Last week, Joy Watson, Cathy Park Kelly and Melissa A. Volker spoke to Karina M. Szczurek about love and relationships in their lives and writing at the beautiful Stonehaven, the home of the Union of Jewish Women (UJW). Thank you to the UJW for hosting, thank you to the authors for their insights and laughter, and to everyone who attended with such generosity of spirit. A beautiful evening!
Thank you, Bernie Shelly, for being there and for sharing a few photographs with us!
… Volker’s tales are carefully spun, a weave of gossamer thread of the finest ilk. Her books take a while to write and she has an uncanny ability to transpose the reader into time and place.
In A Fractured Land, we are able to visualise the arid landscape, the sweat of hot nights is tangible, and we can smell the lingering scent of wisteria on dry, balmy days. Volker is adept at breathing life into the South African landscape, making it jump off the page to embed itself in the reader’s mind.
“Quite a lot of work goes into my books,” says Volker. “I have been working on my current novel for about three years. I’m quite fussy. I try hard to layer the characters, to make the dialogue work. I feel like each novel is taking longer – maybe I’ve become a harsher critic of my own work, or maybe I am learning the craft of writing more.”
The time that Volker invests in her writing is evident in her other books, Shadow Flicker (released in 2019) and The Pool Guy, a novella published in 2021. Attention to detail sets her work aside from other books in the genre, where some writers have managed to push out many books in a short time.
Volker’s writing stands out in its meticulous effort to cobble together a love story that is complex, exquisitely told and of a high calibre.
What also sets Volker apart is that both A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker skillfully incorporate an attempt to pluck at the strings of environmental consciousness.
“I write about the environment because it’s an issue of concern to me. When writing the books, I thought about some of the social circles that I am in where these issues don’t even touch ground. I realised that one way of getting people to think about it is through fiction.
“Sometimes people are just so fatigued about bad news and watching it on TV. So I wanted to package it in a way that was palatable… in a way that raises awareness.”
In 2019, when the first two Karavan Press titles – Melissa A. Volker’s A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker – went to print, I was travelling in Turkey and Austria and asked Penny Haw to assist with checking the printer’s proofs that arrived while I was away. Melissa and Penny worked together to make sure that all was in order. For me, it was terrifying not to be able to oversea everything myself as I was completely new to this side of things as a publisher, but I also knew that our books were in excellent care.
This year, when Penny’s novels, Nicko and The Wilderness Between Us, were looking for a distributor in South Africa, being a fan of her work, I did not hesitate to offer entering an agreement with her and Karavan Press’s distributor, Protea Distribution. In this way, the books and their amazing author belong to the Karavan Press family and I am delighted to be working with Penny.
And so it was wonderful to see that, when I could not attend Penny’s book signing at Exclusive Books Constantia (I was interviewing Nancy Richards at her Greyton launch of The Skipper’s Daughter), Melissa was there.
This is what I meant when I wrote on our submissions page: “We want to establish strong bonds between our authors and readers, so please join the community of writers, creatives and readers that is Karavan Press” – the literary friendships between us.
Earlier this year, Karavan Press authors, Dawn Garisch and Melissa A. Volker participated in the Salonfestival Cape Town.
Here is a link to the brand new Salonfestival magazine of 2020. The Cape Town festival features in it. The magazine is only available in German but the photographs tell their own story of times when we could still gather freely and celebrate these cultural encounters: Salonfestival. Happy memories!
I think I met Missy Volker, author of Shadow Flicker, on Twitter (quelle surprise) through author and publisher, Karina Szczurek where we bonded over our love of books and cats. I then met her IRL at Karina’s house and subsequently at the launch of my first novel Ms Conception at the Book Lounge where Missy was kind enough to paint my nails (yes, at the book shop) and mend a bra strap that decided to give up the ghost just before we began (it was an eventful launch). Missy has supported me on my writing journey right from the get-go and it gives me great pleasure now to return the favour – and not only because she is a friend – but because I really LOVE her writing. Her books could be categorised as up-lit – literature that uplifts and they are EXACTLY what people need to read right now.
Tell us about your day job and how it’s been affected during #lockdown. Also, any grooming tips for us like how to paint our own damn nails??
I’m a beauty therapist. I work from home, but we were closed in lockdown. The sector reopened on Friday but I decided not to open just yet as I work from home and have family members with comorbidities. Also the husband has set up his WFH office in my salon. Maybe it’s time to finish that pesky first draft? Grooming tips? Always wear sunscreen and, if you decide to wax yourself, remember once it’s on there’s only one way to get it off. And it is not 123NOPE.
Nobody does quarantine better than literary cats. They know how to stay at home and snuggle up in bed with a great book. Here are Karavan Press’s Frosty and Salieri with Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker. Up Lit at its best! If you would like to follow in Frosty’s and Salieri’s furry footsteps, but don’t have a physical copy of the book yet, we offer the ebook version on Kindle at a special quarantine price. Happy reading! Stay safe. Furry love from all of us.