Tag Archives: Crime Author

Getting jiggy in Namibia

Interview at WestCoast FM
Interview at WestCoast FM

A book trip to another country is still a business trip. A lot goes into the planning, especially the costs involved. That’s why it makes sense to fit in as much as possible while you are there. This might mean shifting around some family time to fit in an interview or chatting a bit longer with a potential reader. Your family might get a bit upset, but this is the business.

We stayed in Swakopmund for three days and in Windhoek for seven days. As mentioned in the previous post, a  typical book trip consists of the obligatory marketing stops and, if possible, fit in a book signing somewhere. Strangely though, this was not my main reason for going to Namibia.

My visit to NBC Radio
My visit to NBC Radio

There is a number of projects I am currently working on. I am busy with a novel set in Simon’s Town, then there is one that takes a bizarre look at the insurance industry, and another which exposes the corrupt pharmaceutical industries. One of the novels were going to start in South Africa and finish in France. As is often the case, the research and the characters caused the story to evolve. Before long, the final part of this story had made its way to Namibia, without any influence from my side. I was simply following and writing down the story as it played off in my mind. It would be a big climactic finale, and Namibia would be the ideal setting. Think sand, heat and blood. A violent shoot out in the Namibian desert. Anyway, getting back to the trip, this was what I squeezed in over the next couple of days.

Interview at HitRadio
Interview at HitRadio

While in Swakopmund, I did an interview with the local radio station, WestCoast FM, and also visited the book shops in the area. I tried to be in full holiday mode for one whole day. My wife will probably say that even this day I was doing something work related. Thankfully, she is my light and my discipline when I really need it.

Meeting with Ruffy at UNAM Radio
Meeting with Ruffy at UNAM Radio

Then off we went to Windhoek, where a fellow author, Sylvia Schlettwein, helped open a lot of doors. She was vital in the planning and I will forever be in her debt. I urge all authors to keep contact with fellow scribes. Some take pride in distancing themselves from the writing community, but I love the art of writing and try to keep contact with those who share my passion.

With the morning team at RadioWave
With the morning team at RadioWave

I did interviews with HitRadio, UNAM Radio, RadioWave and NBC Radio, as well as a live interview on Good Morning Namibia. The book signing was done at the Book Den, an amazing book shop in the heart of Windhoek. Though shy, I love interacting with readers and enjoy answering questions, so this was great fun for me.

Chatting with some golks at the Book Den
Chatting with some golks at the Book Den

We all know that most authors struggle to make a living. If you don’t know, then this is a sad reality you will have to make peace with. So, in that vein, I set about planning a research trip, a book signing and marketing trip, and a family trip, and fitting it all in. This sounds easy enough, but it is not.

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And a crime author goes to Namibia

Talking at the Cape Town Book Fair
Talking at the Cape Town Book Fair

There is a common misconception when it comes to authors. People think the strangest things about them. Some believe it to be the most idyllic profession, involving trips around the world, exciting research missions, sold out book signings, celebrity treatment, and author groupies. Sadly, there is no such thing as author groupies. I get my wonderful wife to fill this position. Thanks to shows like Castle, the world seems to believe we go around having buckets full of fun. With fun and adventure in mind, a trip to Namibia would be the obvious destination for these imaginary writers. If only this was true.

Talking at the Knysna Literary Festival
Talking at the Knysna Literary Festival

 

The truth is, being an author is very hard work. When the passion for the perfect tale is over, and the book is finally closed, it becomes a business of sorts. We are forced to be more proactive on the marketing front. Let’s face it, one of the surest ways to meet new readers, is to tell them that you are, in fact, an author. The days of writing a masterpiece and leaving it out there in the great unknown, with the hopes that someone might stumble across your book, has passed.

Trying to get school kids reading and writing is not easy

Think about it. You have just journeyed with a number of different people you were very close to. You had intimate knowledge of their innermost workings and you love them as if they are family. Sure, you had to kill some of them off during the journey, but essentially all these characters were your babies. You are still suffering from a slight withdrawal symptom from each individual character, as they step out of the deepest parts of your mind, from the darkness where you had formed them, into the light, and now you are asked to move on as if nothing had happened. At this point, your most vulnerable post-writing recovery, you are tasked with promoting your book, and, what authors hate most, promoting yourself. Book signings, discussions, interviews, talking and more talking, etc. Oh, the agony. I also need to mention here that no one buys from a shy or boring author, so you have to be the sparky engaging version of yourself.

I know what you are thinking. What is this idiot complaining about? I can so pull that off, right? For most people this would probably be all fun and games, but I suspect most authors find this tedious, or, at the very least, a bit annoying. The authors I have had the privilege of engaging with, were rather reserved, not very boastful, and preferred to keep to themselves. We are storytellers. We observe, and dislike being observed by others. I have done the media drill, though in a diminutive form, and it will always be as much fun as it is exhausting.

My trip to Namibia was nothing different. Next week I will detail my trip for those who have an interest about how to plan and conduct a book trip to another country.

The leap from giving to Namibia

An old saying claims that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I wish I could expand more on the validity of this ancient phrase, or speculate more about its origin. What woes must have befallen the poor sap who had coined the phrase? Regardless from whence it came, it has certainly found roots in my life this year.

We began the year with a vision of giving. Not just in the charitable sense of the word, but in every possible way. The idea was to dig in and to try my best to give, share and help. Be it advice, money, activities or anything else. We wanted to give a little bit of ourselves to all those around us, but life has a way of throwing a spanner in the works now and then.The Fouche Family

Not long after my last post, our first child was born. I became daddy to the prettiest baby girl. I’m sure every father thinks his little girl is the prettiest. I do not wish to engage in a mine-is-the-cutest debate, but she is damn cute.James Fouche and Talya Lita

While fatherhood is an absolute adjustment, I believed it would still be possible to do my writing, both finishing of novels and penning new articles, while starting up a brand new business and focusing on our theme of giving. Then business took some interesting turns and I was forced to put writing a bit on hold while my wife tended to the little one. And, by the way, a baby should not be referred to as a bundle of joy. Where did that phrase originate from?!

Here is the thing about babies people tend to not warn fathers about. The first three months is not pretty, or cute, or beautiful, or any of those endearing words. That first part of a baby’s life is hard work. That’s right, I said it. The first three months for both parents is all business. You as a parent have been tasked with jump-starting a lump of flesh. It is basic biology. If you don’t feed the puppy, the puppy will die. Eat. Sleep. Crap. Repeat.

The importance of having a bunny friend
The importance of having a bunny friend

It was at this point, the pinnacle of adjustment, that life shifted a gear into chaos. We were just getting to that balance where we could cope with our annual theme, our new addition to the family and business. Alas, it was not meant to be. We might feel we are in control of how things go, but it is evident that we are not.

It was on a particularly blue Monday that I heard my mother had passed away, aged 62 and fairly healthy. This was a shock to the system, me and our house, and eventually, the business. I had to travel often to take care of the funeral and tend to estate matters, leaving the business in the capable hands of my staff.Eileen Fouche

Trials come and go, much like death and taxes. Then life goes on again. In light of this year, the one thing I am constantly reminded of, is the fact that life, in all its abundance and beauty, is also a finite thing, a flicker at best, and the only real sense of fulfilment is the manner in which we have occupied our time here. I am filled with a desire to do more, to reach further and to spend every minute wisely. By that I mean quality over quantity. Circumstance is a thief of time, constantly convincing us that the unforeseen and the inevitable has to take precedence. But there is nothing that should take precedence over family time. Nothing. If you MUST work, then find a way to do it with your loved ones or make sure that you set aside time for your family.

In the next post I will explain a bit more about my book tour to Namibia, and how I try to juggle between author, husband and daddie.

Fouche of Sedgefield and his trusty bedouine guide, Talya abu Lita.
Fouche of Sedgefield and his trusty Bedouin guide, Talya abu Lita, preparing to tour Namibia.

 

Giving Love

20150211_065444With a theme like GIVING, you do put a lot of pressure on your life, both in the personal and business capacity. So when February and Valentine’s comes around, you are afforded the opportunity to mix business and pleasure without alarming your spouse.

It felt as though the year had only just started, and there it was, Valentine’s Day, marked in pink on the calendar. The media nudges us on to splurge on the other half. Buy him that gift hamper, or get her that massage, or maybe make a reservation at that expensive restaurant where it’s impossible to get in, or, heaven forbid, take the missus to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Come on men, take one for the team. And we fall for this trick very year.

Polvo Dog WalkFor that very reason, we had a different approach to the day traditionally devoted to love. We held a Valentine’s Dog Walk. Now I know what you’re thinking: How does that fit in with the whole GIVING theme? Right? Well, just look at the possibilities of having such an event. All round you can open the board and be unique. You can have a lot of fun in the process, too. Here’s what we did…

20150215_080949Firstly, with doggies being the key focus, we decided there would be an entry fee and proceeds would go to our local animal welfare, in this instance it was the Knysna Animal Welfare Society (KAWS). Immediately it became an event for a worthy cause (or shall I say KAWS), and there was a sincere appreciation by all pet-loving folk. We were also in the fortunate position to involve the Pledge Nature Reserve, a 10ha piece of land with a variety of birds and plants in the heart of Knysna, and conveniently situated right behind Polvo Coffee bar. The reserve had a number of hiking routes, perfect for a dog walk. We decided to split entry fees between KAWS and Pledge, so that both nature and animal welfare could benefit. We went live with the event and involved all manner of social and print media marketing. We roped in the local Curves gym, got Simply Pets to sponsor us a nifty little prize for the cutest dog, and that was it.20150215_084704

20150215_084521

Sadly, not even a crime author can plan for every eventuality. On the day, we were all psyched and excited and game to take doggies through the reserve. That is, until we opened the curtains. Yes, you guessed it! Slap-bang in the middle of summer, on this very special day, just for the duration of our walk, Knysna would face a freak rain storm.

It would be incorrect to say the day rained out, because some folks did pitch and they enjoyed the hike even though they were soaking wet. The harsh reality is that most people imagined the event would be postponed. No matter, we still had fun. And not only did we manage to generate a couple of Rands for a good cause, but we also created awareness about the local animal welfare and nature reserve.

WACKY WINE – THE WINE

Finally the part of the journey that makes the skin tingle and the mouth salivate. Well, I guess its true if you are a wine buff or an alcoholic. Either way, let’s look at the wines.

Wine-tasting

Wine is a diverse indulgence. I do not object to viewing it as a living breathing animal, that engages with a drinker on many different levels. As such, each wine and each drinker generates a series of variables which differentiates wines and drinkers in exponential terms. What might be heaven to one, is madness to the other. It might be Mozart vs Eminem, or Gewurztraminer vs Cabernet.

We began the morning with a visit to Arabella, where we were fortunate enough to see the unveiling of two new wines, the Natural Sweet White being the finer of the two.
Weltevrede cellar tour
Next we attended an underground cellar tasting at Weltevrede estate with the wine maker as our host. As an event this was by far the most intimate and most educational experience. We were led through old wine compartments, which had been broken through to reveal a cement maze underneath the present winery. Philip Jonker, winemaker and heir to the Weltevrede estate, explained the Methode Cap Classique process in detail, belayed his passion for wine making and spoke about his experiences in France, all the while allowing the flickering candles and mystical atmosphere to add to the romanticism of wine.

From there we hopped from estate to estate until there was no more hopping left. There were so many wonderful wines to sample, from whites at Springfield, the delicate Blush at Bon Courage, to the dominant ruby red at Robertson. From a masterful Bonnievale Chardonnay, a deep and soulful Cab at Viljoensdrift, to a Cigarbox red at Weltevrede, and a brave Wolvendrift Red Muscadel.

arendsigWe rounded off the day with a visit to Esona and Arendsig, where I spoke a bit with winemaker, Lourens, about his unique approach to viticulture. His isolated block farming method allows the winemaker to accentuate the power of the grape. He is a man who makes a call on instinct, and it is seldom a wrong call. From experience I can assure any collector that Arendsig wines mature fabulously!
James and Marlene Fouche Alas, here are the wines that ruled the day…

Bon Courage – White Muscadel

This dessert wine has a growing list of accolades. It is demanding in the mouth, yet subtle enough to help rounding off a meal. The Bon Courage signature is the lingering flavour. For some reason it made me think of a yellow honeysuckle flower.

Springfield Estate – Life from Stone
EC Life From Stone 2013
Rooted in quarts stone, this Sauvignon Blanc has a pleasant ruggedness on the tongue and a refreshing mineral aftertaste. The wine has a history in its design, something wild and concrete. A fascinating wine.

Weltevrede – Entheos Brut

Gray in flavour and subtle on the tongue, this Methode Cap Classique – Chardonnay Pinot Noir ultimately has a happy romantic electricity about it, and it is the embodiment of the Jonker family’s passion for wine making.

Arabella – In Unison ReserveAttachment

This is what red wine is all about! It is strong and full-bodied, aromatic and deep. Think of a ripe plum, so perfectly ripe that it might burst any second. Then imagine biting into it. Add a hint of oak and spice, and that’s what this wine tastes like on the pallet.

But the reigning champ, unrivalled among the plethora of wines on offer at the Wacky Wine Weekend could only be:

layout_r2_c2Bon Courage – Inkará Shiraz

 

“I don’t know how he does it,” I said, staring at the glass in disbelief, taste buds not sure what to do.

Bon Courage’s Shiraz and Cab offerings is more than just a personal favourite. It is a challenge of excellence. With every new harvest, I prepare myself so that I’m not stunned by the complexity of their reds. I challenge myself not to be impressed, but I lose every time. I don’t know how the winemaker does it. The smoky and sweet spice on the tongue with that chocolate coffee aroma was enough to impress. But the silky berry feeling afterwards is what makes one remember it.

And that is my humble breakdown of the best wines at the Wacky Wine!

Now for the Arabella competition:headline

Simply share your best wine experience as a comment on the blog or tweet it to @james_fouche or use #bestwackywine when you tweet. The prize is a box of Arabella wines. Entries open to folks living in South Africa. Please share the competition with friends.

WACKY WINE – THE TRAVEL

 

RWV e-Map 1

When we travel somewhere I prefer to set out before sunrise. Best to hit the tar before trucks crawl out of hiding and snail along your intended route. My wife first concluded her exhausting packing regime, then it was my turn. I’m a plotter so most of the packing takes place in my mind. Ten minutes later my suitcase was added to the mountain of luggage by the door.

The following morning the car was loaded, dogs and bunnies fed, and cat shooed from underfoot. Before long we were on our way to face the Wacky Wine madness. As we climbed onto the main road the headlights happened to pass over the flattened corpse of a bird. Then I heard the sniffing. My wife was whimpering, cheeks glistening with fresh tear tracks.

“What about her babies?” she sobbed. “They are waiting in a nest for food. What’s gonna happen to them now?”

“I think that was a male bird. It had bright feathers,” I said, hoping it would diffuse the situation. It made it worse.

We held a number of eulogies along the way, for fauna across all species.

Late morning we arrived in Swellendam. We stayed at Impangele guest house, a pleasant and affordable stop-over for people travelling through. We were offered a hearty welcome by the hosts and were shown to a leopard-themed room. There we were able to read up on how Impangele came about, with pictures detailing the progress of their guest house.

With the launch of my latest novel, KING OF SORROW, finally around the corner, we both agreed we needed a bit of pampering at the Rain Forest Day Spa. I had the elephant walk massage. Now I know what you’re thinking: crime authors sound like a bunch of sissies. I don’t care if you judge me. It was an hour of absolute bliss, and affordable enough for anyone to enjoy. I left feeling refreshed and ready for the weekend and the coming book launch.

Image

I was tempted to load pics of the massage room, but it included me in my undies. I’m afraid – and quietly hope that – most readers would find that distasteful. Once you see it, it can’t be unseen. Oh, remember to check out the Rain hamper competition at the end of this post.

The next morning we visited the Wildebraam Berry Estate (@WildebraamLiq) to do a liqueur tasting. It was a bit too early for alcohol but we did the full tasting anyway. Strange as it might sound, the guava liqueur was triumphant over all. So, half-drunk on berry nectar we made our way to Orange Grove Farm in Robertson, where we would stay for the next couple of days.

By far, this was the travelling highlight. We were met by our personal guide and taken to our cottage. The cottages are at an elevated level over-looking the vineyard, so the views were amazing. The accommodation itself was of the highest standard. As an author I’m quick to pick up silly things that others might consider inconsequential. I immediately noticed two small fire extinguishers, clear exit signs, a fire blanket in the kitchen, and a first-aid kit in the bathrooms. The conventional toiletries included the OGF1812 personal care shower gel and lotion, containing diamond dust and luxury coffee colouring. I had never experienced this attention to detail at a self-catering venue before.

orange-grove-farm-01-decor-photographer(pp_w625_h199)

Later I would discover that the owner, Carlos Araujo, has a mining background so he regarded the health-and-safety aspect as first priority. We briefly discussed his chequered past and his humble beginnings. He is a colourful character. The fact that he encourages staff to read a book a month, warmed this author’s heart.

The next morning I officially began the Wacky Wine Weekend. Every other concern faded away. I was there to celebrate the grape and to taste what the different wine makers were able to accomplish with it. My next post will detail the variance of wines, the tasting highlights and what happened at some of the estates.

50ae31f677b90Next week I will also be giving away a box of Arabella wines so follow the blog or check in to see how you can win.

That brings us to this week’s competition. Here is how you can win the Rain hamper. Answer the very difficult question below and send your answers to @james_fouche on twitter using this hash tag: #myrainmoment or e-mail answers to domaingrp@yahoo.com

RAIN HAMPER QUESTION

My rain moment is:774e0e8b1d684a2abba94a07cf1f7299

1. Coffee with in-laws

2. A rain massage

3. A triple brandy & coke

WACKY WINE – THE FOOD

wacky-wine-weekend

Fiction authors, a naughty bunch by nature, swim through never-ending dreamscapes to mould their tales, feeding off of their imaginations and accentuating the senses. Because of this it requires mental restraint when reviewing wines or wine estates, restaurants or chefs, coffees or baristas. However, during the Wacky Wine Weekend there are so many of these wonderful elements and it needs to be shared. I decided to break it up into three separate posts: the food, the travel, and the wines. I thought it wise to start with the food because there will be competitions and sponsored prizes during the other posts.

My wife and I travelled via Swellendam to Robertson, and when the Wacky Wine was finished, we drove through Barrydale back to the Garden Route. Just one note, during the festival there are few places to sit and eat because most estate restaurants can’t service the large number of visitors. Instead a portion of the ground is sectioned off and a large market-style food stall is erected under tent-cover to feed the masses. Though it serves the purpose and I’m usually first in line for traditional local foods, I do not review boerewors hotdogs and roosterkoeke.

CAFE MAUDE – ROBERTSON (@BonCourageWines)

Cafe MaudeI visited Bon Courage just prior to the Wacky Wine because they stock some of my favourite wines and we happened to be passing by. The restaurant is owned by Maude Bruwer, sister of the winemaker at Bon Courage. For breakfast one had Eggs Benedict and the other had Eggs Florentine. Being a stickler for detail, I immediately picked up the chef’s signature. It was the tomatoes. Something about them contributed to the overall brilliance of the meal. The tomatoes had been lightly grilled, drained of excess water and drizzled with balsamic. It became such a feature that it overshadowed the magnificence of the rest of the meal. Well done!

BOURBON STREET – ROBERTSON

Bourbon Street incorporates an American theme with an adapted American-styled menu. Prices are very competitive while the food, as well as the presentation, were in keeping with the unique theme. I can strongly recommend the Springbok and Kudu burger or the chicken chimichanga. Even the Moroccan couscous is spectacular. Considering the competitive price and serving size, one has to be realistic about preparation time and availability. But consistency should be a non-negotiable attribute of any restaurant, whether peak season or not. During these challenging times a restaurant should be a smooth machine. We visited Bourbon Steet thrice. Let me detail the minor inconsistencies: First visit was quiet with good food, muted atmosphere with adequate service. Second visit was loud, great service, long wait for food and not the same serving size as before. Third visit was good food, adequate service, and very loud atmosphere.

THE PENNANT WING – SWELLENDAM (@pennantwing)

IMG-20140606-00330When reviewing restaurants I seldom visit the same place more than once, unless there are no other places available. This time I couldn’t resist going back for more. Delicious home made veg soup, tasty cottage pie, surprisingly light cheesecake with subtle berry compote, decadent choc-orange-coffee cake, and smooth coffee formed part of a collection of surprises. Then add to that the crackle of a fireplace on a rainy day and caring hosts, and an author’s world makes sense again.

THE RAMBLING ROSE – MONTAGU

Delightful surprise in the heart of Montagu, which is a short drive from Robertson. The lasagne had a gentle herbs-and-spices preparation, opting for a muted, less intense flavour. It worked well. Their chicken, cranberry and camembert salad reigned supreme over all salads on offer during the trip. The large rose water flavoured meringues were fascinating as a dessert. Decent portions and friendly service sealed the deal.

KARIN’S ON MAIN – BONNIEVALE (@KarinsonMain)

At the peak of the Wacky Wine we were searching high and low for places to eat. Most places were fully booked (a reviewer’s worst nightmare!), so we discovered this gem in Bonnievale. It was the perfect end to a perfect day, which is what you expect from a restaurant. From the food, the creative shop fitting, the light atmosphere, to the complex Bonnievale CCC house wine, all was enjoyed. The calamari portion, as well as the ribs, were sizeable enough and proved to be good value for money. Preparation was timed well and the service was excellent. Both Karins were present and a delight to speak with.

DE VAGEBOND – SWELLENDAM (@DeVagebondRes)

It was immediately clear that the restaurant was either new or under new management, something which was confirmed later. This in itself is not always a bad thing, so do not let that dissuade you from visiting De Vagebond. They might be in the early stages of something amazing. Their biltong and blue cheese soup was amazing, not too creamy. The smoky bacon salad made an impression because care had been taken to prepare the bacon in a maple syrup, something that adds character to the dish. Though the waiters seemed a bit new and over-eager on the job, the service was still very good. De Vagebond is a work in progress, and the sky is the limit.

 

In the next post I will explore the travelling side of things. I will show everyone what an author does to de-stress (don’t worry, I’ve deleted all the explicit pics) and I will explain why people think we are obnoxious, when we are actually trying to be charming. In the next post there will be a Rain Biologie hamper* up for grabs. And in the final post featuring the wines, there will be a box of Arabella wines on the line.

Rain Biologie

 

*Picture is only a representation of the hamper. Products might vary. Prizes only available to folks residing in SA.