Growing up in South Africa

I was born in South Africa in the 1970’s to Dutch immigrant parents. We lived a simple, but happy life on a large flower bulb farm. There were mountains and vast spaces to run wild in and my sister and I spent most summer afternoons swimming at the resort pool near the farm.

joan-childhoodAcross the road from our house stood a tall wall over which one or two small black faces occasionally peered out at me. On Sundays I would hear the beautiful African singing coming from the small church building on the other side of the fields. There were always workers in those fields but I had no interaction with their children. Even though I was growing up at the height of Apartheid, I did not know what the word meant. I was unaware of everything wrong with my world.

At school and on the state controlled TV stations the divisions were intensified. We were taught of the danger of communism and the ‘radical’ ANC leaders. Fear was instilled. Differences highlighted. I wish I had —like the rest of the world—celebrated our remarkable Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990, but I clearly remember being a little afraid. One doesn’t easily shake off the beliefs instilled over the course of one’s childhood.

familyMarriage & Motherhood

I went through all the usual motions of growing up and entering adulthood – studying, building a career and getting married. They were good years but they blur a little around the edges until a single day comes into sharp focus – the day my daughter Nicole was born. Two years later Ashlyn arrived. I became a full-time mom. Most days were good, others less so. There were giggles and laughter, but also tears (quite a few of them mine). I loved being with my girls, but playground voices calling me ‘Nicole’s Mommy’ confirmed my sneaking suspicion that I was allowing my identity to slip a little in the daily muddle of motherhood.

Discovering my Writing Passion

That’s when I started writing and discovered my greatest passion, one which years of study and work had not uncovered. I’d always lost myself in books as a reader, but how incredible to discover that I could lose myself in worlds and characters of my own making. Writing was more than just an escape, it was also a way of processing my emotions and the things I saw happening around me. Post-Apartheid South Africa was still beset with racism, mistrust, bitterness, guilt and violence. These became threads woven through the stories I wrote. I gravitated toward writing fantasy because it’s a genre I love to read and it has the powerful potential of merging creativity and imagination with deeper truths.

Sharing my Words

enclave gilead logoWriting delights me. There is nothing I’d rather be doing. Yet few writers are satisfied with their words being like that proverbial tree falling in an empty forest. Most of us want to share our words with others. In 2014 I self-published a collection of my short stories and reflections, Encounters: Life Changing Moments with Jesus. It was a joyful experience for me because my words could now reach, and hopefully touch, people.

The long process of searching for a publisher for my fantasy trilogy, The Poison Tree Path Chronicles, finally led to a contract with Enclave Publishing. I’m grateful that these books have the potential of reaching an even greater audience than Encounters.


And now I’m on to the very happy task of thinking, what can I write next?


Read More About:

My Life in South Africa

My African Heart
Gifts for my Children
I See You
African Harmonies
Mandela’s Most Memorable Words


Marriage and Parenting

Meltdowns and Milestones
Child of Mine
The Struggles and Triumphs of Asperger’s Parenting


Writing and Publishing

Seed of a Dream
I Write Because
Journey to Publication – Bringing Down the Walls

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