Irene Sabatini: My Writings - Irene Sabatini

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August 17, 2014, National Public Radio

Forbidden 'Lace': A Book That Belonged To The Convent Girls In Zimbabwe

8 December 2009 - Magic!

I was walking along a bridge this September when I stopped and looked over the railing. The usual swans were there gliding in their effortless way on the water, but interspersed among them were these grey birds with necks as long and curved as the swans; these creatures however seemed ungainly in the water, gawky, and not so pleasing to the eye. I looked and looked at them and then suddenly I smacked my forehead, of course, here they were, The Ugly Ducklings! Here they were before they became creatures of fabled beauty and elegance.

And then suddenly in the exact same spot where I was standing there was a boy, six or seven years old, standing with his father, looking out at the birds. I could feel their breath on me. I could feel the boy's excited quiver, his hand squeezing his father's, his feet on tip toes. I sat down on a bench and looking out at them I wrote a bit more of their story, the story of the book I'm working on now.

This is what I mean when I keep telling people about the magic of writing: all of a sudden your characters are real. They are people. They breathe. They walk with you. You see them. It happened with The Boy Next Door. Later, the boy and his father will walk all the way up to the old town, along its wonderful cobbled streets and they will find the longest bench in the world and they will sit there, together. I will wait for them...

11 November 2009 - Where the story ends, begins...

Another thing I kept getting asked by the children, during a school visit to show and tell about my experience as a real, live author of books for grown-ups, was: are you going to write a sequel, like in Harry Potter?

I hear the question and that exquisite moment of exhilaration, happiness and sadness when I wrote the last line, word, in The Boy Next Door comes rushing back to me. It was a good-bye (but not 'The End'). The work was done (for now).

Every now and again I can feel Lindiwe, Ian and.... (well, I won't go into who else so that I don't spoil it for people who haven't read the book) looking over my shoulder as I write now about some friends and a tragedy that is pulling them into the past, the recriminations that they have to confront in the present...

The funny thing is: I know exactly where Lindiwe and Ian's story begins again. This beginning which came to me months ago was a great surprise and delight: I thought, no kidding, I would never have guessed it...but how wonderful that it should start there!

So what does this mean, will there be 'a sequel'?



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