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Kathryn White

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

2011, I Love You.

A huge year for me. I made decisions, I moved on, under, in and out. Chose good, bad, was a grown up, a child, a teenager and an adult. Am so incredibly happy with my book, and all who played a role in it. I feel like I have come out of something, left that behind, found a part of me that I have always been looking for. I have no idea what 2012 will be, but I grant myself one wish. More of this please :] x

Things I Thought I Knew – a mini preview

“Before she had the incident, before they drugged her, Lily knew things from the future and saw people from the past. Awake or dreaming, hers was a world seen from its womb where the unborn future was nurtured. And it was there, from the periphery, that she saw Adam waiting. The one.

He awaits her at university, and both instantly know that theirs is an ancient love. It is also a love that fits in no ordinary present. So when events begin to warp her life, drawing family, friends and loves into the swirl, the things Lily thought she knew have lost their power.

Kathryn White’s accomplished second novel is alive with images and language that unlock the door from hard reality to an older world that is charmed, wistful and wise.”

Coming in October 2011.

In Defence of Clique-ee-ness

When I went to Rhodes (one confusing year) the journ lecturers made a lot of noise about New Media. It was all going to be very exciting, they said. I didn’t stay on to finish my BJourn so I don’t know if there was a course called New Media & Ethics. It doesn’t feel like there was. There should be a new list of rules.

As this Information Crappy Bill slides forward more and more of the relevant content will come from online blogs and forums. It’s already happening – journalists looking for content stumble across a bunch of published authors having a public conversation. There it is, all you have to do is Apple C. So why call it cliquey? Why is there this constant admonishment, delivered in a whisper – but BookSA (aka Books Live) is so cliquey.

Of course it is cliquey. Why shouldn’t it be? Go and spend two years writing a book all alone, by yourself, in a world that doesn’t exist (fiction) or mired in the facts of the past and the troubles of the future (non-fiction), then see what it feels like to find an actual person – or ten – who know exactly how you feel. The very nature of being a writer is being an outsider. To have a community is awesome. And why is this clique-factor such a topic? The content is now online, live, available for everyone.

An assumption I have heard more than once: you guys aren’t cool with the Avusa thing at Book SA hey? Er, no. I am cool with it – why do you say this? Well, no one commented. None of the authors have written anything yet …. Er, we don’t post things online anymore because you (sorry, hate to use the “you” thing) make assumptions about what we say and misquote (without recourse), and making no comment is now assumed to show that controversial content and debate is a) being choked by the mandate of AVUSA b) not allowed because it’s not nice enough or c) hell, I don’t know.

This is a conversation I have now had three times with three separate people.

Absolutely no one will ever stop me saying what I want – that is how you land up being published. After your “first book” proudly collated at 7, your first story in the school magazine, your first medal for words, 20 years of kakky diaries, poetry that would make your psychologist laugh, hundreds of thousands of words forgotten in unpublished manuscripts, partners who accuse you of not loving them because you are totally absent (the good ones follow this with a sigh and a plunger of coffee, your fav mug cleaned and presented), etc., believe me when I say: we write what we like.

And in another point – all you have to do is sign your name in and you are welcome to join the conversation. But get your third speaker debating shoes polished, you’re going to need to them …

And remember – be responsible. If you are sourcing content online, quote correctly, and if you are making assumptions and are going to write content around this – phone, ask, email, interview. You know, old school techniques for a new school world.

Autumn 2011

In between novels (that sounds very nice, I think I shall use it as my dinner-party-line-opening. Hello I am Kathryn, people call me Kate and many decide I am actually a Katie. In between novels I x y z)

Let’s start that again:

In between novels I am writing a Food Diary. Being a food DIARY it happens to be true. It’s working out at about 10 000 words a month. About half of that is food – my missteps and victories in the kitchen, meals like I’ll Just Stay at Home & Behave Myself Sirloin with Fresh Plum Sauce and The FML Chicken, Leek & Caramelised Onion Tart – and the other half happens to be my, er, um, love life.

What does one do with real people work? Does one phone up and say hello minor character, I’ve taken you and I wrote about that Tuesday night. Er. My name? Kate. Published under Kath-RYN R. Y. N. Ok bye now. What of the crushes? Hi! So listen, I have used the first initial of your name. I like totally have a crush on you, yeah yeah I know you know, but um, so like I’ve kind of written about that, and it kinda doesn’t work if I take the details out, so like *blind*, yeah I totally have a crush on you.

When writing a diary does one actually write about how much that friend is annoying you? Or the job that is so f-n boring? (Note all these “ones”). Here are some more: What IF one does not fall in love, as one has finally decided one is mature enough to settle down and do (insert laughter here, and ask for 2011-2012 travel itinerary) and the narrative never peaks?? Will one have to change the story?

One does not know the answers to these questions yet, but one is about to brainstorm* a new recipe for cooking today. Oh! And one is very very very excited for the photos and illustrations. One has a 70s cookbook collection – some corkers! – and will be using that step-by-step guide style, as well as super duper close ups of food. One will not be doing it ironically as one was born in 1980 and therefore just managed to be Gen X and one totally thinks irony is lame.

*Brainstorm technique: Why hasn’t anyone put x and y together before? If x goes well with z, maybe y will too.

Links, etc.

This is from Home Away, a compilation of SA writers, edited by Louis Greenberg.

My piece is called I Hate London. Because I do.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/28974831/Home-Away-6-PM-Kathryn-White

This is a review for my first book. There are lots of reviews, but seeing as I got published in the Dark Ages (2007) this one is linked

http://gentlyread.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/the-red-heart-martha-engber-on-kathryn-whites-novel-emily-green-and-me/

It is such a very nice review. Even tho the Canadian lady thought that the heart previously belonged to a black yout’.

Food, Writing & The Year of the Rabbit

Anyone who has seen me in a vest or sleeveless dress will know that I have a rabbit on my righthand shoulder. I have this rabbit for many reasons (none of which were decided when I tattooed my body) but for now this rabbit represents 2011.

After taking some time last year to fulfill an idea that I had had since the wee age of 25 – a non-permanent restaurant – and a few years sitting behind a computer editing my second novel I do declare that I am back to words, to writing – ready, older, wiser and more content than I have been in years.

The food side of things took place as The Mess, a pop-up restaurant with friend Jono Cane. The restaurant popped up (obviously) in different parts of Joburg’s city (un-obviously) and required much manual labour and resulted in a lot of interesting insights into the nature of food, the nature of serving food, the wonderful thing that always, always happens when people break bread (and drink wine) together.

The experience was incredible and very dynamic. Everytime I thought I had a handle on what was going on, the feeling mutated. Overall, I was reminded that Joburg is made up of the most incredible people, that we truly are the best city in the world. It was something I had wanted to do for so very long and it wouldn’t have been possible without my friend Jono – who is an incredible cook and will continue to make food for people – but for for now, Mess is not popping up – I need to do final edits on my book and have another little project that I am excited to actualise.

The editing side was for my second novel Things I Thought I Knew. I was super pissed off with myself that it took so long, but I have realised something rather lovely.

The story centres around a girl who is psychic – she knows everything, she knows what will happen in her life, who she will marry, when she will die.

The problem is that Lily goes mad, has a good n proper nervous breakdown and can no longer trust what she considered to be her guiding reasons, her convictions, her Self.

Throughout this experience – the book spans thirty years – she has two men in her life, lovely jockish Garth and moody aquiline Adam. When she starts recovering she has to figure out whether she still knows the things she thought she knew.

My point in writing this text was that we don’t know anything. In real life I had turned 27 and my entire world imploded. Everything I had assumed was utter bollocks. Such was the nihilism that I experienced, I had decided that I had fabricated a reality, a beautiful life that may never have existed.

And herein lies the beauty. The text was supposed to iterate the above point – we don’t know a single thing. But because it took me so long to write I remembered something – I had my very own anamnesis. We do know things. There are some irrefutable occurrences that your actual being, your gut, your whatever you want to call it, truly utterly and deeply knows will or will not happen. That you are totally and utterly right about. All you have to do is close your eyes and really, really ask.

I am not sure what Things I Thought I Knew is going to feel like to a reading public. I also don’t know how I will feel about it in the next year and the one after that. All I know is that I am glad to have had this experience – to have entered a text mad and confused and come out of it with a sense of faith, a feeling that we are never entirely lost, we are never entirely alone, that our very –ness will always be there.

Things I Thought I Knew
will be out in October, published by my wonderful publishers Random House Umuzi (with much love to Frederik and Fourie).

Laters, K

Ban’Quet: bring a Mixtape & boogie

Just been informed we can have a dancefloor at Kelvin on Saturday, so not only will we be having a banquet and drinking alcohol, but writers, publishers and poets who are not afraid of being judged can get ready to shake their jazz hands, get down to the groove, boogie it up, twist out, throw a ho’ down (any nominations?) or – if you’re Helen and you’d like to show off your mad skillz – breakdance to the maximillian.

If u see this in time please bring a mixtape (in CD format) so that we have some tjunes for the aforementioned. methinks im going to make us an 80s compilation.

Look up from your text.

The date for the Book SA Ban’Quet is officially set:
At 14th November 2009.
More details to follow online.

Almost Done

It’s amazing how mad writing can make you. Sometimes it as easy as sleeping – subconscious, peaceful – and dreaming – lucid, apparent. Of course, sometimes it hurts. And frustrates. And makes you want to throw things. Or me. Sometimes it is not good enough for ages. And ages. And ages again. Then suddenly (I say the word in jest) it is. Click. Click. Click. And then you can make that cup of tea that you have been promising yourself as a reward, as if the four-year-old inside is still coercible. She is.

And now, near the end the vulnerability surfaces. When the first draft is laid down I just write. If I can’t be brave and honest then my voice will sound like yours and yours. It’s kinda scary, but I don’t ask, I just write. The second, I notice what the story is. Spot some themes, ignore them. Erase sections and characters that became nothing. Take out rants. Change settings. Close travel time. (It seems here art imitates life, I spend so much time in airports, stations and waiting rooms that I write them in to my MS). Third I usually change narrators according to what would be most appropriate, i.e. i think about it and decide (I say usually because I have other MSs that have been discarded). Fourth, language. This time I am on a The Shipping News and Inheritance of Loss pluk. Obv, I won’t sound anything like them, but the point here is care. And poetry in words. I realised I prefer studying poetry. Now i am on my Fifth & Final Draft. Cleaning up. Making sure themes are tight, motifs flow, leitmotifs are in place/thematically correct/ not overlapping (for e.g. I gave both Nice Guy and Dream Guy “gravel” beards. Dream Guy got to keep his).

Cue aforementioned vulnerability. The worries. This is very presumptuous of me. And. I am so obvious, I can see my oeuvre in 40 years time. Also, will it be good enough, will I ever be good enough, what the fuck is good enough? Is it perfect yet? No. It’s not. Definitely not. Should I submit it if it is not perfect. Another: oh god, I am so not looking forward to the conversation: Oh wow, you wrote about my mother. Or, so that guy – that’s me? It’s all about you and me, isn’t it. And: I never knew you understood Post-Colonial Theory, you haven’t even got a degree (oh fuck off). And: that scene, like near the book, that must have happened for you to write about it. (Er, no, I am a professional imagineer). And again: I am not so sure how I feel about the way you depicted my father. (Excuse me). And more! I can’t believe you feel that way about x, y z. It’s a book, it’s made up, it’s all bollocks. And yet, it’s not, is it.

I’m glad this is not a competition

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – x
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – x
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte – x
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling -
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – x
6 The Bible -
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwel – x
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – x
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Total: 7

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy – x
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier – x
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien – x
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger – x
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger – x
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot –

Total: 5

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell -
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald – x
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens -
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams –
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck -
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – x
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame – x

Total: 3

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy –
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens-
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis -
34 Emma-Jane Austen –
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen –
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis -
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini -x
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden- x
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne – x

Total: 3

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell -x
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown -x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – x
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving -
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery – x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy -x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – x
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding – x
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan – x

Total: 8

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel – x
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen – x
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth – x
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens – X
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon – x
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez – x

Total: 7

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck –
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov -x
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt – x
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas -
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding – x
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie – x
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Total: 4

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – x
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett – x
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson – x
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray -
80 Possession – AS Byatt – x

Total: 4

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens – x
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker – x
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry -
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White -x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom –
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton – x

Total: 4

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad – x
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery -
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks -x
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams -x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole-
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare – x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl – x
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Total: 5

Grand Total: 50. Pwah! What a silly list. (It’s the beeb’s list, 2003 i think).
Your turn: No xs (or disclaimers) for books not finished (or even in the process of reading), or for books to read, or for series half finished, or i’m sure i must’ve read its.