Where it all Began


One day, when my four children no longer needed so much of my care and attention, I took up the dream I’d shelved for years, and decided it was time to become a writer. But what to write? Stories, of course. And yet, that was a daunting thought.

Better to start at the beginning and take a writers’ workshop. Better yet, combine it with biography work i.e. taking a look at my life so far to get more of a sense of where I might be going.

So I signed up for two days (see above photo of what is now the Labia Museum), at a graceful Palladium villa overlooking the Atlantic ocean. I listened to a lecture give by Professor Cole Omotoso who posited how important it would be to record the present time in South Africa…. That was, the last days of Apartheid, what everyday life was like under that repressive regime. 

Voila, I had my subject. This was what I knew, having lived in Cape Town for the last ten years.

What about a story of awakening? I thought. About a character who comes into a situation where she gradually recognizes what’s truly going on, although she’s been brought up to buy into the segregation policies?

And so Renee Pretorius, my ‘unsympathetic’ heroine was born and began to claim my interest. But how to find a way to get her out of her country environment and into the city? Aha! Make her a ballet student, just as I was, once upon a time. Some years (!) later my novel was published in Canada. Now I’m planning to bring it to a larger audience.

© Brenda Hammond 2015