Paige Nick has quite a following in South Africa, both as a columnist and a novelist. Which means, I hope – and I’m sure her publishers hope – that unlike other collections of columns, hers will sell well. I think it will. I mean, she’s funny, right? And she talks about sex. If people aren’t buying funny books by people who talk about sex then there really is no book buying public left here.
I asked Paige some random questions.
Your blog is called A Million Miles From Normal. Please list three ways in which your life – now – is a million miles from “normal”.
Number 1: This morning a stranger, who calls himself ‘Kyknet’ (why?), emailed me a picture of his (not erect) penis and asked me to sign it and email it back to him. True story.
Number 2: The three most recent search terms in my Google history are; ‘How many teeth does an adult have?’, ‘Nostalgia paresthetica’, and ‘image of businessman tied up with a telephone cable’.
Number 3: No two days are the same, one day I’m writing about blow jobs and condoms, the next I’m doing a job for an ad agency, which has me researching different kinds of retirement annuities, or the best pram to buy.
So apparently you divide your time betweeen the US, the UK and SA now. You do know how glam that sounds, don’t you?
Ha, if only. I love a good rumour. My home is in Cape Town. Last year I was lucky enough to get in a three-month trip, which included a month and a half in the UK, writing, a few weeks in Amsterdam doing research for my new novel, and a month in the states doing a big road trip.
No matter how popular a columnist, collections of columns are supposed to sell notoriously badly. (Not as badly as poetry, I’d venture, maar nou ja.) What are your hopes for this book?
That it’s an actual book at all was one of my biggest hopes. It started out life as a Sunday Times e-book, and there were no guarantees it would ever make it into print. The fact that it’s a book of columns and crazy letters will hopefully lend it more appeal than a book of just columns *she says crossing fingers and holding thumbs*. I guess now my greatest hope is that it makes whoever reads it laugh.
Paige Nick in number?
You know what they say; there are three kinds of people in the world; those who are good with numbers, and those who aren’t. I’m in the latter category, but let’s give this a whirl anyway.
I’ve written 218 columns for The Sunday Times Lifestyle section. Pens Behaving Badly is my 6th published book. I have 31 of my own teeth (one in the back, on the left, is missing). On a massive week after a column about penis size or farting, I can receive up to 20 or 30 letters. On a slow week, just 4 or 5. Pens Behaving Badly contains 152 real letters (78% of which are nuts), from 119 individual letter writers (many write regularly). I am 41 years old and still have all 10 fingers and 10 toes, which come in handy when I have to count stuff.
What are you working on right now?
Earlier this year I finished a new novel. It’s a biggie for me and I’m extremely excited about it. It’s set in a strip club in Amsterdam, where all the strippers are celebrity impersonators. The reluctant heroine is a Rihanna lookalike from South Africa. It was at times the hardest thing I’ve ever written, and the funnest thing I’ve ever written.
So are you proof that someone can make a living from writing?
It’s tough this writing gig. Not as tough as being a brain surgeon, of course, in that the only life that’s really on the line is your own. But tough nonetheless. I supplement my fiction-writing income with the freelance advertising writing, the columns and some prostitution.
Internationally, Paige Nick is best known as one third of the Helena S Paige trio, whose first “choose your own adventure” erotic novel, A Girl Walks Into A Bar, was launched in 2013. It has now been published in nineteen countries around the world.
Locally, Paige is best known for “A Million Miles From Normal”, her weekly column in the Sunday Times Life & Style magazine. As one of the anchor columnists of the Life & Style section since 2011, she has produced hundreds of hilarious columns and received hundreds more hilarious responses. Pens Behaving Badly is a collection of the best of her columns and the best of the wild letters they’ve inspired.
If you don’t know Paige’s work, check out what she refers to as her “smutty and ridiculous blog”, which is also called A Million Miles from Normal.