FEEL GOOD | After rejections, Cape Town woman celebrates as books hit shelves

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Sue-Ellen Bailey is a self publishing author from Parow.
Sue-Ellen Bailey is a self publishing author from Parow.

  • Author Sue-Ellen Bailey has been writing since she was a young girl living in Bonteheuwel and Mitchells Plain. 
  • Following rejection by publishing houses, she decided to publish her own books.
  • Her book - The Journey of the Forgotten Kahul - is available for purchase at bookshops as well as on Amazon.

After being rejected by publishers, a Cape Town woman says she is on "top of the world" as her long-awaited series of fiction books have hit the shelves.

Sue- Ellen Bailey, 39, started writing at a young age when she was a young girl living in Bonteheuwel and Mitchells Plain and always dreamed of pursuing it as a career.

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Speaking to News24, the author said her journey leading up to having her books published wasn't easy - her work was rejected by publishing houses and she struggled to find the right person to edit her books.

Sue Ellen Bailey,39, started writing at a young age and always dreamed of pursuing a career path in writing.
Photo Supplied

"I started putting pen to paper in 2019 and gave birth to my first manuscript of The Journey of the Forgotten Kahul. This book has a special meaning to me and is based on a magical journey of 'where do I come from', a question that so many people ask themselves," said Bailey.

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Bailey who lives in Parow, said her first book had always been an inspiration because of her parents encouraging her to always read, write and be creative.

"I would spend hours everyday writing. Coming up with the next sequel for the books was as easy as eating a slice of cake. I'm a firm believer of if you love what you do, you'll always have things to do. Writing for me has never been about work, it's something I enjoy doing, and it's definitely rewarding in so many ways," said Bailey.   

Bailey decided to publish her own book, which hit the shelves in May last year, a moment she said she would always treasure.

She said:

I've had to market the book myself which is difficult without any assistance. Editors couldn't commit to the book due to Covid and not having the time on their hands, but I was determined to see this journey through.

The book was edited by Lauren Mooi Publishing in Johannesburg.  

Bailey added that writing was her passion that she wholeheartedly enjoyed and dedicated herself full-time to her writing.

"Spending hours inside my house in pure quietness jotting down what I want to say in the next chapter and letting my creative juices pour down in my writing has been very rewarding," she said.

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Bailey's second book in the series, "The Kahul", is set to be released in March with the third one scheduled for release towards December.

"I am very dedicated to my writing and as a self-published author I have not limited myself to one genre," said Bailey. She has also written another book for children - "Salley and her friends finding Squirey the Squirrel" - which is being reviewed and will be released in Afrikaans, English, and Xhosa.

The fictional book takes the reader on a journey of discovering where they come from.
Photo Supplied

Bailey recalled an "emotionally proud" moment for her was when a little boy came up to her at one of her book signings and asked her if she really wrote the journey of the forgotten Kahul.

She said:

He was so shocked when I said 'yes, I did'. He said he thought someone that wrote the Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings books from overseas had written my books.

"We all have an ability to tell and write our own stories. We all have the vision to be creative and that comes from within, that is where our own magic manifests from within. South Africans are very special people because we come from a country where the Cradle of Mankind was discovered," she added.

According to the author, it was important for her to break away from the Cape Flats stigma.

"Having lived most of my upbringing in Bonteheuwel and Mitchells Plain, I've seen an increase in lots of positive mind-blowing stories that come out of the Cape Flats areas, and I really want to implore people to get rid of the perception that the Cape Flats is a place that has no ambition," she said.  

Towards the end of the year, the bubbly author said she had the privilege of attending a writer's workshop at Zeekoevlei Primary School in Grassy Park with co-host Stanley Jacobs from Cape Flats Stories.

Baily said the workshop she attended was liberating.
Photo Supplied

"That was a mind-blowing experience. It was such a privilege having a writer's workshop with the Grade 7 learners and parents at the school. Western Cape MEC of cultural affairs and sport Anroux Marais was also in attendance to show her support at the writer's workshop. Engaging with those present was liberating. Our young kids really are our future, and it makes me so proud that they are reading at their age," said Bailey.

Bailey added that due to the success of her books, she had decided to donate books to the grade 7 class of Zeekoevlei, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, and local non-profit organisations (NPO) in the area.

"I encourage youngsters from the Cape Flats to read because the power of reading holds the key to success. We all have the ability to write and are very creative individuals," she added.  

The book is available at local bookstores and online at Amazon.

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