Edyth Bulbring - Author Picture

Edyth Bulbring - Author

Edyth Bulbring was born in Boksburg, South Africa and grew up in Port Elizabeth. She attended the University of Cape Town where she completed a BA whilst editing the University newspaper Varsity. Having worked as a journalist for fifteen years, including time spent as the political correspondent at the Sunday Times of South Africa covering the first ever democratic elections, Edyth moved into writing full time. Edyth has published six books in South Africa and is looking forward to seeing her books on UK shelves.


What inspires your writing?

The people who inspire me to write are the people I meet every day (like Trevor and Phineus my builders). I am inspired by an elderly Portuguese dressmaker called Louisa who made my daughter’s matric dance dress. At the last fitting, she asked my daughter how low she wanted the bodice of the dress, and then encouraged her to show more cleavage, saying things like: “You must live, life is too short!” and “Live your dreams, have courage!” – she says “courage” like “koo-rage”, which is fantastic. She is quite an inspiration. And then, apart from people like Louisa, I am constantly moved to write by the people I love most in the world – my family. My two teenage daughters and son drive me mental most of the time but when they aren’t doing that I am constantly in awe as to how funny and clever and nice they are. And then the children’s father says many things that inspire me to write, things like: “Why don’t you write a book that earns some decent cash?” and “If you can’t write a book that sells do you think you could learn how to cook?” Stuff like that – really inspirational.

What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?

When I heard that someone wanted to publish my book, The Summer of Toffie and Grummer (published by OUP), which was the second book I wrote. I didn’t celebrate. I cried. By then I had written four books no one wanted to publish and I was feeling like a real loser. So I was very relieved. Then all the others got published so I was even more relieved and did some more crying .

How did you first become an author?

I went to university and studied history and politics and got a part time job as a switchboard operator at a newspaper. But I was useless at it so they let me write a few stories. I ended up being the political correspondent for the Sunday Times, a newspaper in South Africa. But along the way while I was being a journalist I had three children and one day I decided to stay at home and look after them. I didn’t know what else to do when they were at school so I decided to write a book for them. And when no one wanted to publish it, I wrote a few more books. And then they got published. I never really wanted to be a writer I just wanted to tell stories to my children to make them laugh. It was my way of connecting with them. This is the reason why I write books. To shore up my memories. To tell the stories about the people I love. My books are for my children. They are my love letters that I hope will bind us together.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

What was your earliest career aspiration?

I wanted to be an airhostess and travel the world. But in the days when I was young you had to be very tall and very pretty to be an air hostess. I was neither.

What advice would you give to budding writers?

I have a few rules. I love rules. It makes me feel that my life has some order. The first rule is: read, read, read and read some more. You can’t write if you don’t read. The second rule is: keep a diary. It should be about things that make you laugh or cry; people you meet, the things they say, things that interest you what you experience every day. It will give you material for your books. I kept a diary for many years when I was young and when I was pregnant with my first child I trashed them all because I thought I was going to die in childbirth and I didn’t want anyone to read them. I regret trashing my diaries a lot. The third rule is: write every day - in your diary, on facebook or on a blog. It will help you develop your voice. The fourth rule is: don’t listen to what people say you should be writing. Write what you want to write about. They are your stories and you shouldn’t try and write someone elses story. The last rule is: respect your readers. Don’t try and lie to them or cheat them or give them rubbish.

What was your favourite childhood book?

I read everything I could lay my hands on and never really took note of who was writing them. I read all my mother’s and sisters’ library books. I read lots of trashy books and some good books too. I was a bit of a glutton. But my love of reading was not sparked by one particular book, it was newspapers that did it. Every morning I used to lie in bed between my mother and father while they read the newspapers. And I would point to some photo and ask my father what the story was. And he would tell me all about it. It was really special. Actually I lie, he used to say: For crying in a bucket, I’m trying to read my newspaper; give me some peace. I couldn’t wait to be able to read the stories behind the pictures for myself. That’s what sparked my love for reading.

The children’s books I really liked were written by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and Willard Price. But the one author I really like who writes for both adults and teens is Philip Pullman. I loved His Dark Materials Trilogy and I read these when I was an adult. They are cross-over books which I think are the best sort of novels. I loved Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery and I have tried to get my daughters to read it and they have refused. It breaks my heart. I suppose if I read it now I wouldn’t like it much but I liked it then. The book gave me a real soft spot for girls with red hair.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I write in two places. The first place is at home in Johannesburg at my desk in my sort of study which leads on to my stoep. I find it easier to write when there is a lot of activity going on. So when I sit down to write a new book I usually also embark on a new building project on my house. I love building and Builder’s Warehouse is my favourite shop. Or I start a new garden project – ripping out old beds and planting new ones. So when I write I have lots of people coming and going and hammering and asking me to order sand and bricks which gets me very excited and energised. I also get to make the builders (Trevor and Phineus) tea and to chat about life and things.

Trevor and Phineus come and do building projects while I write. They are also characters in 100 Days of April-May, the sequel to A Month with April-May.

The second place I write is at my cottage in Stanford, which is a village two hours from Cape Town. I take a week off from my family and sit and write on the stoep. I like this time away a lot as I don’t have to cook or bath or get out of my pajamas. I eat old Christmas cake and peanut butter and fish sandwiches. When I want to see people I go and buy Ghost Pops (crisps) and Coke at the cafe and talk to the people walking their dogs.

How do you read- print, digitally or both?

I read print books. I was given a kindle for my birthday three months ago but I haven’t used it yet. I buy most of my books from the Hospice bookshop down the road from me.

Who do you most admire?

I admire people who tell great stories. I go through stages of having huge crushes on authors and I devour them until someone else catches my eye, but I always go back to Jane Austen and she never disappoints. I love her irony and her sense of empathy. And her long sentences. I wish I could write long, complicated, grammatically perfect sentences. In terms of living people, I admire my two teenage daughters and my son. They have grown into wonderful people, despite me.

Are there any books you wish you had written?

There is one author who I esteem above all others for writing the best book ever written: Harper Lee (who only ever published one book and got it right the first time). Whenever I see To Kill a Mocking Bird in charity shops, I buy it. I have about thirty copies and I’m going to keep on buying it. She inspires me to keep on writing until I get it right.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Edyth Bulbring

A Month with April-May
Edyth Bulbring
February 2013 Debut of the Month All the travails of being a teenager seem to be heaped on the shoulders of the unfortunately named, April-May February. A scholarship girl...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers | 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/02/2013
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