Name: Chantal Spies
D.O.B: February 20th
Country: South African living in
• Magic –April 27, 2017
Little Dino: How long has it been since you first started working towards being a published author?
Chantal Spies: Since I saw Baz Luhrmans’ Romeo & Juliet at the age of 12, I dreamed about writing and producing movies. I initially wanted to study film making, but out of fear that I will not be able to make a living out of it, I settled for safe, and studied Marketing & Communication (as every second person in the world does).
I regretted this choice many times over, and when I was 24 I decided to start writing a movie script titled “Magic”. I worked on this script on-and -off for 5 years until I felt that it was finally ready. I received positive feedback from many different South African movie producers who complimented my work, but there was one problem: it was a “big budget” movie – too big to be profitable in the South African movie market.
It was then, out of pure rebellion that I decided to convert the screenplay into a book. Usually people do it the other way around, but I’ve always been a little bit inside out. I had a story to tell and I was going to do so no matter what.
I found a self-publishing company, Partridge Africa, and an editor- Sandhya Mathura, or “Sandy” as she is known amongst her friends. Sandy helped me make the impossible possible- turning a movie screenplay into a book. The difference between a movie and a book is that with a movie you have many different components that help you tell a story: words, facial expressions, camera angle, lighting, décor, location and music. With a book you only have one: words, and you have to make every single one of them count. The conversion of the screenplay into a book took 9 months, the same amount of time a woman is pregnant. And, oh boy, it did feel like a pregnancy with all the ups-and-downs, emotions, fear and excitement. In April 2017 it was so far and I gave life to my story in the form of the book.
LD: What was your debut book and when did you publish it?
CS: My debut book is titled “Magic” and it is a story about a young woman’s pursuit of happiness after meeting the handsome lion tamer of a traveling circus. She discovers, nearly too late, that magic is not something you search for, but something you make, right here and right now. It was published in April 2017.
LD: What genres do you enjoy writing?
CS: My favourite genres are romance and comedy-drama.
LD: What is your writing Kryptonite?
CS: The internet!!!
LD: Where do you get your ideas from? (Real life situations? Dreams? Movies? Etc)
CS: From real-life. As a writer you must constantly observe. It is so tempting for us writers to regularly escape into your own little dream world and “black-out” in order to flee from reality, but it is important to be present and witness what is going on around you. Are you in a coffee bar? Read the body language of the people at the table beside you: are they an old married couple, new lovers or having an affair? Are you on the train? Listen to the conversation the gossiping teenage girls are having behind you. Are you on a date? Pose a question one of your characters would ask to the man in front of you, and listen to how it is being answered. Use every moment, even the boring ones, to tap out inspiration.
LD: How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
CS: Currently I am working on a youth book- “The Princess and the Zombie”, a romantic comedy about a zombie and a princess that fall for each other and the joy and heartache that comes with falling in love with what can never be.
I am also working on another South African movie screenplay- “Vrot Pampoen” (“The Rejects”) – a story about a town full of misfits where a down syndrome teenager and his Jack Russel are the heroes.
LD: What advice do you have for new writers?
CS: Be disciplined, be observant and never stop dreaming.
Little Dino and Chantal Spies off to read now ~~~