A few of Amy Heydenrych’s favourite things

Amy Heydenrych The Pact

I had coffee with Amy Heydenrych at the Service Station last Monday and she oh-so-casually mentioned that it was the day her book, The Pact was coming out in the United States. This is A BIG DEAL, we should’ve been drinking champagne, but as we both had horrendous deadlines we were chasing, that wasn’t going to happen, so it was cappuccinos all round and some delish literary goss with fave, Kate Rogan from Love Books. I then asked Amy if she would tell me about a few of her favourite things, and so she did. Here are her recommendations…

Favourite restaurants in Joburg?

The other night I went to Momo Kuro on Keyes Avenue on a date night with Rhys (her husband). We sat outside and ate a gorgeous selection of bao buns, edamame and dim sum with a view over Johannesburg. It’s the closest I’ve felt to travelling to another city since lockdown.

Favourite coffee shops?

The Service Station
The Service Station

Service Station, hands down. I edited Shame on You there, wrote The Pact there and have written/edited large parts of my first book there.

They know my coffee and breakfast order by heart, and their harvest table is back – I don’t know if it’s because I’ve missed it so much but the salads are out of this world.

Favourite deli?

Um…Giovanni’s in Cape Town, I visit it with the reverence of a tourist going in a cable car up Table Mountain. I haven’t found a deli in Joburg which is quite the same, but I do love Super Sconto for their selection of Italian goods and panini’s upstairs.

Favourite bookshops?

Most of them? Love Books for literary gems, Exclusive Books for extended browsing and drinking coffee at Seattle, watching the people go by, Readers Warehouse because of their amazing support of local authors and Bookdealers for magical second hand finds.

Favourite TV shows?

Giri-Haji, Succession, Call my Agent (if anyone is watching anything like these, please let me know!)

Favourite places to exercise?

I’m really into running right now, so I’m mostly enjoying running big loops around Greenside, Parkview and around The Johannesburg Zoo.

Favourite beauty salons?

Nails on Ashwold in Saxonwold is such a find – a salon owned by the nail technicians themselves, all run in a beautiful garden.

Any beauty tips you want to share?

Smash the patriarchy. Wear sunglasses so that others can’t see the flickering embers of optimism go out in your eyes. Stay hydrated. (Bwahahahahahaha!!)

Favourite designers?

My sister’s new brand Byro, is making beautiful, accessible fashion for women, children and men in such luxurious fabrics. I’m either wearing one of her dresses or Anmari Honiball.

Favourite place(s) to go on holiday in Southern Africa. What is it you love so much about the particular region?

Riet River Eastern Cape the view from Amys house
Riet River

I adore the Eastern Cape. I went to University there and left some of my soul in the region. We recently went to Riet River, close to Port Alfred, a tiny little spot perfect for a rambling beach holiday.

Favourite mode of travel? Roadtrips/rail/bus/plane/private jet 😉

Train!! I’ve travelled on a train across Rajasthan and done many British Rail trips. The gently unfolding landscape is one of my favourite sights. I wrote the last chapter of The Pact on a train ride to Cambridge. 😊

Favourite way of spoiling yourself when you’re away?

Cooking lessons with local chefs. A wonderful aunty in Udaipur taught me how to make roti and masala while I was on holiday in India. A big travel dream of mine is to learn how to make pasta and gelato somewhere in Italy.

Any plans for the Easter hols?

We’re going to Tsitsikamma for my dad’s birthday, a trip we had to postpone last year as lockdown hit.

Favourite reads for the hols?

I’m dying to read Sarah Pearse’s The Sanitorium. I’ll also be finishing up George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond at Midnight.

Tell us what The Pact is about.

The book launch cake
The book launch cake

A young woman, Freya, starts an exciting dream job at a start-up. From her first day, she is victimised and subtly bullied by a female colleague.

One night, it gets too much and she plays a drunken prank on her colleague. The next day, she is found dead and Freya receives a text message indicating that somebody knows what she did, and that she is next.

Your second book basically came out as the pandemic hit. Talk us through what that means for an author.

Amy signing books at WH Smith at Victoria Station. Photo cred Emma Taylor
Amy signing books at WH Smith (Photo: Emma Taylor)

It’s funny, I never thought of my book that way because it came out a few weeks before the pandemic, but you’re actually right! It didn’t have very long to be on shelves in South Africa, and not many people knew it was released.

I don’t focus on the negative side of things, but I do feel it’s taken away so much of the celebration of being an author.

As authors we spend most of our days in isolation and the months following a launch are when you get to go into the world, engage with others and celebrate your book becoming this tangible thing.

I missed the festivals and can’t wait for the social side of books to start up again.

It’s AMAZING that it’s been published in the US. Where can people there get hold of it?

Everywhere! But I would recommend ordering it through your local bookstore – it’s a great way to support them, and to get the word of my book out there.

Where can fans in SA get your book? Are there signed copies available?

There are usually signed copies to be found in Readers Warehouse – otherwise, ask for it at your local Exclusives or independent bookstore. Takealot and Loot have copies too. Again, I always appreciate the support!

Favourite piece of writing advice?

Just write. Get that first draft done as quickly as possible so you can start editing, editing and editing again.

What’s next for you? What are you busy working on at the moment?

I’m finishing up the latest draft of my third novel for my agent, and I’m also editing a secret project I worked on with three incredible, hilarious female authors during lockdown.

Thank you so much for taking part in Friday Reads – may The Pact fly off those American bookshelves!! Xxx

Ps…When The Pact was launched just over a year ago, I bought two copies of the book (as I do) – one for myself and one for my niece, Kiara Power Mulhall, an avid reader who was expecting her twins at that point. I was hoping to give the book to my brother and SIL to give to her (they live in the UK but were going to stop in SA before they headed to Perth for the birth of the twins.) Sadly, they never got there because of Lockdown and they have yet to meet the gorgeous twosome who are now nearly a year. It makes me very sad to even write that. That my poor niece has not had her parents with her during this special time and that my brother and SIL have yet to meet their first grandchildren. Luckily, she has the most fantastic husband and brilliant inlaws…but still ☹.

Kiaras signed copy of The Pact
Kiara’s signed copy of The Pact

Kiks, here is the book I was going to send you, signed by the author. One day I will get it to you ❤️️