Thuli Ngcobo is fresh out of hotel school and works at the Clearwater Suite Hotel in Natal Midlands. She dreams about managing her own Bed and Breakfast.
Love isn’t part of her life plan but the arrival of the gorgeous Jake Mkhize throws her into a world far removed from her own threatening to test her zulu values and traditions.
“Lights, Camera, Love” is Bronwyn Desjardin’s first book and is available at selected CNA Stores, make sure you get your copy.
Interview with Bronwyn Desjardins
How did you hear that your book was accepted for publishing, tell us where you were and what you were doing?
I was at home and I was sent an email with a letter of congratulations and a contract to complete. It was all very official and very exciting.
What was your reaction to the news?
I was so excited and petrified too as I thought, “You mean I actually have to write a whole book. I don’t know if I can do this.”
Was this your first attempt at writing or have you experienced rejection from publishers? If you have been rejected, how did you handle that?
Yes, this was my first attempt at a novel. I guess you could say I was one of the lucky ones. Only problem is, now I’m afraid it won’t happen again and that maybe I’m just one of those “one hit wonders”. However, I did show some of my poetry to my Matric English teacher and he wrote me a very scathing letter which put an end to my writing for years.
Where did the inspiration for “Lights, Camera, Love” come from?
It came from my own experience as a receptionist at the hotel where Anand Singh was staying when he was filming Sarafina. I asked myself, “Where would a young woman meet a rich man?” Then I recalled my time at the hotel and it all fell into place after that.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
Thuli is my favourite character. She is so honest and authentic. She doesn’t play games and stays true to her values. She also has internal dialogues that I feel represent those of most women regardless of their background. She also has a sense of humour I could relate to.
You are a mom to two kids, a wife, a teacher and a writer. How do you fit all of this into a day?
It is very difficult. I am someone who works best under pressure and I managed to write the novel in four months but I was only teaching part-time then. Besides, when you’re passionate about something, you don’t notice the time.
Now, you are South Africa’s latest chick-lit Author and I would imagine that behind this incredible woman, is an incredible man. Tell us about him and how did you meet.
Thank you for the compliment. I will have been married for twelve years on 9 April. I met my husband in 1992 at university. I knew from the moment I saw him, before we even spoke, that I would marry him – it was a gut instinct. We were friends for three months before he finally kissed me, and it was worth the wait! We’ve been together for just over eighteen years. He is a French-Mauritian with a Swiss-German mother. He is honest, loyal and has a great sense of humour. He keeps me on a long lead. He is very encouraging but is quick to bring me back to reality when necessary.
With your busy schedule, when do you get time to read, which authors do you prefer and why?
I don’t get much time to read and I generally have anything from five to eight books next to my bed at any given time. I read books on education, on writing, and inspirational books. My favourite authors include Henry James, Paul Auster, Michel Faber, Carl Hiaasen, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, J. M. Coetzee, Magnus Mills, to name a few.
Do you write regularly or when the fancy takes you?
I always have dialogue and plots running through my head throughout the day, but only sit down and write when I have time – which isn’t that often.
What advice would you give to anybody who hopes to be published?
In the words of Stephen King, “Read a lot, write a lot,” and my all time favourite saying, “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” I’ve often related the story to my students of how Henry Ford went broke nine times but never gave up on his dream. Failure is just a learning curve, unless you give up. Never give up!
What are you working on now and what do you hope for yourself?
I am working on a South African/ Mauritian chick-lit. My dream is to get signed on by M&B, and move into Christian Romance or Medical.
ABOUT BRONWYN DESJARDINS
I was born Bronwyn Rapp on 19 June 1972 at the Old Grey’s hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
I was born with a squint in my left eye. By the time I was three I’d had four sets of eye surgery and the last one was when I was twelve. In my early years, I was bullied quite a lot at school and found solace in novels.
I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and spent my teen years buried in Silhouette novels. My father moved us around quite a lot, so I ended up going to six different schools in three different cities. I was fortunate to have a very loving and supportive family who encouraged me in everything I tried.
I loved dancing and pursued it as a career for a short while after matriculating from Bryanston High in 1990. I left dancing to work in a hotel in March 1991 and registered for my first year at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in January 1992. I was a DJ for the university radio station and began studying French after I met my husband in June of my first year.
I left university at the end of my second year to try my hand at working in IT at a footwear company. Computers are great because you can unplug them when they irritate you, but I quickly realised that I missed interacting with people. I returned to varsity and was invited to do my English Honours in 1997. I completed my thesis the same year that I began my Higher Diploma in Education.
Edgar and I married on 9 April 1999 and we spent seven years in Mauritius where I worked as a Teacher. We lived on a sugar estate and life was very challenging.
We returned to South Africa in 2006 and my husband was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. At that time we were renting a two bedroomed, one bathroomed flat and living off one salary.
Six years later he is cancer free and we are very blessed. My son, Charles-Edgar will be eleven this July and my daughter, Amber, turned six in February.
I dream of writing the book I was born to write – whatever that may be. I love teaching and I love writing and, in an ideal world, I’d have time to do both with ample time for my family in-between. One thing has to give and most of the time it’s the one that doesn’t bring in the money (yet), my writing.