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Jozi Gold > Week 1: 29/7/14- 5/8/14

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Week 1


message 2: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments The hosting of the World Cup in 2010 was a stimulating time for all South Africans. I, for one, did not expect the 'vibe' to be as powerful as it was: it was like being on holiday in an exotic destination.
Leanne's novel seems to have captured some of the spirit of that crazy time: normal people doing abnormal things. Jeannie, the 'creature of habit' with the 'comfortable and balanced home life', seems certain to be in for some surprises. For one, why is she so tolerant of her self-centred husband? You just know that Jeannie's bubble of self-satisfaction is about to burst (I feel like pricking it myself!).
Hey, V. I think we're going to have fun with this story! You coming along?


message 3: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Thanks, John, for kicking off the discussion with a nice, provocative angle! I thought I would suggest a reading schedule to keep us all together, if that is okay. Week 1: chapters 1 — 10; week 2: Chapters 11 — 22; week 3: Chapters 23 — 35; week 4: Chapters 36 — 44. Note that the chapters are short and each one is from a different person's point of view, so it's necessary to pay attention to who the characters are early on. After that, it moves quickly and you'll no doubt find yourself backing one individual over all the others. Let us know who that individual is and why.


message 4: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Nice question, V. I'm surprised more SA fiction hasn't emerged since then using the 2010 World Cup as the setting. Maybe you were the first, Leanne? If so, well done!


message 5: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Hi there, Vicki! I'm glad to hear you are deep into your next book! As for why I picked the World Cup as a setting, I was genuinely inspired by the atmosphere during the build-up to the event. I literally conceived the idea for the novel on New Year's Eve with the prospect of 2010 in front of me. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to capture the changes taking place in the country and track how those changes affected individuals. John, you are right when you say it is surprising more fiction writers haven't used the events surrounding the World Cup as a backdrop for their books, but then again, I suppose an event like that does date a novel to a specific point in time. I wonder, apart from books like "Kill Mandela" which intentionally follow historical events, does it worry you when a story becomes dated? I think of novels that depict the World Trade Centre as still standing, for example, or of those that make reference to"hot new bands" that have already faded from the scene?


message 6: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Vicki wrote: "Leanne wrote: "Hi there, Vicki! I'm glad to hear you are deep into your next book! As for why I picked the World Cup as a setting, I was genuinely inspired by the atmosphere during the build-up to ..."

Cellphones! How I wish I was writing during a period when cellphones were around. Communication between characters is a pain without them!


message 7: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Oh yes, Vicki! I absolutely agree about that in-between time when characters couldn't reach each other and so had to delay their plans. Most tedious! But I must contend with you, John, that writing in an age of cell phones isn't always easier. Cell phones mean instant access, which in turn means your plot can't be built around classic problems like the closed door, the impassable route or the unanswered letter. Then again, I did use cell phone communication to bring together all my characters in a short space of time for a show-down, and that's something a writer of historical fiction cannot do. By the way, have you given any thought to which of the characters in Jozi Gold you relate most to...or perhaps, to the one you most dislike?


message 8: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Good point about cellphone pro's, Leanne.
The character I most dislike in Jozi Gold? No brainer: Craig - so far. I'll build on that shortly.


message 9: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Wow, Leanne. You've created one helluva sleaze-ball in Craig - and so quickly!
He treats his wife like a nanny/hostess, practices unethical dentistry, ogles his secretary, cheats on his wife (5 year anniversary) and then cringes like a wimp in the face of his mistress's displeasure. And he's hairy all over, to boot! Okay, he's good-looking and well-built, but that can only take you so far, for so long. What do all these women see in him?
I know what your answer is, V, and I dare you to say it.


message 10: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) There you are, John! There's no accounting for taste! But seriously, I didn't set out to make Craig a sleeze-ball, I just depicted him as he appeared to me in the course of writing — ultra-satisfied with the way his life has turned out. In fact, both he and Jeannie are satisfied, which is ironic since Jeannie is so clearly taken for granted. I was interested in the phenomenon of women buying into the myth that a happy husband and happy children equals a happy wife. It may sound reasonable but the opposite is often true when you dig a little deeper.


message 11: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Leanne wrote: "There you are, John! There's no accounting for taste! But seriously, I didn't set out to make Craig a sleeze-ball, I just depicted him as he appeared to me in the course of writing — ultra-satisfie..."

Many women (and less men) do get all the pleasure they want from life by serving others; while it may work for them individually, it is seldom good for a relationship: a little selfishness goes a long way! I hope Jeannie is about to learn that lesson.


message 12: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Paul gives us a clue that maybe Jeannie is not such a sucker after all when he says to Valerie: 'I've met his wife. She's not dim witted.'
I think you set up the possibilities for future complications really well, Leanne. The reader knows something will happen early in the story, and this builds tension.


message 13: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Apologies for not getting back to this discussion sooner. I am spending the weekend with my husband at a resort in the Magaliesberg, which is lovely but the wifi signal is very erratic! Vicki, to answer your question about how I related to my characters, there is something of me in all of them. I was very familiar with Jeannie's habit of filtering out discontent because society said I ought to be grateful for my comfortable lifestyle. Another part of me was like Francis, conscious that I lacked something in my life yet terrified of upsetting the status quo. Paul mirrored my idealism while Valerie echoed my demand to be in control. I believe in writing about what you know, not necessarily with regard to actual settings but in regard to human emotion. John, thank you for your comment about how I built the tension from early on. Interesting to me, as this particular instance was not a deliberate plot point. It was more a case of it being in Paul's nature to defend the honour of a good woman. Steven King says in his book "On Writing" that he regards plot as mechanical and dull, in contrast to story which is spontaneous and alive. What do you think about this in relation to your own genre?


message 14: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Who am I to contradict Steven?
However, I will say this:
1)Story is like a ride at the fun-fair: buy your ticket and hang on 'til the end.
2)Plot is like a treasure hunt, with the reader doing some work in following the clues.

If you can tell a roller-coaster of a story like The mighty King, then story alone is enough. However for most of us struggling scribes, we need something more structured to hold a readers interest.
I love building structure, and I must have a point to my story, so I embrace plot.


message 15: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) John, I like your approach. We don't all have a genius for fluent storytelling. Yet I always find it instructive to read what the masters have to say because their years of experience and success in reaching the hearts and minds of countless readers cannot be dismissed as irrelevant. In writing Jozi Gold, I tried to maintain spontaneity and freshness, writing scenes as I saw them unfolding, not working to a strict plan. But then, Jozi Gold is a situational drama not a thriller, and I am certain the likes of Deon Meyer must have to plot very carefully to ensure that they unveil clues at appropriate places and tie up all the loose ends by the last page. By the way, any thoughts on Karen yet? Does she strike you as a convincing catalyst for the crisis to erupt?


message 16: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Vicki wrote: "I suppose we all have authors we look up to. It is an important part of growing as a writer I think. Our individual personalities will shine through in the end as there is not one author or poet wh..."

Agreed, V. I personally have found that Ken Follett has been the single biggest influence on my writing style. I enjoy his simple, no-nonsense way of telling a story without choking it up with descriptive detail.


message 17: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Leanne wrote: "John, I like your approach. We don't all have a genius for fluent storytelling. Yet I always find it instructive to read what the masters have to say because their years of experience and success i..."

Will revert to you about Karen, Leanne.


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
I've flown through the chapters for week one and two. Your descriptions are gorgeous Leanne, but you've also crafted a fast-paced story that is easily digested and that doesn't get lost in the detail.

Craig is a scuzz bag. He deserves a sticky end. I keep wondering how many women still exist that are like Jeannie, South African housewives who've turned taken care of their families into a profession, not sure how many families can afford that still. I dislike Valerie deeply, but pity her too; things must be really bad that she's willing to put up with Mr Scuzz Bag.

So what's up with Francis?


message 19: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 1038 comments Mod
Stephen King, meh! I'm not entirely sure that no plot is appropriate to his genre. I remember reading The Shining at the insistence of a friend. Two chapters in I told him exactly what would happen and didn't bother to read further.

For your book, story works well. The characters each have their tale to tell and one is intrigued by how their lives are going to play out.

As for events dating books, I loved the World Cup idea. It meant so much to be a South African for awhile back then. I enjoyed showing-off my country. I love books that look back at previous events- they inform me of things I don't know and also raise past memories to be examined.


message 20: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Vicki wrote: "I suppose we all have authors we look up to. It is an important part of growing as a writer I think. Our individual personalities will shine through in the end as there is not one author or poet wh..."


Vicki, you are so right about us all having different authors whom we look up to. Steven King isn't one I follow closely, and in fact, I'm far more drawn to women writers like jodi Picault and Barbara Delansky who explore character development and relationships. As for my cover, it was designed by CreateSpace with a photo taken by a friend who is a professional photographer. He added the "old book" texturing while the designer came up with the basic layout and fonts. I didn't spend a lot of time haggling over details of cover design because I can't see well enough to trust my judgement. All I know is that the close-up conveys the fact that the story is about intimate situations and will appeal especially to female readers!


message 21: by Leanne (new)

Leanne Hunt (leannehunt) Lisa wrote: "Stephen King, meh! I'm not entirely sure that no plot is appropriate to his genre. I remember reading The Shining at the insistence of a friend. Two chapters in I told him exactly what would happen..."

Thank you, Lisa, for your positive remarks about the story so far. I'm glad you are finding it an easily digestible read. Francis will turn out to be a crucial figure in the drama but that has yet to be revealed. As for the World Cup setting, I too enjoyed being a South African at the time when international focus was on our country and everything looked so bright and energetic. Even though I was deliberately collecting data at the time and weaving it into my novel, I still get a kick out of reading the descriptions of what was going on. The common goal united the people of our nation in a way that few other things have.


message 22: by John (new)

John Mountford (KillMandela) | 735 comments Karen. Yes, she does portend trouble in Craig's paradise...and Jeannie's. However I would like the tension to have been more gradually tightened, instead of Karen exposing Craig so soon. It does get us into the action quicker. I think having Craig and Karen face-off at least once in the early scenes would have been enjoyable.
Craig's co-conspirator, Paul, also lacks moral fibre: he accepts payment/a bribe in the form of free dental treatment for providing Craig's alibi. Nice!
It's hard to find anyone other than Jeannie that inspires admiration in the cast of characters. I hope she delivers in the end. The younger son, Simon, seems to have potential, but not a big role in the story other than helping to expose his father. Perhaps there is more to come from him?


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