On your holiday reading list this month should be this gripping story by a well-known magazine editor, Vanessa Raphaely.
PLUS ONE BY VANESSA RAPHAELY
Could you give us a summary of Plus One?
Plus One is set in the dark underbelly of Hollywood and international women’s magazines. Lisa Lassiter is a deputy editor on a successful women’s magazine in London; her best friend Claudia Hemmingway is a charming but complicated movie actress whose career is about to take off. In the way young women like them do, Lisa and Claudia find themselves on a billionaire’s yacht in Mykonos one weekend. Everyone there seems to be harbouring secrets. It’s a weekend of hedonism and partying – and, in very murky circumstances during a particularly debauched moment, someone dies.
Did your experience as a journalist in London play a part in inspiring the story?
My entire life played a part! Everyone says “write what you know in your first novel”, so I did that. I was definitely a part of the worlds I describe – but like Lisa, I never felt I belonged in them entirely. Too South African, probably… I guess it was inevitable that some of my experiences would find their way into a novel at some point.
What was the transition from a magazine editor to an author like?
It was always going to be difficult to give up all the good bits of a big, secure, well-paying job. Many so called “pals” don’t return your calls when you’re not useful anymore. Doing it at my age, when women struggle with identity and relevance, didn’t help. But I’d had enough, and I wanted to tick off some other items on my bucket list.
Did you always dream of becoming a novelist?
Yes. But I’m a picky reader, and I knew I could never write as well as any of my literary idols. So, like the coward I am, I never really tried. It was only after I left my job, when I was faced with a completely empty schedule, that I buckled down.
What advice would you give to first-time authors?
Don’t write a book for money! (Chances are you’ll make more dog-walking.) Do it because you have a story to tell. Be brave.
Plus One is published by Pan MacMillan. R265
WORDS Irna van Zyl