from the backpackers. Adams Bookshop is on the second floor. The shop personnel were not very friendly but I took to the buyer in a back office. We chatted and she promised to display my books well and send promo sheets that I supplied to their other branches. I left 5 of each PURGATORY ROAD and THE BARROS PAWNS with her and an invoice. Powerhouse in Kokstad phoned to say that they had located the spares needed for the Peugeot clutch so I abandoned collecting them in Durban where I had located them after various phone calls to spares shops and garages. 404 spares are getting increasingly scarce.

It would be unforgiveable if I did not go to visit old friend Dawn Coen in Underberg, not far from Kokstad. She said I’d be welcome to stay the night, which I did after I checked on the Peugeot in Kokstad – it would be ready at about ten the following morning – then headed north to Underberg, about 115kms. There was a bit of mist, but not too unpleasant. It was a delightful stay-over steeped in reminiscences and humour.

After a brief call with Dawn to see her second daughter, Sophie at her work the following day, I headed back to Kokstad through the magnificent mountain scenery, and returned the Mazda to Avis. A driver from Powerhouse collected me. I settled the bill and headed west again in the Peugeot, crossing the Transkei without incident.

I had arranged to meet Joe Coetzee again, where I left the Peugeot at his flat in Komga.He took me the 45-odd kms to Kei Mouth where he has a house. (His wife Monique lived in Pretoria where they have another home. She worked in a hospital there and he flew up once a month.) We had a great evening at The Bushpig pub.

On Wednesday I awoke early to see haze over the sea. Joe locked up and we returned to his flat in Komga where he treated us to a bacon and egg breakfast before I hit the road back home. With the Peugeot going well I arrived in the late afternoon.


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The Passing of Mildred Constance (Arkell) Earle

Inevitably, we leave it too late. When the elderly have left us, often-times when we remember them, our regret is that we neglected to ask them questions to which only they had the answers.

Jane Earle 1915-2009My Mum, aged 94, died (11h30 South African) time, in Victoria, Australia, 11August 2009. My sister-in-law Kate phoned at noon to give me the news. My brother, Richard, was with her when she went.

I have never believed that being orphaned at birth had any negative effect on me; that I would have turned out as screwed up as I am without any excuse from such a circumstance, but many insist that my being parted from my Mum as a newborn and placed in a home for six months would definitely have dented my psyche. I wasn’t truly an orphan; it was just that I was born with the rhesus problem of having conflicting negative and positive parents which affects the second and following children.

In retrospect, it was probably the unfounded guilt that my Mum endured, feeling somehow responsible for my problem, which drove her into a sanatorium. I understand that it was voluntary on her part, and that she was free to leave at any time. She worked there as a cleaner, doing housework and making beds. Cleaning up shit and puke; perhaps it was some sort of penance? I don’t imagine it was an environment that was any help to her except as an escape from the normal world into one somewhat off-kilter.


My 21st birthday, twixt my parents, Tony & Jane Earle.

I should have asked her about that when I last saw her in her room at the old-age home at Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia, in 2004. I should have apologised for being a difficult teenager. I should have got her to tell me about her childhood, the best of times; not the stories of her fear when her father fought with his brothers, literally, as he sought control of the family business, the brewery.

Earles in Oz

Tony, Jane & Richard Earle – Marlo, Victoria, Australia.

She seemed to have enjoyed boarding school, staying on for an extra term to prolong her participation in the school’s first cricket team as wicket-keeper. Perhaps that was an escape, too…

She was a gentle soul, a kind person, involved in the local charities, markets, and taking elderly ladies shopping up to a stage when she herself was older than those she helped. Totally involved in the farming activities, she was a hard and seemingly tireless worker. There were animals to feed, flowers and fruit to pack, a home to run. Her garden was always productive and while the table was always first customer, the rest was cleaned and bunched for market. Milk had to be separated and the cream sent on the train to the butter factory in Pietersburg.

Starting in her mid-forties, her depression, now called bi-polar, became more and more evident, with little sympathy from me, and much unsuccessful experimentation by the medical profession. Up and down, up and down.

Up, she bought a bicycle and vowed she would get a job in town 5km away from the farm, and cycle to work. Down, she gave the bike to one of the labourers…

I would have liked to have held her hand and gotten to know her. She seldom volunteered her thoughts, but I know she would have talked, if I had asked.

Spilt milk.

Mum, I’m sorry. RIP.

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The Conception of DICE MODISE

Buttercup 2013..JPG

Peugeot 404, 1976. “Buttercup.”

I can’t really say exactly when Dice was conceived, but, whenever that was, he certainly wasn’t born nine months later. He and his world involved a lot of research, which eventually made a visit to Maun, Botswana, his home, mandatory. All I knew for certain was that he was to be a black Motswana, (Yes, there is such a thing as a white Motswana, a citizen of Botswana.) and he would be a policemen in their CID.

Asked how on earth, as a honky, I planned to get inside the head of a black policeman, I was stuck for an answer. But whether I’ve succeeded or not, or simply concocted a reasonably exciting bunch of yarns, is up to my readers to judge. I didn’t know there would be a series of three adventures, but that’s how it turned out in the end.

HV cover front finalMPO KindleChildren Apart - soft cover

But I digress. A trip to Maun was planned for early July, 2009, but it would have to include a family catch-up along the way, and I hoped to sell enough of my first two novels to pay my way….

Collecting my yellow 1976 Peugeot 404 from my mechanic, who had given it the once-over for the trip (and expects to inherit it when I croak,) I drew three weeks wages for Sheila to pay my building teams.

Early the following morning I was on the N9 to Graaff Reinet where I flogged a couple of copies of Purgatory Road and The Barros Pawns to McNaughton’s Bookshop there and wolfed down some Wimpey breakfast. On through Colesberg and Bloemfontein to Welkom to spend the night with my salt-of-the-earth old family friends, Anne and Herman van Hees. I got to Pretoria after lunch the following day.

Back in the 80’s, I used to work for a Consulting Engineers, called Strydom, Newmark & Anthony based in Pretoria, so I found their offices and saw old friends like Vissie Visser, Gordon Hart and the ‘new boss’ Dave Temple who had taken over since Dolf van Huyssteen retired. (The latter 2 were also at school with me at Pretoria Boys High.) Vissie kindly bought 2 books!

As arranged, I went on to my daughter, Nicci, and her husband, Frederick’s home near Hazeldene, Pretoria, and spent the next couple of nights with them. The next day, Nicci kindly took me scouting the malls looking for bookshops. We left 5 of each book with Eddington Esterhuizen of eBooksetc. We also made an arrangement to meet up with Estienne van Wyk of Fascination Books when I get back. The following day, Nicci showed me around Frederick’s family farm. It is still huge, despite the fact that parts have been cut off for housing complexes. They have retained a stand in one of these, where the streets are named after members of the family – there is a Frederick Street and an Anna’s Way, amongst others. Their future home will be overlooking a dam. We had supper with my son Ryan. He, his wife Elaine and his 3-boy-family lived about twenty minutes away. Thomas was nearly 5; Nicholas was 2 years and 4 months, while James was a blob of 5 months. Nicholas spokes nearly as well as Thomas and was a tease. He pretended to miss out a number while counting and then said ‘Jokes!’ when the adults corrected him. He did jigsaw puzzles of 30 pieces in no time at all. Unbelievable. It’s quite sickening how gooey these proud grandfathers can get.

The next day, Saturday, 11  July, all of us went north to the farm of my ex, Greet, and her husband, Dennis Driver for the day, where Sheila and I had gone to Nicci’s wedding. Dennis’ sister and family were there, as well, so it was very festive at the camping ground and chalets. I got a bit of chat in with Dennis and Greet, and slept at their farm house.

Armed with sandwiches Greet made, I set off for the border post at Martin’s Drift in the Peugeot, leaving the cool of winter behind, to Francistown, Botswana. I bought a starter-pack and airtime for my phone. The Peugeot started jerking, around about Nata where I filled up with fuel, and she died on me about 10 km short of the little village of Zaroga so I slept the night in the car. It was not too cold and I had food and beer. There was no cell coverage, where I was.

After awaking several times before daybreak, cramped and aching,  a passing 4×4 towed me to Zaroga for P50-00 and a ‘mechanic’ charged me P150-00 to lend me a 9mm spanner to open the carburettor and move a pipe back so that the float could be free. His lucky day!

I arrived in Maun at about 11h30. The Thamalakane River was as high as I had ever seen it. I went straight to the Bon Arrivee restaurant to find the owner, Klaas Boll to ask to use it as a venue for my book signing on the following Sunday. Then I went to the Ngami Times to see Norman Chandler, the editor/owner, to get an advert in about the signing, but he promised an article, instead.


Maun, Botswana.

The quirky little town was still much the same as when I had last visited. Over the next week, I stayed a night here, another two there, with dear old friends, including Mieke and Kokkie van der Post and Becky Collins. There is no place on earth I have more friends in one place, so it was a delight to catch up with them all. Some, like Bonty Botumile and David Tregilges, were able to give me advice on Motswana culture which I was later to weave into the series. Most of all I needed help with details about the Botswana Police and CID. I called on the local station commander and was disappointed to hear that he would not help me without permission from higher up.

He told me to phone the Police Commissioner in Gaborone. I told him not to be ridiculous; the man would not talk to me, but he insisted that the Commissioner was a nice friendly fellow and gave me the number.

I called from the car park, reaching his secretary, expecting to be told not to bother the Man. She put me through. I stuttered an explanation about my research needs, while he listened politely. Then, blow me down, he said he’d assign a Deputy Director to be at my disposal. He told me to give him ten minutes to brief his Deputy, and a number on which to call her!

Which I did, and spoke to Maloti Pauline Gabositwe, Director of the Botswana Police College who was expecting my call. She apologised that she would be busy with a passing-out parade, but would be back in her office on Monday – Could I phone her back then? I asked for her email address and in the following months, and years, I got my every query answered. Amazing! Sometimes it pays to go to the top.

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Visiting Robert James, Maun Senior Secondary School maintenance supervisor, 2009.

I sold some books, gave some away in thanks for being a house guest, and had a fairly successful book-signing.

The old Peugeot gave me some more headaches with a clutch cylinder leak and timing problems, but there were always friendly folk to help overcome these, so when I headed back to South Africa, I had an uneventful trip.

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In May 2009, seeing as I had to take my visiting daughter, Nicci, to Port Elizabeth, there was the opportunity to visit bookshops with the object of encouraging my book sales. At Walmer Park, I took 3 copies of each to Fogarty’s Books in the same complex and Theresa Fogarty took them on consignment. These were the first I had on sale in any bookshops, but I had plans to go further afield. The Cape Town Book Fair was just around the corner.

So on 11 June 2009 I left for Cape Town in my old Peugeot 404, going via Bernie and Kerrie Marriot who had built a home on a smallholding near the Robertson Pass between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay. I dropped off a copy of The Barros Pawns as I had used Bernie’s photo of a parachute on the front cover.


Chris Ashby (RIP)

From there I took the route through Carlitzdorp, Montagu and Bonnievale to the N2; Sir Lowry’s Pass to Somerset West, arriving there in the late afternoon to spend the night at the home of old friend Spine van Niekerk, with whom I had worked in Mozambique way back in 1971.

The next day after breakfast I headed via Muizenberg to Fish Hoek. My brother-in-law, Tom Maling and his wife Shirley had kindly agreed to put me up for the rest of my stay in Cape Town.

Rick Prince, a friend of Bernie’s, who was also writing a novel, phoned to ask to join me at the Cape Town Book Fair. He agreed to pick me up the next day and take me along



We took the Ou Kaapse Weg route over the mountain with its beautiful views over False Bay and down into the City. The Cape Town International Convention Centre was where the Book Fair was on, alongside a Muslim Convention. Robin Stuart-Clark’s stand was C13 and I had to bluff my way in as his phone had been stolen and I could not get hold of him to bring me my author’s entrance ticket. It was weird, and pleasing, to see my books on display there.

I tried to get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks of Wordsworth Books but they told me he would only be coming in the next day. Exclusive Books were not allowing more Vendors so I shall not be selling through them. Clarke’s Books had not received my invoice yet so were not selling The Barros Pawns although they have Purgatory Road on their shelves but had ‘lost’ the invoice for that.  Friend Dirk Versveld, who was proof-reading my next book, the first in the Detective Dice Modise Series, phoned to say that he was on his way just as we were leaving, so I’ll visit him at home tomorrow.

purgatory cov frontHe said there is an article including Purgatory Road in a book review from The Mail & Guardian, under the heading, The Rise of the Slasher. It suggested that the four books the reviewer had lumped together were all jumping on some sort of gory story bandwagon.

On Sunday, I drove the Peugeot to the CTBF on the same route as Rick had taken me the day before. I couldn’t get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks but attended a lecture on self-publishing and met one or two interesting people. In the early afternoon I phoned Dirk and got the directions to his home. What a lovely job he has done in renovating the house from a single storey to a double with a garage beneath it.

The following day, I stood Tom and Shirley to lunch at the fish & chip place called ‘Kalky’s’ in Kalk Bay after we went to see the bookshop there who were not interested in selling my books. Thanks to Tom and Shirley’s persistence, I placed 5 of each with a coffee shop in Fish Hoek and 10 of each with a chain store called The Write Shoppe in the Longbeach Mall which had 4 other branches.

After dropping off the orders at the coffee shop and The Write Shoppe on Tuesday, I got back to Tom’s in time to see Andy, his son, and Colleen arrived. That was a treat because I had missed their wedding there in Cape Town back in February, while holding the fort at home when Sheila and Neil had come down for the event.

By Wednesday evening I was back in Haarlem, not having found any more receptive bookshops for my novels along the way. That was the start of my rather futile attempts at book sales and marketing, but interesting, never-the-less.

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