TV and media personality Kuli Roberts's debut novel, Siren, dishes out grime and dirt of the entertainment industry using fictional characters to tell a tale of the things she has seen or heard, and the realities of existing in South Africa's entertainment industry.
With over 21-years of industry experience under her belt, Roberts’s decision of not following the norm of most celebrities by releasing a memoir was informed by her need to tell a good story in a more holistic approach that is more than just telling her story.
This includes the sharing of crucial life lessons, with the right amount of entertainment and shock value that aims to persuade the reader to reflect and find inner strength.
The book follows a young girl, born from an affair between her mother and her boss, right in the heart of apartheid - in the mid-70s and the story goes on all the way into 2018.
Zinhle’s tale talks about growing up and wanting to pursue a life in the entertainment industry, but also that life isn't easy.
Through the character's rags-to-riches recollection, Kuli delves into explicit topics such as sex, drugs, betrayal, dodgy managers and pimp parties dubbed as “Yellow bone parties”, while also anchored by strong values such as the importance of knowing oneself, a lesson that emerges strongly throughout the book.
“It is nothing short of tabloid scandals,” said Roberts.
Following Zinhle's story, Siren tells of the entertainment industry full of sex, drugs, betrayal, dodgy managers and pimp parties
Zinhle, who later changes her name to Siren, displays bravery and resilience in the face of adversity - traits of a strong South African woman.
“I was never interested in writing about my life because I am a strong fiction reader, who was basically raised by authors such as Sidney Sheldon. I was inspired to bring the reality of Mzansi's entertainment industry to life through storytelling,” she said.
“The book is not pointing at anyone in particular but does have subtle bits about my life that only those who know me will recognise. It's fiction that combines many other experiences and a knowledge of the industry, while telling a good quality story,” she adds.
Robert explains that Siren is not meant to fit in with the current trends of memoirs but rather is something completely different.
Kuli started off at Fair Lady and working her way up to being the Fashion and Beauty editor for Drum, a gossip columnist, the editor of Pace and as a columnist for various publications.
She also had a successful TV career, presenting on iconic TV programmes such as What Not to Wear, The Toasty Show and The Real Goboza, and is currently part of the popular TV show, Trending SA (SABC 3).
“Siren is just another addition to my full career, and I am so excited to be sharing this type of writing with the world. Although the excitement of being an author of an actual physical book hasn't hit me, I think because I have been writing all my life, and therefore this seems like just another job. The truth is that this is a big deal,” she said.
When asked why her book is worth the read, she said: “Think of your Vatiswa Ndara and Mara Louw and their experiences. I am writing about things they haven't even spoken about, from ageism to colourism and many other factors.This creation has taken me on an adventure, into different struggles where I hope the reader will learn about the industry, learn about resilience and that you can make it, ” she said.