Next week Stanford author Chanette Paul, will be on her way to the Low Countries to take part in “Week van de Afrikaanse Roman” – a week dedicated to Afrikaans authors and writing in the Netherlands and Belgium. Her main objective though is to do research for her next book over there.
Chanette, in her own words, “was born in Johannesburg in an era when women still wore aprons”. She grew up all over the country, attended nine different schools, studied at five universities and had lived in seven of the nine SA provinces.
Her first literary success was a fairy tale written at the age of sixteen, which was broadcasted on a children’s radio program. Her second success was the publication of a short story written in her final school year but only sent off to a family magazine two years later.
In 1988 she obtained a Masters degree in Afrikaans and Netherlandic Literature at the University of Johannesburg and received the Simon Wainstein prize for her dissertation. At the time she followed a career in the clothing trade.
In 1995, she left the rag trade behind and started writing again for the first time in twenty years. Since then she has written numerous short, serial and other stories, as well as humorous sketches, for a variety of magazines. Forty books in different genres also saw the light.
Chanette, who has been living in Stanford for many years now, tells how she came to live here, “I did not want to live in a dorp with a wide, straight main street. And I wanted to be near water where water nymphs and fairies play.” So she went searching for a dorp – Ladismith, Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, Swellendam. Not one of these spoke to her. Until she met an old man in Napier, “with long hair and looks straight from a fairy tale himself”, who told her of Stanford, a short distance from Hermanus.
She was not in the mood for more dorp-hunting, but somehow, through a string of events, she ended up in Stanford the following day.
“As I drove into Stanford, I knew, this was my village!” And she still feels as excited about living here as she did the very first time she met Stanford. After a while she built her own cottage on the banks of the Klein River in Stanford. Here she lives with her very patient partner Ernie Blommaert, better known as Blom, her cats and the neighbours’ dogs. Chanette calls herself “an ignorant but eager gardener, a ferocious reader and a music lover”. She adores the kind of life the river on her doorstep offers.
In her 19-year writing career, Chanette has experimented with a number of genres whilst writing romances to keep the pot boiling. In 2007 she found a new niche, romantic suspense – albeit a quirky interpretation of the genre. She entered this new phase with her 30th book, Springgety which unintendedly became the first in a series of five books with Gys Niemand as the detective. Springgety was followed by Fortuin, Boheem, Meetsnoer and Dryfhout.
After completing the pentad she decided to take a break from blood and gore and wrote a family drama in two parts, namely Maanschijnbaai: Jo & Sue followed by Maanschijnbaai: Nan & Jeannie. Jo & Sue was voted Lekkerlit Boek van die Jaar 2012.
Chanette decided to get back into murderous intent with her next book Labirint and also found that her writing style has changed. Less romance, more nitty gritty. After Labirint followed Siende Blind (Lekkerlit Book of the Year 2013), Raaiselspieël which came out in March and in November this year her latest, titled Ewebeeld, will be on the shelf.
For her debut romance, Chanette was awarded the Perskor Prize for romantic fiction in 1996. In 1999 Wip van die droomvanger was a runner up in the ATKV Book Awards and in 2005 Chanette was again a finalist with her novel Leila word lig. The latter was the result of a Masters degree in Creative Writing under the tutelage of renowned South African writer, Professor Etienne van Heerden, at the University of Cape Town.
Boheem, the third book in the Gys Niemand-series was a finalist for the ATKV Woordveertjie (2010) in the thriller category and the Maanschijnbaai diptych was finalist in the romantic novel category (2013).
Since 2002, she works as a part time evaluator, editor and manuscript developer for Lapa Publishers. She also runs workshops on writing for them. And that was where I first met Chanette in 2003 – on a boat on the Kleinrivier in Stanford with four ladies, amongst them my husband’s niece, who were attending one of her workshops. Interesting two of them are now among the most popular Afrikaans writers, Wilna Adriaanse and Kristel Loots.
(Information taken from Chanette’s blog and website and confirmed by herself.)