Marilyn Cohen de Villiers: The Heart Warrior’s Mother

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Heart Warrior’s Mother. I’m sharing a guest post written by the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and Marilyn Cohen de Villiers for writing her guest post.


Kerry-Anne Aarons is over the moon. She and her husband, Imran Patel, are about to become the parents of a baby daughter, and give their son, Leo, an adored little sister. It wasn’t planned, but Kerry knows that Lily’s arrival will complete the perfect little family she has always wanted. She, Imran and their two children are going to live happily ever after…
Then life intervenes.
Lily is born with a serious congenital heart defect and Kerry’s battle to save her daughter commences. It’s a battle that takes her from the operating theatres and Intensive Care Units of local hospitals to the High Court of South Africa. It’s a battle that strains her relationships with her friends, her parents, and – ultimately – her husband. It’s a battle she is determined to win.
But how much will Kerry have to sacrifice to give Lily the future she deserves?

Guest Post:

Marilyn Cohen de Villiers has written a guest post entitled “Am I a real author?”

Am I a “real” author?

The Heart Warrior’s Mother is my fourth novel. It was inspired by the true story of a real heart warrior – a baby born with a serious congenital heart defect. The mother of that little heart warrior loved it, despite the fact that I fictionalized a great deal of the story. It was also complimented by an internationally renowned professor of paediatric cardiology for way I’ve combined factual medical accuracy with the very human story of the characters. He even recommended that it be read by medical professionals who treat young heart patients to give them greater insight into what their young patients and families goes through. 

And yet – like my earlier books – it has been resolutely ignored by the mainstream media and the book industry in general. Why? Because I once again chose to self-publish. And that seemingly makes me an “Indie” author, rather than a “proper” author. 

Should I care about this? Do you – as a reader – care whether a book is self-published or published by an established publishing house? Do you care that I don’t even have a literary agent… although I’m starting to think I should try to do something about that. Perhaps. 

My decision to self/indie publish started after my first novel, A Beautiful Family,  was rejected by the handful of South African publishers that publish fiction. I wasn’t really surprised. I had been warned as I completed chapter after chapter, and rewrite after rewrite. I had been told that most (all?) South African publishers prefer non-fiction and if they were going to consider a fiction manuscript, it must have literary pretensions that could win awards. I was also told that they generally only accept manuscripts that have been recommended by someone who is already known to them. “It’s an incestuous little circle, publishing in South Africa is,” he’d said darkly. I dismissed this as sour grapes (I knew he had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get his novel published for ages and ages). At the back of my mind was also a niggling suspicion that the demographic of an unknown, unrecommended author would also play a role, but I decided to try submitting my manuscript anyway. 

The rejection letters duly arrived: it didn’t fit in with their publishing plans, said some. Another used the identical let-down, but added, very kindly, that they nevertheless recognised that “your book deals with an important subject”. But that was held against me by another publisher who concluded that although the book was enjoyable, “the style of writing is not appropriate for the gravity of the subject matter.” Several stated that they didn’t think that it was commercially viable. Clearly they were wrong. With hardly any marketing support, the book has sold several thousand copies which, in a tiny market like South Africa, makes it a resounding best-seller.

After that experience, I decided to self-publish. After,  “self-publishing” had been good enough for Beatrix Potter and in today’s world, it is so much easier, And so I didn’t bother to submit any of my other books – When Time Fails, Deceive and Defend,  (now available as The Silverman Saga trilogy) and The Heart Warriors Mother – to local publishers. As I don’t have a literary agent, I can’t submit them to international publishers either. And that means that the only way to reach an international audience is through online platforms like Amazon.

However, the question – the uncertainty – continues to nibble at my self-esteem. Technically, I am a published author. But does being (self) published make me a “real” author?  

Does it matter? Shouldn’t it matter? Isn’t it far more important that readers buy and enjoy The Heart Warrior’s Mother?  Don’t the facts around congenital heart disease (CHD) – one in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect and that (CHD) is approximately 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer and about 25 times more common than cystic fibrosis – put my concerns into perspective? 

To thank and honour my little heart warrior and her parents, I am donating a portion of my royalities from The Heart Warrior’s Mother to the The Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa (TCCFA). This South African-based organisation as established by leading paediatric cardiac specialists, to “save the lives and improve the health of children born with congenital heart disease in Africa by raising funds for heart surgeries and by training specialists and support staff in the field of paediatric cardiac care”. You can also contribute to saving the lives of little heart warriors by donating directly to TCCFA. Details are available on their website


The Heart Warrior’s Mother is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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