A recent overseas cruise won Hout Bay author Regine Josephy-Stelzmann a new fan – no less a figure than the ship’s captain.
Ms Josephy-Stelzmann, who last year had her celebrated book Feldpost 01047 translated into English, returned from her cruise to Spain, France and Italy last week.
Little did she know that her presence on board the Costa Diadema, a Dream-class cruise ship operated by Costa Crociere, would get her an audience with skipper Giorgio Moretti, a lover of biographies and war books.
“I was attending one of the gala evenings on board the ship. You meet people and tell them about yourself, and one of the officers came to me and said he had heard I was an author,” she said.
“I got to chatting with the officer and asked him whether they had a library on board. They only had a digital library unfortunately.”
Thinking nothing more of the encounter, Ms Josephy-Stelzmann continued to enjoy her holiday, visiting enchanting locales like Majorca, Sardinia and Cagliari.
On her return to the ship one evening, she found an invitation waiting for her in her cabin’s post box.
It read: “We kindly invite you to meet the captain together with the hospitality and operations manager tomorrow at 1800 hours.”
“I knew I had three of my books with me. So I went, and I saw that he had a very posh cabin. He wanted to know all about my work, and he also wanted to read the Sentinel article you wrote about me in the Sentinel.
“He was such a humble man, too. He said, ‘I’m only a bus driver on the sea’.”
Ms Josephy-Stelzmann noticed that he had his own private library, and he wanted to include her books for his collection.
“He told me he loved biographies and war books. It was a lovely 45 minutes with him. My books have led me to all sorts of places, but I never expected this. It’s always lovely to have feedback from people.”
As a token of his appreciation for her gift, Mr Moretti presented her with a model of the Costa Diadema, which has already taken pride of place among her collectables.
It certainly has been an exciting time for Ms Josephy-Stelzmann.
After arriving back from Europe last week, she has been liaising with the SABC which has expressed interest in turning her play, Mongezi, into a short film.
Completed four years ago, the play tells the story of an unusual friendship that is struck between
a Xhosa boy and English boy during the cattle wars in the Eastern
Cape at the beginning of the 20th century.