Joanne has always written – though her writings weren’t always fit for public consumption (a fact to which her 9-year-old ‘Dear Diary’ musings will attest). As a child, she wanted to be an astronaut or a prima ballerina but, well, let’s just say that she isn’t genetically suited to either.
She grew up in Johannesburg, with her family’s roots firmly set in the South African hinterland – she missed out on a Namaqualand childhood by a few years when her parents relocated to the big city. Joanne sang and studied her way through school and became Head Prefect in her Matric year. Despite her childhood dreams, she ditched dance and astronaut school to study English and Psychology at the University of Cape Town. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in clinical psychology, cum laude, which really just means that Joanne could have made a very smart ballerina. She worked in management consulting in South Africa and London, learning loads and having plenty of fun but very little life. It was from here, the corporate world, that she side-stepped and took writing more seriously. She considered becoming a travel writer after a good chunk of time spent moving around the world with only a 42-litre backpack and her then-fiancé for company but decided that no-one could do it better than Bill Bryson. She returned to South Africa to read, write, start a family and work for good causes. She obtained a Masters degree in Creative Writing and co-founded a literacy program called Word 4 Word when she realised just how dire the state of illiteracy is in South Africa and just how hard we need to work to tackle it.
These days, Joanne is happily combining her fascination with human issues and her background in psychology, with her love of the written word: she specialises in writing biography – of real people, with real issues. She has created a signature style of creative non-fiction which examines the multiple voices that collide in any single life story, and sets the author as character too, voicing the reader’s thoughts and exploring our own access points to a story which, at first glance, may seem entirely different to our own. In this way, Joanne explores our shared humanity and celebrates the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.
Joanne lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband, their three sons and two wire-haired dachshunds. She’s utterly mad about them all, closely followed by her passion for liquorice, daffodils, Greek mythology, the colour turquoise, gorgeous gift-wrapping and soft salt pretzels.