The earthquake changed everything, but brought people together.

2 May 23 | Lifestyle

On the night of 29 September 1969 an earthquake, registering a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter Scale, hit the small picturesque town of Tulbagh in the Western Cape, South Africa. In an area that is not prone to earthquakes, the ground shook, tore and left a prominent scar. A scar that was running unbroken through the town and leading right up to the church, where it stopped, leaving the worship building unharmed. A riveting introduction to Desmond and Vera Denton’s book, Torn Earth, left Saffa Mag eager to know more about the book and soon-to-be movie.

The story is inspired by real-life events. It does not carry real names and biographical events, but it is the subjective interpretation of them. When Desmond and Vera started the research for writing this story, they were touched by the courage and perseverance of people in this area: the personal experiences of earthquake survivors, amidst a very tense time in South Africa. “As we journey through the events that took place before, during and after the earthquake, readers will witness the response of human nature to that of Mother Nature,” says Desmond.

He hails from Cape Town and says being immersed in this picturesque multicultural environment, he developed a strong interest in telling the stories of authentic characters put to the test by unique circumstances. Writing the book was an exciting challenge for Desmond, who tried to merge research data on the historic event of an earthquake, with his vision of what it could mean to the people of a small provincial town.

What stories do you like creating?

“In my films, I aspire to bring unimaginable worlds to life, the world of before, the worlds that have never existed before, the worlds that people will remember. It is fascinating to make text turn into a set and actors turn into the characters of the story you want to tell. This all starts from the concept, the research, to the writing to bring this story to life. “The book is a pre-runner for the movie we are making, and the book is currently available on Amazon and at select Barnes and Nobles shops.”

Tell us more about Vera, the co- author?

Vera holds her Masters in linguistics from the prestigious Moscow State Linguistic University, has a post-graduate in psychology and has been involved in all the stages of the development of this book. “We spend our time dreaming up new stories, traveling, raising our children, and renovating our home in the snowy forest of Frostburg. We love exploring history and culture and together we have built homes in South Africa, Vietnam and the USA.”


Book reviewer, Addison Alden said: “The night of the earthquake passed, and when the sun lit the valley the next morning, nothing seemed the same. It was as if walls, both physical and imaginary, were shattered. The dust covered everyone’s face and took away all the differences in skin colour. That morning they were all just survivors. Every one of them, the orphan, the wealthy winemaker. The earthquake did not just turn the town upside down, it also brought people closer, as one.”

Torn Earth has received rave reviews since its release. Megan Bolland, a UK-book reviewer had this to say: “Torn Earth, by the very talented writing duo Desmond and Vera Denton, is a fantastic novel that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! As soon as I started reading, I found it almost impossible to put down.”

For now, the duo is busy finalising the movie and has already started creating the basics of their next project. For more information on the Denton’s visit: or check out their visit at:

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