We chat to the brains behind the new Showmax series Red Ink. The author of the book Red Ink, from which the series was adapted, is none other than South African author Angela Makholwa-Moabelo.
She said the trepidation from an author normally comes from letting go of something you nurtured from birth.
“For a writer, any book is a labour of love. So, handing it over to somebody else to translate into a different medium of any kind will always be nerve-wracking. But I’m quite excited, there’s less worry on my side than you’d expect.”
Not the first book adaptation
Makholwa-Moabelo said she has already had a book adapted to film but she was hardly involved in the production [Love, Sex & 30 Candles].
“It’s been a great pleasure because I’ve been in the writer’s room. I’m an executive producer on the show. So I’m involved in the decision-making, anything from casting to wardrobe. It’s not always done this way but it’s an extremely empowering feeling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” she said.
Auditions were intense
Auditions were the most telling part of casting, she added. And for her, Nqobile Nunu Khumalo (who plays Lucy) was her first choice from the get-go.
“Bonko Khoza brought such an incredible nuance to the role of Napoleon. I wasn’t surprised when he told me he’d read the book three times. I then got to understand the kind of magic he brought to the audition. Fundi, (Tsholo Maseko) she’s a strong supporting role because she’s the yin to Lucy’s yang.”
Striking a balance between creator and producer
She said what kept her on her toes was finding the balance between the producers’ instincts on what works on screen versus the creator’s instincts for what their character would or would not do in a certain situation.
“There is a discomfort in changing big aspects of a character, like gender. Things like that will always be niggling for the creator of any type of work. Fortunately, I’m a very realistic person. I’ve studied adaptations and I’ve spoken to writers whose works have been adapted. So I didn’t come in with rose-tinted glasses.
“I knew it was going to be tricky, I knew I was going to be unhappy at times. But ultimately, being involved beats anything else I could have asked for. It feels like a gift, despite all the challenges that we had to go through.”
Staying true to the original storyline
Makholwa-Moabelo added that being part of the process has helped her vision. From an audiovisual point of view, she can see why certain things work from a literary point of view.
“As the writer of this book, I committed to trying to stay as true to the storyline as possible. That’s what I fought for. But even when I didn’t win a specific point, I let it go. But only if I thought it would be for the good of the show.”