This blog has moved …

Thanks for stopping by. This blog has moved to my website,, where you can find out more about the The Seed Thief, the stories behind the story, the book’s travels around the world (we’re off to Lagos in March!) , and what I am up to now (new book on the way…).

Thunder, lightning, volcano – Hello XangĂ´!

The dramatic images of Mt Etna’s lightning-inducing eruption made me think of XangĂ´, the orixa who guides Maddy’s journey through The Seed Thief.

(And of course there’s that petulent volcano that keeps her stranded in transit on her way to Brazil…)



Seeding the Future

I’ve just been sent this wonderful short film on a community seed banking project in Cape Town by my friends at Seed. It’s an inspiring story of how the art of seed saving and sharing can transform lives. Please share, and visit to see the other wonderful work that they do.

There’s a good reason Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry is a talisman for Maddy

One Art

By Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Source: The Complete Poems 1926-1979 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)

How a blood bank saved some seeds

I’m hoping that this story will have a happy update, because this statistic dates from 2010. But according to Kew, there were only nine Gladiolus aureus plants left in the wild. Nine.

Gladiolus aureus in flower at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens (Photo: G. Duncan) from

Gladiolus aureus in flower at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens (Photo: G. Duncan) from

They are hanging on for dear life in the wind-blown part of Cape Town’s south peninsula, near where I live.

Luckily these beauties are being cultivated widely in botanical gardens and by amateur enthusiasts.

That they are there at all is thanks to an enterprising botanist, and a hospital blood bank.

You’ll find some of the story here

And more in The Seed Thief. Although the truth of the story is way stranger than my ficitonalised telling of it!

Jozi launch

On Thursday 20 August we’ll be launching at Love Books In Melville. I am thrilled and honoured to be in conversation with Michele Magwood, who was a mentor to me in my early days in magazine jounrnalism and is a veritable doyenne of South African books.

seed thief invite LOVE BOOKS