(This post has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of weeks while I tried to get the pictures off my cellphone.  I have finally given up and the fuzzy specimen shown is a picture of the screen of my phone with the picture.)

   The last ever – according to current planning – launch of a Spud novel was attended by us at the Book Boutique in Amanzimtoti on Friday (18th August!).  Author John van de Ruit has decided to rest his case with Spud – Exit, Pursued by a Bear, and he has just completed the final three-week tour of major South African cities for the launches.  He told us that he had one more press conference to go, and that would be the end of this phase.  He feels that he needs to move on to other projects.


  For those who have yet to encounter the Spud phenomenon, it is going global in a big way so you soon will.  The diary of a youngster attending a Michaelhouse-type exclusive boarding school has become a best-seller in South Africa, and is looking to do so in many other countries as well.  The other three books will almost certainly also become movies, and TV rights are being grabbed.


  The fact that the first movie featured John Cleese has done it no harm whatsoever.  Yes, the John Cleese of Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda fame.  More recently, in James Bond (as Q),  and in Harry Potter and Shrek..  John (vdR) says John (C) is an absolute hoot to be in company with.  His stories and comments are constantly entertaining.

  The author said that Wombat, the dotty grandmother, was based closely on his own.  Comedy out of tragedy.  She started with senile dementia at the early age of 62, and during his later visits she didn’t recognise him as a grandson but thought he was a boyfriend.  Thus she flirted shamelessly with him throughout each visit.

  While chatting he confessed to me that the tours were exhausting, and that he tried to get out of them.  For the latest, Penguin agreed to three weeks instead of six – but then crammed six weeks worth of activity into the three!

  I found it interesting that after all the writing has been completed, he reserves a full eight months for editing and revision.  It shows what painstaking work has to go into that phase of a novel’s life.  I thought I was a bit retarded for spending more time on the fine-tuning afterwards than on the actual writing, but it would seem this is commonplace.

  The success of the first Spud enabled him to retreat to the ideal places for quiet and inspiration when writing the sequels – a spot near Lake Como, and then an island off Vietnam.

  I also asked him how satisfied he was with the movie, and whether it had given any frustration, and he said that he had been fortunate in being consulted at every phase.  He had to accept that the nature of the medium changed the original concept somewhat, but not in a way to which he felt opposed.

  It was really a privilege for us to hear him talk entertainingly about the book, and field some penetrating questions from the people present.  One person asked if he would send his own son (when and if) to such a school, and his response was that it would depend entirely on the boy’s personality.  With an outgoing, sporty type he would have no hesitation.  He said, though, that it is a soul-destroying environment for any introverted or ‘nerdy’ type – or even just one who is intellectually inclined.

  My own impressions of this latest book will follow when I get a chance to read it.

© Colonialist August 2012 (WordPress/blogs24)

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
This entry was posted in Books, Personal Journal, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to OUT TO LAUNCH – GOT A SPUD –

  1. Pingback: Another independent bookshop comes to The End — | Colonialist's Blog

  2. eof737 says:

    Waiting for it to land… in a mall near me. 😆


  3. footsy2 says:

    Know of the books but not come across them here. Your blog sent me off looking for the film, which I found. Really enjoyed revisiting Michaelhouse. Many memories (debating society, matric dances, theatre visits (on the few occasions I wasn’t gated and allowed to attend!. Thank you. :-). For me boarding school was a huge privilege and I am forever grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made to keep me there. (And apparently my kids feel the same way :-))


  4. Thoroughly enjoyed the book (haven’t read the sequels) but must admit that, even with John Cleese in it, I did not enjoy the movie. I think it really is something to be read and not watched. Look forward to your review on his latest book. Must have been fabulous meeting him.


  5. arkenaten says:

    Read the first two. Enjoyed the first more than the second, though haven’t seen the film. Get it one day on DVD, no doubt.
    So Col meets Johan Van de R. What a treat for Johan.;)


  6. adinparadise says:

    I have heard of The Spud, but didn’t know what it was all about. Good review, Col.


  7. I read the first book, have not followed up on the rest but will at some stage.


  8. 68ghia says:

    I have one of the novels – don’t know which one of the set it is, have not read it yet, nor seen the movie – suppose I will have to make a point of reading it sometime.
    Reading CJ Sansom these days 😉


  9. optie says:

    Interesting post Col – I have read the first book and seen the movie, haven’t read the sequels. I enjoyed the first book very much, not sure how much you can milk the idea before it goes stale though so it’s good to hear he’s done with Spud novels.


  10. melouisef says:

    I once read a Spud on the plane (and left it there) but I had a distinct feeling it was not original, and it was very much like something else I have read. So I must be the only person who gives it a thumbs down.


  11. nrhatch says:

    Cool review. I have NOT heard of SPUD (books or movie), but you had me at Wombat. And Cleese. 😀


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