Qarnita Loxton writes novels that are so warm and funny and clever and relatable, just kinda what we need right now, so I was thrilled when I heard that she has a new book out. It’s the fourth in the Being series and it’s called Being Dianne. She chatted to me about her book and about some of her fave things. Enjoy!
Favourite restaurants in Cape Town?
Pandemic life means that right now my best restaurants are the ones close by with outside dining spaces. Local favourites in Melkbosstrand, where I live, are The Hart, I Love Melkies and Melkbos Kitchen. Good food and great sea views.
Favourite coffee shops?
Uhhhhh, same as number 1! Yeah, I don’t travel far from home these days and Melkbos is a small town. Generally I’m not very fussy about coffee shops though – if it’s got an outside space, a friend who doesn’t mind the weather, and a little bit of a view – then I will totally love it. I don’t do that many coffee dates anymore ( plus caffeine makes me crazy) but I do a lot of walk-and-talk dates.
Oh my Gawd, it’s an ambush, revealing all! I like to be in control of myself so it’s rooibos tea, no milk, no sugar, as my go-to drink. Boring AF.
I live on the West Coast of Cape Town, about 40km’s from the city, and there aren’t many delis. There is not even Mr Delivery or UberEats, much to my children’s disgust. I do love Giovanni’s and Newport Deli on the Atlantic Seaboard side of Cape Town (also it reminds me of when I was younger and lived that side and dinner was often courtesy of these two spots).
This is much easier. The Book Lounge in Cape Town and Books.books.books in Melkbosstrand. Both are independently owned, really go the extra mile for customers and have supported me so much. Of course I also have a soft spot for any book shop that stocks my books!
Favourite TV shows?
I am the worst. I can remember what I am currently watching and then I am totally absorbed in it and watch it obsessively. Ask me what I watched last week? No clue. Currently I’m on season 3 of The Good Doctor on Netflix. I close my eyes when they do the surgeries.
Favourite gyms/hikes/yoga studios/surfing spots?
VERY *NB* I am not a naturally sporty spice. But in my 30’s I realised that physical stuff (especially outdoors) helps me live in the moment, gets me out of my head and into my body which I need so that I don’t go mad. This is coming from the kid who used to avoid all PE at school, so it’s been quite a revelation. Right, So … I don’t do gym. Love a hike anywhere but the rest of the family not so much, so it doesn’t happen too often. Still a wuss for indoor group exercise so no recommendations on yoga studios! I do Zoom Pilates which makes my stomach cramp something terrible since the instructor, Amanda, makes us turn our cameras on and there is nowhere to hide. My go-to for solving everything in my head is a run outside, preferably where I can see the sea, but no technical trails since I’m a klutz and will fall over my own feet. Favourite run is from Mouille Point to Camps Bay.
Absolute Best for fun is surfing! I’m not very good and haven’t been doing too much of it recently (yeah pandemic, and I wasn’t a ‘it’s-our-right-to-surf’ protester in case you were wondering.) Local spot is Big Bay which is 10 minutes down the road, and I go with other women friends who care more about the number of laughs than the actual number of waves caught.
A few weeks ago I sucked up the hour drive to Muizenberg. The waves there are much kinder to beginners than Big Bay and I wanted to get some confidence back. Miracle of miracles I caught a wave from the back line!!
As I was whooping myself on, fellow author, Melissa Volker entered the water. How she recognised me I don’t know because I’m basically a neoprene ninja in full wetsuit, booties, gloves and a hat plus we’ve never met IRL. But I was so happy when I realised who it was and my adrenalin was pumping that once I got dumped off I rushed over and hugged her right in the water. She tweeted about it and I LOVED her for it – it was evidence that I actually caught a wave.
I didn’t try surfing until I was 42 and every wave I catch makes me feel like a kid so I keep going. Right now I’m also trying the cold water sea dips ala Wim Hof and loving it. And since we’ve moved onto a golf estate, I’m giving golf a go. My swing is not bad, but also not good.
Favourite beauty salons?
Don’t have one.
Wade & Co! Wade makes everything better, an absolute hair magician.
Tell us your favourite place(s) to go on holiday in Southern Africa. What is it you love so much about the particular region/resort?
Knysna / Garden Route is a favourite for me. I love that everything is so green and lush and that it’s not too far from home. When the big kids were little we did a lot of family holidays in Knysna so it always has good memories for me.
Favourite way of spoiling yourself when you’re away?
It’s been such a long time since we’ve properly been away I almost can’t remember. I do know that I like reading all the magazines I can buy, and I take a pile of books that I never finish. My husband reminded me that I like to try out the run routes closest to where we are and mostly I spend my time annoying everyone by making them do things and go places when they want to relax.
Who are your go-to authors that you like to read on holiday?
I don’t have a go-to author as such, for me going on holiday is about catching up with all the TBR books that I’ve been staring down. Anything goes.
Any current favourite reads you want to recommend?
I have a few that I’ve really enjoyed recently. See photo!
What is the new book about?
Being Dianne is the last in the series of four books about four friends and situations they face. Dianne is divorced but for the sake of her two daughters she lives next to her ex-husband, sharing a joint double garden. It has been good for the girls but she is struggling with feeling stuck. Her post-divorce romances have stalled: Andile, her lover turned friend, and Faye, her secret Tinder date turned sometimes lover. Both Andile and Faye want more but Di is not sure what she wants. Her daughters were not happy with the idea of her with a boyfriend and she is not sure how they will react if she has a girlfriend. When Dianne’s eldest daughter deals with homophobia at school, Dianne is faced with wanting to be honest about who she is. The book tells of how she decides what to do and what the fallout is around her decision.
Explain your writing process for this book.
What is it like writing a series? Will this be the last one? I had the idea for Dianne brewing for a while and started writing it as part of Mike Nicol’s 2020 Masterclass. Most of the actual writing happened as we were going through the awfulness of lockdown and beyond. Focussing on it kept me sane and it took me nearly the whole year to finish the manuscript which I submitted to Kwela in December 2020. It was actually great writing a series – as each book is focused on a different character it gave me the opportunity to really explore each protagonist. As the story lines follow each other there was also a chance to see how the characters changed and developed and how the friendships evolved between them over time.
Will there be a book launch? Details of that (:D).
There will be an Exclusive Books Online Launch on Tuesday 28 September with Pamela Power. You’ve obviously heard of her! She is the absolute best there is (bwahahahahaha!) Pamela was one of the very first writers I met when Being Kari was launched and she supported me right from the start.
Where can fans get your book? Will there be any signed copies available?
Books are available at all good bookstores like Exclusive Books, Bargain Books, Wordsworth Books and independent shops. Also available online from Takealot, Loot and Raru and as an e-book on Kindle. I will be making signed copies available from qarnitaloxton.com soon.
Favourite piece of writing advice?
“Write something that is interesting to you, that you would want to read.” I can’t remember exactly where it came from but the idea is that you are going to be working on it for such a long time that the idea must be compelling to you.
What’s next for you? What are you busy working on at the moment?
I’ve been writing a bit slower this year than in 2020 but I’m looking forward to our project that we cooked up in the very dark of lockdown with Amy Heydenrych and Gail Schimmel. It is a fun uplifting novel about four friends, and will be published by Pan Macmillan in 2022. I’ve got another idea for a new novel but it’s still in the brewing stage.
2021 has been a shitty year (it was like 2020 said ‘hold my beer’) but do you have a favourite moment?
In the midst of all the shitty-ness I’ve had some very good moments that I am very grateful for – it’s as if the good moments become more intense because of the shitty-ness. But stand-out moments are when my husband got his first vaccine and then when I could also get mine not too long after. Seeing Being Dianne in print for the first time was also an emotional moment for me – it was surreal after working so hard on it in the dark days of 2020 to actually hold it in my hands in 2021. I wanted to do a cool ‘unboxing’ video so got my husband to record me opening the Kwela courier bag, but then I ended up crying when I saw Being Dianne! That taught me for trying to do cool stuff for Insta 😊
Thank you, lovely Qarnita for taking part in Friday Reads, she totally makes me want to be a cool, surfer chick (never going to happen, but I can dream…)
I loved the book, and I will be chatting to Qarnita about it on Tuesday, 28th September at 6pm. If you want to join us, follow the link here to register and in the meantime, buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend, it’s only 302 SA ronts at Exclusives and if you haven’t read the first three – just buy the whole series. Happy reading! xxx