As with most of my curiosities, they begin with the question, “where did it start?” but for the first time, I know the answer without having to do any research ‘cos y’see, I was there.
Being a 10 year old girl, having yet another boy join our class was not exactly something I relished one bit; they were “yucky” to say the least. He sounded different to the South Africans being that he spoke in a Serbian accent with a side-order of Australian, although soon enough, his voice blended in with ours. While we were always called by our full names, usually loudly, this lad got to choose his name. His surname was barely pronounceable by any of us, yet it was his first name that he changed since no-one was able to get it right either, so we got to know him as Dan.
As the rest of us dreaded every essay and oral assignment, Dan had a glint in his eye from the moment we were given them, always scoring high marks for whatever he did. The most notable of such moments was when the PE teacher gave him her nastiest punishment, that of writing a lengthy essay on “the inside of a ping-pong ball” – he couldn’t wait to get home to get started while I still shudder in horror at the memory of it.
Then one day, during a chat at the back of the class with his friend and I, his friend happened to mention that his mother was a writer … and the world stopped for an instant as Dan absorbed this nugget. Then a light turned on in his eyes – he knew what he wanted to be. That was it, in that moment, he knew, and his passion for story-telling began.
Ever the gentleman (yes, a “yucky” 10 year old boy can be a gentleman apparently), he treated all who crossed his path well. In a time and age when boys and girls didn’t really know what to do with one another, even being separated on the playing field at lunchtime, you could have a really good conversation with him, and that was how we became friends. He could talk about literally anything, nary a boring chat in sight.
After going our separate ways to different high schools, it was only in 2014 that we met up again. Imagine my surprise to find that I’d stumbled back into his life at the precise moment that he was writing his very first novel, the Mirror Image of Sound. I suppose I wouldn’t have been quite so impressed if he’d simply been hunkered down in a dark room, plunking away at an old fashioned typewriter late into the night, tossing balled up sheets of paper over his shoulder, but that just isn’t the man’s style. No, he was actually writing the book “live”, uploading instalments to the net every second night or so, taking less than 3 months to complete a page-turner of note. (Insert “jaw-drop” here.)
After years of writing and re-writing, honing his skills in every way imaginable, the next objective was to get his book published with as little fuss as possible. Mulling the options over with his wife one night, they decided to start their own publishing house; the clincher being that they’d be able to help other struggling writers too. Within days, Pikkeljig Press was born, taking the name from a pivotal character in his first book, Fenyops Pikkeljig, the name originally having been given to Dan by a high school friend.
Producing three books in just two years while putting in a full day’s work can’t be easy yet every book has kept me rapt, wanting more. So far, each book has been decidedly different to the last (despite two being about the same characters) so at least one of them is bound to appeal, no matter the reader’s interests. His latest, a riveting romance written from a woman’s perspective has earned him a thorough teasing from his male friends … but they have read it!
I’ve always admired creative folk, and those who are so passionate about something that they don’t let anything stop them, and Dan’s story has both in abundance. His passion for writing has been somewhat contagious, and his constant encouragement and support of my own writings, though definitely not of the same calibre as his, has inspired me to create this site, something I never thought I’d do.
It’s been a great pleasure to see the nearly 40 year old dream come to life, and while I’m immensely proud of my mate for achieving his goal, I know there’s more to come … he’s only getting started!