The ‘Why’ behind the Africa Online Book Fair: Romance Authors & Books

Africa Online Book Fair Facebook Cover 2 (2)(1)

It’s an understatement to say I am excited! The online book fair is a first for me and I am are ready to start.

But before I get into giving you the details of the where and the when, I’d like to explain the point behind #AfricaOnBookFair.

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, mostly at the end tail of the Struggle. In 1994 when we had our first democratic election I was still in primary school. Buying books, much less writing books weren’t something that was encouraged for any person of color. Yet authors of color prevailed.

They wrote books about the history of the country, books about their daily struggle. Wonderful Drum Magazine writers wrote some of the most memorable short stories that opened up worlds for me when I studied them in high school and university. Poetry like To Whom It May Concern by Sipho Sepamla still touches many around the world. But…yes there’s a but, I didn’t come across prolific romance stories set in my country and the rest of Africa, that didn’t have tinges of colonialism or was written for a specific audience that didn’t include readers outside of it.

The stories weren’t inherently diverse. Stereotypical roles for people of color littered these romantic texts and even till this day when I go to my local library and bookstores I have to hunt for romances written that’s multicultural or even interracial, romance that showcases the beauty and scope of the landscape as well as the people of this continent, and also the authors that come from it.

Romance authors in Africa don’t just write contemporary/historical novels in bush settings or urban settings, they write steamy reads about fairies and werewolves too. Local heroes and heroines making a life abroad. Nail biting suspense and mystery romance novels. Science fiction and fantasy. Young adult and new adult stories. They even interpret characters from different genders, races, cultural backgrounds and religions.

And I asked myself, where can you find these books and authors with so much diversity among them? Where is a place you can walk into and have a good fun old time getting book deals and meeting your next favorite author? You guess right. A book fair.

But because Africa is a really…really big continent, how do you get all of these terrific romance authors and their stories together in one spot for readers to discover them?

Thank God for the invention of the military programme that became the internet! Online is the easiest way to find things you’re searching for. Whether it’s the definition of a word (so guilty of that) or buying a pair of shoes, online shopping, buying and selling, and researching are things we consider common. Even in Africa.

Everyone owns a device they can use to access the internet.

And that’s how the #AfricaOnBookFair was created. It stemmed from this need to say, “If you’re looking for romance stories set in Africa or want to find out who your next favorite African author in every romance genre out there is, here they are. Online. Easy to access. You don’t have to pay to get in. You don’t have to stand in a queue. You don’t have to feel hot and sweaty. Or cold and tired. You sit in your home or wherever you might find yourself and check out what’s on offer.” Money you would’ve spent on gas, food and tickets to get in can go into buying extra books! As a bookworm, that makes me extremely happy.

And I know every little bookworm heart is giving a fist pump *laughs*

The Africa Online Book Fair aims to bring African romance authors and readers together. In a nutshell it is as simple as that. And I really hope you’ll come meet every single one of them.

Event date: Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June 2017.

Starts: 10:00 am ( Cape Town time)

Ends: 22:00 pm (Cape Town time)

 

So without further adieu, here they are:

Aziza Eden Walker

Bailey Quinn

Elaine Dodge

Inge Saunders

Jayne Bauling

Joanne Macgregor

Kathy Bosman

Leenna Naidoo

Marie Dry

Nana Prah

Sherita Singh

Theresa Beharrie

TM Clark

Link to the Event Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/372063406523550/

Twitter: @AfricaOnBookFr

Instagram: @africaonlinebookfair

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Inside These Lines welcomes Author Leenna Naidoo

m_Leenna Everyday

1. Tell me a bit about yourself.

The writer in me dabbles in a little bit of most things: romance, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy, and everything in between. In the real world, I dabble in design, teaching and, occasionally, baking for very special people.

2. What inspires you to write?

Places, people, imagined incidents…anything really:-D

The desert, in Yulin (China), was one place which inspired me greatly. It was truly amazing to write Situation No Win–set in some of the places I was then exploring–during my stay there. Coffee-shops also inspire me; especially if they are set on a corner and have a view of the sky. For me, that creates good writing chi 😀

3. What project are you most excited about right now?

It’s exciting to be relaunching Situation No Win. It’s a little nerve-wracking because I’m way behind schedule. I still have to redesign the cover and complete the new edit. I’m in two minds about this whole project because, while I love the story and believe it needs to be reintroduced to more readers, I still want to complete my other novel for the year, The Incident At Wolfe Creek, which also began as a NanoWriMo attempt.

4. Which authors are you currently hooked on? Any recommendations.

These past two months I haven’t been able to read as much as I’d like to, so I’m still in a historical fiction mood. I loved Millie Thom’s Shadow of the Raven and am looking forward to the rest of the series.
On my current TBR list are: A Love That Never Tires by Allyson Jeleyne, and Silent In The Grave by Deanna Raybourn; both of which look like they will satisfy my craving for an Elizabeth Peters style story.

5. If one of your books could be made into a movie, which one? And why?

Settle Down Now without a doubt. It’s fun, quirky, PG and set in some of my favourite scenic places–the North coast of Durban, Scotland, and the Indian Ocean. There’s lots of action and romance to satisfy everyone. I also think Charmaine and Rob speak to all of us who are flawed and coping with our situations the best we can.

 

m_Settle Down Now 10 low res

Find out more about Settle Down Now here: https://leennanaidoo.wordpress.com/whats-on-with-charmaine-and-rob/

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/373390

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/settle-down-now/id979315878?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/settle-down-now

You can find Leenna on her blog: http://www.leennanaidoo.wordpress.com

Excerpt:

Nathan chuckled.

Gillian continued, “Just to give you an idea, Surf City, Nathan is being likened to a cross between Adonis and Charming Tantrum by our producer. Charmaine’s sitting across from me, her hair standing up on end more than ever, looking pale and nervous, like that girl at the dance who never gets noticed–Wallpaper Girl. What do you have to say to her, then Nate? You going to ask her to dance?”

The production assistant had materialised beside me with Joss’s note. ‘Speak! Ask him questions. Be interested. Remember what I taught you. Smile. And don’t screw this up. He’s utterly, gorgeously hot! And very photogenic.’ Thanks for nothing Joss. That’s exactly what I didn’t need to know.

“Of course I am, Mike. She’s the most interesting girl in the room.” Nathan chuckled again, sounding amazingly seductive for someone who claimed to have just come off a twelve hour shift on a stressful job.

“Well, Nate, what are you waiting for. Go talk to her!” commanded Gillian.

Nathan obeyed. “So, Charmaine. I know you don’t know me from Jack, but I’d really like to get to know you better. You seem genuine, down to earth and love dogs as much as I do. I think we have a lot more in common and I’d like to at least be friends.” Joss was jumping up and down in excitement. Nathan, it seemed was everyone’s dream come true.

There was an awkward silence. It took a second or two for me to realise that I was the one everyone was looking at. Gillian was gesticulating meaningfully to the forgotten sheet of prepared questions. “Er.., that sound’s great, Nathan. But do you mind if I ask you a few questions first?”

“Not at all, Charmaine. Shoot?”

“Great. Thanks. Erm…,” I scanned the sheet. ‘What would be your perfect date? Who is the person you admire the most? What is your biggest dream?’ And so the list went. Superficial, useless… “Erm, yes,” I decided to ad-lib, “So, Nathan, why did you break up with your last girlfriend?”