FLIGHT by Jill Morsbach
Sixteen-year-old Alfeera Julies, living in the (fictitious) working class suburb of Flower Vale on the sprawling flatlands outside Cape Town, mentally creates an imaginary storybook world into which she escapes, peopling it with characters mainly based on familiars in the real world, and gleaning her ideas from her store of reject library books. Her “story-writing” is a survival mechanism she has built for herself, living as she does in a violent environment dominated by gang terrorism and drug abuse. Alfeera identifies with her imaginary heroine, Alpha Zeta, a South African super spy with the face, figure and resourcefulness that Alfeera lacks. Alpha is on a mission to save the world from the domination of crazy international terrorist leader El Mort, who turns the buildings of his enemies into solid glass, trapping the inhabitants inside and displaying them in grotesque and frozen tableaus. It is left to the reader to pick up the links between the parallel stories of Alfeera and Alpha, recounted in alternating sections in the novel. Only at the end do the two stories dovetail, when Alfeera is persuaded to write about the adventures of Alpha Zeta. A literary competition offers her the prospect of further study and of elevating herself out of the strife-torn gangland of Flower Vale.
I am a retired teacher of English with an Honours degree from Rhodes University and some experience in journalism (media liaison work). I live in Durbanville (outside Cape Town) with my husband Wolf Morsbach, the retired Director of the Provincial Department of Nature Conservation (now Cape Nature). Till recently we travelled extensively to the South African game parks. I have now taken up writing as a hobby, and nature conservation is a recurring theme in my work. In 2009 my first novel for children, a fantasy story entitled Shaka’s Computer, was published by Shuter & Shooter in Pietermaritzburg. Subsequently they have published more of my work: The Smallest Planet and The Pachyderm Tree (both 2010), Capture the Light (2012) and Professor Philander’s Diamond (2013). In addition I have written several plays and short stories which have been published in Shuter’s Top Class Readers for English, First Additional Language. In the recent past, two of my short stories for adults have been published in separate South African anthologies. My first full-length novel for adults, African Paradise, is due to appear in 2018, together with a novel for teens, Flight, and a novel for younger children entitled Secret Mission in the Cederberg. All to be published by Publishing World, SA.