Michael adjusted his goggles and snorkel until they felt comfortable. He gasped in the cold water but soon forgot the cold when he began looking about him. The early afternoon sun filtering through the water added a lovely blue to the magical world he had entered. This wasn’t the first time that Michael had snorkelled; in fact it was his favourite hobby. Yet he never got tired of seeing the beautiful fish, the sea anemones or the shells. He moved with skill through the water, pulling himself along the rocks as he went. His careful eye missed nothing and he would pause to study an unusual starfish or a piece of seaweed, sometimes diving down to the bottom of a deep pool to run his fingers through the tentacles of an anemone. Surfacing, he would blow hard through his snorkel to clear it of water, and send a jet of spray into the air, like a whale. From pool to pool he swam, gazing in wonder at the colours before him, and losing total track of where he was. He felt as if he was on some magical planet far away instead of only a few metres from the beach. A little fish with bright yellow eyes and a long orange tail suddenly darted out from underneath an overhang of rock and swam round and round Michaels’s head, trying to decide what this strange dark creature was that had invaded its territory. Michael put out his hand and the little fish swam in and out between his fingers as if it was playing its own game of hide-and-seek. Before he could control himself a large giggle escaped Michael and a stream of bubbles squeezed themselves out of his goggles, only to be replaced by water. Soon he was coughing and spluttering with all the water filling his mask, and he had to stand up. Pulling off his goggles he took a deep breath of fresh air, and looked around himself in surprise. There was his little sister playing on the beach, sunbathers lying on the sand like dead bodies and the lifesavers strutting up and down checking to see that everyone was behaving well. He climbed out of the water onto the rocks and made his slippery way back to the beach. “Thandi,” he said to his little sister in his home tongue of Zulu. “Konke kulu ngile?” Is everything alright?
Today we talk about Catch at Mongrel Rock, a book by Carol Preston published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Carol Preston, to get to know her better, the moment that brought her to the writing of her book Catch at Mongrel Rock, as well as what she likes the most about the protagonists of her novel.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What is the moment that brought you to the writing of your book?
I wrote this book in the late 80’s when I wanted to submit a manuscript for a competition for Maskew Millar Longman Publishers. I was unsuccessful but I kept the book for all these years. Eventually a friend suggested that I give it a try again.
- What are the crucial themes of your book?
The book was written in the height of apartheid when friendships between races was illegal. The friendship that developed between the two boys in the story, however, is extraneous to the narrative, but I wanted to convey a message that colour is unimportant when it comes to love, both between people and the environment. The important theme of the book is custodianship of the natural environment and that everyone can make a difference if we love something enough. When the boys become intent on stopping a gang of poachers it is their determination that mobilises the adults, who have not made enough of an effort to do so, to assist and take action.
- What is the message you want to communicate to your readers?
In my work with children, I believe that small differences have the capacity to make big changes. It was the children in South Africa that were largely instrumental in the beginning of the end of apartheid when they took to the streets in 1976, protesting against being taught in Afrikaans, which was not their home language. The boys in the story, with determination and passion, made the difference in saving the sea that they so loved, in this instance halting poaching of crayfish.
- What do you like the most about the protagonists of your novel?
Once the boys become friends, one having just relocated to the coast from inner-city Johannesburg and the other a Durban boy passionate about the sea, their relationship develops beyond just the commonality of love of nature. They contend with their personalities, one with his volatile temper and the other with his desperate desire to learn a new language and integrate into a new life. Their differences are what enables them to succeed in their adventure.
- Are you working on a new writing project you can tell us about?
Yes, I am working on a graphic novel, also with a deep environmental theme. It is aimed at adults and poses the question by a dragon to quintessential man: “what is your plan?” The question is presented because humans have destroyed much of the natural environment through greed, and need to leave the planet before the destruction becomes permanent.
Europe Books thanks the author, Carol Preston, once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Catch at Mongrel Rock. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my readers, may this book strongly passionate, intrigue you page after page, makes you think about the importance of friendship and the care of the environment.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!