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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

RRR presents... THE HEART WARRIOR'S MOTHER by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers - GUEST POST!

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today, you're in for a trio of bookish fun STARTING RIGHT NOW! First up, we've got Rachel's Random Resources on deck with a stop along their current tour starring a story with SO MUCH HEART that you know from the first glance that it's gonna bring all the feels along the way. After the intro, KEEP READING for a special GUEST POST from author Marilyn Cohen de Villiers on that eternal debate about whether a work is fact or fiction! Ready, set, let's bring the spotlight around as our focus turns to today's title in the spotlight...

The Heart Warrior’s Mother
Marilyn Cohen de Villiers

About the book...

Kerry-Anne Aarons is over the moon. She and her husband, Imran Patel, are about to become the parents of a baby daughter, and give their son, Leo, an adored little sister. It wasn’t planned, but Kerry knows that Lily’s arrival will complete the perfect little family she has always wanted. She, Imran and their two children are going to live happily ever after…

Then life intervenes.

Lily is born with a serious congenital heart defect and Kerry’s battle to save her daughter commences. It’s a battle that takes her from the operating theatres and Intensive Care Units of local hospitals to the High Court of South Africa. It’s a battle that strains her relationships with her friends, her parents, and – ultimately – her husband. It’s a battle she is determined to win.

But how much will Kerry have to sacrifice to give Lily the future she deserves?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

“A true, cross-generational story of the eternal link between love and pain… the greater the love, the more inevitable the pain. Marilyn Cohen de Villiers once again – with amazing skill – depicts the common humanity that transcends differing cultures.” - James Mitchell – former Book Editor, The Star, Johannesburg

A percentage of the proceeds of this novel will be donated to the Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa, an organisation that funds lifesaving heart surgery for children across the continent.



~~~ GUEST POST ~~~

Factual fiction and fictitious non-fiction
by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers

Do you prefer reading fact – ie. non-fiction – or fiction? Does it matter to you whether a book is real or true? Are you more likely to take a book off the shelf if it is presented as a “true story”, or is “based on a true story”?

The whole fiction vs non-fiction dichotomy has troubled me ever since I started writing books about 10 years ago. With my decades-long career in journalism, it’s a subject that is very close to my heart. Mark Twain is alleged to have said “never let the truth get in the way of a good story” – but I’ve never subscribed to that school of thought, not as a journalist, and not as a novelist. 

This subject became even more of a concern to me with my latest book, The Heart Warrior’s Mother. Initially intended as a non-fiction biography, I finally – after much soul-searching – decided to call it a novel. In other words, it’s being presented as a work of fiction. But there are large – very large – sections of the story that are factually correct. The little heart warrior of the title – I named her Lily – is real and so is everything that happens to her. So I could have positioned the book as a non-fiction biography.

However, there are also large parts of the book – including the mother of the title – that are a figment of my imagination. I finally settled on noting that the novel was inspired by a true story.   

Does it really matter? To me it does. I don’t want to perpetrate what I would regard as a literary hoax by claiming the entire book is factually accurate. However. I certainly wouldn’t be the first to do so.

One of the most famous literary hoaxes was James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. Frey claimed it was his memoir of his descent into and redemption from a drug addicted hell. He included graphic details of his stints in rehabilitation and prison.

A Million Little Pieces was hailed as “The War and Peace of addiction”. It received the ultimate accolade in popular literature (not even the Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer and a Booker are more valued) – being feted on the Oprah Winfrey Show. After Oprah’s endorsement, its sales soared. It was apparently the second biggest seller after Harry Potter in 2006, the year it was launched.

But while some sections of the media were falling over themselves to interview Frey, others started investigating. And an investigative publication, The Smoking Gun, found the silver bullet. They fact-checked details about his so-called "criminal record" and they found out that he’d spent just three hours in jail, not the 87 days he had claimed. Oops. 

Of course, that set more journalists digging, and more and more discrepancies came to light, until eventually no one was sure how much of the book was “real” or accurate. From what I have been able to ascertain, it seems that apart from the fact that Frey had indeed been an addict, pretty much everything else was fictitious in so far as what he wrote about may not or did not happen to him. But that’s not to say these things did not happen at all – perhaps just not quite as he depicted them, perhaps to someone else. I mean – three hours in jail… 87 days in jail.  At least he’d actually been in jail. 

If James Frey had been a little more honest about A Million Little Pieces, would it have been a best seller? Would Oprah have endorsed it as heartily as she did? 

The question is: why do writers of fake non-fiction – the Million Little Lies (to misquote James Frey) – do what they do? And why do so many get away with it? Is it because “reality” has become our addiction? Think of all the carefully curated and manipulated “reality” TV shows from “Big Brother” to “The Bachelor”.

One of the problems with books could be that the style of fiction and nonfiction writing is becoming increasingly blurred. Writers of nonfiction have long borrowed the tools of novelists. They place characters in scenes and settings, have them speak to each other in dialogue, and so on. Influential writers work in hybrid forms which are labelled "creative nonfiction" or “literary nonfiction” or "the nonfiction novel”, all of which I regard as creative oxymorons. And then there’s faction – a fictional story that may or may not incorporate some real people and events, blending the terms fact and fiction. 

Using these definitions, could my three novels that form The Silverman Saga be classified by some as faction? Probably, although I certainly wouldn’t. But The Heart Warrior’s Mother could be.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell, purely from reading something, whether it is fiction or non-fiction – unless the author tells us. And even then, as James Frey et al, illustrate, we – as readers – cannot always be 100 percent sure. 

Does it matter? 

For me, it’s more important that readers of The Heart Warrior’s Mother not only enjoy the book but become more aware of congenital heart disease (CHD) – a condition that afflicts one in 100 children around the world. Although CHD is approximately 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer and about 25 times more common than cystic fibrosis, we seldom hear much about it.  

To thank and honour the real Lily and her parents, I am donating a portion of my royalities from The Heart Warrior’s Mother to the The Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa (TCCFA). This South African-based organisation as established by leading paediatric cardiac specialists, to “save the lives and improve the health of children born with congenital heart disease in Africa by raising funds for heart surgeries and by training specialists and support staff in the field of paediatric cardiac care”. You can also contribute to saving the lives of many other Lilys by donating directly to TCCFA. Details are available on their website


About the author...

I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the Student’s Representative Council (SRC), competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours degree (first class), also at Rhodes.

With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships as protests and unrest against the Apartheid government intensified; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.

I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers. Despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.

After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability. My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. I returned to my roots as a journalist in a freelance capacity some six years ago, writing mainly business and IT articles.

So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction?

The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved. A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014. The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015, followed by Deceive and Defend, in 2018. Although this was not intended when I first started writing fiction, the three novels together constitute The Silverman Saga trilogy

Unlike my earlier novels, my latest book, The Heart Warrior’s Mother, was inspired by a true story.



Special thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to bring this tour to you and to the author for the guest post. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, this promotion, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now, so click on over to your favorite online retailer to snag your copy today and be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

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