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Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

Tim Noakes Joins Paige Nick for the Launch of Her Satirical Novel Death By Carbs at The Book Lounge

Tim Noakes and Paige Nick

The line in the sand – or rather across the centre of the table – had been drawn! Downstairs at The Book Lounge, earlier this month, the edibles were neatly laid out. On one side of the red tape were the Banting-friendly nuts. (One wit suggested off camera that the Banting-friendly nuts were all upstairs filling up the seats with their newly slimmed down derrières …) On the other side the sweet potato pastries and brownies. As always, the Leopards Leap wine flowed generously, but for those who care, no carb-free wine was available …

The event was the launch of the latest book from the pen of the multi-talented author Paige Nick. Death By Carbs is a satirical novel inspired by Tim Noakes’ controversial cookbook The Real Meal Revolution. In the words of Mervyn Sloman, who welcomed an eager crowd to the Book Lounge, “the cover bears a remarkable resemblance …”
Paige NickDeath By CarbsHe described Death By Carbs as: “Marvellous, scary, sick, slightly twisted, terribly funny and extremely smart!”

Nick got the idea for the book after hearing about The Real Meal Revolution everywhere she went. “In the queue at the chemist, at dinner parties … wherever I went somebody was obsessing about this book.” When Nick mentioned Tim Noakes’ name to a friend of hers she sighed in exasperation, saying, “I could just kill him!” Nick replied, “Pick a number and stand in line …” The idea was born of writing a crime spoof, and her creative process kicked into action.

Once the book was completed, Nick “stalked” Noakes, begging for his private email address from friends and acquaintances. She sent him messages on five or six different platforms, and then spammed him. She finally got him on the phone and said, “I’ve written a book about you and I want this book to go out into the world with good karma. I really want your blessing.”

“Did you really say karma!?” Sloman interrupted. “I did!” said Nick. Noakes picked up the story, saying, “I told her I would never stand in your way. Go … publish your book.” Nick advised Noakes he might want to read it first, “Seeing as you die on the first page …”

At that stage the manuscript’s working title was Who Killed Tim Noakes?. “It came at rather a difficult time in my life,” said the professor, who read it regardless. “I thought she’s put so much effort into it and it’s such a good book that I’m not going to stand in her way. But at the time I was feeling fragile. I’m less fragile now. I’m very happy to support this book because it introduces Banting to even more people.”Tim Noakes, Paige Nick and Mervyn Sloman

While doing her research for this book, Nick discovered a rich vein of gold on Facebook, where some Banting support groups have as many as 140 000 members, some of which are “moer of an active”. She described them as being eternally online. “I do not know when they eat! I do not know when they sleep!”

Much of the interactions are positive, folk sharing recipes and encouraging each others’ weight loss, but much is mean-spirited fighting which is like an addictive soap opera. Nick described the hilarious comment thread where a member of the group confessed to falling off the wagon by having had a Whopper Burger. She proceeded to describe the misery of her bowels and was harangued mercilessly – not for oversharing but for forgetting that she was part of the “Banting for Life” group. She was warned by one of the more self-righteous compadres that this was not a Banting-for-when-you-feel-like-it group!

On a more serious note, Noakes spoke about the vested interests of commercial enterprises that keep people eating in an unhealthy manner and consuming medications to remedy this. He recalled a visit to clinic at Delft where many people have been treated for high blood pressure for many years. They have not, however, received any kind of nutritional counselling that would facilitate their recovery. Noakes is adamant about one thing: “I just want people to know the truth,” he said. “There has been a massive cover up.”

Those who attended the event engaged in a vigorous question and answer session with Nick and Noakes. They queued patiently afterwards, despite the heat, waiting for the celebrity duo to sign their copies of Death By Carbs and The Real Meal Revolution.

 

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) live tweeted the event using #livebooks:


 

 

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“Please Never Submit Again.” – Bestselling Author Gareth Crocker Shares His Experience of the Publishing World in Ka-Boom

 
Ka-BoomKa-Boom, the latest book by Gareth Crocker, is the perfect Christmas gift: fast-paced, punchy and funny.

In the book, Crocker describes his early years as a promising soccer player and poet, his first job – in the criminal underworld – the time he decided to run the Comrades, the time he decided to try out for the Olympics, and, ultimately, how he became the bestselling author of five books, having sold more than three million copies worldwide.

Two of Crocker’s novels, Finding Jack and Never Let Go, are being adapted for films in Hollywood.

In this excerpt from Ka-Boom, Crocker shares his experience of trying to find a publisher, during which time he amassed a chest full of rejection letters along the lines of: “Please never submit again.”

Gareth Crocker

Read the extract:

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‘The only horror here … is your writing.’

 
So here, in brief, is my view of the modern book-publishing world.

To begin with, let’s look at the money (he writes, with a straight face). The reality is that if you plan to live on something even vaguely more substantial than tree bark and urine, you pretty much have to land an international publishing deal. Even then 99 out of 100 authors still can’t make a decent living out of their books. Those who claim they can are, in fact, often retired, boosted by a plump inheritance, lying their pants off or supported by a kind and hard-working spouse. Either that or they rob banks in their spare time. Part of the problem is that the buying public’s attention span has dwindled alarmingly over the past decade. This is further exacerbated by the increasing competition for people’s leisure time which, itself, is shrinking. The other difficulty is that, unlike at the cinema, say, where a moviegoer has maybe a dozen films to choose from, a large bookstore presents a buyer with 78-quadrillion titles. I maintain that it is an absolute miracle for a stranger to emerge from a bookstore clutching your novel in his or her mitts. It’s a wonder of such proportions that it feels almost biblical. There are very few industries where one has to compete not only against a sea of current competitors but against an ocean of rivals from around the world … many of whom have been dead for decades. It’s like running a race against every professional athlete in the history of the sport. And let’s not even get into the current e-book ‘pirating’ culture that is bayoneting the already gravely wounded and malnourished writer (feel free to cue the violins at any point).

After that cheery start it’s important to note that the South African book market is about as big as a postage stamp on a rhinoceros’s arse. Which may tempt you to try and land an international publisher. However this, as you now know, is far easier said than done. Here are several … shall we euphemistically say ‘hurdles’ … that need to be overcome. For the sake of brevity, I shall list only a handful of the key ones:

    1. Large international publishers (based mainly in London and New York) receive *47.356-trillion zillion (*audited figure) book submissions a day.

 

    2. Large international publishers already have full lists of their own authors and, in many cases, don’t have the capacity or the desire to take on new writers.

 

    3. Large international publishers have to invest heavily in new writers, given that it takes many years to build a writer’s name and reputation. So they have to be absolutely blown away by an unpublished author just to consider him or her.

 

    4. Large international publishers often take a dim view of authors living in the colonies and, subconsciously or not, prejudge writing that does not come out of the more cosmopolitan cities.

 

    5. Large international publishers do not accept ‘unsolicited manuscripts’. Which means that any manuscripts you send them … will never be opened at all.

 
Ah, right. So that’s quite a challenge then. After all, it’s unlikely that one of these publishing behemoths will offer you a multibook publishing deal if they have not, in fact, read your work.

So how then does one get published in this mystical world of closed doors and near-impossible odds?

Well, unfortunately, you need to find a reputable agent to represent you.

Agents are the publishing world’s ‘filtering system’. Simply put, they sort the wheat from the chaff. It’s actually rather brilliant. Given that the vast majority of reputable agents operate purely on a commission basis, this means that they will only take on writers who they feel have an actual shot of being published. In other words, their livelihood depends on their ability to spot and nurture talent.

The publishers then sit back and wait for these agents to find the next Patterson, Grisham and Crocker (ahem).

Which means that you, as the lowly writer, have no choice but to delve into the often slimy back alleys of literary agents. That sounds rather gross and sordid, which is quite right (more on this subject, anon).

Of course, I didn’t know this when I submitted Malevolence to every publisher on the planet at great financial and emotional cost. When I found out that I needed an agent to get my foot in the door, I was forced to delve even deeper into my already hefty student loan to print out and dispatch more copies. (These days, of course, most agents are content to receive email submissions. Hmph.)

You can’t imagine how ruinously expensive it was. Especially if you were as young and poor as I happened to be. Paper is very heavy. Posting or couriering off a 500-page, double-spaced manuscript is a little like sending a chair halfway around the world. You get charged a small fortune for it.

In the months and years that followed, whole forests would be stripped and laid bare so that rejection slips could be printed and posted to me (at my own cost, no less, as agents insist that you include a fully paid-for self-addressed return envelope with your manuscript so that you can also bear the financial burden of being stabbed in the heart). In the beginning I kept a file of my failure. But then, when the file got too heavy and threatened to collapse my writing desk, I upgraded to a large chest. The sort that you would find in the land of Narnia. This was better because I could close the lid and try not to think about how awful I was. And then, one day, the chest lid would no longer close.

A smarter person would have given up at this point. But not me. Oh no. I was going to ride the wheels off this train. Fortunately, the rejection notes themselves were often quite kind and supportive which would lift my spirits to no end. Here are extracts from some of the more memorable ones (I actually have them framed in my writing studio):


    – ‘Please never submit again.’
     
    – ‘I can’t work out if this is a horror novel or a parody of one. Either way, it’s woeful.’
     
    – ‘I’ve never seen so many clichés assembled together in one story. Reading your manuscript was indeed a dark and stormy night.’
     
    – ‘The only horror here is your writing.’
     
    – ‘No. God no.’

 
And then you would pick up a writer’s magazine where some famous author would relate his or her story of how they first became published.

‘So I decided to write my first book in 2004. I was convinced nobody would like it and so I very nearly never submitted it. But thankfully I did and immediately found an agent. He loved the book so much he set up a publishing auction and I was offered $43-billion by a dozen international publishers that very week. I really am so blessed.’

Let’s see how blessed you are when I ram my laptop down your throat.

The reality, of course, is that very few writers have an overnight ‘rags to riches’ story. It almost never happens.

Anyway, after every agent and his dog had tossed me out, I finally had to concede that all was perhaps not perfect with Malevolence. And so, I wrote another horror de force – The Pumpkin Hour. No, it wasn’t a book for children. It was a very serious and very scary adult novel. And another 17 834 rejection slips came flapping into my mailbox, not unlike that scene with the envelopes and the owls in Harry Potter.

Then came another literary weapon of mass destruction, In the Eyes of a Child.

Surely this was the one? I had grown so much as a writer. I couldn’t imagine this gem not being accepted. Well, whether I could imagine it or not, the rejection slips kept flooding in.

At this point I was considering opening up a recycling plant. Lord knows I could pulp myself into some real money.

And then, at my lowest ebb, the PR company I was working for (my day job) was kind enough to send me to an international PR Convention in Chicago. If I’m honest I only went to about three presentations and spent the rest of my time at Andy’s Jazz Club sipping Apple Martinis with my mate, Mitch Ramsay. Afterwards, however, I had a few days to spare so I decided to do the touristy thing and head out to Washington.

Top of my list was a visit to the Vietnam Wall.

While I was standing there, my eyes skimming over the names of the 60 000 or so US soldiers who perished in the Vietnam War, a man pulled up beside me. He was dressed in full military regalia. He remained perfectly still for a while before reaching into his jacket and pulling out a dog harness which he placed against the wall.

And then he started to cry.

I waited a few minutes until he had regained a measure of composure before turning to him. ‘I’m so sorry to intrude,’ I began (clearly not sorry at all), ‘but I have to ask you … why’ve you placed a dog harness against the wall?’

The former soldier then told me the heartbreaking story of the Vietnam war dogs and how some 4000 canine soldiers were sent over to help American soldiers in the war (by locating enemy patrols, finding bombs, sniffing out booby traps and so on). His eyes moistened again as he explained that, at the end of the war and due to the cost of the withdrawal, the US government declared the dogs ‘Surplus Military Equipment’ and they were ordered to be left behind together with the old tents and prefab buildings.

‘Our dogs saved the lives of at least 10 000 US soldiers, and dog handlers like myself were forced to abandon them. I had a gun pointed at me on the day I was bundled into a helicopter for the long trip home. It’s been over 30 years and I’ve never stopped thinking of my dog, Shadow. He saved my life – and the lives of my platoon – on at least three occasions. If it weren’t for him, my name would be on this wall.’

And in that moment, I knew what my next novel would be about. No more cheesy horrors for me. I would write a book that would a shine a light on this horrific injustice. It would tell the story of one brave soldier who refuses to abandon his dog and what he does to try and save him. Fiction told against a nonfiction backdrop.

I started writing the book that night in my hotel room. A year and a half later, Leaving Jack was completed. And this time when Kerry emerged with the manuscript in her arms, she was crying.

‘It’s beautiful, Ga,’ she whispered. ‘Absolutely beautiful.’

And just like that I knew my days of being rejected were numbered. My long apprenticeship would soon be over.

Or so I dared to believe.

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A Day in the Life of a Bread Company CEO: An Excerpt from Paige Nick’s Banting Satire, Death By Carbs

Facebook Reacts to the Murder of Tim Noakes: An Excerpt from Paige Nick’s Wickedly Funny Novel, Death By Carbs

 
Death By CarbsWhat happens if you’re the MD of a bread company during the Banting craze? Read an excerpt from Death By Carbs, Paige Nick’s new satire on low-carb culture.

Death By Carbs is a great stocking stuffer for Tim Noakes fans or anti-Banters since – spoiler alert! – the Prof is murdered on page one.

The real-life Noakes, however, says Death By Carbs is an excellent read, and even gave it a cover shout: “I was breathless right until the end.”

Nick is a columnist, award-winning advertising copywriter, and author of the critically acclaimed novels, A Million Miles from Normal (Penguin, 2010) and This Way Up (Penguin, 2011). She is also one third of Helena S Paige, together with Sarah Lotz and Helen Moffett, a threesome of authors with a series of choose-your-own-adventure erotic novels, now out in 21 countries. Pens Behaving Badly (Kwela, 2015), a collection of her Sunday Times columns and the wild letters they’ve inspired, came out earlier this year.

Read the Death By Carbs excerpt, Part 2 of our series (See Part 1 here!):

THE CEO
Wednesday 7:38am

Not a day went by that Trevor didn’t wish he’d gone into bacon. People would always like bacon, wouldn’t they? Most of them, anyway. Not the Jews and Muslims of course, although some of them seemed to be coming around to it.

Earlier that morning, Trevor had considered the road paint business; people would always need road paint. Well, as long as there were roads. And before that, in the changing room at the gym, he’d eagerly considered the towel business (although he would definitely make them bigger, he thought – everybody made towels too small these days). There was also the running shoe business, and at this point, even the showerhead business seemed attractive. Surely those industries would be less stressful than the one he was in right now? Hell, working as head of public relations at Eskom would be less stressful.

It wasn’t even eight am yet, and Trevor had already weighed up at least ten different career alternatives to being the Managing Director of a company that manufactured bread, baked goods and snacks.

It was sheer dumb luck that he’d managed to find his way into a dying industry. What an idiot. These days, carbs were the enemy. Bread sales had taken a serious beating as a result, and were at an all-time low. When Trevor had first started out as VP of sales at SnackCorp, seven years earlier, it had been the heyday of bread. Carbs were king. They’d all cruised to some exotic destination for their annual corporate bosberaad to play golf and pat each other on the back. Company life was a year-round, all-you-could-eat buffet of prawns, strippers, congratulations, narcissism and booze. And carbs. Truckloads of carbs.

But not anymore. Sales figures had plummeted, stocks had hit rock bottom, and the board was tightening belts left, right and centre. And now, three mass retrenchments later, they were still running scared and pointing fingers. Unless Trevor came up with something fast, it looked like they were going to use him as the next scapegoat. Trim the fat (ironically), lose the dead weight. And then what? Who in South Africa was going to hire a short, short-sighted, slightly overweight, fifty-six-year-old white man?

Trevor needed this job; he had his ex-wife’s maintenance to cover. And what about his Merc, and the penthouse? Trevor scratched at his balding scalp, then self-consciously tried to rearrange the wisps of hair that remained. It didn’t help that SnackCorp had a forty-nine per cent shareholding in the Central Soda Company. Sugar and carbs: just great. He’d backed the only two lame donkeys in a horse race. Why hadn’t he gone into the xylitol business instead? Then life would be sweet. But he had a plan, and he felt a warm surge of hope as he considered it. If all went well, an upturn was imminent.

 
 

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About the book

When someone kills dieting guru Professor Tim Noakes, Detective Bennie September has more suspects than solutions.

Banting culture, otherwise known as the HFLC lifestyle (high fat, low carb), spearheaded by Professor Tim Noakes, has exploded in South Africa.

The Real Meal Revolution (Quivertree, 2013), has sold more than 200 000 copies and is still picking up speed. Noakes is constantly in the news for his controversial, game-changing theories. His new book on infant nutrition has just launched as an instant bestseller, and The Real Meal Revolution has gone global, launching in the UK in August.

In this hilarious novel, Paige Nick prods and pokes at both the fans and the detractors of South Africa’s biggest dieting craze. So whatever side of the debate you fall on, you’ll find something to laugh at.

With more twists and turns than a koeksister, this laugh-out-loud novel will have you spurting bulletproof coffee out your nose.

 
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