Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!

#Interview with Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, author of The Heart Warrior’s Mother

Very happy to welcome here today
Marilyn Cohen De Villiers - read on to see what she has to say!
She's kindly answered my questions and I'm sharing them now
So read on to find out more about her and how
She was inspired to write this great sounding book
And to find out more, just continue to read and look!

Where did you get the inspiration for the book?

The Heart Warrior’s Mother was inspired by the true story of a baby who is born with a congenital heart defect. I met her father when he came to my house to buy my late mother’s portable oxygen concentrator. He told me about his daughter ( Lily) and it resonated with me. It was so similar in theme to a story I was thinking of writing based on my own mother’s illness and experiences. 

What is your writing process?

I tend to do a lot of research (I’ll always be a journalist at heart and facts are important to me) and get everything I’d like to say straight in my mind. Then I just start writing, one scene or chapter at a time, and see where the process takes me. Sometimes what emerges is not at all what I planned. 

Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?

I haven’t written with pen and paper since six months into my Journalism degree almost 50 years ago when we were forbidden to turn in handwritten assignments. In those days, I used a little portable typewriter.  Once, during a power outage (a frequent occurrence in South Africa), my laptop died and I thought I’d save time by writing an article by hand. I couldn’t do it.  

By the way, probably the most useful skill I learned during my Journalism studies was touch typing. It makes writing (typing?) stories and articles so easy.

Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?

Oooh, that’s a hard one. The characters I enjoyed writing the most were the nasties – they are such fun to deal with: the grandmother in The Heart Warrior’s Mother; the news editor in all three books of The Silverman Saga; and even the hateful Alan Silverman in A Beautiful Family – although he was also probably the most difficult of all my characters to write.

 I suppose the characters I emphasise with most are Tracy Jacobs, the journalist in The Silverman Saga; and the hapless Annette in A Beautiful Family.

However, if I have to choose a favourite, I suppose it would be Advocate Henriette Weinberg – Hentie. She made a surprise appearance in Deceive and Defend (surprise because I hadn’t planned her but she appeared and took on a life of her own). She was such a fun character to write and so many readers told me that they loved her that I resurrected her in The Heart Warrior’s Mother.  

If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?

I don’t think I’d like to be any of the characters in The Heart Warrior’s Mother.  I don’t have the courage or resilience to go through what they go through. But then, we never know how we would react in a similar situation, do we?  

Of my other characters, I’d probably most like to be Advocate Hentie: she’s smart, feisty to a fault, doesn’t care what other people think of her, calls a spade a spade, yet is deeply compassionate under her brusque exterior. In a nutshell, nothing like me.

How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?

I always try to choose names that make the characters immediately identifiable in terms of gender, age, race, religion, cultural affiliation, language, nationality etc, particularly where these demographics are important to the story.

In The Heart Warrior’s Mother, the baby’s name (Lily) was chosen because the real baby who inspired the story has a flower nickname. 

The most difficult name to come up with for any of my characters was Alan Silverman’s (The Silverman Saga). I needed an easily recognisable name in terms of the character’s demographic, but because of who and what he was, I tried to ensure there were no other similarly-aged Alan Silvermans in Johannesburg. So I googled “Alan Silverman” and searched for “Alan Silverman” on Facebook and LinkedIn and didn’t find one in Johannesburg.  But then, I was giving a talk about A Beautiful Family and The Silverman Saga one day, and a man in the audience identified himself as Alan Silverman from Johannesburg.  He – and his wife – thought it was hilarious that he had the same name as the rather notorious character. 

Thank you for answering my questions. I enjoyed learning about your inspirations and processes.

Synopsis for The Heart Warrior’s Mother

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. 

Purchase Links – 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Warriors-Mother-Marilyn-Villiers-ebook/dp/B09YV4JDJZ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Warriors-Mother-Marilyn-Villiers-ebook/dp/B09YV4JDJZ/

Author Bio – 

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. 

Social Media Links –  www.marilyncohendevilliers.com


One comment on “#Interview with Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, author of The Heart Warrior’s Mother

  1. Carla
    July 17, 2022

    Nice interview, Elaine. This sounds like a heartbreaking story.


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