Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Much Needed Update (and This Weeks' Book Haul)

Hi everyone!

Yes, I know I have been a very bad blogger. But there has been a lot things happening behind the scenes this month that means big things for Paranormalsphere!

Firstly, I am bringing on board a friend of mine, Nandi, who will be assisting in writing reviews of the massive stockpile of books I have managed to accumulate over the past few years. Nandi is a big bookworm herself and we spent many happy hours when we were younger reading in each other's company.

In doing this, I hope that we will be able to provide a constant, fresh stream of reviews of current, upcoming as well as classic novels.

Because of this, I have decided to dedicate more to an old project of mine. Springboeke was created last year to generate more awareness of South African literature. This fell to the wayside due to a lack of time to actually sit down and read and review current literature. Any local stuff just ended up being posted on here instead.

So if you are a local publisher or author looking to get more exposure, please do contact me regarding this! I know Springboeke can amount to great things and I have big plans for it with Nandi's help! Between the two us, there is no genre we won't read.

I am also in talks with Skoobs Theatre of Books to see if we can't get up a blogger networking evening. This is all to raise awareness of bloggers and possibly get some new names on board.

And, being the compulsive book buyer I am, I got the following books over this past weekend:
  • The Hobbit  - JRR Tolkien
  • The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  • Mila 2.0: Renegade - Debra Driza
  • ARC of One Kick - Chelsea Cain
  • The Drowning - Rachel Ward
  • Blood Red Road - Moira Young
I have also pulled the following from by TBR pile for review:
  • Mila 2.0 (reread for the sequel)
  • Shadows by Ilsa J Bick
  • Monsters by Ilsa J Bick
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  • City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
  • Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott
  • Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu
So more than enough to keep me busy!

Nandi also has a hefty pile to get through:
  • Easy by Tammara Webber
  • Time Between Us by Tamara Island Stone
  • Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
  • You Don't Know Me by Sophie Bennett
  • Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Riot by Sarah Mussi
  • Banished by Liz de Jager
So lots coming up this August!

Please do get in touch with us with any suggestions. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Q & A with Greg Lazarus - Authors of Paradise

In the wake of the launch of their new collaborative effort as Greg Lazarus, Paradise, Paranormalsphere had the opportunity to ask local authors Lisa Lazarus and Greg Fried a few questions.

The gorgeous cover of the local edition of Paradise.

Your books have a very international flavour, it occurs to me that a reader from anywhere in the world would instantly identify with your characters, and love what they get up to. Why do you think your characters are so real?
Lisa: Thank you. We like our characters to get themselves into tricky situations that don’t always make them happy. Trying to carve out a little patch of satisfaction in hard circumstances seems like a challenge that resonates with many people.

Greg: We know a character is working if we start talking about her like she’s real, as if she’s our friend or enemy or frenemy or whatever.

You have said that you don't fight when you write together. So what happens when you're not writing?
Lisa: When we’re not writing, we’re arguing about who must look after the kids.

But we’re very pleased we fought a lot after having our first child, because it provided the stimulus for our first book, a memoir called The Book of Jacob, which was about our experience of having a child.

As our children started growing up, our books became lighter. Our first novel, When in Broad Daylight I Open my Eyes, is about a tortured psychologist who meets a strange philosopher – it’s a psychological thriller. I was pregnant when I co-wrote that book so no wonder. Paradise is lighter, funnier – a hopeful look at the world – and guess what, our kids are older, and our lives are slightly more settled.

Greg: But there are limits. Our books will never become serene, because we are not calm.

What do your families think of your books?
Lisa: I don’t think Greg’s mother enjoyed When in Broad Daylight – there was too much perverted sex. However, my parents seemed to like it a lot. They talk wistfully about its contents.

Greg: Yes, we based our characters on Lisa’s parents.

Your novels effortlessly straddle literary and commercial. Do you do that on purpose or is it an accident?
Lisa: Effortlessly!? Nothing is effortless when it comes to writing.

Greg: We love elegantly written, insightful novels that are easy to read. We keep trying to write one.

What are the top things you love about the South African literary scene?
Lisa: Going out for a drink with writer friends and discussing scandalously inappropriate things, and then berating oneself the next day for admitting to something strange, like enjoying gay male erotica (come on: the guys look good in it!).

Greg: I didn’t know you enjoyed that.

Thanks you very much for you time and the all the best with Paradise on our shores and across the pond!

The authors (photo from Books LIVE)

Greg is a philosopher at the University of Cape Town, and holds a PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge. Before taking up a post in philosophy, he worked as an IT consultant and business writer.

Lisa is a psychologist and freelance writer. She has Master’s degrees in educational psychology and creative writing, and a higher diploma in education. She has written for publications including Men’s Health, Femina, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Cape Town’s Child, Psychologies, and Mail & Guardian. Lisa tutors Magazine Journalism and Memoir Writing for SA Writers’ College.

The couple have co-written the memoir THE BOOK OF JACOB: A JOURNEY INTO PARENTHOOD (Oshun,2009) and the novel WHEN IN BROAD DAYLIGHT I OPEN MY EYES (Kwela,2012).

The new Greg Lazarus novel Paradise is out now.  It’s part art heist, part comedy, part adult coming-of-age.

About Paradise:

Maja Jellema is in Cape Town to do what she does best – steal. Her new employer wants a certain item from a building in Loop Street, and the only thing that stands between Maja and her prize is Hershel Bloch, the bumbling building manager. But what seems like the easiest job Maja has ever seen is about to get a whole lot more complicated . . .

Will Maja be able to finish the  job in time to save her no-good brother from large Dutch men with no sense of humour?

Can Hersh turn his topsy-turvy world around before he gets fired from Black Enterprises for being the worst estate agent in the history of the universe?

Will Surita finally make peace with her father and stop using her judo skills on people who just want to hug her?

Can the rage-filled waitresses at The People’s Republic – the greatest socialist coffee shop in all of Cape Town – produce even one cup of coffee without backchat?

Only time will tell. And it’s running out.

“Fast-paced and slickly written, it is both an uproarious comedy about lawlessness and a serious allegory about bondage. Greg Lazarus once again presents a cast of engaging, believable characters, not least of whom is the adorable klutz, Hershel Bloch.” - Finaula Dowling

“Laced with perfectly pitched black humour, and is populated with brilliantly drawn and unforgettable characters.” - Sarah Lotz

Broken Monsters Launch at Exclusive Books Sandton City

I have had the worst luck when it comes to attending Lauren Beukes' book launches. I almost missed this one too, as I only found out the day before thanks to following the publisher, Umuzi on Facebook.

I must say here that Lauren Beukes is absolutely making waves for South African fiction on foreign shores. She is a specialist in crossover genres, mixing the everyday with the macabre. I have been a fan of hers since Moxyland and have obsessively followed her progress and successes since 2008. It has been amazing watching her emerge as a writer and also inspiring for a dreamer like myself.

The launch was held at Exclusive Books Sandton City. They had an impressive collection of Broken Monsters and Lauren's earlier title, The Shining Girls, on display in anticipation of eager fans wanting to purchase and get their books signed.

I arrived early, as I was expecting a good turnout. I wanted to make sure I could meet Lauren and get my collection signed, as any good fangirl would do!

The catering service did a sterling job of providing food for everyone. While we waited I sampled red velvet cupcakes, the most amazing tomato and leek soup and a Thai curry served in cute little containers.

I also got ahead of the queue and asked Lauren to sign my books while we waited for the start. She is so down to earth and approachable. It was wonderful to meet her and have a chat. I even left my marker with her which I had bought especially for the signing as I believe no ballpoint pens should touch the pages of my precious books!

Ben Williams from Sunday Times hosted the discussion. He brought his knowledge of Lauren's work to the table, as well as a wonderful lighthearted manner which lead to an engaging discussion. Naturally, the focus was on Broken Monsters and the creative process behind the book. They touched on the setting of the novel, Detroit, and Lauren commented that it basically is Hillbrow. They spoke about taxidermy, child predators and the human condition. Ben also asked Lauren about writing sex scenes and we got a hint that one of the ideas she is pitching will have even more sex in it! And, of course, murder.

I was fortunate to get to ask Lauren if she had any idea how things would turn out pre-Moxyland. Lauren said that she actually expected success right from the start, but that she is glad things didn't turn out that way as she became a better writer in the process.

 It was a wonderful experience and so inspiring. Now I just need to get tucked into Broken Monsters!

 About Broken Monsters

Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. She’s seen stupidity, corruption and just plain badness. But she’s never seen anything like this.

Clayton Broom is a failed artist, and a broken man. Life destroyed his plans, so he’s found new dreams – of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.

Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city.  And home to a killer who wants to make you whole again…

Out now in South Africa for R200 (reccomended retail price), 31st July in the UK and 16th September in the USA, Broken Monsters is the dark new thriller from the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling The Shining Girls.