Fynboshoek – the inspiration for Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch

‘Visiting the cheese farm today felt like walking into my novel,’ Dawn Garisch wrote after her recent return to Fynboshoek, the place which inspired the setting of her latest novel, Breaking Milk.

Breaking Milk concerns a day in the life of Kate, a cheese maker.

Don’t come, she is told by her only child. Jess is keeping her mother at a distance on the day that her own children, conjoined twins, are to be separated during high-risk surgery in London.

Kate wakes on her farm in the Eastern Cape, torn between respecting Jess’s wishes and a longing to rush to her estranged daughter’s side.

A former geneticist disillusioned by the pressing ethical questions posed by her job, Kate is now an award-winning maker of organic cheese. She relies on the farm’s routine and the people and animals in her life to hold steady as her day teeters on a knife’s edge.

Meanwhile, her employee Nosisi’s son is undergoing initiation. Forbidden to have contact with him during this traditional passage into the world of manhood, his mother anxiously awaits his return…

Fynboshoek6

The sky is clotted with cloud, but the background blue is clear, rinsed by the night’s rain. The farmer’s need to know the weather blurs with Kate’s artistic appreciation of cloudscapes – the infinite variety of forms: misty wisps and erupted whites above the underlining of the land.
Kate’s small farm appears over the rise, nestled in beside the dam – an oasis of fynbos and indigenous trees that stand out in a vast green desert of pastures and fields. It does feel like home, she thinks… 

Fynboshoek5In the Acknowledgments of Breaking Milk, Dawn writes: Thanks to Alje van Deemter who allowed me to job shadow him on his farm Fynboshoek in the Eastern Cape so that I could detail his cheese-making process and restaurant business – his produce is as delicious as the book portrays.

To discover more about Fynboshoek and the cheese-making process visit the farm’s website and follow their stunning Instagram account.

Stay tuned for details about a launch of Breaking Milk on Fynboshoek in November. Until then, enjoy the novel, learn more about the art of organic cheese making and have some delicious artisan cheese.

Photographs: Fynboshoek Instagram

Dawn Garisch at the Open Book Festival 2019

DAWN GARISCH will be speaking about her novel Breaking Milk at the following events during this year’s Open Book Festival which is taking place between the 4th and 8th of September.

  • THUR | 05/09 | 16-17 | HCC Workshop

DISTRUSTING THE PRESENT: Tracey Farren, Dawn Garisch and Masande Ntshanga speak to Alex Dodd about how the dystopian present informs their work.

  • SAT | 07/09 | 16-17 | HCC Workshop

THERE IS NO TEXTBOOK: Patrick Flanery, Dawn Garisch and Julia Martin speak to Pippa Hudson about the impossibility of preparing for some events.

  • SUN | 08/09 | 12-13 | A4 Ground

GENE THERAPY: Oyinkan Braithwaite, Nicole Dennis-Benn and Dawn Garisch speak to Bonnie Mbuli about dealing with family challenges.

Dawn Garisch by AJ Wattamaniuk

 

Shadow Flicker launched at Xpression on the Beach

“On Saturday mornings, Kate and her dad used to wake up early and surf for hours at Muizenberg.”

Shadow Flicker on Muizenberg Beach

Kate, the protagonist of Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker, grows up in Muizenberg and becomes a surfing champion before a tragedy puts a stop to her career. Years later, she returns to the sea to face her trauma and to find love and healing.

Last night, Shadow Flicker‘s author visited Muizenberg, the place where she usually catches waves as a SUP champion, to launch her novel at her local surf shop, Xpression on the Beach.

The launch was hosted by surf legend Gary Van Rooyen. Melissa was in conversation with surfer, writer and historian Glen Thompson. Many friends from the surfing and literary worlds joined us for the special occasion, a kind of homecoming for the author and her novel’s protagonist.

A scene in Shadow Flicker is set in the St Francis Brewing Company and Melissa brought a few beers to share with her readers to give them an actual taste of the novel.

Thank you to Gary and all the other wonderful people at Xpression on the Beach for being such generous and enthusiastic hosts, Glen for leading a fascinating conversation and supporting Melissa and Karavan Press, to all surfers/readers who came to celebrate with us, and to Melissa, whose literary wave is becoming more and more impressive with every day!

Next stop for Melissa and Shadow Flicker: Fish Hoek Public Library, Friday, 30 August, 10am. Come and join us for books and tea!

Karavan Press: A LitNet interview with founder and publisher, Karina M. Szczurek

What kind of books would you be interested in printing? And why?

Books I can be passionate about, of any genre, any length, but mainly literary fiction and non-fiction. I read extremely widely, and don’t want to box myself or Karavan Press writers and readers in. I want to nurture authors and their creativity, establish strong bonds between Karavan Press writers and readers, and offer a literary home for those who treasure words and stories. Excellence, integrity, and love for the book as an object are the cornerstones of what Karavan Press is about.

Click here to read the entire interview: LitNet

Review competition: Gail Gilbride reviews Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Shadow Flicker_LR for webAn Eco-Romance to keep you on the edge of your seat.

I didn’t plan to read Shadow Flicker in one sitting. I thought I’d read a chapter before I went to bed. At midnight, I turned the last page and breathed out!

Melissa A. Volker took me on an unexpected roller coaster ride. Her protagonist, the vulnerable Kate Petersen, has a secret and she means to keep it. On a renewable energy assignment in an Eastern Cape surfing village, Kate’s resolve is challenged and she has to dig deep in order to hold everything together. She takes a risk and does not tell her boss that he is sending her into the very spot where the tragedy which has shaped her life actually happened.

Kate arrives in St Francis Bay, ready to tackle the inevitable opposition to her company’s planned wind farm. The widowed Matthew Sykes, local vet and surfer, proves to be a distraction, and she tries to ignore him at first…

Local residents begin their protest peacefully. But soon this develops into something more sinister, as other agendas surface. Kate is forced to face her worst fears and her secret is about to be exposed to the one person she’s come to care about. Her unexpected strength lifts this novel into a heroine’s journey.

As the drama develops, it becomes clear that other people have secrets too. The stakes are high for Kate. Both her job and her new relationship are under threat. What she doesn’t realise is that her life is in danger too…

Volker is a trail blazer in the Eco-Romance genre. Her gentle voice is unexpectedly powerful. Thorough research, well rounded characters, and a nail biting plot nudge the readers to sit up and take note.

I, for one, will be on the lookout for her next offering.

Gail Gilbride is the author of Under the African Sun.

Under the African Sun

Review also posted on Goodreads.

At the Montagu Book Festival with Melissa A. Volker

MBF1I had been hoping to interview Melissa A. Volker at a literary event for years. I had no idea that when it finally happened, I would be speaking to her about her life and writing as her publisher, but that made the occasion even more special.

We travelled together to the Montagu Book Festival/Boekefees, which took place between 25 and 28 July, to speak about “Up Lit” and Melissa’s two novels, A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker.

Set in the Great Karoo, in Graaff-Reinet, A Fractured Land looked at home in the Little Karoo and received a very warm welcome.

Melissa and I first heard the term “Up Lit” from Kate Mallinder and, immediately, we both felt that it applied exceptionally well to Melissa’s novels. They are books which focus on kindness, empathy and a sense of community without shying away from difficult topics such as divorce, debt, grief, addiction or mental illness. They are stories of “redemption” and “second chances”. Above all, they are romances. In both novels, Melissa tackles vital environmental topics (fracking and wind energy respectively). Her protagonists find love while at the same time having to find some form of common ground when they end up on opposing sides of these environmental issues, as Melissa explained during our event. We also spoke about the innocence of falling in love, surfing, strong female characters, music, and perseverance. We had great fun talking to each other and engaging with the readers who came to listen to our conversation.

MBF3

We want to thank the Montagu Book Festival for hosting us, the Montagu Bookshop for selling our books, and all who attended our session for your infectious enthusiasm and for sharing the love of reading with us. May there be many more such joyous and inspiring occasions!

MBF6

Hope to see you all in Montagu next year!

Review competition: Caroline Gill reviews A Fractured Land by Melissa A. Volker

A Fractured Land_LR for webA Fractured Land_2018A Fractured Land rapidly encapsulates the reader in the vast expanse of the starkly beautiful Karoo setting. We become happily familiar with the well-rounded characters and their whimsical ways in a one-horse town, while they are like many of us, struggling for a chance at love and life.

It proceeds at a pace akin to the land it is set in, yet leaves your heart searing with emotion and turbulence of the drama as it unfolds. It also skillfully travels between the lands and cultures of the main characters, showing deep connections and knowledge of two completely opposite lifestyles, enhancing the storyline by the differences as they are shared.

There is a delightful smattering of life’s necessary daily activities, emotional and environmental issues and a well-dished up round of suspense woven throughout the novel, tightly connected with some lovely hooks and twists to keep you wondering if anything will ever work out.

Melissa A. Volker has a gift of carefully exposing the emotions felt by her characters, which inevitably mirrors those felt by her readers ⁠— we just don’t have the same finesse at expressing them as she does!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, was immediately transported into the story and enthralled with its development, and devastated when it had to come to an end!
I will be one of the first in line for her next offering as it comes off the press!

Review first posted on Goodreads.

Join us for the XPRESSION ON THE BEACH launch of Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker

Shadow Flicker Xpression

In our author interview, Melissa told us about the place surfing holds in her life:

… I suspect it’s more of an obsession, a compulsion, much like writing, but possibly less plagued by self-doubt? I’ve been married to a surfer for more than twenty years, and initially I acquired a good beachside understanding of things. But four years ago, I stepped off the beach and learned to surf a stand-up paddle board. I have not looked back; I now plan my week around the surf report. Surfing is a most empowering experience; it has taught me that I am stronger and braver than I ever thought. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be in the water whenever it presents itself.

Significantly, the first editor who did NOT reject my writing was Calvin Bradley, of Zigzag Surfing Magazine. I entered a competition called Write To Surf, and wrote a story about my life as a surf widow called ‘The Thinking Girls Guide to Life with a Surfer‘. I didn’t win the competition, but they published the story online. It was my first ever published story and when it got over 1000 likes on Facebook I was beyond stoked. It’s been epic to subsequently write pieces for The Inertia, Zigzag and Wavescape, especially when I have had the opportunity to write about women’s interests in surfing. We have a bunch of smart and funny surf writers in South Africa and I enjoy reading their work and learning from them as well.

In some ways surfing is like writing. It’s almost impossible to impress your will upon a wave, instead you have to be in tune with it and adapt your movement to the possibilities the wave is revealing to you. Much like a story. Sometimes you can’t impress your will upon it or force it in a certain direction. You have to be present, mindful and in tune with the possibilities that lie before you on the page.

Surfing features strongly in Shadow Flicker. It plays an important role in the protagonists’ lives, but both Kate and Matthew have to battle through loss and pain to return to the waves.

Shadow Flicker quote

Thus, it is with great pleasure that we invite everyone to join us for a launch of Melissa’s Shadow Flicker at the iconic XPRESSION ON THE BEACH: “We are more than just a ‘SUP and Surf Shop’ – We are a community.”

XPRESSION

Melissa will be in conversation with surfer, writer & historian Glen Thompson, who had this to say about the novel:

Melissa A. Volker deftly weaves romance, eco-fiction and surf noir into a gripping saga in Shadow Flicker. In the small coastal village made popular by The Endless Summer, the restless wind brings waves, haunted memories, and the promise of a green energy future. Volker takes you to the heart of the turbulence.

We can’t wait to catch this wave! See you on the beach …

 

Review competition: Natasha Alexander reviews A Fractured Land by Melissa A. Volker

A Fractured Land_LR for web A Fractured Land_2018I love a good romance but this book is so much more, filled with suspense and a gripping story, to say the least. Melissa’s scenic description is so wonderfully written, you can almost smell the dust and feel the blazing Karoo sun on your skin.

The two main characters are Carter from Texas, a former musician, trying to start over in the family oil business; and Lexi going back to her Karoo routes to rebuild her life, after a heart-breaking divorce which left her bankrupt. Their paths cross, at what seems, the worst possible time but as their story unfolds, Melissa keeps you hooked through their journey. Another character that kept me on the edge of my seat was Paul, the best friend/infatuated admirer of Lexi. Don’t want to give too much away, but his story/journey was brilliant too.

This is a must read, 5-star novel and I can’t wait for Melissa’s next one. (So, please hurry…no pressure.)

One more thing, LOVED the music references, Jack Johnson and Pearl Jam, two personal favourites.

Thank you for an awesome read, Melissa A. Volker.

Review first posted on Natasha Alexander’s blog.

Karavan Press title: Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch

Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch

DESCRIPTION

So many women down the ages have lain awake in the earth’s great shadow, insomniac over their progeny, their sons and daughters intent on escaping their mothers’ intractable worry.

Don’t come, Kate is told by her only child. Jess is keeping her mother at a distance on the day that her own children, conjoined twins, are to be separated during high-risk surgery in London.

Kate wakes on her farm in the Eastern Cape, torn between respecting Jess’s wishes and a longing to rush to her estranged daughter’s side.

A former geneticist disillusioned by the pressing ethical questions posed by her job, Kate is now an award-winning maker of organic cheese. She relies on the farm’s routine and the people and animals in her life to hold steady as her day teeters on a knife’s edge.

Meanwhile, her employee Nosisi’s son is undergoing initiation. Forbidden to have contact with him during this traditional passage into the world of manhood, his mother anxiously awaits his return.

Breaking Milk, Dawn Garisch’s seventh novel, is an evocative exploration of the divisions and connections between humans, animals and the environment.

ISBN: 978-0-6399942-2-2

Publication date: 1 September 2019

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dawn Garisch by AJ Wattamaniuk

DAWN GARISCH is the highly acclaimed author of a non-fiction work, a memoir and six novels, three of which were published in the UK. She has written for television and has had five of her plays and a short film produced.

Her poem Blood Delta won the DALRO Prize in 2007 for best poem, and Miracle won the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry Award in 2011. Difficult Gifts, her debut poetry collection, was published the same year. She also writes short stories and her What To Do About Ricky won the Short.Sharp.Story competition in 2013.

Dawn’s novel Trespass was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in Africa in 2010, and Accident was longlisted for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2018.

She is part of the medical humanities movement and a founding member of the Life Righting Collective where she runs courses in memoir writing. Dawn is also a practising medical doctor and lives in Cape Town.

Breaking Milk, published by Karavan Press, is her seventh novel.

Author photograph by AJ Wattamaniuk.