What inspired you to first start writing?
From a young age I loved reading: Nancy Drew, the Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Hardy Boys. Immersing in a fascinating storyworld was a way of coping with an unhappy childhood. Even though I was interested in writing from my mid-20’s, I did not have any training to hone my skills. In 2005, I wrote a mental health awareness play, which was staged at the 2007 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown with the support of the NLDTF. Around age 40, God called me into ministry and instructed me to write, which led to my first book titled Ultimate Truth and Lies (UTAL) – what you need to know for the battle of your soul. It took me three years to write the 1st 10 A4 pages. God admonished me for procrastinating, so I reviewed what I had written and said: “I’ve said what I wanted to. Now, what do you want to say?” It was like a dam wall burst. Over the next two weeks, I wrote another 90 A4 pages to complete the manuscript! My spiritual son, Adrian van Wyk (another budding author) calls it a ‘download from Heaven’. UTAL was published in 2012 and launched my writing career.
Tell us a little about your book – Peace Talks – What’s it about? Where did the idea come from?
I am a 2x Nobel Peace Prize nominee and have done extensive work in public service and in nonprofit environment in conflict resolution/mediation and peacebuilding in South Africa. Sadly, more than 25 years into our democracy, I see that there is as much racial tension and distrust as there has ever been. In the Eastern Cape I work a lot with Xhosa youth and I am often shocked to see the levels of rising anger and even hatred reinforced even by the art community (writers and performance writers). Socio-political tension is like a cooking pot waiting to boil over. I feel that as writers and artists, although our peoples stories should be told and we should be and feel heard to heal from the wounds of colonialism and apartheid, we should be socially-responsible and tell our stories that bring healing and unity and not reinforce pain and division.
Two of the elements that the NAC seeks in funding work is preservation of cultural heritage and the extent to which the work can build our nation. Peace Talks fulfil both those criteria by looking at key historical events that still influence race relations in the Eastern Cape today. I addressed pressing social issues through the eyes of Eluthu, a teenage girl from a multi-racial family. When I came up with the concept, there was objections from different racial/cultural groups. Now that the work is done and people have read the beta-version (the 1st draft ebook), readers from the white, coloured, and black community have praised the work. Drawing from personal experience and observation it is my hope that I captured the crux of the matter and presented it in a way that will help our different cultural groups to better understand one another and heal. The idea of the peace table was derived from the international women’s peace initiatives that I am involved in. I was the Chairperson and Convenor of the Inaugural SA Women’s Peace Table [part of an international peace programme across 43 countries in 2016], bringing together a crosscut of society to address peacebuilding in SA.
Personally, I am tired of the continued racial discrimination and reverse discrimination in SA and the continued violence against women and children. Everyone suffered during apartheid! As a white Afrikaner, I can honestly say that women had to be quiet back then and in the new SA, as a white woman I am still expected to be quiet because I’m seen as historically privileged. I was privileged to do as I was told or get beaten into submission. I long for the true freedom and equality our democracy promised women. Incidentally, the tale of Eleanor being thrown out of her mother’s house because she disagreed with her mother’s politics (and apartheid) is based on a real event in my life.
It is my hope that I shared the tales from different cultural groups and some of my own history with compassion and that it would influence people to look further than the colour of another’s skin or historical assumptions, much like the Heartlines What’s your Story?-campaign, so beautifully linked to the film Beyond the River, that calls us to foster understanding by hearing each other’s stories.
I know this isn’t your first book, how many others have you written?
Since UTAL, I have written nearly 40 works to date, including 10 paperbacks. Most of my work are poetry bundles, pastoral resources, and life skills books. The most popular have been Soul Ties, Demonic Strongmen, and Forgiveness.
Forgiveness deals with the process of forgiveness and the symptoms of a lack of forgiveness. It is a (short) book everyone should read, by clicking this link.
(This book is also available in Afrikaans as “Vergifnis”:
The poetry bundle I did with my husband, David, called Snapshots of Life, is also a great read. Many of the poems contains pearls of wisdom.
It is also available as a paperback.
The Proverbs 31 Marriage and Proverbs 31 Workbook for Men is gaining popularity. The Proverbs 31 marriage (a great resource for the Proverbs 31 man and woman building a Proverbs 31 marriage and family):
The Proverbs 31 Man – Workbook (a practical guide to grow into a Proverbs 31 husband, father and community leader). http://www.amazom.com/dp/B0764MGXRX
I have also recorded a Gospel CD of 13 original songs and a children audio CD, Die Avonture van Spikkels en Skitter, which is about two unusual friends from diverse backgrounds (a star and a starfish) meeting a boy and sharing adventures.
My work is available on Amazon Kindle under my maiden name, Adelle Yvette Potgieter, or married name, Adelle Gascoyne.
Do you have a favourite time/place to write?
I love writing in my study area and prefer working at night when my family and dogs are asleep and no one can bug me on the phone. My workspace is set up and dedicated specifically to writing. When I do research for a book, I sit either in bed or in my favourite reading chair and spend long hours reading on a variety of subjects I can use for my magazine, Wild Sunshine, or in my books/screenplays. I often have a slow start with a new book, wanting to write and not yet sure about layout, style or content. Sometimes I mull over it for a few months and then one day I will wake up and know exactly where to start and it is burning to get out. Then I head for the PC before I even get out of PJs and start writing. Once I get going, I’m very disciplined and work like a machine until the job is done, easily writing in 14-18 hour shifts.
Do you have any plans for your next book?
I have several books already in various stages of development and have nearly completed the 2nd edition of UTAL. The question is simply doing what is most urgent to finish on that list. Often, I have more ideas for books and screenplays than I have the time to write. I did two books in the Proverbs 31 series (The Proverbs 31 Marriage and The Proverbs 31 Man) and was recently asked to do camps for families and women that requires me to expand the series to The Proverbs 31 Woman and The Proverbs 31 Parent asap.
Having just completed Peace Talks I would like to adapt it for the screen, and I have also just completed Muti, an action feature film screenplay about rhino poaching, that I would like turn into a novel as well. Being a self-employed/freelance professional writer means I must juggle my passion projects with paid work that keeps the pot cooking. It is sometimes not easy to juggle those two with family obligations.
I am also keen to write a follow-up to Peace Talks because I did not get to fully develop the story. This was in part because NAC, who funded the project through the PESP-initiative, gave writers only three months to write and publish the work, whereas a project of this nature usually takes 6-12 months to complete.
What’s your favourite book to read (or genre or author)?
I love reading the Bible because it has the code for eternal life and being a better person. It seems strange to people that I could also spend whole afternoons reading the Dictionary, because I always learn something new. As a wordsmith one must be passionate about the meaning of words and extend ones vocab.
In fiction, my favourite work is The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I have a great deal of respect for a master storyteller like Tolkien, who dedicated decades of his life to bring us new languages (Quenya and Sindarin) and cultures inspired by ancient, oft-forgotten legends. Tolkien has had a profound impact on my personal values and development, and it inspires me to master the craft to influence and inspire people with my own writing. I like reading historical romance, fantasy, and adventure stories and when I have free-time, I read the work of authors like Clive Cussler (like the Fargo and Dirk Pitt series), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), and Wilbur Smith (River God is a personal favourite). Occasionally, my brain gets overloaded and won’t switch off; meaning my mind race while I sleep, which is exhausting. Then I know it is time to read light romance novels like Mills and Boons. It is so far removed from the reality of my life and requires no thinking, allowing my brain to switch off so I can get rest.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
For relaxation, I love reading or watching films, cooking and doing a variety of arts and crafts (such as beading, fabric painting, knitting, sewing, cutlery wire art, and quilting).