A Sharks’ win on Saturday in New Zealand could be the best gift ever for novelist John van de Ruit.
The phenomenally successful Durban author launches the fourth and final instalment of his Spud series on Saturday, “Spud, Exit Pursued by a Bear” and had been in a playful tweeting war with @Sharksworld for weeks.
Last Saturday, he was at the semi-finals at Newlands.
“They were saying, ‘we’ve both got a date next Saturday’ and I was saying well I’m definitely launching Spud, Exit pursued by a Bear that’s been on the card for months and they were saying so’s this.”
Van de Ruit begins a packed three week publicity tour, as the Sharks attempt to make history, not just by winning the Super rugby trophy, but also by becoming the first team to do so from behind, criss crossing the Indian Ocean from Australia, to Cape Town and then New Zealand in a series of knock out games.
“I was in Cape Town last week to see the rushes from the filming of Spud: The madness continues, when a friend of mine organised tickets to see the game. I almost got assaulted by Stormers' fans in the stands I got so excited!”
He’s excited about the launch of the “Spud, Exit Pursued by a Bear” too – and he admits, a little daunted.
The four book franchise, which has been 10 years in the making, has racked up more than half a million sales becoming a South African publishing phenomenon.
It starts on Friday night with a book signing in Joburg, where his publishers Penguin are hoping for 2000 fans to pitch up.
“It’s fantastic,” he said, “it’s where I feel the true heat of the thing that Spud has become. I’m just filled with dread at the prospect of signing more than 2000 books. I’m terrified, but at the same time, it blows my mind.”
One film, starring British legend John Cleese and South African born Australian Troye Sivan, was released to great acclaim in 2010 and now the entire cast is back in Cape Town filming the second film – and due to wrap on Sunday.
From there the film will go into post-production with a scheduled release date of June next year.
The film is being produced again by Ross Garland with Donovan Marsh in the director’s chair again too.
“We did extremely well with the first film,” says Van de Ruit, “by South African standards, but the feeling was that we could have done even better on a lower budget.”
This is one of the main reasons why Spud 2 is being filmed in Cape Town rather than Balgowan in the KZN Midlands.
Van de Ruit though is excited by the rushes he’s seen so far.
“It’s lighter, it’s funnier, and no one dies in this one!”
And, if this one does well at the box office, the entire cast could be back sooner than expected to film the final two books in one go, but first there’s the launch of the last Spud and three weeks of meeting fans across the country.