Last updated on Jan 19th, 2021 at 12:38 pm

A chat with Spud author John van de Ruit reveals a chap who is witty, unassuming, self-deprecating and sensitive â?? not unlike the main character in his best-selling Spud novels…
He is very excited â?? and a bit surprised â?? at the tidal wave of success engulfing him, but was happy to talk about the journey heâ??s on (I caught him amidst a hectic book launch schedule and the first draft of the screenplay for the film) and what his publishers have planned for the future.
The third Spud novel hit the bookstores in June â?? a sequel to Spud and its successor â?? Spud- The Madness Continues. Titled Spud- Learning to Fly, this is the third installment in the life of teenage boarder Spud Milton and his bunch of crazy reprobate friends, growing up in South Africa in the early nineties.

Hilarious read for all ages
Filled with teenage angst, hilarious characters (including eccentric and frustrated teachers and off-the-wall family members) all three of the Spud Novels are a bloody funny read for everyone of all ages. Spud has not only sold record numbers in South Africa, but has been published around the world â?? in several languages.
What was the hardest thing about writing three novels â?? and making each one as funny as the previous one?
I feel I know the characters so well now; theyâ??re in my head, with me often, and speak to me. The second Spud was really hard to write as I had the pressure of not disappointing fans of the first one â?? I had to make it as funny. The third one was easier â?? I had a nine month break, just travelling in South-East Asia and giving my head some space to clear.
I believe thereâ??s going to be one more. Have you started on it yet?
No. Iâ??m still recovering from Learning to Fly â?? and still caught up in the whirlwind that accompanies each book. Iâ??ll probably start early next year. It will be quite emotional for me â?? saying goodbye to all the characters that are part of me now.
Tell me about the film. Have you got someone you like and trust producing and directing it?
Yes. That was part of the reason I chose to sell the rights to the people who bought it. Within a few months of the first Spud being released, I had three or four bidders for the movie rights. I didnâ??t just choose the highest bidder (although money did play a part) but people who I thought would stick to the book as closely as possible â?? and they have requested full author involvement.
Theyâ??re also not trying to do it on a small budget. The plan was to get a big name British actor to play The Guv and now that we have John Cleese attached to it, it looks like it will be the big R35 million film they want to make.
Itâ??s really difficult to condense everything into one movie and Iâ??m working on the screenplay now. I hope that people who see the film will find it funny and then those whoâ??ve read Spud will tell them that the books are even funnier and that will be good for me and the book sales.
And teenagers who watch movies instead of reading will be converted and this will influence them to read again?
Exactly.
When can we expect the movie release?
Auditions start in August and they plan to film it in January, February and March next year. The film may be released before the fourth Spud but Iâ??m sure the publishers would love the release of the book to coincide with the movie.
Now for some questions readers must want to know: are the characters based on real people and how much of the book really happened?
There’s lots of me in Spud – Spud is a shadow of myself. Many people look at me with such disappointment when I tell them that Fatty and Boggo are completely made up but Iâ??m writing a satire: it has to be funny – so I created the characters as well as using bits of real people and real experiences to write the story.

I was really bogwashed and had my balls polished â?? and those were really traumatic experiences. My dad really did drive a boat through the windscreen of his BMW too.
Your dad must have a great sense of humour to laugh at the character youâ??ve created.
Fortunately heâ??s not a Homer Simpson character like Spudâ??s dad and operates a fairly successful business so he wasnâ??t offended by the father in the book. He doesnâ??t skulk around the garden spying on the neighbours either…
Last one: was Mermaid real and did you ever end up with her?
Sheâ??s based on my first girlfriend. We were soul mates for a while but she was at UCT and eventually we decided that it wouldnâ??t work â?? so all the feelings of first love and pining expressed in the book were based on real emotions.

Spud, Spud – The Madness Continues and Spud – Learning to Fly are available from all good bookstores.

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Recommended retail price: R120

Published by Penguin. for more information go to www.penguingroup.co.za