Tension, betrayal, murder, sex and suspense are the ingredients of a great thriller. Add risky storylining that targets the problems of patriarchy and you have popular South African author and public relations boss Angela Makholwa.
It should come as no surprise then that Makholwa’s 2013 novel, Black Widow Society, is about to be made into a film.
But it nearly didn’t happen. This week Makholwa told City Press she has had various offers to turn her ground-breaking novel into a movie, but they did not materialise because of a lack of financing.
The novel is about a murderous stokvel of angry women.
“Black Widow Society alone is on its third adaptation. There have been other companies that bought the rights but were not able to exercise them until they lapsed,” Makholwa said.
That’s until she was approached by businesswoman Sego Moeng, the executive producer of Sego Moeng Productions, about three years ago, expressing her desire to acquire screen rights to the book.
“I liked the fact that this company was willing to fund most of the production directly and that they had identified the relevant talent to partner with in order to bring the film to life,” Makholwa said.
This is her first toe-dip into the turbulent waters of screen adaptations.
Being a fan of edgy and unpredictable films such as Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino and Side Effects by Steven Soderbergh, Makholwa describes herself as “a real thriller nut”.
One can see where the inspiration for Black Widow Society stemmed from.
The novel is packed with suspense, taking the reader through the lives of Talullah Ntuli, Edna Whithead and Nkosazana Dlamini.
The businesswomen form the Black Widow Society, a secret organisation that aims to liberate women trapped in emotionally and physically abusive relationships. This is done by helping the women kill their husbands, with the aid of a hitman, Mzwakhe Khuzwayo.
“The book has some powerful feminist and social themes which I don’t wish to shy away from. We live in a country that has serious psychological fissures that often show themselves up in intimate relationships, especially between women and men,” said Makholwa this week.
“The issue of gender-based violence is one that needs to be constantly challenged because it often becomes intergenerational through learnt behaviour. My book is a thriller with tons of dark humour but at its core, it tackles painful issues that we need to bring to the forefront.
“I hope the film will be able to maintain that delicate balance,” she said.
The film adaptation of Makholwa’s riveting crime thriller will be heading into production in the next few months and will most likely see the big screen next year.
Makholwa will only have a supervisory role on the script as she does not have much screenwriting experience and has a packed schedule of her projects. However, one of her aspirations includes exploring screenwriting, a craft that she hopes to master one day.
Asked what other projects is she dabbling in, the said: “Because I’m an oddball, I fantasise about science fiction every once in a while. I was fortunate to get a commission to write a futuristic short story recently, an experience I absolutely loved. I’m not sure if I’d ever manage a full on novel, but hope springs eternal,” she enthused.
Makholwa is still promoting her 2017 blesser novel, The Blessed Girl. She hit the South African literary scene in 2007 with the psychological thriller Red Ink and followed it up with The 30th Candle in 2009.
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