Erla-Mari Diedericks

 Author, Journalist, Columnist, Motivational Speaker 

Paulette Harper JohnsonI have been a journalist for 20 years and my work has appeared in various local publications and magazines. I was a columnist for Playboy and currently I translate and write short stories for a living. I also present an online writing course.  

Sin, Sushi and Survival is my first book and it has become a top-selling cult book amongst women in South Africa—or so I would like to think! I have just finished a second book—a rip-roaring novel about divorce, drunken suicide attempts, tattoos and sex across the disability line. 

I believe in the power of sex, hair removal cream and love, and I live in Cape Town, South Africa with my partner, son and five cats. 

The Interview

Is there a story behind Sin, Sushi and Survival? 

ED: Ever since I can remember, I have dreamt about writing a book. I wanted to write a book that would cause tears of joy and tears of sadness, a book that would change people’s lives. 

Who would have thought I would one day write a book about being physically and emotionally abused by the man I loved? That my great achievement would be to share with the world some of my darkest, but also my best, moments? Who would have thought anyone would care? 

Your book, Sin, Sushi and Survival, is quite out there in terms of the racy, explicit and graphic content. Why such content? 

ED: Since it is a real-life story I could not really omit the racy truth—that I used sex and alcohol to find myself. I used crude language because that is what the actual dialogue was like and the sex scenes are graphic because I wanted this book to be a book of truth. No longer was I prepared to pretend and protect people. 

How have readers reacted to your book’s uncompromising openness?   

ED: I was scared that I would be crucified. Instead the men applaud me and the women sighed with relief, going, “Oh thank goodness someone finally admits that we do have online sex and we do shave our fannies and we do sometimes get drunk and sleep with the wrong people!” 

The book is obviously based on a true story, your real life story. Was it difficult at times to write about your life experiences, seeing that you had gone through a whole lot? 

ED: While the living of this book almost killed me—and I mean this quite literally...the day I finally decided to leave, my ex-husband’s finger marks were imprinted around my neck—the writing of it also drained me at times. Reliving those dark desperate moments weren’t easy but I knew that I had to do it because, somewhere out there, there is someone who is currently immersed in a similar darkness and can’t see his or her way out. 

What made you decide to be so open and not hold anything back about your life in this book? 

ED: For years I lived a lie. I pretended I was happy. I pretended my husband was loving and kind. I pretended my marriage was happy. I have since made a vow to no longer lie so that I can fit into society’s norms, but to live a honest life that is true to myself. 

Your book is a best-selling memoir. Were you surprised and how did hearing the news make you feel? 

ED: I knew it would sell well because of the controversial content. What surprised me was the moving e-mails I received from men and women saying that I have given them hope and opened their eyes regarding abuse and the use of sex and booze to self-medicate.  

Any words of wisdom for writers who want to pursue a career in writing? 

ED: I present an online writing course for aspiring writers—$250 for four weeks—and I always advise writers to write what you know, to show and not tell, to write for yourself and to always follow your heart. 

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