In a high octane age of fast-paced technological advances there still is something romantic about writing by hand and capturing scribbles on paper, imagining the likes of author Anaïs Nin who was considered one of the finest writers of female erotica of her time.
It is the route local self-published adult fiction writer Tracy Hattingh chose when embarking on her first novel, made in Polokwane in 2014. Her book of 276 pages titled Camelia, written under the pseudonym of Mia Holland, resembles a journey of perseverance to achieve a dream that found a footing when she was a 16-year-old raised in Cape Town.
About three decades later her first attempt features as an e-book on-line and in addition is available on an internet site that prints single paperback copies on demand. In an interview she explained that it was the result having been inspired by the launch of English writer EL James’s Fifty Shades trilogy.
Without any formal creative writing experience, it moved Hattingh to download a guide to writing a novel followed by six months of jotting down her thoughts on paper and simultaneously gathering background information on a locale she has to date never visited. With the book set in Manhattan in New York, Hattingh plotted her story around maps of the setting found through on-line search engines. She even opted to include quotes attributed to American President Donald Trump and references to the Trump Towers in the script, coupled with the clause that the entire manuscript is fictitious.
Also the pseudonym she settled for was one of three possibilities derived from an on-line generator engine. She indicated that she was eventually ready to reveal her identity and contemplated writing under her own name in future.
The teaser to Camelia was posted on the internet to coincide with Valentine’s Day last year, she said. The most difficult of the entire process, she admitted, was marketing of the title that she attempted through a dedicated facebook page and social media tools. Still, the obstacles haven’t deterred Hattingh from starting on the follow-up to the book, with the first two chapters already being posted on-line for the benefit of fans who wouldn’t be able to wait and see where the story line of Camelia Reborn takes them.
The protagonist is a feisty interior decorator who falls in love with her client, an affluent young businessman in the hospitality industry and the rest is history, save for the violence and murder threaded into the plot.
As opposed to that of her muse, Hattingh described her own writing as short and to the point without the story line being predictable, despite a twist to the tale as the bad character returns to the heroine’s life. She was quick to point out that the main character was loosely based on her personality “There is definitely a bit of me in her.”
She said she envisaged to be done with the manuscript by December this year or around next February. The only thing standing between her and finishing her next title was her addiction to an on-line fashion portal game, which introduced her to fellow-gamers and other writers scattered across the world, she quipped.
Hattingh emphasised that she didn’t intend stopping with Camelia Reborn, but to continue writing crime thrillers. “I have a sick obsession with serial killers and cannibals,” she declared in conclusion.
Dreaming of her work being labelled one of New York’s best sellers one day, the writing experience has thus far been a learning curve and it was satisfying to hold the hard copy of her own, self-published book in her hands, remarked the indie author in conclusion.
Story and photo: YOLANDE NEL