Thursday 13 June 2013

Short Story Day Africa 2013 Celebrates: 21 Questions about Writing in Africa

As part of the Short Story Day Africa 2013 celebrations, @shortstoryAFR has compiled twenty-one interview questions their followers want to know about writers in Africa. 

Short Story Day Africa brings together writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, teachers and school children from all over the globe to write, submit, read, workshop and discuss stories – and to foster the love of reading and writing African fiction. Global support for the project is growing. Participate. 

RACHEL ZADOK author of the phenomenal SISTER SISTER invited me along to join the fun

The Interview 

Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?

There are moments I adore writing; there is a sense of connecting to a world greater than this reality and it fills me with wonder. Unfortunately, those moments are rarer than hen's teeth and mostly I hate writing. I write anyway, in constant search of That One Fleeting Moment. I invariably hate my finished product, because it's always less than the ideal I had in my head. 

What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).

AS IF, by Blake Morrison. It's about the Bulger murder case in England in the 1994's. Gruesome, horribletopic but raises some interesting questions about innocence versus evil.

Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

No.The only character I've killed off had to die. His death was a critical lesson to one of the main characters.

If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?

I'd rather not invite them over, thanks. I had enough of them when I was writing the story. I'd rather spend time with my new characters.

Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?

Oops. I pre-empted this question in my answer above! See above.

Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?

Definitely FOR. 

If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?

I use mind altering music, so what ever floats your Muse is okay with me.

Our adult competition theme if Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?

No. Because of my eating disorder, I have a love/hate relationship with food, so I'll never give food a starring role in anything I write. I hate movies with food scenes in as well.

What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?

Political questions. I'm not a political writer, I write about human nature, not politics.

If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?

The brilliant, the magical Louise Erdrich. The Painted Drum and The Last Miracle at Little No Horse are two of the best books I've ever read. 

If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?

My Masters thesis. It was a wasted two years of my life and did my confidence in myself and in my writing extreme damage that I'm still struggling to overcome today

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

I lost weight this week. Really. I did.

If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?

Nope. I'll leave their fate to Karma.

What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?

Having them in the front row as I climb the stage to collect the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Or having them waiting outside the bank manager's office to ask for a loan, when he tells me the balance in my bank account after my latest best seller (this is a fantasy, right?)

What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?

My writing style is too Western for African audiences and too African for Western audiences.

Have you ever written naked?

And have to look at my naked reflection in my computer screen? Uh huh, NO THANKS!!

Does writing sex scenes make you blush?

Nope. Thinking about my mother reading them does.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I would hope a talented unknown.

If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?

Pay my husband back for all the money I've borrowed from him to pay for writing courses.

What do you consider your best piece of work to date?

My short story THE LAST SACRIFICE which was published in THE FALL: Tales from the Apocalypse (Elephant Press, 2012). Mainly because it's really really dark and completely unlike anything else I've written, but it worked. I based the main character Rax-ul-Can on The Duke in Robert Browning's brilliant poem "My Last Duchess" written in 1842.; a poem that's always fascinated me since I first had to study it in English class in High School (too many years ago to count!) If you read between the lines, though, my character Rax is, though, not as callous and arrogant as Browning's chilling Duke - Rax's choices, as bad as they are, are based on a deep faith in his gods, while Browning's Duke is just plain evil. This story will also be included in the upcoming Aztar Press publication of a collection of my short stories, "THE WEIGHT OF A FEATHER and Other Stories

What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?

If I'm lucky I'll finish the short story I'm currently working on which is driving me crazy!

Support WRITERS IN AFRICA by buying our books and reading some talented authors!You can find RACHEL ZADOK and SHORT STORY AFRICA here:

twitter @rachelzadok