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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

How Spud – Learning to Fly got started

Dear Reader

In Spud, the character of The Guv inscribes a book of poetry, which he presents to Spud Milton on his 14th birthday. It reads, “Here’s to all the beginnings, and the possibilities they bring.”

Spud – Learning to Fly’s beginning was August 2007. In a few short years I had written two books, performed hundreds of Mamba shows and lived the life of a celebrated nomad. Running on red bulls and adrenaline, and mostly overawed by the sudden turn in my fortunes, my new roller coaster life took on a life of its own, and I merely chased its wake. The Madness Continues (and continues…) book tour was gruelling and I realised that I had reached an end of sorts. Call it the end of the beginning. I needed a break, a break from the daily buzz, a break from Spud, and mostly a break from myself. I decided to disappear, and so I did. For five months I didn’t mention the “S” word, avoided all contact with the world, and relished my ordinariness. It was a beginning of sorts.

Julia and I set off for Vietnam and Laos with nothing but backpacks and open minds, but inside me, something was beginning to bubble. By the time I arrived in Hanoi, the creative juices were flowing and ideas were popping out of everywhere. On a veranda of a bamboo hut, on a picturesque island overlooking the South China Sea, I opened up an empty notebook that read “SPUD 3, GO YOU BISCUIT!” and filled it in a week. Spud was back, and my creative intensity was pumping again. These were days of joy, celebration and relief in the knowledge that the ideas were rich, and I still had a full year to turn the notebook into a fine novel. This was the true beginning of Spud – Learning to Fly.

That was over a year ago, and I’m still working on a relentless yet ultimately futile attempt at comic perfection. In these final weeks while I tinker and agonise, I can reflect on a new Spud that has risen from the ashes and taken the characters forward and the story to a new level. Obviously, the true test is in the reading, but come the 28 March, when I finally hand over my new baby to Penguin Books, I will rest in the knowledge that I have done everything possible to make Learning To Fly leap and soar.

I’m afraid you, the reader, will have to wait for the 10th of June release date to take a peek for yourself, but until then, I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening behind the scenes with Spud and myself and may even drop you a couple of advanced clues to keep you ahead of the pack. So thank you all for the love, laughter and support…you have afforded me the life I’ve always dreamed of, and I intend to repay that faith with a crackerjack of a book.

Until next time… Laugh hard and prosper.


Spud – Learning to Fly will be available on the 10th of June 2009


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    March 25th, 2009 @13:53 #

    Welcome back John.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    March 26th, 2009 @09:53 #

    Hey, John. Glad you're back.

    We've got a slew of emerging talent lined up for those auditions you promised!

    Some spell better than others... All are eager.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    March 26th, 2009 @10:51 #

    Good to hear of recovered inspiration. Little boys and big ones (and probably girls too) have been waiting impatiently for this book...I know, I've been fielding their demands for months. It will be a joy to booksellers across the country when Learning to Fly comes out in June.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    March 26th, 2009 @11:05 #

    Definitely girls too, judging by the "slew of emerging talent" that's been haunting these pages while John was kicking back in Vietnam.

    Anyway, I'm a girl and I can't wait!


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