But first little about Coffee at Little Angels:
"Phillip, Sarah, Kaitlyn, Caleb, Maxine, Grant, Melanie and Josh grew up in a small town where they spent their high school years together as an inseparable clique. But high school has ended, and they are all living their own “grown up” lives, each under the impression that their group has basically come to an end. When Phillip dies in a hit and run accident, Kaitlyn summons the others to all come back home, forcing a reunion that no one is particularly interested in partaking in.
Coffee at Little Angels follows how each character deals with the death of a childhood friend while at the same time dealing with their own ignored demons after years of separation. Events unfold as the group tries to rekindle the friendship they once shared to honour the memory of a friend they will never see again."
Where did the idea for the book come from?
A couple of years ago (and by a couple I think I might mean as many as six or seven, but I can’t be sure) I lost an old high school friend in a car accident. I was devastated of course. This boy gave me my first kiss, he bruised my heart a couple of times, he provided wonderful friendship, endless headshakes, a friend and I even fought over him constantly – all those silly small-town dynamics were there. He had the most beautiful blue eyes you have ever encountered. He was sweet. He was charming. And he is possibly the only person who ever made me swear to him that I would never change. And then he died. And that just seemed ridiculous because…well…death is just kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? Someone who used to be there just isn’t anymore. And I couldn’t escape the fact that he didn’t really have to be dead for me. He could just be in my past. Like a whole bunch of other people who I never see anymore, but who I care about as people who were once upon a time part of my life. If I didn’t think about how I would never see him again, then it wouldn’t be so terrible. At least not for me. The book is not about him. The relationships you find in that book are not relationships that ever existed. But it was just the idea. The idea of how much harder it would have been if he had died just a couple of years earlier. Really it was just an idea that came out of trying to process something that I wasn’t sure how to respond to at the time.
Which character in your book became your favorite? (and why?)
This is such a tough question because each time someone asks me that I instinctively reach for a different character. I think Grant and Maxine are probably my real favourites though. They have all these wonderful qualities that are completely missing from my genetic make-up. Grant is so easy going, but without being flippant or ignorant, and Maxine gets on with things confidently despite her bruised emotional state. Honestly, I always wondered if what Maxine did at the end of the book wasn’t just ridiculous. She kind of insisted on doing it though, so I let her, but it’s the one part of the book that I have questioned more than once. Would people understand that it had to be that way? Just because? And then the other day I happened to watch an episode of Private Practice (episode 4 of season 4 if you are curious) and the ending of that episode made me realize that I had done right by Maxine. Every fiber of my being fought against what happened in that episode, and I suddenly understood why my story had instinctively gone the way did.
Why did you choose to leave out all locations out of your story?
I didn’t initially set out to do that. I thought about writing about my actual home town, but the place in my head wasn’t “home” it was simply this generic anywhere place and I couldn’t shake it. So I decided to make it nowhere. And I decided to make the characters nobody. I thought that the hearts and emotions were the important part of the story, so I allowed that to take center stage. A reviewer complained the other day that the story is “so obviously South African because of the racism issue” and I kind of wanted to laugh because I’m pretty sure she has never been to South Africa and knows nothing about what it is to actually be a South African. The racism was a “small mind” thing. It wasn’t a South African thing. Racism exists everywhere. Turn on Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer and then try to tell me it only exists here. I didn’t want to write that kind of book. I didn’t want to writer another post-apartheid South-Africa-is-a-dreadful-place kind of book. I wanted to write my book. And I did.
How do you write, pieces here and there or follow from beginning to the end? (and why?)
Very much a bit of both. The book I am working on right now is a jumble of mixed up pieces of paper. I wrote it random chapters at a time. I am dreading the editing process! But I did write Little Angels from start to finish without jumping around. I did write a couple of random chapters afterwards, but they never made it into the book. As for why… I don’t know why. I kind of let my instincts take over if I can manage to let go of the control aspect of things. I have learnt that if I let myself do what I want to do then I am more likely to get somewhere. If I slog through chapter one which I am hating at this particular moment, I can skip it for now and write chapter two so long, or I can continue to stare at chapter one and never actually get any further. If chapter two is done, then I am quite likely to feel a little more eager about completing chapter one. Does that make sense? I sound like a child, don’t I?
Where does your inspiration to write come from?
I have absolutely no idea. It’s just there. Ideas for things often come from the strangest places, and mostly when you’re not looking for any new ones. I’m actually at a point where a new idea is just annoying because I haven’t yet managed to do justice to all the old ideas yet. I am still playing catch up.
What are your 5 favorite books – and why?
The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler This was the first book I ever finished and thought this is my favourite book. I read this book for the first time when I was 19 and I was thinking about writing as a career for the first time. It was a fantasy at that time, of course, and I knew being a writer was impractical and just ridiculous, but I read this book and fell in love. I think it was the first time I read something where the story was about the characters, and not the story. I absolutely love books with extra special characters. I don’t really care what the storyline is. As long as I want to take those characters and have them around for dinner, I will love the book.
How to Be Good – Nick Hornby Gosh I don’t even know where to start. I just got this book, in this crazy bizarre sleep-with-it-under-my-pillow kind of way. I was already a Hornby fan when I read it, but as far as I am concerned this was his greatest novel.
The Hotel New Hampshire – John Irving Irving is brilliant. His intelligence is irreproachable. Someone asked me why I don’t aspire to write like him if I think he is so god-like. I can only giggle! This book has a character who is so insecure with her appearance that she spends her days in a bear suit. It’s madness! The man is pure genius.
One for my Baby – Tony Parsons Just read the piece called Eat the Cold Porridge before chapter one in the book. It’s the most beautiful piece of writing I have ever encountered.
The Little Friend – Donna Tartt There’s a piece in this book that describes how the neighborhood children collected money to pay for a new stained glass window in the church in honour of a child who was murdered. It’s amazing. If I remember correctly it’s on page 45. Wow!
What’s next after “Coffee at Little Angels”?
I’m currently working on a novel called The Tequila Thursday Writing Club. It’s in baby phase but I hope something will come of it. Otherwise I will be picking up where I left off on The Poetry Project (http://www.thepoetryproject.co.za/). It is currently feeling very neglected!
Thanks again for having me here today! I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!
Thank you Nadine for taking time for the Interview!
Read My ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Review for Coffee At Little Angels HERE. "The story grabs you right away and doesn't let go, you get invested in the story and the lives of these 8 high school friend grown up. It opens brilliantly with Phillip's account on the very last morning of his life."