Nothing in life comes easy. Not publishing your first book, not attending your book launch and lastly, but most definitely, not motherhood. However, at the launch of Pamela Power’s debut novel Ms Conception these facts were trumped by one simple truth – the author’s resolve to face problems laughing.
The event was a joyous celebration from start to finish, and could not be hindered by a forgotten manicure, a car crash or SONA 2016 rehearsals. Power’s friend and fellow author Karina M Szczurek made it to the launch in the nick of time to host a lively discussion of a book that “reminded me why I am not a mother”.
Unbeknown to the audience, she was not almost late due to traffic caused by road closures around Parliament for the 2016 State of the Nation Address, but due to having just survived an accident on the N2. Fortunately she was unscathed and in good spirits, ready to roll on with a fascinating interview.
Gathered in The Book Lounge were old and new friends, blood and bookish family and, of course, fans of Power’s work. With the sounds of a marching band practicing in the background, Power shared the story of her long journey to being an author published in paperback. Having started her novel as a reaction to motherhood and her husband doing his MBA, she faced challenges getting it published. In 2012, Louis Greenberg took a chance on her, publishing Ms Conception in digital format. Three years later the manuscript caught Penguin’s attention, with Fourie Botha signing Power on to their roll.
Ms Conception is a hilariously twisted and very realistic take on being a mother – from the pain of childbirth to the yearning for a time before the constant smell of vomit. Power insists that the story is all fiction, but admitted to being heavily influenced by her own experiences of being a mom.
We were sold that myth that you can have it all and do it all, and in actual fact you can’t. You can, but not all at the same time. I think that’s what people are realising more and more, that you are not going to have a fabulous career at the same time as spending time with your children. It’s just not going to happen …
It’s only once you’ve had the baby that you realise that you are going to be in a milk and vomit stained dressing gown, 10 kg overweight, possibly weeping, having had no sleep – you are not going to be going to a meeting!
Dark humour and dialogue was highlighted as two strengths of the novel and the author alike. Power said that her sense of humour often gets her into trouble and that the challenge was to tone it down at certain points. The jokes and dialogue come naturally to her, as she earns a living by writing and editing television scripts. “If I could write an entire novel in dialogue I would!” Power said, admitting to struggling with the narrative parts.
Not that the narrative of Ms Conception is lacking. The story sweeps readers along, rushing them to turn page after page as they read about Jo de Villiers’s maternal misadventures. Despite what it might sound like, this book is not just for woman. On the contrary, Penguin Random House MD Steve Connolly pointed out in the Q&A session, “It’s the funniest book I read last year!”
What’s next for Power? A psychological thriller, very different to Ms Conception, will see the light later this year, and then readers can expect another domestic suspense novel, in a similar vein to her first book, next year.
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Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the launch, using the hashtag #MsC: