This isn’t the full story either.
Alicia Thomas-Woolf never learned to read at the age of three. In fact, she had to be bribed to learn at the age of seven (her mother thanks Tinkerbell for the necessary intervention). And she was not happy with the school prescribed readers when she was forced to read them either. In fact, she abandoned grade one readers and filched books from grades two through four from the shelf when the teacher was not watching (the teacher vehemently disapproved, so Alicia taught herself to read really fast). As Alicia’s complaints about what she was reading mounted, it gradually became obvious that she was, in fact, a born critic. During high school, when she could be bothered, she wrote reviews of the latest books, managing to slate Wilbur Smith and other famous writers with glorious abandon, and writing her own stories in the meanwhile because at least those could be made to go as they ought.
Age 11 was a good year for Thomas-Woolf in the writing arena. After having a poem published in a national newspaper, The Star, she convinced her father and uncle to let her write reviews for the computer games they were importing. Since the men had a small company and too much to do themselves, Alicia became the marketing department, loading up suitcases full of games from tapes on her Commodore 64 (45 minutes a load, floppy disks having not yet been invented). And she critiqued them. Boy, girl, music good / bad graphics good / bad and so on. These forms were used and, having infiltrated the company, Alicia went on to write adverts and copy for the company over the years, which started importing books rather than games. Her proudest moment was a glossy pamphlet for IDG and a few other US publishers, that showcased their publications for South Africans at the annual computer fair. Full of admiration for the copy, the praise stuttered to a halt when IDG discovered the writer was only sixteen. Her father was very proud.
After ’varsity and much waitressing, she decided to fulfill a life-long dream to travel the world and write. She ended up with twenty dollars in her pocket in Fort Lauderdale, and got a phone call. It was not the Italian captain looking for a stewardess, it was her father. The company was starting a local publishing division. Would she come back and run it? Of course she would. Both thought that because she could write, she knew how to publish. Well, she had difficulty finding the ‘on’ button for her new Mac. But she did publish six books in four months, so it just goes to show what determination, long hours, great hubris and sheer ignorance can do for you.
Not long after, Alicia opened her own publishing company, ada enup cc (A Daring Adventure to ENchant and UPlift). Like all great entrepreneurs, she lost a lot of money. It became apparent that her dream of publishing hoards of unpublished talented writers and having the homeless selling books on the streets to eager drivers…. wasn’t legal. So she had to regroup and publish books that would sell to people interested in buying books. To help the unpublished writers she helped them self-publish. To help herself and people in general she got her masters in NLP. And between times she started writing the yet unpublished novel Innerone, published a poetry book, released two albums and put together two TEDxJohannesburgs, interspersing all this with a large variety of jobs to pay the rent. Eventually her company produced some one-of-a-kind, steady seller books that enabled her to publish other authors full-time. Her latest books are Lana Jacobson’s A Good Night’s Sleep (a children’s book that helps children help their sleep-deprived parents) and the anti-bullying, NLP-rich, confidence-exploding children’s, song and action book, Powerful.
These latest happened after marrying and having two children when (along with her splendid authors) she decided to publish her own books too. Because, hey, she was too busy to do any critiquing herself. Someone else had to do it.