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Help Barbara Erasmus publish her fifth novel

Author Barbara Erasmus is currently attempting to publish her fifth novel Four Letter Words through Kindle Scout.

Erasmus was the founding editor on Mike Nicol’s Crime Beat blog for three years and is the author of Kaleidoscope, Even with Insects, Chameleon and Below Luck Level.

Four Letter Words is a story about the unfairness of infertility – a girl with Turner syndrome struggles to fall pregnant because of her genetic background. It also highlights the Khanya Project which is an initiative in the Western Cape to improve literacy in the foundation phase through the use of technology.

Read an excerpt from Four Letter Words here and visit to help realise the publication thereof.


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Phillip Larkin

The class was divided when our teacher read out Larkin’s famous poem for the first time. Half the kids sprang immediately to their parents’ defence. The other half nodded reflectively.

The three of us were among the nodders, even then.


Dead is a four letter word. So is kill.

I didn’t use either in my garbled, panic-stricken description of how my mother died. I’ve always liked four-letter words so I had a handy string of alternatives which spilled out like a waterfall when I told my story.

Dusk. Trip. Drop. Spin. Thud.

I’m haunted by the details. Not that I remember them. It’s more that I can’t forget. It happened so quickly that I’ve probably embellished the train of events. There are too many details in the slow-motion video that plays endlessly in my mind. I pray I’ll find a switch to turn it off but somehow I know that’s not an option. The worst detail is her eyes. They’re huge. Terrified. And her hands – clutching the air, fingers stretching to find a branch that isn’t there. Her legs are flailing. Is that a word? I have an indelible picture of what I think it means.

Splat has more than four letters so I don’t use that in my description. It has too many dimensions. Sound. Sight. The water seems tinged with red but I couldn’t possibly have seen that. It was nearly dark. I wish I couldn’t see the redness. I wish I didn’t somehow know about the pain. I shy away from splat. I didn’t say it when I told them.

I didn’t say push either so no-one arrested me.

The South African police have an unenviable reputation but I can’t fault their treatment. I remember a warm blanket. Endless cups of hot sweet tea. Gentle hands around my shoulders.

No-one passed me any tissues because I wasn’t crying.

Hate is also a four-letter word.



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