Many of you know that when I am not writing at my computer or doing story times for orphans and vulnerable children at after-school programs, my favorite activity is ice skating. Believe it or not Africa has rinks in Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi and Cairo. There may be more, but those are the ones I know about. Addicts like me check out places on the Internet.
When I lived in Kempton Park outside Johannesburg, I had a rink ten minutes from my house—a lot closer than here in Wisconsin! I was regularly there with the kids taking beginner lessons and the teens working on their competition programs—the only adult on the ice who wasn’t a coach. (To do this sport you can’t think about how foolish you might look to others.) Knowing I would have a whole month in Johannesburg this winter (summer in South Africa), I took my skates and returned to the Kempton Park rink where I used to train.
Unlike US rinks, jumping and spinning are confined to designated figure skating times. My last Saturday there, I think I spent as much time talking as skating. My old coach, Brian (the only one I could interest in spending time coaching an adult with no Olympic aspirations), wanted to tell me about the expanding interest in adult skating. There is a group that meets on Tuesday mornings at another Johannesburg rink. After a group lesson with Brian they go out for coffee together. (I wished I had know that at the beginning of the month!) Seven participated in a recent competition! South African skating has always been about kids and Olympic hopefuls. Brian and others are pushing for more recognition and opportunities for these adults who are eager for the exercise and the aesthetic outlet that skating offers.
One of those adult skaters is Vickie. She is a black South African with a talented daughter like the girl I have imagined in my not-yet-published novel, Keeping Secrets. She recognized me as the one who was writing a book. We had a good time chatting, and I could see that her daughter has improved a lot. My writing time in South Africa went toward reworking and expanding Keeping Secrets with a major American character to try to make it more appealing to American readers. Unfortunately, most of the books in South African bookstores (especially religious and inspirational stores) come from the U.S. It is very hard to get a book published there if it won’t appeal to the much larger market on this side of the Atlantic. It was an encouragement to see how disappointed Vickie was that the book is not yet out. “Let me know when it is!” she told me. Believe me, I will!
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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