Saturday, 5 July 2014


Title: A Beautiful Family
Author: Marilyn Cohen De Villiers

BLURB supplied by the Author
When Johannesburg socialite Brenda Silverman dies in mysterious circumstance in her palatial, well secured home, questions are inevitable.
Did she commit suicide? Was it an accidental drug overdose? Or did her death have something to do with her husband, Alan?
Alan Silverman is a handsome, charming businessman with impeccable credentials: a former political activist who fled South Africa in the 1980s and returned to help build the new democracy; a loving husband and devoted father; a pillar of Johannesburg’s Jewish community; and an intimate of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress elite. He is also a man hiding a terrible secret.
Tracy Jacobs, a young journalist, is assigned to cover the story but as her investigations start to uncover cracks in the beautiful Silverman family facade, she finds herself in conflict with her own community.
Will Brenda’s inquest finally reveal the truth?   
Spanning nearly forty years and three countries (South Africa, England and Israel), A Beautiful Family confirms a horrible reality: that “things like that” can and do happen to people just like us.


Hello Marilyn welcome to JeanzBookReadNReview, Could you tell us a little about yourself and how/why you became an Author?
I always did well in creative writing while at school. I even won a creative writing competition once in high school.  As a journalist, and later in Public Relations, I’ve always written about hard facts and real people. So if that makes me a writer, then that is what I am. But I never considered myself a “creative” writer – a novelist. I also never really considered even writing a novel. I sometimes used to wonder if I could, but it wasn’t an ambition of mine, until fairly recently.

Could you try to tell us a little about your book in 20 words or less?
A Beautiful Family. A family saga set against the backdrop of South Africa’s political transformation that reveals the hidden side of domestic abuse.

Can you tell us what you are going to be doing next?
I am in the process of writing a “spin off” of A Beautiful Family. It is entitled “When Time Fails” and it focuses on the lives of minors character in A Beautiful Family. While A Beautiful Family deals largely with the South African Jewish community in Johannesburg, “When Time Fails” is set in rural South Africa and focuses on the Afrikaans farming community. 

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I am in the process of writing a “spin off” of A Beautiful Family. It is entitled “When Time Fails” and it focuses on the lives of minors character in A Beautiful Family. While A Beautiful Family deals largely with the South African Jewish community in Johannesburg, “When Time Fails” is set in rural South Africa and focuses on the Afrikaans farming community.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
For A Beautiful Family, I initially wanted to deal with an issue – abuse in the Jewish community - the characters came later. Why this issue? Because of something our local Police Station Commander told my husband that had shocked me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. So I started investigating ... and things flowed from there.
For “When Time Fails” – I already had most of the characters from A Beautiful Family. I also had a situation which had arisen in the first book. So this second book has started from a very different place to the first. 

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
No, I write when I have time – early mornings, weekends, during my lunch hour. I’m finding it far more difficult to write When Time Fails than I did with A Beautiful Family largely because preparing A Beautiful Family for publication, and now promoting it, is eating into my available writing time. 

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I gave A Beautiful Family to several people. The first person I gave it to – a teacher of creative writing – was very kind, but his criticism resulted in me completely rewriting it. Then I gave it to another professional editor, and ended up making quite a few changes based on her input too. I also gave it a couple of friends whose literary opinion I respect: they said they liked it, but what else could they say. My one daughter also read it partly because I wanted her professional opinion as a Social Worker. And my poor husband – a former journalist who never reads novels – read it twice to check for errors and typos.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
A Beautiful Family has not yet been reviewed. I dare say, I will read them all – and beat myself up about every negative thing said/implied.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
My cover was designed by a friend and colleague, a highly literate, experienced graphic designer. We often discuss books and he had, in fact, read an early version of A Beautiful Family (I wanted to see if a man would also read it or if it was ‘chicklit’). He understood exactly what I was trying to convey; he really understood my characters and he captured the essence of the novel absolutely brilliantly.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Book first. Title came later.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Characters names just have to fit with their demographic. I actually googled some to see if there was anyone else with the same name living in the same area. If there was, I changed the name.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I know where I am going. In other words, I know how the book is going to end when I start writing. But it’s amazing the number of twists and turns that present themselves along the way.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Characters are not based on specific people I know – although I borrow from some general characteristics of people I have met. My books contain a lot of historically accurate events; and some of the little incidents that happen to some characters also have a basis in fact – things I have heard, or read about – or, as a former journalist – even written about.

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?
I used to read some books over and over again when I was a lot younger and had more time: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Exodus by Leon Uris; The Fountainhead and We The Living by Ayn Rand – come to mind. Nowadays, I don’t have nearly enough time to read everything that is out there so no, I haven’t re-read any books for years.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I hope not. But having self-published my own book, I realise the cost of printing books is extremely high. It may not make economic sense to print books in future, with the exception of children’s books and coffee table books.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I read lots and lots of anything and everything when I was at school; but I didn’t write much beyond what was required of me.

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
An illustrated, abridged version of Little Women which I won as a prize for writing (handwriting) in Grade 1.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I won “War and Peace” when I was in Standard 9. I have never managed to get past the table of characters.

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?

Where can readers follow you?
Goodreads author page: still under construction
Amazon: A Beautiful Family is available on Amazon as a print book and for kindle

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