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The Film Tess has been Picked Up for International Distribution - Don't Miss the Book and Film Launches!

Tracey FarrenTess Film PosterMeg Rickards

The movie Tess, based on Tracey Farren’s debut novel, has been picked up for international distribution by The Little Film Company.

The film was directed by Meg Rickards and produced by Paul Egan and Kim Williams. It has already won awards and hearts at film festivals, and it will be released on the local circuit on Friday, 24 February.

Read more about the international distribution deal here:

The Little Film Company, a motion picture sales and marketing company founded by Robbie and Ellen Little, is no stranger to the South African film industry, the company previously distributed the 2005 Academy Award Best Foreign Picture winner Tsotsi.  “Tess is a very moving and provocative film and we are all incredibly excited to be bringing it to the world”, said Robbie Little.

Watch the trailer for Tess here:


Director Meg Rickards wrote an article for Mail & Guardian about why she was committed to making this film. She believes it is crucial that women say “No – systemic sexism can never be tolerated,” and keep on saying that as long and as loudly as necessary.

The story of Tess, a young sex-worker, is one that offers a barometer of how dire sexual violence is in our society. It is not intended to be a general representation, but one story about about one woman, and one voice joining the shout to say “No!”

Read the article

Given that I’m a filmmaker — not a nurse, educator or social worker, who would have infinitely more practical responses — this is what I could do about the things that keep me awake at night: make a movie. I have this mad hope in the power of cinema, not to change the world (if only!) but to nudge it. Cinema’s punch, I believe, comes from its capacity to create empathy and on this basis I challenge viewers to take 88 minutes to walk in Tess’s battered boots.

* * * * *

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the author, the director and the publisher of Tess discuss the story at one of these events:

Colleen Higgs, publisher, will be in conversation with author Tracey Farren and Meg Rickards, director of the movie. Entrance is free. Please RSVP to The Book Lounge: or 021 462 2425.

  • A screening and panel discussion with the WITS African Centre for Migration & Society in Johannesburg on Friday, 24 February at Wits University.

Details to follow.

  • The Nonceba Family Counselling Centre’s fundraising screening of Tess at the V&A Nu Metro on Sunday, 26 February at 7 pm

Author and screenwriter Tracey Farren, director Meg Rickards and lead actress Christia Visser will join Pauline Perez from the Centre for a Q&A after the screening. Tickets cost R150 and include popcorn and a soft drink – please email to book.

* * * * *

Here is a list of cinemas that will screen Tess on release day, 24 February:


  • Bridge
  • Brooklyn Commercial
  • Cresta
  • East Rand Mall
  • Garden Route Mall
  • Gateway Commercial
  • Irene Mall
  • Colonnade
  • Rosebank Mall Nouveau
  • Somerset Mall
  • Tiger Valley
  • Vaal Mall


  • Menlyn Park
  • V&A Waterfront


Don’t miss out!

Book details

Image of Meg Rickards courtesy of PinkVilla

Book to movie: Tess by Tracey Farren

Black & White_ Low Res-7Tess book coverModjaji Books and The Book Lounge are very excited to invite you to the launch of TESS by Tracey Farren. TESS is the movie tie-in version of Tracey’s first novel that we originally published as Whiplash back in 2008. For the Cape Town launch of the novel, we are hosting a discussion between Tracey Farren (the author) and Meg Rickards (the director of the movie) about the process of turning the novel Whiplash into the movie Tess. Colleen Higgs the publisher will host the discussion. We’d love to see you there.

The movie opens in South Africa at Ster Kinekor cinemas on the 24th February. The movie has already won several awards and received high praise from reviewers.

‘[Tess] digs its nails into you from the word go … raw, tender, and laugh-out-loud funny – a kickarse gem of a book. Told with startling poetry in the grittiest of emotional landscapes, [it] puts Farren on the map as a wordsmith of astonishing talent.’ – Joanne Fedler

‘Farren shows that she has a true gift for getting into the hearts of very ordinary people while astutely setting the South African sociopolitical context.’ Jane Rosenthal, Mail & Guardian

When the book was published as Whiplash by an unknown debut author in 2008, it was short listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2009, and the author received A White Ribbon Award from the Women Demand Dignity Advocacy Group.

A gut wrenching story of a Muizenberg sex worker, Tess who pops painkillers by the handful and sells her body to strangers. When a condom breaks, Tess’s life swings one eighty degrees. She gives up her drugs until she can get to an abortion clinic. Her cold turkey opens up a window in her mind, whipping Tess into a shattering understanding of how she got here. Tess’s quirky humour, raw honesty and deep love of beauty lead her to find redemption in astonishing places. This book has a huge heart, like Tess, revealing that there is something in everyone that cannot be touched. Not by human hands. Not ever.

Tracey Farren lives a stone’s throw from the Cape Point with some children, a luthier and a pack of dogs. She has a psychology honours degree and worked as a freelance journalist for several years before her muse called her to fiction. Tess is a new edition of her first acclaimed, award-winning novel, Whiplash. Her second novel, Snake was published in to critical acclaim and she has just finished writing her third novel, The Rig.

Event Details

Book Details

Writing Secrets: Dialogue scraps do not make scenes

“Hey Audrey.”

Jane appeared in her office doorway. “It’s Friday. Shouldn’t we reward ourselves with a drink?”

“Great idea. Giles at 6?”

“Perfect. I’ll see you then.”

I keep discovering little dialogue scraps like this in the manuscripts of our mentees. Perhaps it’s been ingrained in us that we should use more dialogue; include more scenes. But the fact is that, like everything else in a book, dialogue must have a job to do. This dialogue has no dramatic purpose at all. And it doesn’t illuminate the two characters in any way.

We could run the scene in the pub, during which our protagonist says to Audrey: “Thanks for suggesting this. I needed it.” Or simply mention: Audrey had popped into her office earlier and invited her for a drink.

The fact is that the little interchange above is not a scene. It would only become a scene if our protagonist faced something – even something small. Perhaps we come upon her fighting the photo-copy machine. She has to get copies of her report out before the meeting at 3 and it is not co-operating. She gives it a surreptitious kick, fights panic and punches the copy button.

Audrey comes up, and laughs, which infuriates her even more. “You look like you need a drink,” says Audrey…

Ah, now it’s a scene infused with literary tension. It takes the story forward, in that now we know why she ends up in a pub where either a bomb goes off or she meets someone important to her life. And it gives us further insight into our protagonist’s character and personality.

It’s also more than a random invitation. If our protagonist meets someone significant while she’s out with Audrey, we won’t be satisfied with an invitation that smacks of co-incidence. Either it’s been set up already that the two women meet every Friday in the same place, or … we’d like a little motivation.


Upcoming courses

Cape Town Creative Saturday – 4 February

Online Creative Writing Course – Starting 6 February

Johannesburg and Cape Town Creative Writing Course – Starting 6 February

Click here for a comprehensive list of our 2017 courses



Writing Secrets: You’re the doorman, not the bouncer

I once had a journalism student (If you’re out there reading this P, you’ll recognise your younger, idealistic self), who set out to write a feature about young women who were forced into prostitution after trying to escape desperate circumstances.

He was (and still is) a good writer, but when he gave me a draft, I advised him to start all over again. It consisted of this kind of thing: I climbed the stairs, the smell of excrement and boiled cabbage filling me with nausea. I was filled with horror when I saw Nadia’s bruised face. Tears rose and threatened to spill. I could hardly speak…

This is a classic case of a narrator standing in the way, blocking our view of his subject. Much as we might crane our necks to see past him, we can’t see Nadia at all. All we can see is P’s nausea, his feelings of horror, his tears and emotion.

Your job, as a writer, is not to tell us about how something makes you feel. It is to make us experience those feelings ourselves. We want to get to know Nadia, see, hear and feel what her story does to us. We want to get a lump in our throats. P should be standing aside, showing her to us, giving us access to her, her environment, and her story, so that we’re hardly aware of him at all.

He was so shocked himself that he forgot this.

This has lessons for fiction as well as non-fiction. Don’t stand in front of what you’re writing about. Don’t interpret it for us. Stand subtly aside so that we can see your subjects. Show us the outward manifestations, so that we can interpret their emotions for ourselves. We don’t want you to tell us what those emotions are, or what and how they evoke emotions in you.

As a writer, you’re the doorman. Open the door, stand aside and let us enter into other people’s lives. You’re not the bouncer, standing firmly in front of it, blocking our view, yet telling us how exclusive it is inside.

Upcoming courses

Cape Town Creative Saturday – 4 February

Online Creative Writing Course - Starting 6 February

Johannesburg and Cape Town Creative Writing Course – Starting 6 February

Click here for a comprehensive list of our 2017 courses



Wildernis deur Wilbur Smith: Die vertaling van die derde boek in die gewilde Courtney-trilogie

WildernisWildernis deur Wilbur Smith is nou beskikbaar by Queillerie:

Die Eerste Wêreldoorlog gooi Sean Courtney en die skerpskutter Mark Anders se lot saam toe hulle in die loopgrawe in Frankryk ontmoet. In ’n ongerepte wildernis in Suid-Afrika bereik Mark se verterende liefde vir die eiesinnige Storm Courtney ’n hoogtepunt, terwyl sy bloedige stryd met Sean se vervreemde seun, Dirk, op die spits gedryf word. Wildernis is die vertaling van A Sparrow Falls, die derde boek in die gewilde Courtney-trilogie.

Oor die outeur

Wilbur Smith is in 1933 in Zambië gebore. Hy het by Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal skool gegaan waar hy ’n skoolkoerant begin het voordat hy verder by Rhodes Universiteit studeer het. Nadat hy graad gekry het, het hy op sy pa se aandrang om “’n regte werk” te kry, as rekenmeester gewerk eerder as om sy droom om ’n joernalis te word, te volg. Na onsuksesvolle pogings om sy eerste boek te publiseer, het hy ’n voltydse skrywer geword toe When the Lion Feeds (vertaal en uitgegee deur Kwela Boeke as Witwatersrand in 2014) uiteindelik in 1964 gepubliseer is. Die mees waardevolle raad wat sy uitgewer aan hom gegee het, was om “net oor die dinge wat hy goed ken te skryf”. Hy het sedertdien op Afrika gefokus. Tot op hede het hy meer as 30 topverkoper-romans geskryf wat altesaam meer as 120 miljoen kopieë wêreldwyd verkoop het. Sy romans is tans in 26 tale vertaal.


Jou Romeo deur Fanie Viljoen: Gegrond op die tienerrolprentsensasie van die jaar (Plus: Lokprent)

Jou RomeoJou Romeo deur Fanie Viljoen is nou beskikbaar by Tafelberg:

Gegrond op Jou Romeo, die tienerrolprentsensasie van die jaar. Yvette droom al van graad agt af om Shakespeare se Romeo en Juliet in haar matriekjaar op die planke te bring. Maar die hoof het ander planne – die skool se kuns- en kultuurbegroting word gesny en al die geld word vir die T20-kriekettoernooi aangewend. In ’n poging om te verseker dat die produksie steeds plaasvind, vra Yvette die gewildste ou in die skool, die krieketheld Marko Marais, om die rol van Romeo te vertolk.

Oor die outeur

Fanie Viljoen is op 2 Januarie 1970 in Welkom gebore. Hy matrikuleer in 1987 aan die Hoërskool Goudveld in Welkom. Daarna volg twee jaar diensplig in Kimberley, Oshivello en Lohatlha. In 1990 begin hy voltyds by Sanlam werk. Hy skryf in dié tyd in vir ’n deeltydse kursus in grafiese ontwerp en behaal die N6-sertifikaat in 1995 aan die Welkom Kollege. In 2002 volg ’n BA-graad in Sielkunde en Sosiologie aan Unisa.

Fanie se eerste jeugboek Breinbliksem is in 2005 bekroon met goud in die Sanlamprys vir jeuglektuur en dit het ook die MER-prys vir jeuglektuur ontvang. Sy kinderboek, Geraamte in die klas, ontvang in 2007 die MER-prys vir geïllustreerde kinderboeke én ’n ATKV-Woordveertjie. Sy tweede jeugboek, Onderwêreld, word in 2008 met die Sanlamprys vir jeuglektuur (silwer) bekroon.

Sy ander bekende boeke is Miserella (2007), die Klits Kronkel-reeks (2007, 2008) en Die geheime bestanddeel in Petra Pienk se piesangbrood (2008). Fanie woon in Bloemfontein en hy skilder en skryf voltyds.

Kyk na die lokprent: