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'It's magic' - Acclaimed journalist-turned-author on her first work of fiction

19 February 2020 4:14 PM
Tags:
Author
book launch
writing
Elaine Durbach
Roundabout
Elaine Durbach joins Pippa Hudson on The Yellow Couch after her 'Roundabout' book launch, before returning to the US.

Journalist and author Elaine Durbach was born in Zimbabwe and is a Rhodes University graduate now based in the US.

After writing two non-fiction works about South Africa, she finally decided to make the leap into fiction. In Cape Town for the book launch, she speaks to Pippa Hudson before returning to New York.

Roundabout is set partly in the US and partly in South Africa. Durbach says it's the characters themselves who decided Kalk Bay would feature as a setting and she had to return for holidays to research the location properly as she herself doesn't know it that well.

Why did it taker her so long to venture into the world of fiction?

Durbach explains how someone encouraged her to make a start, with just one line.

I didn't think I could withdraw into my imagination for long enough and I was very committed to make facts vivid and accurate.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

Then somebody gave me this line in Latin...: No day without a line. They said, start with one line and I took one of my child's old exercise books... and I wrote one line, the first line that came to mind.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

The next day I wrote one line. By the fourth day, there were these characters going about their lives and dictating to me. It was the most fun I had ever had in my life!

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

The days when they take over... they draw on your life experience; they draw on the myriad of characters that one's come across in real life. They begin to tell stories of their own.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

The fruit of this happy experiment has been described as "a love story about old doubts and new courage".

Durbach says Roundabout sprang from a real-life relationship in her past and a meeting decades later which led to a better friendship with the former partner than they'd ever had before.

Because we were both involved in other relationships there was no flirtation; there was none of the ego-vulnerability that you have in the middle of a romance.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

I began to realise there were things I hadn't understood about him in the years when my own vulnerability and my own ego were so much at the forefront of what happened between us.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

The title Roundabout came from that idea of going back to the beginning... back to the past with the experience of growing older and trying to understand people with a more open heart, with a deeper understanding.

Elaine Durbach, Author and journalist

She says, ultimately, it's a story about love and growth and South Africans have as much right - amid the big, darker issues - to deal with those themes as anyone else.

For more on this seasoned writer's journey and her cross-over into the world of fiction, take a listen:


19 February 2020 4:14 PM
Tags:
Author
book launch
writing
Elaine Durbach
Roundabout

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