Author’s corner: Irna Van Zyl

Author’s corner: Irna Van Zyl

Irna van Zyl has had an illustrious 30-year career in media….


She was an executive director at New Media Publishing, which she co-founded. In 1985 she was appointed as chief sub-editor at Die Burger, the first woman to occupy the position, and she has worked as editor for Afrikaans magazines DEKAT and Insig. She made her writing debut in 1995 with a collection of short stories, Grootmensspeletjies. Dead in the Water is her first novel.

What was your inspiration for Dead in the Water?
We have a holiday house in a little coastal town called Pearly Beach, 20km south of Gansbaai, and the inspiration for the story came from that environment, where shark cage diving is the biggest tourist attraction alongside whale watching. But this is also an area where perlemoen poaching is rife… and who knows what else.

What three words would you use to describe the journey that you hope the readers will experience while reading your book?

Page-turning, enjoyment and learning.

Is the character Storm based on anyone you know?

No, it really is an imagined character, but obviously borrows mannerisms and tastes from a number of people that I know, including myself.

Who would you have play her in a film adaptation of the book?

Lana Crowster, Voice SA 2016 finalist, because of her hair, but also because of her unconventional and lively personality.

What was the most difficult or challenging scene to write in the book?

For me, the most difficult bits were actually the editing. I loved writing the book.

Can we expect a sequel?

Yes, hopefully. I’m already quite far down the line with the next book and hope it will be good enough to be published next year.

What other projects are you working on at the moment?

I write a regular column for Eat Out called The Accidental Foodie and I’m working with the Pearly Beach Conservancy on a book about the environment.

What is your favourite book of all time?
I really don’t have one as it changes all the time. Currently I’m reading A little life by Hanya Yanagihara, which I think is great. I also love everything that was written by AM Homes, but especially May we be forgiven. 


Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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