And now folks an author from South Africa - A beautiful country as I know from living there once upon time...
Name: Rita Kruger
Please give us a short introductory bio.
Rita Kruger is wife, daughter, mother, and soon-to-be grandmother. She is a therapist by day, a spiritual leader, coach and at times, a witch. She surrounds herself with what enriches her body, mind and soul. Family. Friends. Nature. Great food. Good wine. Mountains of books.
She told stories before she could write them. From childhood she was addicted to books, finding in them an escape from her boring life. Reading showed her mankind at its best and worst, took her to places she will never be, and taught her to never stop dreaming. She told stories every day, but never wrote them down. Until now.
Her genres of choice is horror, thriller and fantasy. Her debut horror/ paranormal novel, The Woods, was released in December 2017. Her writing addresses real life themes of good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate and how easily we cross from one to the other.
Where in the world are you?
I’m living in Sasolburg, Free State, where nothing is free and everything is in a state. This is in the beautiful South Africa.
Where in the world would you like to be?
I love it here, but I always wanted to visit Scotland and Indonesia.
Books – buy links:
The Woods: https://www.draft2digital.com/book/303714
Snapshot Selfies: https://www.books2read.com/u/4DoMOr
Blog Link: Rita’s Reading Room https://ritakruger1970.wixsite.com/forloveofreading
Social Media (Please provide links & handles):
Rita Kruger Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rita.kruger.9469
I love The Manual of the Warrior of Light, by Paulo Coelho. It has taught me great lessons on how to be, and how to become. This book is what inspired me to step up and write, even when other people told me I was too old to begin a new career.
My favourite part is this:
“A warrior of light is never predictable.
He might dance down the street on his way to work, gaze into the eyes of a complete stranger and speak of love at first sight, or else defend an apparently absurd idea. Warriors of light allow themselves days like these.
He is not afraid to weep over ancient sorrows or to feel joy at new discoveries.
When he feels that the moment has arrived, he drops everything and goes off on some long-dreamed-of adventure. When he realises that he can do no more, he abandons the fight, but never blames himself for having committed a few unexpected acts of folly.
A warrior does not spend his days trying to play the role that others have chosen for him.”
Favourite snack when writing:
I snack rather healthy on chopped apple with cinnamon and all kinds of seeds, or some nuts and dried fruit. On days when I want to live dangerously, I drink strong black coffee!
What do you write on – computer (what type) – software –pen and pencil – quill and vellum – and tell us why.
It depends where I am, and on my mood. Usually I use my laptop (an old Aspire that fell off Noah’s Ark, according to my kids) and Word docs. But I also use my mobile to record ideas or paragraphs on Evernote when I’m walking or, out in a mall and stuff comes to me.
When I have writer’s block, I usually grab a pen and paper and go outside to write for an hour or two.
Where do you write? (Can you post a photo?)
My window looks out over open fields. Around four in the afternoon, the cows come by on their way to camp for the night. If the weather is nice, I go outside and sit there to write.
What are your current projects?
I am writing on a new fantasy series, Voices of the Apocalypse. The first book, The Blue Jay’s call, is at Beta readers already.
I’m writing the next one, The Raven’s Flight right now. This series is rich in culture and myths in local areas, and I am enjoying every moment of the research.
Can you share a little of your current work with us (no more than 1000 words)?
Mianda passed into the forgiving darkness of sleep, and in the morning she woke to a world changed irrevocably. Uncle Ikolo touched her shoulder with kindness, and held out a calabash of homemade beer for her to drink. She did not question why she was allowed to drink beer, but finding her mouth dry, and her throat parched, she swallowed the thick brew.
“What is the score now,” he asked.
For a moment she laid quietly, not sure what he was talking about. Then she remembered and a smile broke out on her face. “Twenty for me and five and ten for you,” she said.
“Twenty for me?”
She giggled. “Twenty for me!” In his eyes she read that he knew this, but the game was to cheer her up, or take her mind off something.
“So, riddle me.”
“Yes,” he rubbed his hands together. “It will be an easy win. You are almost asleep, and you just had half a calabash of beer.”
“That is unfair!”
“No,” he told her, “that is making it fair to me.”
She laid still, thinking for a long time.
“Come on!” he nudged her shoulder.
“I’m still thinking,” she said.
“You think too much,” he told her. “Just ask me something.”
“My feet are black, my head is silver and my belly is white,” she said, watching his face intently.
The lines on his forehead squirmed, and then pulled into knots. He squinted his eyes. Mianda knew this meant that he was thinking hard. He rocked back and forth of his hunches, then tapped the fist of one hand on the open palm of the other. She waited, her smile growing larger and larger as the time passed.
“Do you give up?”
“Ask it again, louder this time,” he told her and turned his ear towards her as if he could find the answer if only he heard it well.
“My feet are black, my head is silver and my belly is white inside.”
“It’s your grandma Feza, after a meal of cassava porridge!”
She laughed, her mouth open wide, her eyes closed tightly. The shaking hurt her leg, and she stopped short.
“Does it hurt again?”
She nods, her face a somber mask.
“The beer will help with that,” he told her.
“It’s a pot on the fire,” she told him. “Blackened by the fire below, silver iron on top, and filled with…”
She smiled. “You got that one right, at least.”
“Do I get a point?”
“I got part of it right!”
“But not all of it,” she insisted.
“Ask me another,” he said.
She yawned. “I’m tired,” she told him. “It feels as if I had not slept at all.”
“Then go back to sleep,” he said, gently touching her forehead.
Laying down again, she looked over to where her mother was sleeping. Outside she heard Grandma Feza speaking the words to ward off evil. She closed her lids with a smile. In her mind’s eyes she saw the old woman dancing around the hut, a calabash of fresh chicken blood in one hand, and the other flying through the air, fingers flicking the blood out over the hut, the yard, and the plants she uses in her charms. She’d be naked, her heavy breasts hanging low, stomach round and full above her skinny legs as she danced. Afterward she would wash herself, and rub her whole body with cooked out cow fat until she shined all over.
Mianda turned her head to the side, where Grandma Feza kept her work clothes, neatly folded. It was gone. The whole lot. Today Grandmother meant business.
She is putting on her full uniform.
Mianda dosed off.
Outside Feza’s preparations continued. Over the fat came the powder of fine blue dust. From head to toe she patted the powder, until she was the color of the sky, the color of the Gods, the color of the Blue Jay Bird. Only then she tied on new charms, and her loincloth.
Putting on the skirt, made of soft monkey skins gathered in the waist, each skin hanging loose from the others, but soft as a blanket. Feza swung her hips in a wide circle and watched as the skins flapped and jumped and danced. It was as if they were still alive. Next, she tied on a necklace of rat, crocodile and leopard teeth.
Finally she painted herself. Large white circles around her eyes; an owl seeing into the soul. One red circle on the forehead, like the diamond headed snake which strike hard and fast. Broad stripes of yellow on the cheeks, reminding those who looked at her of the power of the leopard that hid within. Strong thick red strokes down the arms and across the chest.
Around her ankles, upper arms and wrists were bells, fifty-four altogether, woven into grass bangles that rang when she moved. People heard her coming from miles away.
My presence will be felt in this village all day long. Women will hide in fear, men will greet me with brave faces and hands shaking behind their backs. Boys will bow down in awe.
Grandma Feza cleansed the hut and its occupants from evil, hoping that this will put the hearts of fearful neighbours at ease. Because if this failed, surely somebody will pay with their life for what had happened. The village people would turn against those who they considered their friends. Brother might point to brother, a husband to his own wife, a mother to her son. All ties of friendship and bonds of blood would break apart.
Why did you write that? What inspired it?
This scene is to introduce the concept of evil in the book. The story is set in Democratic Republic of Congo, and village life, and culture is an important part of the story. Before this scene, a lion attacked the village, in fact, the house of Feza, the village Medicine Woman.
Her daughter, Tunga killed the lion, but she was injured badly. Also Mianda, Feza’a granddaughter were injured. If something as serious as this happens, it means that witchery is at work. This can mean trouble for the family. If neighbours fear the evil can touch them, they can exile them, or kill them.
I loved writing this scene, showing all these important things in (what I hope is) a clever way.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never stop learning the art. Read books, attend workshops, do courses, listen to podcasts. Do whatever you need to reach that next level of being a true artist.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Edgar A Poe. I love the way he is able to get into the mind-set of a crazy person, and then write as if he seems normal. But then, slowly the madness will dribble through, until it is fully revealed. And you know you have been strung along to this moment, for this beautiful madness that is now dropped in your lap like a treasure and a curse. My dream is to write like that one day. He is the Grandfather of the unreliable narrator.
Can you tell us a writerly joke?
What did the leopard tell the lion who told bad jokes?
“Stop doing that, you’ll make me puma pants.”
Anything else on your mind?
I’m a writer, I always have something on my mind!