“A friend of mine once described me as the reverse Rodriguez, you know, famous everywhere else but South Africa.”
Meet Iain S. Thomas. He laughs at this description of himself, although, to be honest, it is very accurate.
For 36-year-old Iain, an award-winning creative director, the pivotal moment came when he returned to his hometown Port Elizabeth at the height of his advertising career.
“One day I drove back past my high school, in my brand new car that I bought with my advertising money with its black leather interior, for some nostalgic reason… and I drove past my old art teacher. And I stopped, and I saw that he was getting into his car. And his car was one of those really old rust bucket cars where every panel is a different colour, and suddenly the success that I had didn’t really seem to matter as much. I suddenly wanted to do something different, and the ad industry is a very egotistical place, it is all about awards and it is all about how creative your last piece of work was. And that interaction with my art teacher…I walked away from it and I wanted to do something that wasn’t about me.”
A best-seller in America and a hit with A-list celebs
Eight published books later and more than 160 000 books sold, Iain has reached celebrity status in terms of writing across the US and Asia. Harry Styles has been photographed with his book, Khloe Kardashian has quoted him on Instagram, and he also once very famously got into a fight with LeAnn Rimes.
And while Iain’s own mom can’t walk into a bookstore in SA and buy one of his books, which are often on display in a Barnes & Noble in the US, he’s doesn’t feel like any injustice have been done to him with regards to the SA publishing industry. “I’m a white English male, and there are a lot of different platforms given to people who look like me and sound like me. And there are a lot of stories in the country that should be told, and hopefully more of those will be told. And if I’ve found my space overseas, then that’s what it is. I do not have a lack of privilege or a lack of opportunity. This is just the way the world works, you know.”