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Story of a woman’s hopes and dreams

Reviews
By Stephanie Sutcliffe


A former Bahrain resident has self-published her first novel, Love Apples.

Now based in Abu Dhabi, Melissa Van Maasdyk released her new book last week which tells the story of a commitment-phobic food writer, Kate Richmond, who having witnessed her mother’s disappointment in love has placed her own hopes and dreams on career success.

While on an assignment in Mauritius, a cyclone hits, putting her job at risk. 

As a result, Kate will stop at nothing to get things back on track and she loses love to save her career. 

The South African author hopes to launch the book in Bahrain, where she lived between 2005 and 2012, in the new year. 

“I haven’t set a date yet but I’m talking to wonderful Words Bookstore Café in Budaiya about doing something with them early in the new year – perhaps a reading and cooking demo, since the novel also includes around 30 recipes,” she told the GDN

Ms Van Maasdyk began Love Apples in the early 2000s when she signed up for a summer writing course in London. 

“We were asked to write a short story inspired by a favourite song,” she said.  

“I chose Belle Ile en Mer (beautiful island in the sea), which brought back memories of a travel-writing assignment to Mauritius for Marie Claire magazine in South Africa, and the result was the beginnings of Love Apples.”  

The 49-year-old author said it took her a lot longer than expected to write the novel. 

“Having started writing the novel in London in the early 2000s, I built on it when I moved to New York as a result of my husband being transferred there, where I attended writing classes at a school called Gotham Writers Workshop,” she added. 

“Over the next 10 or 11 years, the process continued in between jobs back in London, where I was production editor for Elle Decoration for a couple of years and then Bahrain, where I freelanced for various magazines and was the launch editor of Time Out Bahrain

“Finally, finding myself in Abu Dhabi sans job, I gave it my all one last time this year and self-published the novel through Lulu.”

While some may find the title of the novel somewhat obscure, it has a charming back story. 

“In Mauritius, where the novel is partially set, the term ‘love apples’ refers to tomatoes because when the French ruled the Indian Ocean island in the 18th century they believed that tomatoes were a type of love potion,” explained Ms Maasdyk.  

“Conversely, the British initially thought that tomatoes were poisonous and thus labelled them ‘wolf peaches’. 

“These contrasting views of the tomato are symbolic of love in that it can bring the greatest joy, as well as causing the deepest pain.”

Ms Maasdyk has also written a travel guide to Bahrain called Streetsmart Bahrain

“Having discovered a number of special places in Bahrain while working as editor of Time Out Bahrain and later as contributing editor on Gulf Air’s inflight magazine, Gulf Life, I decided to compile all of my favourite finds into a guidebook, which I launched in March 2012,” she said.

“This was adopted by the culture authority as a marketing tool, selling over 12,000 hardcopies and in 2013 I launched the e-book, available on iTunes.”

Love Apples is available on Amazon, iTunes and via Lulu Publishing, www.loveapplesnovel.com. 

Prices vary, but on Lulu, the hardcopy is on sale for $15.19 and the e-book for $7.99.