Highlights of #FLF23

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So many lovely things happened in the three days I was in Franschhoek, dear reader that it would be a looooong, boring tome if I had to tell you all of them. And before people start coming for me and I get cancelled on Booktok can I just say that ALL moments at #FLF23 were special but the ones I’m writing about this week were EXTRA-SPECIAL moments.

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To start with, my cousin, Mary whom I haven’t seen since I was at Franschhoek in 2018 suddenly turned up before my panel on Friday with her husband, Pete. We had an emotional moment where she thanked me for writing the Shitfaced book and said how it gave her insight into our shared history as cuzzies. It was verrrry cool.

It was great to FINALLY meet Joy Watson, the discussant for our panel and to reconnect with friend, Sara-Jayne Makwala King. I was so tired from all the excitement and getting up at dawn’s crack for my flight that I can only hope I made some sense.

After the panel, I got to chat to Lynita Crofford, a Cape Town based actress who will be turning the Shitfaced book into a one woman show so ja…watch out for Shitfaced the play coming to a theatre near you soon soon. Actually, I don’t know how soon it will be, I just made that up. Still, look out for it though.

It was an embarrassment of riches on the Friday evening as I had not ONE but TWO parties to go to. We watched the most spectacular sunset at Dieu Donné where the Jonathan Ball Party was being held and I got to meet members of the team I’d only met virtually before so that was fabulous plus I got to spend quality time with my publisher, Annie Olivier.

This was made possible by my date, Qarnita Loxton, who kindly ferried me and bestie Sue Nyathi from this party to the Pan Macmillan SA cocktail party where I first got accosted by bossgirl, Andrea Nattrass who made me feel excessively important when she asked me to sign her copy of Shitfaced. It was lovely catching up with all the mates, especially my former publisher from Penguin, Fourie Botha who is now a fancy literary agent (as well as being a shit-hot poet).

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Last but not least, it was super fun having a glass of wine with James Hendry, Qarnita and Gail Schimmel downstairs in our gorgeous guesthouse La Fontaine. An inordinate amount of nonsense was spoken and the best part, I got to bed early (and made everyone else go to bed too.)

The next day, I thoroughly enjoyed my delish brekkers at our spot (I should mention that our rooms were FABULOUS and I am also very much in love with their purple dressing gowns.) Before our panel, a lady came up to me out of the blue and told me how much she enjoyed the Shitfaced book which really made me feel like a famous author.

Our panel – I was interviewing Schim about her fab new book Little Secrets – was sold out and it went very smoothly. Favourite moments were getting to meet the author of Bloomer Anne Schlebusch – whose book is flying off the shelves, meeting Schim’s gorg friend, Vanessa who kept me entertained all morning with her stories, and also bumping into Penny Haw the author of The Invincible Miss Cust.

I had a book signing to do later in the afternoon at the fab new branch of Wordsworth Books. Sitting and chatting to Veronica Napier who is now the head honcho for marketing for Wordsworth and getting to sign copies of Shitfaced and Chasing Marian was very, very special although we did miss the fourth member of our Awesome Foursome, Amy Heydenrych.

We also discovered a fantastic new shiraz made by Klein Goederus, sooooooo delish.

The great thing about FLF is that you sit having coffee or vino at a café and then start collecting friends as people pass by. So eventually at Wordsworth books, there was Sue Nyathi, Schim, Q, Bruce Dennill, Veronica, Eva Mazza and moi.

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Eventually – wine glasses in hand – we all went to the apartment where Eva and Sue were staying and where Eva treated us to a truly hilarious story about XXX [redacted]. I can’t tell you what it was about, wait for the book.

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We then went off to have pizzas with the Pan Mac contingent (it pays to be a ho who’s been published by EVERYONE) and I got to reconnect with old mate, Nkanyezi Tshabalala also from my Penguin days and new friend, Zodwa Kumalo-Valentine. Later on, Schim and I drank tea around the fire with Mandy Weiner who has a fabulously dry sense of humour and a great What the fuck expression when she thinks someone’s talking crap. Also, the lovely peeps at La Fontaine didn’t even charge us for our tea which gave me the warm fuzzies.

The next day it was time to say goodbye, I took an uber into Cape Town where I got to have lunch at Forries (Forestors Arms) with my beloved lastborn who suddenly seems very grown-up and sophisticated. Then it was back to the airport where I was very chuffed to see such a cool display of the shitfaced book at Exclusive Books Cape Town International.

But the loveliest moment of all was getting home to the husband and my cats and having a long, hot, bath.

HUGE, huge thank you to the organisers of the Franschhoek Literary Festival, to the sponsors, to Exclusive Books and Wordsworth Books, to Jonathan Ball and to Pan Macmillan SA and especially to the hosts of our gorgeous guesthouse, La Fontaine who looked after us so beautifully. BIG mwah to you all.

If you are now feeling green with envy and hard-done-by cause you couldn’t make it to the festival, do not despair, it is the Kingsmead Book Fair tomoz. I will be appearing on two panels with authors who have written THE MOST FABULOUS books. It is a lovely day out so please do join us.

You can check out the adult programme HERE and buy tickets HERE. There is also a young adult programme and a children’s programme, and there will be delicious coffee, wine and food on sale plus Exclusive Books will be there so there’s something for everyone.

See you there!

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Ps…there is a new podcast hosted by authors, Fiona Snyckers and Gail Schimmel called The Hidden Lives of Writers starting on Monday, 29th. You can find it HERE.

The Hidden Lives of Writers