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Read an excerpt from Lake of Memories - the new book in Bontle Senne's Afrocentric fantasy adventure series

Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories Cover2Cover Books has shared an excerpt from Bontle Senne’s new book, Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories.

The book is the follow-up to Powers of the Knife, and part of the Shadow Chasers series, a contemporary Afrocentric fantasy adventure series.

The book will be launched on Saturday, 26 November at Skoobs Theatre of Books at Montecasino, when Senne will be chatting to Pamela Power.

“I’ve never been one to buy into the ‘Africans don’t want to read’ hype,” Senne said in a recent interview.

“I’m not saying that there isn’t a huge challenge for trade publishers and booksellers in South Africa. There is, of course. But the absence of relevant, engaging, local and accessible literature is something that is improving pretty slowly.”

* * * * *

Read an extract from Chapter 3 of the book:

They knock on the door and hear Gogo’s voice telling them to come in. As they enter the candle-lit room, they see that Gogo is already in bed.

“Zithembe, Nomthandazo,” Gogo says with her eyes closed. “I thought you would come.”

“You did?” Nom blurts out.

“Yes. You see, many years ago I was one of the Bhekizizwe, a Shadow Chaser. Just like you. I know why you are here,” she says. “You want Zithembe’s knife. You want to use it to get into the dreamworld, where the Army of Shadows lives, and rescue his mother. You will need to find her knife to do so. But I cannot help you. The Army of Shadows is too dangerous and powerful now.”

“But they have Mama,” Zithembe blurts out. “I have to rescue her, Gogo. She’s been trapped in the dreamworld for years.”

Gogo’s eyes snap open. She stares at Zithembe, her lips pressed tight, before whispering, “Do you think I haven’t thought about rescuing her? Itumeleng is my daughter! I have prayed every night for her.”

“But the war against the Army is bigger than one person or one Shadow Chaser, even if she is my only child,” Gogo continues. “Itumeleng knows this, and if she was here, she would agree with me: you must stay out of this fight, Zithembe.”

Zithembe goes to this grandmother’s side, kneels besides the bed and takes her hand. “Please, Gogo,” he pleads. “Where is my knife?”

Gog pulls her hand away from Zithembe and rolls over, away from him, to face the wall.

“I am an old woman,” she says. “I have forgotten where the knife is. Now leave me. I want to sleep.”

Zithembe stands and steps back, unsure of what to do next. But Nom walks straight towards Gogo.

“That’s it?” Nom says.

“Nom!” Zithembe says, as if he is warning her – or scolding her. He tries to grab her arm to drag her out of the rondavel, but she pulls away from him.

“No, I don’t care about being respectful. This is a war!” Nom says, folding her arms. “I know you know where the knife is, Gogo. Please, you have to tell us!”

“How dare you! Gogo does not take orders from children,” says a voice from the door.

Zithembe and Nom whip around to see Zithembe’s cousin, Rosy, standing in the doorway with both hands on her hips.

“Gogo is right,” says Rosy as she walks into the room. “This is not a game. The Army of Shadows is dangerous, and you two are too young to be in a war with monsters.”

Nom rolls her eyes. “How old are you?’ she asks. “Thirty-five?”

“I’m fifteen. I’m old enough to take Gogo’s knife as my own. I’m old enough to be a real Shadow Chaser. Twelve is too young – you are too young,” Rosy says, kneeling beside Gogo’s bed. The sleeves of her dress are long, but Nom thinks she sees a flash of an angry yellow scar on Rosy’s arm. “You heard what Gogo said,” Rosy continues. “Get out.”

Nom is about to start a real fight, but Zithembe is faster than her this time. He grabs her arm and drags her out of the rondavel.

“You can’t just – ,” Nom begins to argue, but Zithembe puts a hand over her mouth and a finger to his lips. He points towards the back of the rondavel and pulls Nom with him as he sneaks into the shadows. They crouch in the weeds and nettles underneath an open window. Rosy’s voice drifts to them in an urgent whisper.

“… an evil water spirit that calls itself Mami Wata. Gogo, I believe that the Army has sent Mami Wata to tear apart the village in search of the knife.”

There is a pause before Zithembe’s grandmother says, “I wish I could remember where Zithembe’s knife is. If I could remember, I would hide the knife again, somewhere new, somewhere no one could find it. But for now, you must protect the village. And we must keep Zithembe and Nomthandazo safe until they are old enough to fight.”

“Yes, Gogo,” agrees Rosy.

“Go to the beach and attack just before midnight tonight. Your knife will be the light to guide the way and open the door to send this monster back to the dreamworld. Good luck, ngane yam. Be safe,” says Gogo.

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Book details

Book Launch: Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories by Bontle Senne

Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories Bring tweenies along to have fun and win prizes with local author Bontle Senne … and meet some things that go bump in the night! The Shadow Chasers series is perfect holiday reading for kids. Lake of Memories is Book 2 of this contemporary Afrocentric fantasy adventure series. It’s every bit as good as the fabulously scary Book 1: Powers of the Knife. 128 pages, with line illustrations.

Event Details

Book Details

African kids are hungry for relevant, local books - Read an interview with Bontle Senne, author of Lake of Memories

Bontle Senne
Shadow Chasers Book 1: Powers of the KnifeShadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories

Bontle Senne, author of the Shadow Chasers series, chats about stampeding children, bullies, academic dissertations and things that go bump in the dark ..

Senne’s latest deliciously creepy book for tweens is now out – look out for Lake of Memories, Book 2 in the Shadow Chasers series.


Bontle, you describe yourself as a literacy activist – and you’re now a published author – has anything shifted for you since publishing your own book?

I’ve never been one to buy into the “Africans don’t want to read” hype. I’m not saying that there isn’t a huge challenge for trade publishers and booksellers in South Africa. There is, of course. But the absence of relevant, engaging, local and accessible literature is something that is improving pretty slowly.

My former life at Puku Children’s Literature Foundation taught me that parents are especially hungry for those kind of books for their children. What surprised me when Shadow Chasers came out was how hungry kids are for that change. I spoke to five year olds at Kingsmead Book Fair, shooting apologetic looks at their parents for the nightmares I was afraid I was causing. I spoke to matrics in their last year of school and trying to do everything they could to get me to keep reading to them and postpone going back to class as part of Franschhoek Literary Festival. I spoke at St Dominic’s School for the Deaf, aided by an incredible sign language interpreter, for the full school and their teachers. Every time I was amazed by how children of different ages got caught up in the story, how they begged me to keep reading, how they stampeded their librarian to find out when they would have the book.

Part of it must have been the novelty – a story set in a township, an adventure between a taxi owner’s boss and the orphan who lives on her dad’s property, a girl who doesn’t care that she’s not pretty and a mystery that spans back generations. And let’s not forget about the supernatural elements: I had a great time trawling through academic texts and dissertations, some almost 100 years old, describing the myths and monsters that our children should know but that most of our urban society has forgotten. South African children know to be scared of vampires and werewolves but would laugh at the idea of the tokoloshe and blink in confusion at the mention of Mami Wata. Things that go bump in the night are as much a part of our heritage as art, music, language and I was glad to discover that kids think so too.

What does literary success look like to you?

I got asked this question at Open Book and in a sense, I already have it. All I wanted was to have my book-babies out in the world for children to read and enjoy. I wanted to write about and be able to travel the world and talk about other people’s books and I’ve done a fair bit of that too in the last five years. But the more practical part of me also recognises that being able to financially support myself entirely as a writer is the ultimate literary success – and one that not many African writers get to experience unfortunately.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research for Book 2 involved rewatching every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading a lot of academic texts on monsters and rituals across the continent. I also try to ask adults about the supernatural stories that their grandmothers told them as children. When I was media fellow of Golden Baobab in 2014, I wrote about the sense of loss I felt at the stories about my culture and (supernatural) heritage that my grandmother never shared with me because they seemed to have no place in my formal or informal education in her mind. I’m still pretty bleak about it.

I spent six months in Sierra Leone last year so there was also a fair bit of trying to understand what local myths I could dig up and rework into Lake of Memories. I wasn’t very successful. As it turns out, many in Sierra Leone are incredibly superstitious and viewed chatting to me about terrible, dark, and maybe magical things as highly inappropriate.

What were the most surprising things you learned after Book 1 was released?

I often read the first chapter of my book when I do events. In it, my main character Nom gets surrounded by some bullies and fights back. Most kids in the audience love it but there’s always that one, pure soul who reminds me that “it’s not nice to hit anyone or call them ugly”. I always agree that that’s true and then get asked why I wrote about it then. I wrote it to establish that Nom was a character who could stand up to bullies even if she wanted to cry as much as she wanted to punch someone being mean to her. I also wanted to write about the subtlety of bullying someone by attacking their self-esteem, how words could be more damaging than fists and how unexpected people can stand up for you but you have to be willing to fight for yourself.

Inevitably I’m asked if I was bullied at school. I was tall and gangly like a weed with braces and glasses and literally all I wanted to do was read so, yeah, I definitely got bullied. Didn’t get to punch anyone until years later though, but that’s a story for another time …

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Book details

Author image courtesy of Africa 4 Tech

Cover2Cover presents Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories by Bontle Senne

Deliciously creepy, fast, fun and a blast to read. Get this for the reluctant reader in your life right now!

Praise for Powers of the Knife – Sarah Lotz, author of Day Four and The Three

Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories Zithembe has to find his knife to rescue his mother from the evil Army of Shadows. The only way to find it is to go to the Lake of Memories in the dreamworld, where it guarded by the evil Mama Wati water spirits. Without a knife of his own, Zithembe can’t go to the dreamworld, so his friend Nom and his cousin Rosy have to take their lives in their hands to help him …

Lake of Memories is the second book in the Shadow Chasers trilogy. It’s an African fantasy adventure – one part family saga, one part hero’s quest.

About the author

Bontle Senne is a book blogger and literacy advocate. She is a former managing director at the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation, a trustee of READ Educational Trust and a part owner of feminist trade publishing house Modjaji Books.
Book details

Rus in vrede, Jaco Botha (1972 - 2016)

Jaco Botha, Dominique Botha, Kirby van der Merwe en Fourie Botha

Die avonture van Lulu LeruluDie geliefde Afrikaanse skrywer Jaco Botha is op 18 Oktober 2016 op die ouderdom van 44 oorlede.

Botha se jongste kinderboek, Die avonture van Lulu Lerulu, het verlede jaar by Naledi verskyn. Dit is met groot hartseer dat ons afskeid neem van dié besonderse skrywer.

Gerard Rudolf het die dag na sy vriend se dood ’n storie daaroor op LitNet geplaas:

Ek maak my oë toe. Daar staan Jack, kaalvoet in daardie vroegsomermiddag in ’n straat in Melville. Hy dra ’n T-hemp, jeans. Sy baard is wild en dit lyk asof hy self sy hare met ’n skaapskêr bygekom het. Hy rook ’n sigaret en praat. Jack kon praat. Ek skiet ’n portret van hom met my selfoon terwyl hy hard aan sy sigaret trek – die laaste foto wat ek van hom geneem het. Hy was nie lekker nie, asof iets uit hom geruk was. Hy het ’n sagte siel gehad, ’n groot hart, ’n gebroke hart.

Ook skrywer Dana Snyman het ’n afskeidsbrief aan Botha op sy Facebook-blad geplaas:


Etienne van Heerden skryf: “Van sy generasie skrywers was Jaco Botha die voorste stilis.”

Vir my begin skryftalent met ‘n manier van kyk na die wêreld. Hoedat die talentvolle skrywer dinge sien wat ander mense met meer konvensionele blikhoeke nie sien nie. Die talentvolle skrywer kyk anders, en vertaal wat hy sien na woorde, en skep sodoende ‘n eie, kenmerkende wêreld. Só dat mens kan sê: Daardie skrywer het ‘n eie stem. In sy verhale kom ‘n wêreld tot stand waaroor hy sy naam kan skrywe.

In Jaco se geval is dit nie soseer ‘n eksentrieke blik nie. Dit sou veels te gesellig wees om sy blik op die lewe só te beskryf. Dit was eerder ‘n seer kyk, en meer dikwels ‘n desperate siening van die mens in sy gestrooptheid.

Rus in vrede, Jaco Botha.

Lees ook:


Foto met dank aan Netwerk24

2016 South African Literary Awards nominees revealed

Dit kom van ver afKarnaval en lentShirley, Goodness & MercyEggs to Lay, Chickens to HatchVry-Bumper CarsBeyond TouchPruimtwak en skaduboksersUnSettled and Other StoriesFlame in the SnowHalfpad een ding’n Huis vir EsterEsther's HouseVlakwaterIt Might Get LoudBuys – ’n GrensromanThe Violent Gestures of LifeSweet MedicineKamphoerWhat If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Donker stroomAskari

Alert! The shortlists for the 2016 South African Literary Awards have been announced.

18 authors from a total of 132 submissions have been shortlisted and the winners will be announced on Monday, 7 November, at a prestigious function at Unisa.

On the same day, wRite Associates will host the fifth Africa Century International African Writers Conference, before the ceremony. This year, the SALAs have partnered with the Unisa Department of English Studies in delivering both the awards ceremony and the Conference.

The SALAs were founded in 2005 by wRite Associates and the Department of Arts and Culture.

This year, the awards will honour the memory of TT Cloete and Chris van Wyk with Posthumous Literary Awards, while Ingrid Winterbach and Professor Johan Lenake are nominated for Lifetime Achievement Literary Awards.

The SALA Adjudication Panel said:

We are excited that South African literature continues to flourish, with many young writers coming into the scene, sharing platforms with their more established and experienced counterparts, however, we are saddened and concerned that we still see less and less of works written in African languages.

Going forward, the SALA Adjudication Panel recommends literary workshops and symposia with stakeholders, especially writers, publishers and editors, to address concerns regarding the standard and quality of some of the work, especially in African languages, that SALA has been receiving over time. This would be in line with one of the objectives of SALA, ‘to promote and preserve all our languages’.

We congratulate the 2016 nominees for their sterling work and keeping South Africa’s literary heritage alive.

The SALAs aim to “pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature”, as well as to “celebrate literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa, particularly the official languages”.

The 2016 South African Literary Awards nominees:

Posthumous Literary Award

TT Cloete – Body of work
Chris van Wyk – Body of work

Poetry Award

Gilbert Gibson, Vry-
Athol Williams, Bumper Cars
Arja Salafranca, Beyond Touch

Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

Danie Marais, Pruimtwak en skaduboksers
Sandra Hill, UnSettled and Other Stories

Literary Translators Award

Leon de Kock and Karin Schimke, Flame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink and Ingrid Jonker
Zirk van den Berg, Halfpad een ding
Kirby van der Merwe, ’n Huis vir Ester

Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Ingrid Winterbach – Body of work
Prof Johan Lenake – Body of work

K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

Willem Anker, Buys – ’n Grensroman
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, The Violent Gestures of Life
Panashe Chigumadzi, Sweet Medicine

First-time Published Author Award

Francois Smith, Kamphoer
Ferial Haffajee, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

Creative Non-Fiction Award

Carel van der Merwe, Donker stroom
Jacob Dlamini, Askari

Chairperson’s Award

Recipient to be announced at the Award Ceremony – Body of work


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