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Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril is due out on Friday 2 March 2012.

When advocate Chris Marnewick was eight years old, living in Jo-burg, he used to go to the corner café for an elderly neighbour to buy The Star newspaper. And he remembers vividly the edition of June 10, 1957, with it’s headline “Van Buuren dies saying ‘I’m innocent of murder’”, detailing…
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I have no definable writing habits, I think. I write when I have time and when the moment captures me. I have written on trains, buses, ferries and cars (my wife takes dictation on her filofax). I write any time of the day or night. In order not to disturb the rest of my household, I keep a pen and paper ready on my bedside table. I write down what my dreams produce as soon as I wake up. Otherwise the wisdom of my subconscious may be lost.

I listen to music while I write because it is so inspiring and it drowns out the distracting noises of everyday life around me. Silence is distracting in its own way and I play the music loud: Beethoven, rock, jazz, contemporary Afrikaans (Theuns Jordaan, André Zwiegers, Chris Chameleon), female singers (Roberta Flack, Dionne Warwick, Madonna, Alanis Morisette), and old favourites like Bob Dylan, Donovan, José Feliciano, Creedence, the Beatles and the Stones.

When I run out of inspiration I go outside and go for a walk or wash my car or work in the garden to allow my subconscious to come up with the necessary inspiration.

I try to write as I would speak. The pace of the words when I read them should match the pace of the conversation if I were to tell the story to someone. I have learned that writing is not a unilateral act. You write for the reader to read. It is like handing a cup of tea to a guest. I try to ensure that they receive the tea without spilling a drop.

So I write using short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. I have learned that descriptive sentences should be longer, but sentences describing action should be short.

Because I write mainly creative nonfiction, I have to make the truth look like fiction and the fiction look like the truth. In order to do that, I make the descriptions of the places where the action takes place as accurate as possible. When the reader can go to the place described in the book and see the Jacaranda tree juxtaposed with a Pohukatawa (The Soldier who said No) they tend to believe that the events that happened there are also true. It’s a trick, I know, but if the readers don’t believe, they’ll stop reading.

Everyone has something to tell, and I am convinced that anyone can write a story. It doesn’t have to be a long book and it may even be just a page or two. There are so many genres to pick from and the novel has so many facets that it defies our best efforts at counting them

All you have to do is sit down, pick up your pen, and write,

‘Once upon a time … ‘

I have just finished the draft of my first book in Afrikaans, a work of creative non-fiction provisionally titled Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril. (Clarence van Buuren: The man behind the dark glasses.) It is about a murder that took place in October 1956 in my home town, Pinetown, and how I have traced the original documents, some of which had not been seen for decades or ought to have been destroyed a long time ago, and how I have ‘solved’ the case. I hope to have an English version out before the end of 2012. When the book comes out, all the original case materials, photographs, press clippings and exhibits will be made available on this website so that every reader may investigate the case afresh and draw their own conclusions. Was Van Buuren guilty? Why did he do it? Why didn’t he confess? What did he do to the girl? Where did he do it?

Clarence Van Buuren will be published by Protea Boekhuis.

I have plans for three or four books for the next two years and a number of other exciting things are about to happen. My textbook, Litigation Skills for South African Lawyers, is published by LexisNexis and is due for an updated edition. I hope to have that ready for publication by the middle of 2012. I also want to write a book on appellate advocacy, a skill for which one looks in vain for a helpful textbook or guide.

Anant Singh of Videovision is set to start filming Shepherds & Butchers. He has contracted Germany based Oliver Schmitz to direct the film. 

That contrary policeman and erstwhile reconnaissance unit soldier Pierre de Villiers may make a return to complete the trilogy started by The Soldier who said No and continued in A Sailor’s Honour. This time the enemy will be cash-in-transit robbers.

I’ll be at Woordfees 2012 in March.