Jo is a published author who started writing professionally while reading English and Drama at the University of Cape Town. Her books, short stories, features and award winning radio work have been published and broadcast internationally. She was Head of Creative for several media groups in South Africa and the UK and now lectures in Creative Writing. She is equally at home writing marketing or non-fiction material for corporate clients or fiction and memoir for private individuals.

As a Story Terrace writer, Jo interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better: you can read an autobiographical story of her own below. Get in touch today to work with her!

A Battle of Wits (excerpt from From Mother to Stepmother)

The Earl Grey tea and scones arrive at our pretty table for two at the crucial moment, along with the sparkling water – or ‘Waterbright’, as my mum calls it. Her right hand moves automatically to her spectacles which hang on her chest from a string of beads around her neck. Perching them on the end of her nose, she sits up straighter and raises her chin to examine the passport photo from the correct position for thorough appraisal.

I focus on the bubbles venturing upwards in sparkling strings and breathe in slowly. I’m loving this. Perhaps feeling a little guilty, but that’s an important ingredient to the taste of triumph which may seem unlikely at first – like adding orange to duck, cranberry to turkey, or prunes to pork. I’ve never bothered trying the last one, but I’m told it’s delicious.

It’s been 11 years since my divorce, and for the past seven, Mum has shown great restraint in not prying into my love life.

I think.

The truth is, I don’t know if she has had her spies on me lately. She’s done that before (her excuse when I uncovered her ploy the last time: “Well? You never tell me anything!”).

If she has done since, then she’s probably been more disappointed than me. I’ve had a boring love life lately. Apart from an abysmal mistake in the form of a faded musician who thought I was nearly as great as his bass pedal, and a deep-thinking, confirmed bachelor who scared my parents at dinner one night with loose talk of aliens landing on Table Mountain, there’s been no-one. Certainly nobody I could take seriously as a partner, much less home to meet Katie.

Now, though, there’s Paul. And I’m serious enough about him – about us – to tell Mum. But why introduce him as a strong, charming, lovely and reliable father of one when I can shock her senseless with an old mugshot of him when he sported a mohican?

The seconds pass; I can actually hear the tiny bubbles pop into the outside world as it holds its breath, awaiting my mother’s verdict.

Her nose twitches daintily. Her eyes flick up from the photo to regard my well-rehearsed, angelic expression. Behind them, I watch strategy working at full speed.

My stomach twists. This is definitely a little bit dangerous.

Finally, she removes her glasses, smiles delightedly and raises her glass of Waterbright in a toast.
“Very nice, darling! How surprising.”


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