Known to many as the former, award-winning editor of Cosmopolitan South Africa, Vanessa Raphaely has had a long career in women’s media, including many years in London. She is now Associated Media Publishing's content editor and is visiting the Knysna Literary Festival later this month to talk about her thrilling debut novel, Plus One.
Plus One is about two young women who find themselves in the darker side of the Hollywood media industry. The book touches on important themes surrounding women’s issues, many of which led to the creation of the #MeToo movement.
Raphaely said that although Plus One is not autobiographical, the world that it's set in was, very much, her world. “I worked in media in London for over 10 years and spent a lot of time immersed in fashion, beauty, wealth, inherited wealth and celebrity. I have famous friends. Hugh Grant did used to drink too much, drop his trousers and waggle his bits around at parties I found myself at. I once did have to get off a billionaire’s yacht in a hurry and I also had a boyfriend, who is now a hugely successful Hollywood agent. Early on in the process of writing, I was told to only ‘write what you know,’ so I did.”
Plus One is not chic lit nor is it a moralistic tale, and Raphaely said her editor, Alison Lowry, described it well – ‘dark material written with a light touch.’ "I love this description. The whole question of women’s power versus men’s is such a wound, that I think the subject matter is really of its time and actually, deadly serious. The scenes in the book that deal with rape and misogamy, are spot on. I think they read authentic, because they are. As Claudia says in the book, ‘You show me a skirmish when a woman gets off better than a man.’ So, I’d say it’s contemporary fiction, a page-turner with something to say and a very real sting in its tail.”
Raphaely said it was written before the #MeToo movement gathered momentum. “However in my career I have met more than a few Harveys, Les’, Terry Richardsons, Kevins and Bills, I’m sad to admit.”