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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Frankenstein’s Back!

Man those luscious days in Cambodia and Thailand feel like some time ago now. In fact even the Cape Town Book Fair has receded into the throbbing haze of talks, interviews and book signings. But let me resume from the very beginning and stagger forward in an orderly fashion.


Armed with a decent suntan, three signing pens, and a bubbly SE Asian inspired mojo, I set off for Johannesburg unsure of what to expect.

Sure I knew there was some anticipation about the new book, and yes I was warned that the launch may be a sizeable affair, but nobody gave me the category 12 hurricane warning! My first interview was meant to be a fifteen minute spot on the Rude Awakening on 94.7. It turned into a two and a half hour radio jamboree with Jozi’s craziest people. In fact I think Vern wouldn’t be out of place reading the weather. Anyway after our looney diatribe and being bogwashed by Whack-head Simpson I returned to my hotel in a twitchy mood and set about preparing my speeches for the launch and pacing around the hotel room in a nervous fashion. The weather was bitterly cold – even more so when you’ve just been through an 8 month summer and forgot to pack your jersey. Expecting the worst, I stepped out onto the Melrose Arch Piazza at 18:35 and my jaw fell open as I saw the queue which began at the signing table and stretched down the road and around the block. According to my publishers (who know these sorts of things) there were over 2000 freezing people waiting for me. Four hours later I was still signing away and grinning like an ape at the unfolding mass of humanity before me. What a night! What a feeling! So thank you to those who braved the cold and waited in line – your love and excitement was shattering. It’s official JOZI ROCKS!!!


After 5 days in freezing Jozi I flew South to beautiful Cape Town with British author Adele Parks. We didn’t stop talking (although she spoke far more than me) from the moment we were picked up from the hotel until we had been deposited in our hotel at the Cape Town convention centre. We covered all areas of life from the publishing industry in Serbia to the sex of Ricky Gervais’s cat. Marvellous stuff.

So everybody asks me how the book fair was this year and unfortunately I don’t have a clue. At my first signing the queue double backed on itself like a deadly snake with each fan armed with a sack full of Spuds. I did two signings a day and every single one was identical and just as crazy as the last. My third and final signing pen ran out on the second day and that was followed by several more. At least the flamboyance of my signature has greatly increased and for the first time I have been complimented on my scrawl. This was partly counteracted by the lady who informed me that I held my pen like a deformed baboon, which was a setback as far as signing confidence goes. It began to dawn on me that Spud is the Frankenstein monster let loose on the country and eventually the brute will destroy me too. I decided I couldn’t carry on and ran away. Unfortunately 4 Penguins jumped out of a nearby car with Madagascan registration plates and wrestled me back to my signing desk where a queue of hundreds waited patiently for their Frankensteins to be scribbled on.

Anyway I signed them all – in fact you couldn’t stop me.


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