Joanne Hichens, an everyday superhero

If you think that bringing up three kids and paying the bills on your own is tough, you are right. Running a short story competition? Hard work. Writing a book? Yep, also uphill battle. Getting it published? Nearly impossible. Starting your own publishing company? F-u-c-k-i-n-g crazy. Surviving widowhood? Not sure how one does it, not there yet.

Well, in the past two years, Joanne Hichens has been doing it all. And tonight, she launched her novel Sweet Paradise which is the publishing flagship of her newborn venture, Tattoo Press. Fittingly for the occasion, The Empire Café in Muizenberg was jam-packed with friends and excited readers. The book is dedicated to Joanne’s late husband, Robert, who died unexpectedly in January last year. Joanne stood brave and beautiful in front of the crowd, her three amazing children running the show. She spoke about how Robert encouraged her to write, believed in her as a novelist, how after his death everything became a struggle and all she wanted to do was watch other people’s miseries on TV while hugging a wine bottle. I can relate. There is a very good reason why I don’t keep whiskey in the house or why I know when NCIS’s latest episode is airing. I know what inner strength is required to get up from bed every morning and why sometimes one fails.

Photo by Liesl Jobson

Photo by Liesl Jobson

And yet, here she is with two short story anthologies, a novel, and a publishing house to her name, all achieved within twenty-two months since Robert’s death. Despite her own frailty, Joanne has been a pillar of strength for me on my journey through widowhood. She is not only a hero, but a superhero. Watching her tonight I was once again inspired, as a woman and as a writer. I take my hat off to her.

At the heart of a celebration like tonight’s there is a loneliness that is so dreadfully painful that one has to be a superhero to keep on standing. And I know this because yesterday I held a copy of Vlam in die sneeu for the first time in my hands and I failed.

1 thought on “Joanne Hichens, an everyday superhero

  1. karien buter

    Karina – i read your absolute beautiful essay the heart has many places. It brought me to this amazing blog. I have been a fan of Andre P Brink all my life and was devastated to hear of his untimely death in February. What i did not realize because we left south africa in 1998 that he found such love again. I love love love love every entry. I love your love story. and i admire the braveness in you to publish the wonderful lovestory of him and Ingrid so many moons ago. We are lucky in our lives if we meet somebody ( i was lucky too that way) that fits like shoes – even mismatch shoes. I have just ordered my copy of flame in the snow. and i look forward reading your amazing blog. Keep writing. Keep reading Jack books and keep cuddling your cats. I have a lovely mate that said to me a long time ago when she was in a tough space in her life that for a while she just kept doing all the things she has to do day by day but one day she will do it with a massive spring in her step and a year later that was the case. Life is a long song. And what a beautiful melody was your love for Andre. Gaan jou goed. liefde uit n koue nat skotland. en ek is gek oor jou countrymen. my chimney sweeper is polish en hy is die mees amazingste blokexx


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