L and I spent a few hours at the Cape Town book fair yesterday and managed to hear author Jodi Picoult howling like a wolf with her son Jake (in addition to talking about her novels). She was down-to-earth, enthusiastic and quite refreshing in her approach to writing. I’ve not yet read one of her novels but I enjoyed watching My Sister’s Keeper. It was interesting to hear her account of trying to have a discussion with the director about why they changed the ending. Apparently he basically hung up on her and then refused to speak to her on the set when she tried to speak to him about it there. (Needless to say, he won’t be directing any more movies based on one of her novels.)
When I first heard about these issue-based novels of hers, I though the idea was suspect. Doesn’t it just sound a little contrived to choose a whole bunch of contentious issues and base your novels on them? Well it did to me. But I liked the way that she explained that. From what I can remember of the discussion it had to do with being a mother and wondering about all the things that can go wrong with your child and then exploring those things from the inside out. I also liked her comment that you can edit a bad page but you can’t edit a blank one. Having three kids of her own, she found that she had to squash her writing into any time available. Sounds pretty exhausting.
But getting back to the novels and the discussion (she was in conversation with the SA editor of O magazine, Samantha Paige), the best part for me was hearing her account of the novel she is writing at the moment (which is due out in 2011). It’s called Sing you home and it’s about gay adoption. Well that’s one of the issues. The book will be accompanied by a CD with each song title being the title of a chapter (with Picoult herself writing the lyrics). How’s that for self-belief? I’m almost a little surprised that she didn’t write and perform the music herself. But she makes an excellent point in saying that once you’ve heard someone’s story and heard them expressing their emotions in a heartfelt way, it’s much more difficult to judge them. And of course when you’re dealing with a subject like gay adoption (and related fertility issues) then the religious right has a lot to say about that.
We also wandered around looking at the various stalls and L bought a kid’s book for her niece (Abby’s Aquarium) and I got pressured into buying a book on children’s health in South Africa. I already have a pile of books to take to Darfur (more on this next time) so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything else. But it was great to see so many new titles and to see the crowds that always turn out for these events. Of course I’m not really a fan of crowds but at least there were no vuvuzelas! And the bar-one ice-cream was excellent.
I’m happy to report that I’m feeling a lot better about my upcoming trip to Darfur. I’m still heading off in early September and I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be coming back (hopefully the end of November) but I’m far more relaxed about it. I didn’t make one call about it in the past week or so and I’ll start worrying again about the slow process of my passport and visa applications from tomorrow.
I’m also still not ready to tell you about my and L’s news just yet. That will have to wait for another few weeks. But things are looking good and we had our respective parents over for brunch on Sunday. L cooked up some delicious muesli and I even tried to make some marmite biscuits (since L likes marmite). It was only after I’d put them in the oven that I realised that I was supposed to add two egg yolks to the flour / butter mixture and so the biscuits were more blobs than anything else. And quite rich considering the amount of butter that went in there. I still had fun making them though. And no, that was not what we served the parents. We gave them some yummy fruit salad with yoghurt and muesli; croissants with jam and cheese; eggs, bacon and sausage and some coffee to finish off. The parents got on extremely well and L’s parents have already been invited for lunch at Betty’s.