John Samson


A Sudan trip

Sudan – a place that is often in the news for the wrong reasons; a territory ravaged by conflict for over a century. As with many places where there’s conflict, there’s often incredible creativity.

It inspired this song by Jenny and Rosanna Delenta, sisters born in Sudan but who grew up in South Africa. The author of the piece is TSL author John Samson

And is the inspiration behind Amna Agib’s two collections of short stories: The Roots that Gave Birth to Magical Blossoms, and The Glowing Blossoms that Kept the Roots Alive.

While not dealing directly with Sudan, William Endley‘s book on the Union Defence Force in World War 1 was written whilst he was employed in Sudan.

TSL director Anne Samson has touched on Sudan in her biography of Kitchener: The man not the myth published by Helion.


John Samson

About John Samson

Having had friends and others comment favourably on his writing but not being able to find an agent, John looked to self-publish. Cold Fiction was the outcome. Having discovered TSL Pub, he is in the process of moving his self-published novels to us. Shaka are Dead was his first novel published by TSL. Powerless was his first written novel and is the second to be published. Reading Lady Chatterley in Africa is John’s third novel, was followed by A Donkey Called Oddsock and now The Fall of the Romance Empire.
John also writes under the name RJ Whitfield.

John’s writing draws on his South African upbringing, exploring themes around reconciliation between different groups of people and circumstances. He enjoys travelling to unusual destinations.
He has been writing since about 2005 and has been an active member of the Harrow Writers’ Circle since 2006.
Apart from writing, his other main love is music charts.

Books by John


Powerless – John Samson

Powerless was the first novel John wrote but not his first published. For those who have read his Shaka are Dead, this is quite different, although stays with the theme of post-Apartheid South Africa.

Where Shaka is written in colloquial style, Powerless is written in standard English.

It tells of two men, one black and one white, caught in a lift when the power fails. We don’t know how long they are in the lift for, although hints suggest it could be as long as five hours overnight. Interspersed between the men’s conversations are vignettes enhancing and explaining aspects of the men’s stories. Links to how their respective loved ones are dealing with their failure to return home help set the wider context all culminating in the final climax after the power returns. The lure of Johannesburg, bank robberies, car hi-jackings, township violence, Inkhata vs ANC, conscription, the elections of 1994 all feature as the stories of the various characters intertwine, weaving a social commentary of life during Apartheid, the dreams people had of the New South Africa and the reality underlying the positive gloss post 1994. Amongst the heartache and the pain shines hope and a sense of reconciliation: it helps to talk.

What I love about Powerless are the multiple climaxes. It’s an emotional roller-coaster of a read as the two men dig deep into their inner-beings. As one of them notes: ‘Apartheid is dead but its spirit still haunts us’ – a statement still true of South Africa today, ten years after Powerless was written.

Another statement which jumped out capturing the essence of South African life then in particular was ‘Indoctrination by environment.’ John has a wonderful way of capturing the essence of a situation adding to the richness of his characters.

For those wondering, no, my love of Powerless was not determined by the images of Simon and his brother looking after cows in Natal, it’s because the story is so well structured taking me on a journey or four.