Ryan met Anthony’s wife, Francoise Malby-Anthony, who described recording the voice-over for the Coronation Fund Managers advert about Anthony and spoke about the first time they met.
When the renowned Lawrence Anthony, often called “The Elephant Whisperer”, died, the herd came to his home to bid him a final farewell.
But they did not forget the woman he loved, his wife Francoise Malby-Anthony. So when two new calves were born, on both occasions the elephants took them up to the house to show her the latest additions.
The genesis and potential success of The Youngsters series is explored in a Mail & Guardian feature by Verashni Pillay. Nik Rabinowitz, Shaka Sisulu, Anele Mdoda, Khaya Dlanga and Danny K were tapped to write these short square-format books in a bid to access the large youth market. Pillay spoke to Mdoda, Pan Macmillan publicist Laura Hammond and the editor of the series, Mandy Wiener:
‘I wouldn’t call myself a writer at all,” said Anele Mdoda, popular radio and television personality and, as of this week, a published author.
She is one of five high-profile South Africans under the age of 35 who were chosen by Pan Macmillan for their Youngsters book series — a play on the Elders organisation started by Nelson Mandela.
At 12 000 words each and with vibrant cover illustrations of each author, their Twitter tag on each page and an Instagramesque square format, the books are aimed rather heavy-handedly at a younger market and have been launched to coincide with Youth Day.
Deidre Donnelly: Your plays tend to be more political than your novels. Do the two forms just lend themselves more to that; will you always write that way?
Craig Higginson: Thus far, my plays have been much more engaged with the social presents in South Africa, while my novels were more about stretching one’s sense of self outside of apartheid and post-apartheid politics. I think it’s time we claim our positions as citizens of the world. And, as writers, feel free to imagine other possibilities for ourselves and for each other, because that’s a sure sign of health. Writing a novel is solitary and much more concerned with consciousness. Plays are communal, written with a specific audience in mind. The tradition of theatre I’m used to – I worked with Barney Simon for some years – engages socially with who we are. Having said that, the book I’m starting now will be much more political than my previous novels, and the play I’m working on is much less political than the others I’ve done.
Davenport interviewed My Brother’s Book author Jo-Anne Richards, who described her process of “climbing into” characters:
You are an amazingly versatile and productive person. Besides being the author of highly acclaimed novels, you teach creative writing off- and online, and you’ve done a lot of writing for newspapers and magazines. Moreover, you are very active in the field of genetics, e.g. co-editing a book, The Clinical Genetic Education Manual, a comprehensive work on human genetics, and as national chair of the South African Inherited Disorders Association, representing South Africa at the Biovision World Life Sciences Conference.How do you manage to be so productive? Where do you get the time to write novels when you are so involved in so many other things?
I regard myself, first and foremost, as a writer. My writing defines who I am. I need to work (beyond writing), to keep body and soul together, but I am fortunate that I can do so through the teaching of writing, which I love.
Wilbur Smith recently visited India to promote his latest thriller, Those in Peril. In two interviews, one with Aabhas Sharma in the Business Standard and another with Shruti Savanal at The Tossed Salad, Smith reveals how he manages to be so prolific.
He tells Sharma that he hated his job as a chartered accountant before he started writing. As Sharma explains, “He does a lot of research after he has the basic plot in mind. Once the plot is worked out, he devotes seven hours a day for at least eight months to writing. After he finishes writing, he sends off the manuscript and takes off for a month or so.”
Smith tells Savanal that when he first starts writing “my whole mind is in a hurly-burly”. He explains, “I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I want to write, and how I want my characters to unfold. There is a clamour of characters which slowly seem to make sense the more I think of them. I am in no rush. It’s like a long marathon where I make sure I keep within my strengths. But when I start writing, I never stop or never rewrite anything. I go with the flow, and then finally see where it needs to be reworked after I’m done writing.”
The prolific best-selling author is impervious to critics and remains an unreformed big game hunter.
It is not often that you meet someone for lunch and he has already placed the order before you have arrived. And this is when you’re not late – in fact, a few minutes early – for the meeting. But the man I am meeting is Wilbur Smith, who loves to eat and calls himself a “carnivorous beast” when it comes to food, writes Aabhas Sharma.
The Tossed Salad: How would you best describe Those in Peril to your readers?
Wilbur Smith: Well, this book is similar to any of my other books. I’ve tried to keep a balance between fact and fiction. The story revolves around a man called Hazel Bannock, whose 19-year-old daughter gets kidnapped by African Muslim pirates while at sail in the Indian Ocean. There are a few new different techniques I’ve tried to introduce here. Let’s hope my readers appreciate it.
Game ranger James Hendry recently spoke to O Magazine‘s Deidre Donnelly about his new book, A Year in the Wild, which Hendry says is not a memoir but rather an exaggeration of real events with which he has taken poetic licence. Hendry says he learned his biggest lesson about writing from his physiology lecturer, and honed his comic style after reading Douglas Adams’ Last Chance to See:
“The highlight of having A Year in the Wild published this year was … The first launch in Johannesburg. It was beautifully supported by friends and family, and I enjoyed telling some of the stories, live.”
“A Year in the Wild is not a memoir … But it was based on a lot of real experiences. Thanks to poetic licence, I could exaggerate these events, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And because all the characters represent small parts of me, fleshing them out was hugely rewarding.”
Best-selling author Wilbur Smith was recently interviewed by Heather Walker for The South African, about his latest thriller, Those in Peril, and what motivates him to keep writing. Smith says his books are like his children: “Some are uglier than others, but like a father I love them all equally.”
Your first book was never actually published – what lessons did you learn from that experience?
I learnt a lot about writing, it certainly put me on the right track; I wasn’t writing books for other people, I was writing them for myself. After the success of my first published novel in 1964 I was wondering, what on earth am I going to write now? My publisher at the time, Charles Pick said ‘No one should ever tell you what you are going to write, you should tell us what you’re going to write’.
What motivates you to keep writing?
Yesterday a taxi driver said “I know you, you’re Wilbur Smith. Are you still writing?” I replied, “I’m still breathing aren’t I?” It’s what I do, I write books, it’s my life.
There was a time when I wrote a book every year, now I’m slowing down a bit, in future I may write a book every third year. It’s no longer some kind of mission I’m on, just what keeps me going, keeps me interested in life.
The latest issue of Granta contains a piece by our very own Kevin Bloom, author of the acclaimed Ways of Staying. In “Jongwe, the Cockerel of Liberation”, Bloom gives us a sense of what it was like to enter Mugabe’s Zimbabwe hiding under the title of “Researcher”.
Bloom was in Zimbabwe with Richard Poplak, conducting research into the Zanu-PF for their forthcoming book, Whiteout, due out in 2013:
We see it as we come into town on the Bulawayo road. Fifteen storeys up, in black profile against a white sphere. It nestles beneath the triangular apex of the roof, a dominant male crowing its intent. In the offices below, we guess, sit the people who ensure that the bird is fed. The people who preen its feathers and sharpen its comb. We slow down as we pass, to look for clues. What kind of person works in there? How do you dress if you’re an officer of Zanu-PF? Does it show on your face? But there’s nothing of interest at ground level, no great revelations. Just the rooster keeping watch in the sky; jongwe, the cockerel of the liberation movement.
‘We have to get inside,’ says Richard. ‘We can’t leave this city until we get inside.’
He does that, my friend. He informs me of the inevitable before I’m ready to acknowledge it. And my habitual response is not to say anything, to assess the implications and watch the road. I’m not saying anything now. I’m turning left towards the suburb of Avondale. I’m negotiating the potholes and reading the street signs. I’m ignoring Richard’s statement.
Sue Grant-Marshall interviews Gareth Crocker about his heart-warming novel, Finding Jack, the story of a Labrador who serves as the companion and saviour of a soldier in the Vietnam War. Crocker says his novel is based on fact: when the Vietnam war was over and thousands of US troops were sent back to the States, all the military dogs were declared “surplus military equipment” and had to be left behind.