Diane Hilary Jacobson, the recent winner of the GetSmarter and Citizen competition, was surprised to hear that she had won a spot on the Random House Struik Write a Non-Fiction Story course – she didn’t know she had been entered!
The 47-year-old signage and solar power consultant from Woodmead, Sandton reacted with disbelief when she received the news that she had won a place on the course, but quickly discovered that her partner Gavin had entered her name into the draw. “We exchange emails daily. Through that process, my enjoyment of writing came across and we have discussed the possibility of my writing more than email! On Tuesday night he saw the competition in the Citizen, and immediately entered on my behalf. I was none the wiser until he emailed me the following morning to tell me I had won!”
Once she learned the details, she was “thrilled and very excited”.
Diane certainly has enough material to write about when it comes to non-fiction accounts. Her family is descended from a rich Jewish heritage, traced back to Eastern Europe – who were lucky and perceptive enough to leave Lithuania before the horrors of the 1930s and 40s swept Europe and the Jewish community. Diane’s great grandfather moved his family to Phillipolis in the Karoo with the assistance of the family of Sir Lourens van der Post.
Her father was a decorated World War II soldier who endured many adventures during the war, but sadly died young and was survived by Diane’s mother and her three sisters. Diane explains, “He left a partially written memoir of his experiences. I have contemplated finishing the book if I am able to one day find time to research events in Europe in order to do so.” She is contemplating working on her father’s memoir for the Random House Struik Write a Non-Fiction Story course, or else exploring more about her own heritage. She hopes that the course will give her the knowledge and inspiration to attempt a full novel in the future.
Aside from going to the gym regularly, Diane is, unsurprisingly, an avid reader. “I read, a lot! I am a member of a fabulous book club. We read a wide range of authors from a variety of backgrounds and across a broad range of fiction and non-fiction topics.” She also loves theatre, music and movies at the Cinema Nouveau. She is also keenly interested in the Holocaust. “I have visited Berlin and am planning to go on a trip in 2013 called the “March of the Living” to Poland and Israel to further my knowledge and deep connection to this tragic period in history.”
Random House Struik Write a Non-Fiction Story course teaches students how to write their personal stories – whether these are autobiographies, memoirs, biographies, travelogues or historical accounts. The course facilitator is Mike Nicol, the well-known South African crime and non-fiction novelist.
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