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About Thirty Second World
Alison seems to have life sorted. Despite her high-flying job producing commercials she still manages to keep her infant son on the breast and her daughter in Strawberry Pops. But her texts to her best friend Evie tell a much less glamorous story.

Beth is new to the ad industry and desperate to impress. But the more she succeeds at work, the more things seem to be unravelling at home. And to make matters worse, she’s finding it hard to resist the advances of a sleazy colleague.

Things get really messy when a shoot takes their team to an isolated hell-hole in the middle of the South African bush. Accidents happen and dark secrets are revealed, and soon both Beth and Alison are forced to face some home truths.

Saucy and smart, Thirty Second World is a funny, moving, real-world tale set in the unreal world of the South African film industry.

Thanks to the publishers, we've got an exclusive extract below.

‘You can’t take your eyes off her, can you?’ he asked, in a purring voice, leaning in even closer. She could feel the heat of his breath in her ear, of his groin near the small of her back. She edged away and turned to face him.

‘Excuse me?’ she asked, indignantly. He laughed, a teasing laugh, glad she’d risen to his bait.

‘I said you can’t take your eyes off her. If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were into her.’

She was facing him properly now, defiantly, her hands on her hips. ‘It has nothing to do with that. It’s . . .’ But she could hardly go into the exchange she’d witnessed at the bar, especially not with Vince.

‘It’s . . .?’ echoed Vince, his eyebrows raised, eyes full of amused pleasure at her discomfort. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve never fancied any girl-on-girl action?’

‘Oh God, you are a walking cliché. What is it with men and the lesbian fantasy? It’s so . . . tired,’ Beth spluttered. But despite everything, and all her resolutions, locked in this clinch with Vince she felt a flicker of lust spring to life.

Vince laughed. ‘Now you’re even starting to sound like her. Come outside with me,’ he said, whispering deliberately close to her ear.

‘No thanks,’ she said, archly, slipping out of his grasp.

‘Just for a cigarette,’ said Vince in a normal voice, sticking one above his ear. Beth looked hesitant. ‘Come on,’ said Vince. ‘I’m not going to have my way with you up against the wall, I just need a smoke.’ Beth turned to face the dance floor again, and beyond that the door of the club.

She looked for Al on the floor and saw the Italian girls engaged with some of the local crew, but Al was nowhere. She looked quickly across to the bar, and skimmed the rest of the room.

No Al.

Perhaps she’d gone outside? Vince jerked his head towards the door, and she followed, her eyes scanning the streets outside the club. But Al wasn’t there, either.

‘Where did she go?’ asked Beth, a little nugget of panic forming in her chest.

‘Who?’ asked Vince. He was drawing deeply on his cigarette.

‘I thought Al might have come out here. Did you see where she went?’ She was trying to sound casual, but it was coming out all wrong. Vince exhaled and looked at her, frowning.

‘You really are obsessed,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘You sure you’re not in love with her? I told you, she doesn’t really do wrap parties. Maybe she showed her face and went home?’

But Beth doubted Al would leave without saying goodbye. She must still be inside.

‘I’m going back in,’ said Beth, already turning towards the door.

‘For fuck’s sake,’ said Vince, grinding his half-smoked cigarette underfoot. ‘Couldn’t you just wait until I’d finished my smoke?’ But Beth paid him no attention. She was already shouldering her way back into the club, back to the bar where she hoped she’d find Al’s bag safely stowed.

She pushed through the crowds, getting dirty looks from Maxine whose drink she jolted as she passed, walked to the edge of the bar, bent down and peered behind the bar, looking for the bag. The aesthetic barman’s head jerked towards the intruder and he walked swiftly over to her.

‘Just looking for a bag?’ she asked. The barman frowned in confusion.

‘I only had one bag and I just gave it back,’ he said, sizing her up, ‘and it wasn’t yours.’

‘Thanks,’ said Beth, standing upright again and bulleting off across the room. Halfway across she collided with Vince, who’d got caught up in a conversation when he’d tried to follow her. He caught her by the elbow.

‘Hey, what’s going on?’ he asked her, irritatingly cool.

‘I can’t find Al,’ she said, not bothering to hide her anxiety now.

‘Beth, she’s a grown-up. I told you, she probably got bored and went home. I keep saying, she doesn’t like these things.’

‘She wouldn’t have left without telling me. I’m worried about her. She’s been so stressed out and I think she might . . .’ Vince stood there, looking calm and slow. Beth turned away from him to look around. She walked over to the wiggling Italian girls on the dance floor.

Vince smirked and chuckled as they tried to pull Beth onto the dance floor with them, but Beth resisted. Then Frenchie burst out of the jiggling melee of dancers and bounced up to Beth. He danced pneumatically, doing a strange forward movement with his neck and head like a heron – or was it a crane?

Beth could never tell the difference – and grinning boyishly at her all the while. ‘Liza!’ he said warmly, wrapping his too-long arms around her and planting a wet kiss on her mouth. He tried to draw her towards the dance floor.

‘I can’t now,’ Beth said, pulling away from him. He pouted childishly; a show-pout. ‘I need to find Al,’ she said, shouting over the bassy beat of a new song and pulling out of his grasp. ‘I’ll come back.’ She pushed her way off the dance floor, pausing to ask Barbara and Vittoria if they knew where Al had gone.

They shrugged in tandem, annoying giggly echoes of each other, and kept dancing. Beth spotted Maxine shovelling in some snacks (clearly a believer that any food eaten while standing upright was not fattening) and approached her.

‘Do you know where Al is?’ she asked.

Maxine shook her head, licking a smear of sauce off her thumb. She gave Beth a gratuitously snotty look, as though she were considering torturing her a little, but Beth didn’t care and Maxine could see it so she didn’t bother. She turned away from Beth, back to the snacks, and waved Beth imperiously in the general direction of the toilets.

Oh God.

 Beth may be a newcomer to the film world, but she’d been around long enough to know what all those acres of smooth-topped surface in the ‘restrooms’ were used for.

This extract was published with permission from Penguin Books SA.

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