Girls on the run in Paris

2008-08-13 00:00

When Sarah Lotz and a friend ran away to Paris after leaving their art college in England under a cloud, she kept thinking that her misadventures in France would make a fantastic book.

“It was the most appalling thing I have ever done,’’ says Lotz, when we met in Cape Town. “My friend and I got involved in criminal acivitities and got into trouble with the law. So we dropped our families, our education and everything and ran away to Paris. We ended up living on the streets. My parents had no idea where I was. They didn’t know if we were taking drugs, getting involved with horrendous people — or whether we were dead.”

We are meeting, over coffee, to discuss her first novel, Pompidou Posse, a product of Lotz’s creative writing Masters at the University of Cape Town.

It’s 20 years since her Paris stint, and these days Lotz works as a script writer for the SABC3 animated series, Urbo: The Adventures of Pax Africa. All is forgiven in her family and she lives an idyllic-sounding life on a smallholding in Noordhoek with her parents, her 17-year-old daughter, as well as her 80-year-old grandmother and any other extended family who care to live with them. They share the property with a “whole bunch” of rescued animals.

“I was gobsmacked when I heard that the book was going to be published. I had to pass it round my family and say to them, ‘you have to read this’ — and I had to have a long chat to my daughter,’’ says Lotz of the book which would shock even the most open-minded of parents and teens. “But my parents are fine with the book.’’

Set in the late eighties, Pompidou Posse describes the antics of British teenagers Vicki and Sage who are on the run in Paris after burning down their art school pottery shed. They have no money and end up living on the streets. “The two main narrators are not me and my friend, but the characters and the situations are the same,’’ says Lotz.

Writing is Lotz’s life and she thrives on her work on Urbo, which is set in a futuristic Cape Town, called Ikapa. Urbo is the biggest animated series to ever come out of South Africa and has received rave reviews. Lotz has also just finished another book, set in South Africa and based on a true crime story about a rape that occurred in a police cell in the Karoo. It is a subject which has obsessed her for some time. “It seems that, when you have the balls to stand up and say I have been raped, then you have to go through the most horrendous experiences. It’s a terrible thing to say, but my novel is quite funny.’

“I like the dark side of life. I have always been interested in the seedy and funny aspects of life. That is why writing animation is so much fun.’’

• Pompidou Posse by Sarah Lotz is published by Penguin Books

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