From left, Kate Sidley,  Maya Fowler, Orly Kastel-Bloom and Kate Mosse discuss what it takes to be a writer in A Day in the Life. Picture: Orielle Berry
From left, Kate Sidley, Maya Fowler, Orly Kastel-Bloom and Kate Mosse discuss what it takes to be a writer in A Day in the Life. Picture: Orielle Berry
Africa Melane poses in front of a poster promoting the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Picture: Orielle Berry
Africa Melane poses in front of a poster promoting the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Picture: Orielle Berry

Cape Town - The Franschhoek Literary Festival wrapped up on Sunday afternoon following a weekend feast of the written word in which publishers and book lovers engaged with writers and critics in exploring everything and anything to do with books.

Dozens of literati flocked to the Boland town to hear well-known local and overseas authors discuss their works and why they wrote and how they wrote.

There were some controversial issues covered: from how race and colour impact the way we see, to how writers overcame abandonment, displacement and betrayal by writing themselves back into existence.

One of the overriding themes of the festival which came out again and again in many sessions was how important it was to get out your story whatever it was, and put pen to paper. A courageous act in many ways.

In fact, many investigative writers have put their lives on the line to reveal the truth. In one of the most well-attended events Despite the Risks, top investigative journalist Mandy Weiner asked how far journalists will go to unearth the truth. Crispian Olivier who wrote about one time rampant corruption Port Elizabeth in How to Steal a City and Pieter du Toit and Adriaan Basson's book Enemy of the People which unearthed the facts about former president Jacob Zuma and state capture, revealed they do in fact put themselves under great risk. This both in terms of threats to their lives and in keeping sources secret and their morals intact. 

"Ones reputation is at stake. You can always change a story afterwards but once it's there it's there," commented Du Toit.

Du Toit added that it's sometimes extremely difficult as the public pushes for a certain type of narrative and as a journalist one has to maintain a sense of balance and not let a good story get in the way of facts.

Many authors spoke about how and why they write stories and crime writer Karin Brynard said she found a way in her latest novel Homeland of exploring land restitution, police corruption and the story of the San among others through the vehicle of her murder mystery.

Africa Melane poses in front of a poster promoting the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Picture: Orielle Berry


For Israeli writer Orly Kastel Bloom An Egyptian Novel allowed her to write about her family and her relationship with her parents and about dislocation in part through fiction and in part fact.

Iman Rappetti goes through a catharsis in uncovering her past and her transformation in penning Becoming Iman.

Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating talks was A Day in the Life in which Kate Sidley asked what it actually takes to to write for a living. Kastel-Bloom revealed that many years ago she sold her house in order to have the freedom to write and for most writers it's simply hard work to make the words flow and requires extraordinary self-discipline, patience and a great determination.

Maya Fowler revealed, "Fear freezes you and you must dish up." 

All revealed it often takes tremendous courage to put action into written words.

The authors stressed that in telling a story it was important to put down the words and then rather return to it to get it right. The devil's in the detail - returning again and again to fine-tune your words, defining your characters and creating the moments in the story. But all said, "just get it down first. There has to be a point where writing is better than not writing at all...."