The Company We Keep: Renee Moodie


  by QW+ staff writer

The Company We Keep: Renee Moodie

Renee Moodie is a professional writer, accredited editor and experienced proofreader who has worked in various capacities for Quote This Woman+ since early 2019. 

Pronouns: she/her

Born: 16 April 1962

Status: Married (29 years in 2024!) with a 21-year-old son, two cats and a nervous dog.

School: I endured several ghastly years in a co-ed, dual-medium primary school in Krugersdorp which believed staunchly in Christian National Education. My family moved to East London and in the then Standard 5 (Grade 7) I found myself in the calm of an all-girls school. Matriculated from Clarendon High School for Girls, having passed through the hands of many wonderful and subversive teachers.

University: I did a BA at the University of Port Elizabeth (now Nelson Mandela University) and English Honours at UCT. I later did a high school teaching diploma at UCT.

First job: I joined the then South African Associated Newspapers (SAAN) as a cadet (student, sort of) reporter, and spent six months at the Eastern Province Herald, before joining the Cape Times in Cape Town, which had originally hired me.

Home: I have lived in Cape Town since 1983, and am still not entirely sure I think of it as home. I love it here, and am deeply rooted in the soil of my small suburban garden in Plumstead. But there’s a way my shoulders drop when I visit the Eastern Cape that says hello, country of my heart.

Transport: I have a small and sensibly fuel-efficient Hyundai Atos (having given my much loved and very elderly Honda Ballade to my son).

Book on your bedside table: Always Coming Home by Ursula le Guin, one of the most beautiful and interesting books ever written – it is “fictional ethnography of the Kesh, a people of the far future living in a post-apocalyptic Napa Valley”, to quote Le Guin’s website. I’m rereading it now, having first encountered it somewhere in the late 1980s. I’m also dipping in and out of How to ADHD by Jessica McCabe (my son has ADHD).

Music in your playlist: Bruce Springsteen’s Live Series Collection plays on repeat in the car. Otherwise we have Spotify or Deezer streaming an endless variety of music, spanning as many decades as we can, in our mixed-generation household. 

Describe your job in no more than seven words: I run a communications business.

What keeps you awake at night? I worry about the country; worry about climate change; worry about the fates of people in television programmes I watch; worry about what the future holds for my son and his friends; worry about whether or not I remembered to send that really important email; worry about what all this worrying is going to do to the day I will have tomorrow. (But this only happens once in a while: mostly I am a champion sleeper).

Who is your biggest hero? A Terry Pratchett character called Tiffany Aching, because of her devotion to her landscape and her loyalty to her people. 

Remote or office? Remote – but I really miss the company and stimulation of an office. 

What’s the most exciting part of your job?  The moment when I am completely in the flow, writing.

Career highlight? Being lucky enough to get a job on the Cape Times. I discovered in cadet school that over 200 people across the country had applied to various papers in the group, and that only 8 (or was it 10?) had been selected. Journalism has been my passion; it made me the woman I am today. 

What is your superpower? Seeing the patterns in things, which enables an odd, small useful talent – the ability to untie knots. 

What is the least known fact about you? That I have a crush on Anna Torv, star of the Fringe TV series. But also Idris Elba

If you could get the ear of one person, to convince them your work is important, who would it be? Only one person? That’s a hard one – I don’t think of my work as ground-breaking or world-changing. It’s important to me and to the people I do it for, but convincing some public figure of its significance is not on my radar. That said, if a fairy godmother appeared and said “here’s enough money that you can take a year to write a book”, then we’d be cooking with gas.

If you had the power to pass a presidential decree, what would it be? I think the thing that would pull the piece of string that would untie the messy knot is that South Africa would be that all children should get the best possible preschool and primary school education that money can buy. Starting today.

Your best piece of advice? Just say sorry. If you messed up, apologise and make amends. Also, always say please and thank you, and tidy up after yourself. 

What’s your next big thing? I’m working on making an online course aimed at teaching digital skills to older people. 

What do you do to relax? Reading, gardening, baking, sewing and crochet. And drinking beer in the garden with my lovely husband.