She didn’t make any comment, and I continued, I’ve fallen behind with the paperwork, so tomorrow, after lunch, I’d like you to give me a hand Nancy. What? She shook her head. I can’t do it. You can’t help with the paperwork? Why not? You have a date? I can’t take the job, Nancy. You can’t take the job? That’s right. I don’t want it. But you’re in line for it.




1 I BOUGHT THIS BUST IN SHROPSHIRE IN THE UK. I love it because it’s so completely other’. The garnet necklace with it came from my mom, Hilary. She collected antique jewellery for years, but after a burglary she didn’t want to keep things any more. Receiving jewellery from your mother is a rite of passage for any woman.

2 I’M OBSESSED WITH SUCCULENTS maybe because they need very little care and I’m not one for commitment. I’m selectively unmarried and I don’t want children I don’t even have pets because I’d feel a lot of pressure to give them a nice life, so I have these brass desk pets instead. My sister Stephanie buys them for me.

3 FOR YEARS MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION WAS TO WRITE A BOOK. My fi rst book, A Million Miles From Normal, came out in 2010 and my latest, Dutch Courage, comes out in South Africa in May. It will be my eighth book. I feel like I’ve found my voice, which is very exciting. I collected these stones when writing my last book in Ireland.

4 I HAVE TO RUN. I’m very distracted by the Internet and the phone, and I fi nd the best way to have a long train of thought, or solve a plot hole, is to get out there. There’s something very focusing about it.

5 TEA AND A RUSK WHEN I’M WRITING IS A TRUE TREAT. My sister, Briony, owns Newport Market & Deli in Mouille Point in Cape Town and I nagged her to make a Banting range, so now she makes these rusks. I’m a bit of a magpie and I like to scratch around junk shops, and this teapot caught my eye.

6 MY LAPTOP AND NOTEBOOK are my daily life tools. I’ve written my last two books on this laptop and I generally don’t go far without it. I have a very bad memory, so if I get an idea at four in the morning, I get up and write it down in the notebook, otherwise it’s gone.

7 MY FATHER, DENNIS, GAVE ME this vintage pop-up book when I was about seven. I was the youngest of six and a bit of a laatlammetjie, and I remember lying with it open on the fl oor for what felt like hours, creating stories. I think it was the fi rst time I consciously made stories.

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