Branderjaer, the first of many for local author Joha Van Dyk
Branderjaer is a new book hot on the shelves by local Stellenbosch Masters student Joha Van Dyk. Joha juggled her honours in English and wrote 'Branderjaer', an Afrikaans Young Adult novel, all last year.
Joha grew up on a farm in Namaqualand, on the West Coast, and then came to Stellenbosch in 2011 to attend high school. “And I never left - I did my undergrad in Humanities at Stellenbosch University and then continued studying my Honours in English. Now I'm currently pursuing my Master's in English Studies”.
What inspired you to write a book?
"Growing up on a farm, I loved reading from the get-go - both my parents are also avid readers, and our family is made of storytellers basically, so I've always been fascinated by stories”.
What is Branderjaer about?
“Branderjaer is an Afrikaans Young Adult novel. The story takes place in a small, coastal town and is about a group of boys who are known as Branderjaers for the extreme stunts and sports they've participated in since they were very young. When Deidre Anker, a seventeen-year-old girl, and Louw Swanepoel, a revered Branderjaer, cross paths, she realizes there is more to the boys than meets the eye. As she attempts to discover the Branderjaers' secrets, she becomes entangled in the same dangerous 'underground' operations tainting the seaside town of Stormbaai. There's a lot of surfing, beaches, adventures, and a hint of suspense regarding Breekwater, the 'dark side' of Stormbaai. The novel touches on themes of bullying, identity, peer pressure, drug abuse, and delves into the nuances of small towns and the secrets within them”.
Why the name 'Branderjaer'?
“When I heard the word 'branderjaer' the first time, I wasn't looking to write a story as I was already investing time in a different manuscript. My family and I were on a red bus tour in Cape Town when I first heard it and decided to write it down. Months later, I returned to the word, developed characters, and I was able to finish writing within two/three months. I've always wanted to be a writer. Being published is my dream, so being able to hold my book in a bookstore literally feels like a dream come true”.
What’s next, or will there be a sequel?
“I am currently working on a related project. I would love to write sequels, focusing on different characters each time, but right now, the only thing standing in my way is time. Apart from my Master’s thesis, I don't have much time for writing at the moment! So, I'm slowly ticking things off my list to be able to sit down with my concepts for the next manuscript and just start writing”.
Who are your favourite authors?
“It's hard to pick just one favourite author, but I am a Patrick Ness fan, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is easily one of my favourite books. Dalene Mathee and Deon Meyer are also high on the list - Deon Meyer's Fever (Koors) was so good, I impulse-bought copies for my family members while I was reading it”.
What are your superpowers?
“Panic-writing way before a deadline and then procrastinating while everyone else stresses days before the deadline. Also known as panic-procrastination. People love to hate this but, while it makes me unnecessarily stressed for a few days/weeks, it also allows me to multi-task and get more done - a necessary evil and an incurable personality trait, unfortunately”.
What do you love about Africa?
“Definitely the food. Our family is really passionate about food and, since my parents started a guesthouse on our farm, there was always something interesting happening in the kitchen. My mother and I travelled overseas, pre-Covid of course, and the thing we missed most by the end was South African food. Nothing beats a braai, curry, or potjiekos. My friends and I had also started to travel more in SA, once again pre-Covid times, and we really just have a stunningly beautiful country, as well with so much diversity”.
Any other hidden talents?
“I dabble in painting, though I'm not good. I try to play the guitar, but it doesn't always work out well for me. I also love travelling to new places and being in nature”.
Branderjaer is available as an ebook online, South African book shops and Takealot! R195 for a hard-copy and R156 for the ebook!