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A Hilarious and Heartwarming Launch for Crashed with Melinda Ferguson and Rahla Xenopoulos

Melinda Ferguson

A terrific turnout of readers at the Cavendish Square branch of Exclusive Books was held entranced at the launch of Melinda Ferguson’s latest memoir, Crashed, earlier this month. She was joined in a hilarious and captivating discussion with novelist, Rahla Xenopoulos, whose book, A Memoir of Love and Madness, is a beautiful and terrifying account of her own experience of bipolar disorder.

Store manager Linda McCullough introduced the two authors as women who “weigh in on the hectic side of life experience, both motivational speakers, basically, misfits, rebels … the people who change the world!”

Rahla Xenopolous and Melinda FergusonCrashedFerguson said she was wearing two hats at the launch – one as publisher, one as author – which was “a strange thing to do”. Xenopoulos described Crashed as a dazzling book that met her key criteria for readability – she looks for honesty in a story and found “integrity and truth” in Crashed. “You blew me away as the one author who has an honest pen!” she said.

“When I wrote Smacked, I had lots of people who got angry with me, but the person who came out the worse was me. If ever I hung my dirty laundry out, it happened in that book. It gave me a benchmark to live up to. Either I was going to die or I was going to write a book. As I put my life back together in recovery writing got me out of a very bad depression,” she said.

Ferguson recalled her surprise on realising that people liked it, that they wanted to read it. She said, “It felt like I’d put my black heart out there in the public. Would they hate me afterwards? People have been amazing: forgiving, kind, inspired by the story … it gave me the confidence to carry on.”

Writing Crashed was hard for Ferguson. “In my mind, I should have been much better at 16 years clean and sober. I shouldn’t be having chaotic crashes and visits to clinics, but my life turned out differently to how I thought it would be,” she said. “People don’t understand the lifelong journey an addict takes, simply to stay clean every day. If ever I had a reason to use, fucking up a R3,2 million Ferrari is a great reason to have a drink, but I didn’t!”

Xenopoulos called her out on her self-flagellation, encouraging to hold herself in compassion. The candour and humour of the conversation was heartwarming. Many in the audience nodded in silent recognition of their own challenges and experiences, their own struggles with addiction and mental health. It is hard to know definitively that everybody in the audience was deeply touched by the courage and kindness that shone through in the discussion between the authors, but judging by the reluctance folk demonstrated about leaving the shop, it is a safe assumption.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:



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