Carlyle Labuschagne needs no introduction. This dynamic mother of two is making waves in the publishing industry. Author of The Broken series, co-founder of Fire Quill Publishing, regular UtopYacon attendee, mastermind behind the SAIR Book Festival, and founder of the “Help Build a Library” project in SA, it seems there is nothing this petite blonde can’t do.
In this in-depth profile, Melissa Delport gets to know the woman behind it all.
Welcome, Carlyle! Thank you so much for taking time out to chat to me.
Thank you for having me, Melissa. **gives an excited squee**
It seems almost impossible that one person could achieve so much in such a short space of time. How do you balance your workload and your personal life?
At times it becomes overwhelming, but its short-lived (laughs). I am living my dream, touching others and hopefully inspiring women, girls and the youth to take their future into their own hands. This feeling lifts me above the stress, I guess.
Let’s talk first about your books. I saw a marvellous interview you gave Samm Marshall on the Morning Live show, but for those who missed it, tell us a bit about your Broken series – what it’s about and what inspired it.
That interview was a dream come true. Samm is a brilliant presenter; he made me feel so at ease it almost felt like I was having a simple chat with a fellow reader. The Broken Series stemmed from a long overdue need to tell a story – my story – in the hope that teenagers out there would get the message and relate. It tells the story of a young girl who doesn’t quite fit in. The main character, Ava, doesn’t quite conform and refuses to abide by rules which make no sense to her. When she comes of age she starts to draw attention to herself, something she has always wanted, but in ways in she will later regret. In the first book, The Broken Destiny, we discover she has abilities which stem from ancient times, and that is was foretold that she would be the one to save a dying race – humankind. As a teenager who doesn’t quite know who or where she belongs, Ava finds herself in very compromising situations which lead to deadly mistakes and awful consequences. She loses herself in the beginning but later discovers that with love and the help of others, everything she has gone through is part of her journey. In order for Ava to reach her full potential and become the chosen one, she has to come to terms with who she is, who she could be and who she doesn’t want to be. It is very much a story of finding one’s self and becoming your own hero.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m working on a New–Adult, crime-romance title, which we are hoping to release by December this year. It’s my first attempt at a genre with no paranormal elements… Wish me luck! (laughs). For my YA titles, Dark Horse is the next short-story in the Broken Diaries series, which is a spin-off of the The Broken Novels. Each short-story follows a particular character’s encounter with Ava’s Prophecy.
Ignite is the final full-length Broken Novel that I have started writing, due for release in 2016, and then there is a short-story (a very secret project!) introduction to a new coming-of-age novel series I am working on, which will be very much Paranormal Romance!
Finally, Dead of Night is undergoing final edits and will be re-released by Fire Quill Publishers very soon.
Wow. Is that all?
(laughs) For now.
You recently attended the prestigious UtopYa Conference in Nashville, USA. How does it feel to be invited to such an international event?
As panel member and third-time nominee, my mind was beyond blown. I still haven’t fully taken it all in. I absolutely adore UtopYA sense of community. It’s something I hope to achieve here in SA. Janet Wallace has created the most amazing sense of camaraderie. UtopYacon is uplifting, inspiring and builds writer’s confidence. There is nothing better than the knowledge that you can just believe in yourself and be the best self you can be without fear of not fitting in.
It sounds amazing. What an inspiring woman, and how fortunate you are to know her. What was the highlight of your trip?
Being amongst my author heroes as a peer, to be myself amongst these stars was my shining moment indeed.
Now, FireQuill Publishing. We all know this is not the easiest industry to be involved in. What possessed you to start this company and what are you looking for in your submissions?
To be very honest FQP is Erika Bester’s baby. She’s the business brain behind it all. When she approached me I was at first very reluctant – what did I have to offer? The company is still young and I do what I can with marketing and acting as a spokesperson. I can tell you this, Erika and I (but mostly Erika!) will take the publishing industry in SA into a new era. Now how could a book-lover like me turn down such an amazing opportunity? Our goal is to help authors in SA get the attention they deserve, rather than having to find publishing support abroad. What FQP is looking for in submissions is fantasy, paranormal and science fiction from SA born writers.
You are also involved in a movement here in South Africa, aimed at inspiring children to read. Tell us a bit about the work that you do?
My “Help Build a Library in SA” project started in 2012, coinciding with the launch of my first book, where I included a collection of prizes for the attendees. Ironically, my mother won the prize, which was worth over R5000 in books and swag, but she kindly donated it back to the school to get their library started. Half of the proceeds went to the school library and the other half to a charity. Thereafter it just made sense to keep up with the project.
Part of the reason I became a writer in the first place was to inspire others to use writing and reading as healing tools. Finding companionship between the pages of a good book is incredibly therapeutic. If our kids were reading more I am certain their life choices would be very different.
How can people get involved in the project?
The link to this years Library event where I will also be starting a mentorship program for the kids in 2016, is http://www.carlylelabuschagne.com/help-us-build-a-library.html
Let’s shift gear, Carlyle. You founded the SAIR book festival, and the inaugural event took place in March this year, with a stellar line up of guest speakers and writer’s panels. The entire festival was recorded as being a massive success. What inspired you to undertake such a project?
I was taken aback by the great acceptance of this concept in Johannesburg, After attending UtopYAcon in Nashville in 2014, I finally understood what direction our publishing community needed to take. As an author, I always knew that our resources here in SA are very limited and “backward” for the individual, so to speak. I myself had struggled to build any kind of well-established network, where I could ask advice and get the correct information I needed. Our authors and writers need support and guidance in every stage of their publishing career.
What do you hope to achieve with SAIRfest?
I hope to build a community of readers and writers who can lean on each other, boost each other, and even promote each other. I think SAIRfest 2015 went down fairly well, and that it was just the beginning of what we could achieve as we move forward. Good tips were shared, loads of information was spread between companies and individuals that would just make our lives as aspiring authors and publishers so much easier.
It seems there is nothing left for you to accomplish, but I have no doubt that you are already plotting your next big move. What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve already presented Fire Quill Publishers with my next exciting event and have the full backing of the CEO to do a Book-Cover Model search across South Africa. There will also be a smaller search for aspiring international models. This launches in August 2015 and we hope to announce the top 5 winners at the next SAIR event.
You really don’t stop, do you! Thanks so much for taking time out to chat to me.
Thank you for having me, it’s been a great honour Melissa, I appreciate the wonderful opportunity I have been given today! And no, as long as the ball is rolling in my direction, I’ll never stop!
Before we go, how about a few fun facts…
Of course, she said yes, and here’s what we learned about the fabulous Carlyle Labuschagne:
Tea or coffee? Cappuccino in the morning, green tea in the afternoon.
Mountains or seaside? The great thing about our coastlines is that there are always mountains nearby! Both, as long as the weather is tropical, I’m in heaven.
You favourite book of all time? Jock of the Bushveld.
Your favourite TV series? At the moment Grimm, but always The Vampire Diaries
Your favourite animal? Black panther.
The most defining moment of your career to date? Oh gosh, that’s a hard one! I’ve had so many, and every day is a surprise. UtopYacon was definitely a huge turning-point in my career. I kind of came into my own, really got to love myself for me, and accepted that only great things could come of such an amazing opportunity. But every year when I get to deliver a bunch of new Young adult books to the school and speak to the kids – well, that’s why I’m here!
To find Carlyle online, or follow her on social media, please visit: www.carlylelabuschagne.com