Why do you write?
To tell a story. To express an idea. Because it’s fun. Fiction is a wonderful way of simulating real life, exploring issues and ideas. No other art form does it better. But there is no need to philosophise about this. You see, storytelling is an ancient art; we do it because we have to. It’s hardwired in our DNA.
Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
Where do you write and why there? [Please send us a nice picture of the space if you can]
At the moment, I’m in a supermagnifiqueuberawesomemegastupendous studio in Itaparica, Brazil, courtesy of a two month residency at the Sacatar Institute. Alas, damn it, it’s only for 2 months before I go back to my little flat in Edinburgh, where I write in bed.
What advice do you have other writers who are just starting out?
You’re on your own.
Who are your favourite writers?
Sarah Ladipo Manyika, David Mitchell, Pippa Goldschmidt, Aminatta Forna, Fyodor Dostoevsky (I should stop. This quickly turns into a namedropping exercise)
What’s on your secret reading list?
The Citadel of Chaos by Steve Jackson
Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton
What books have you left unfinished? [Reading or Writing]
The Lexus and the Olive Tree
What’s the most confusing book you’ve ever read?
The Adolescent, sometimes translated as Raw Youth, a novel by Dostoevsky. I love his work and so I thought I’d try this one, but my treacherous eyes glaze over every time I try to read it. Like, what the hell’s going on, which character is which, what’s this about? I still come back to it every couple of years and fail. It’s not you, it’s me, Fyodor.
What’s your favourite opening line or quote in African Literature?
And so when I began to go on evening walks last fall, I found Morningside Heights an easy place from which to set out into the city.
Have you ever lied?
I’m lying to you right now. What do you expect, I make up stories for a living.
What personal trait do you most deplore in others?
What’s your greatest fear?
Life after death
What’s the most sublime experience you’ve ever had?
What’s your greatest regret?
Making too many compromises with the world.
Which living person do you most despise?
Which living person do you most admire?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got?
You gotta make the most of the hand you’re dealt.
Where/When have you been happiest?
Once upon a time…
If you were president of the ‘United States of Africa’ for a day – what would you do?
I’d order a cull of writers. There’s far too many of the bastards running around.
Which (6) or more people would be on your fantasy dinner party list – [Dead or Alive]?
Mr Chauke, my old history teacher, now deceased.
Jesus, to get the drinks.
Josiah Tongogara, to ask how the hell he died.
Mbuya Mlambo, I could pinch a few stories from her.
Junot Diaz, fuck knows fucking why.
Jose Rizal, I’ve never had a Pilipino to dinner.
Please make us a playlist of songs you like to write to – or that you think you should be listened to alongside your work.