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As I write this column, my book is off to the printers and I feel as if I’ve just dropped off my eldest child at university. You see, writing a book is like what I imagine it must be to raise a kid.

Fireworks is about braaing, about making fires with wood and about you confidently cooking great meals on the coals of that fire. Thanks to the unique direction my life has taken over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to braai quite often, with diverse people, in various beautiful places, using different techniques. As a result, there is now quite a bit of tacit knowledge in my head that I wanted to share with my fellow braaiers, to bring you up to speed, so to speak (check out my top braai recipes online).

It started off as a romantic idea when a publisher contacted me two years ago to ask whether I’d be interested in writing a book. Needless to say, I agreed, and for a few months was in denial that I’d actually have to write a book, until I had to face reality. Very soon it was causing me sleepless nights and every single minute of my spare time went into writing.

Mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays were spent in front of the computer and there was never a moment when the book wasn’t at the back of my mind. I didn’t have time to read books (ironically) and hadn’t watched TV in a year.

As soon as the first draft was finished and people such as the publisher, editors, stylists, designers and proofreaders were involved the book took on a life of its own, but finishing this book-writing project continued to be a time-gobbling exercise for me. And not once during the past two years did this book thank me for writing it!

When it comes to braaing, I’m probably one of the most interviewed people on this topic in South Africa and consequently a good judge of what people want to know when it comes to braaing. I have addressed these questions somewhere in the book. Fireworks contains a considerable mass of information, generously spiced with a dose of personal prejudice.

The book isn’t about National Braai Day. I’m too young for that and National Braai Day is too young for that. What I will say on the topic is that, in National Braai Day, South Africans have a realistic opportunity to entrench and cement a day of celebration for our country within our lifetimes. I believe that having an annual day of celebration could play a significant role in nationbuilding and social cohesion as the observance of our shared heritage can truly bind us together.

In Africa, a fire is the traditional place of gathering. So I urge you to get together around a fire with your friends and family on 24 September every year to celebrate our heritage, share stories and pass on traditions. Help me spread that word.

Click here to see how you can win a copy of Fireworks


One Response to “How to write a book: The journey to creating ‘Fireworks’”

  1. Larry Susman

    Hi Jan, great to see the book is finally out, I will be getting a copy to checkout. You inspired me to take up the cause and I have started a braai blog in the UK, where I plan to braai every week for a year. Its been great over the summer but we are heading into winter now as you start your summer, not looking forward to the cold dark nights.

    I’ve been following you for a few years now, keep up the great job. Ons Gaan Nou Braai 🙂

    All the best Larry


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