Pamela Power was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on the 4th August, 1968. She was educated at the Dominican Convent School in Harare and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and finished her secondary education at Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg. She completed her B.A. in English and Drama Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, PMB in 1988 and then went on to do her Honours Degree in Drama Studies in 1991. She later completed an M.A. in creative writing at Wits University in 2006.
Power trained as an AIDS counsellor and worked with a drama in AIDS education company based in KZN, called DRAMAIDE for two years during 1993 and 1994. She was part of the young people’s theatre company at the Civic Theatre during 1995 and 1996 and also got involved in stand-up comedy during that time. She started her own educational theatre company in 1997, which ran until 2000 when she took some time out to have her first child. From 1998 - 2003 she taught acting, directing, voice and script-writing at the School of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2001 she worked as a part-time director for the television show, Top Billing and in 2003 she began working as a scriptwriter for local soapie, Generations. Power left Generations in 2004 and moved to Muvhango where she has worked ever since as a scriptwriter and script-editor. She has also worked as a scriptwriter on the popular TV series Rockville and Uzalo and on the sitcom Gauteng Maboneng.
Power’s novel Ms Conception was published digitally by eKhaya (an imprint of Random House Struik) in 2012 and was released in hard copy by Penguin Random House in 2015. While fictional in nature Power drew upon her experiences as a mother in crafting the novel. On her website she revealed:
"I wrote “Ms Conception” after I had already written a play and done some stand-up about the trials of being a mother. I have to confess that I was pretty appalled by the whole process, and writing was my therapy (in addition to my actual therapy which went on for four years). I also hoped that the book would entertain and help other women in the same position".
Ms Conception was launched at Love Books in Melville and received a positive reception upon release. Dries Brunt found the novel to be “written with witty style” and praised it as “great reading”. laudedbrilliant title”, “wonderful cover” and thought-provoking study of how conflict is handled by families. also noted Power’s ability to “approach tough subjects with a light touch and make one laugh”. Janice Leibowitz appreciated the relatability of the novel’s themes and described her experience with Ms Conception as “settling down with an old friend who understands you so well that she can open up and share just about anything with you”.
Pamela has two children and one husband and lives in Johannesburg. Her next novel, Things Unseen, is a psychological thriller that was released in October 2016 by Clockwork Books. A currently untitled domestic suspense novel will be released in 2017.
Excerpt from Ms Conception (2015:20-21):
Ah, children’s parties … The ultimate in one-upmanship among the middle classes. The one this afternoon is being held at the house of quite a well-known academic. She writes these depressing plays about South Africa that always win slews of local awards with the twee African names. I guess I’m just bitter because I’ve never won anything. “No one ever remembers the guy who came second.” I hear my father’s voice in my head after coming second in class for about the fourth year in a row. After that I stopped trying altogether.
There is a large princess-pink jumping castle in the garden, which Luke regards with suspicion.
“Hello there, Joan,” booms the mother of the birthday girl. She’s not a small woman; in fact, in her kaftan she looks like a ship in full sail.
“It’s Jo,” I mutter, but she doesn’t seem to hear me.
“Here.” Luke hands over the present. I hope she doesn’t notice it’s wrapped in Christmas paper.
“Why, thank you, Luke. Why don’t you go and jump on the jumping castle?” It’s not a question, it’s a command.
“Don’t want to.”
“Why not, sweetie?” I’m hoping like hell that he’s not going to spend the afternoon attached to my leg.
“Don’t like pink.” He scowls. “Pink’s for girls.” I smile indulgently as if I’m completely unfazed. The Kaftan looks concerned.
“Pink is for everyone, Luke,” she says seriously.
Oh, stop being so fucking PC, I want to say, but don’t.
Luckily Luke spots a couple of boys from his class and runs off to play some incredibly violent cops-and-robbers game with sticks for guns. Because, naturally, toy guns are considered beyond the pale in these surroundings. The Kaftan looks even more concerned, but before she can sign me up for a gun-free South Africa I spot my good friend Jasmine, who’s trying to have a quiet smoke without setting a bad example for the kids. I go over to her.
“I thought good Hindu girls weren’t supposed to smoke.”
“No, no – good Hindu girls should not be seen to be smoking. There’s a difference.”
“I hate to break it to you, Jazz, but everyone can see you.”
“This bunch of whiteys? Puleeze. They don’t know my mother and they don’t come from Lenasia.”
“But I thought you’d given up.” She looks unrepentant.
“I did, but then Keagan got chickenpox and it was a case of either killing myself immediately or doing it slowly. This way seemed more fun.”
“This winter’s been an absolute killer.”
“Tell me about it. I’m not lying when I say we’ve been at the paed twice a week for the last three months.”
“The guy must be coining it.”
“And how. I heard he’s just bought an island in the Seychelles.”
We are so busy gossiping that we don’t see Tamzin McMurray bearing down on us, clipboard in hand. Tamzin supposedly runs some eco-friendly design company from home, but God knows when she ever does any work because she’s always at the school planting herbs, painting the jungle gyms or feeding the bunnies with organic carrots.
“Jo, just the person I wanted to see. Has Luke sold all his raffle tickets yet?”
“I’m not sure, Tamzin. Perhaps you should ask him.”
Jazz snorts, but Tamzin is not amused.
2015. Ms Conception. Johannesburg: Penguin Random House
2016. Things Unseen. Johannesburg: Clockwork Books.
2006. Eating the afterbirth: An exploration of the myth of motherhood. M.A. Wits University.