Tracey Farren, award winning Fish Hoek author

Talent abounds in the Scenic South and we are proud to introduce the novels by award winning author, Tracey Farren of Fish Hoek.

Whiplash is a disturbing, darkly humorous novel about a street prostitute who undertakes a hectic journey to excavate her past and discover what she is worth in spiritual terms. The book won a White Ribbon award from Women Demand Dignity in 2009 for its role in the struggle against women and child abuse. Also, in 2009, it was short listed among the top five for the Sunday Times Fiction Award.

Tracey writes: I was inspired to write Whiplash while I working as a freelance journalist, researching the issue of the decriminalisation of prostitution. I lived in the Marina da Gama at the time and began to chat to the young girls lining the M5, selling sex to motorists. They were friendly and forthcoming when they realised that I was not there to judge them. I realised very soon that sex work is far from an easy survival option. While we are meeting our work deadlines and going to gym, they are wondering whether they will live or die every time they get into a car. While I started writing Whiplash, a friendly, feisty sex worker I had come to know was murdered by a client in the dunes. This incident made me all the more determined to challenge society’s treatment of such women as worthless, or at worst, disposable. My fictional character, Tess, somehow became imbued with the murdered woman’s loving, obstreperous presence. Early on Tess began to dictate to me in street slang. Whenever I tried to correct her, my own voice intruded on the page and I no choice but to withdraw it. I have often been asked how I managed to keep the voice so consistent. The honest answer is that my fictional character was so strident and vibrant, I very little chance to interfere with her expression!

I’m glad to say that Tess got under the skin of people from all walks of life. My best reviews have been from middle or upper class readers who said that they forgot about Tess’s low social status. The dropped their contempt and began to worry about her welfare. They invested in her journey, hoping and wishing that she would see her own beauty. The underlying spiritual message of the book is that we are not born sinful. We are born innocent and beautiful and our souls remain intact despite our efforts to sell it or defile it.

I have just completed my second novel, Snake in the Grass. It is narrated by an innocent, unworldly little farm girl. Stella is a sweet, anxious little thing. Her father is a drinker and her mother keeps threatening to leave with the children. Her real problems start, however, when a charming stranger arrives on the farm. Stella is sure that he has come to heal their injuries and bring them closer. In the early days, while she is still hopeful and trusting, this man locks her into a lie with him. By the time Stella realises that Jerry is not the shining Christian he purports to be, she is choked by her own guilt about their early conspiracy. Part of the drama is told by the old German woman on the farm. She and Stella share a precious friendship and together they provide a dubious line of defence against the psychopathic, smooth talking stranger.