Award-winning author and journo, Melinda Ferguson, burst onto the local literary scene with her chart busting, hard-hitting memoir, Smacked. A harrowing True Story of Addiction to Survival in 2010.
Her triumphant journey from being a homeless heroin and crack head to success, captured the nation. Subsequently, she became an award winning writer and Features Editor for True Love Magazine between 2005-2014, where her articles inspired and titillated a huge and diverse South African readership.
She has received numerous awards in her career including Best Features and Profile writer. Sought after on the corporate inspirational speaking scene her clients have included ABSA, NEDBANK and Discovery.
In 2010 in her trademark no-holds barred style, she penned bestseller, Hooked, and has recently launched the much awaited final part of her memoir trilogy, Crashed: How Trashing A Ferrari Saved my Life.
In 2012 she launched her publishing imprint MFBOOKS JOBURG, an imprint of Jacana and has published 14 titles to date including bestsellers Drug Muled, The Goddess Bootcamp, Rape: A South Africa Nightmare and Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen, which she also penned.
Today she freelances as a publisher and a motoring journalist for City Press and has her own radio show, The Joy Ride on Kaya FM. She is currently on a national media drive to launch her latest title, Crashed: How Trashing a Ferrari Saved my Life.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
I believe that we are constantly changing as human beings. Sometimes failing, sometimes conquering but always moving forward. Once I stopped my path of self-destruction and got clean and sober, I found I could really give myself a chance to start living. I had spent many years chasing a high or trying to change my feelings and emotions through substances. Once I gave myself a chance to actually wake up each day and face life, the Universe swooped in to help and guide me on my path, to discover the life I was meant to lead. So what I am really saying is that once I came clean with myself and got honest with what I had done and become, I made space for opportunity to come knocking. Addiction is like a huge dark hole that can never be filled in the quest for more, more, more. Abundance is a mind-set and through the practice of gratitude for even the smallest of things, untold rewards and blessings can be unleashed.
Please tell us a little more about your Book Series and how it came about.
I wrote my first memoir Smacked in 2005 when I was 5 years clean and at a very low time in my life. Although I had managed to drag myself into recovery, much of my life was still in great disarray. The book on my harrowing journey into heroin and crack addiction and subsequent claw back to the land of living and sobriety, truly was a life line. It opened many doors for me and the thousands of addicts who have read the book and been inspired into recovery. My second book Hooked, came out in 2010. It was a book about all the other addictions we pick up while trying to stay clean and sober, mainly about addiction to the internet and relationships. My third book, Crashed, How Trashing a Ferrari Saved my Life, has just been released. It deals with a monumentally expensive car accident and how I am forced to deal with the fallout of an accident, the end of a 9 year relationship, after which I booked myself into a clinic. I walked out with a bipolar 2 diagnosis and a bag full of meds. In Crashed, I am forced to relook at everything in my world and life: the pharma whore industry, rampant materialism and the trials of broken heart and dreams. It really culminates in the steps I took to put together the broken pieces. It ends with a serendipitous event that leads me to discover love.
What inspired you to write?
In the dark days, writing has been a survival tool. Along the way it has become a wonderful mirror for me to work out where I find myself in the often confusing and challenging world we live in. I also get enormous strength from my readers, many of whom are dealing with the same challenges as I am. To date I have written 5 books in ten years and plan to continue writing more.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write. Get up every day, make time with yourself and let whatever you are struggling with inspire you to put your thoughts down and see what happens. Writing should be an adventure not a task. It’s also a great discipline. You just have to get up and do it!
You are busy with some very interesting initiatives. Please tell us a little more about that.
Last year I did a Masters in Recovery Coaching course. I have subsequently begun to work on an initiative called The Change Collectiv which will offer a number of programs to take into the corporate space. The first wellness venture is called Addiction in The Workplace, a 3 hour workshop which will incorporate me telling my addiction and recovery story to debunk the taboo and general uncomfortableness around addiction in the hope of inspiring employees to think about their own possible problems in this area. I am doing this workshop in collaboration with David Collins, an expert in addition and recovery coaching. There will be a host of others like: Your child and ADHD, Raising Kids In a Crazy World, Suicide and your teenager.
What is it that you are passionate about?
Reinventing myself and searching for transformation. I am also passionate about yoga, especially Bikram yoga and finding ways to better myself as a human being.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
Life and its challenges has inspired me, the many chances we get as human beings to change ourselves even in our darkest hours. My mentor in publishing, Bridget Impey, the CEO of Jacana Media, who inspired me to launch my book publishing imprint. MFBooks has also been a well of knowledge and a constant guide in publishing.
What is your personal motto?
“What we call the beginning is often the end. The end is where we start from” it’s a line from a TS Eliot poem that I have tattooed on my inner forearm.
What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
What are your top 3 business tips?
- Work hard, very hard.
- Spend time with your vision and plan ahead.
- Most importantly, stick with your idea and keep going even when the doubt seems crippling.
What would you say is the secret to your success?
Not allowing negative talk, inside my head or from the lips of naysayers, get me down. Waking up from challenges and using them to inspire and motivate me. I think being able to change your fearful and negative thinking when you are disappointed is key. I often motivate myself by one of the great lessons of the Dalai Lama: “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”.
Which book are you reading now?
I constantly refer to a book “Bird by Bird”, by Anne Lamott on writing.
Which book can you read over and over again?
The collected works by TS Eliot.
Your favourite quote:
“The things you own, ends up owning you.” From the movie Fight Club.
Your favourite daily affirmation:
“Your mind is a computer. You can reprogram it.” This comes from my first book, Smacked.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Love yourself more passionately, forgive yourself quicker.
One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share:
We don’t just get one chance in life, we get as many as we choose to take.