I completed my first story when I was about six or seven. I remember that day like yesterday, sitting with my legs tucked underneath me and chewing on my pencil, dreaming about talking animals, mysterious mountains, and far, far lands...Even though I have come a long way since then, that was the defining moment of my life.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest and debut work is El Dorado: The Untold Story, which aims to present the reader with a cocktail of history, facts and imagination. Fundamentally, it's concentrated around South America, focussing especially on the continent's rich culture and the history of its colonization. All in all, it's a story that will stay with you forever.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
All my life, I've never really made my voice heard, be it in the family or elsewhere. Growing up, I was a really curious child; with all sorts of newly-gained knowledge threatening to burst open my brain. But I could hardly find anyone who was interested enough to listen to what I had to tell. That's what writing offers- a medium to connect with people who harbour the passions as you.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, this list is endless! Agatha Christie was my first love, and I have read almost all of her books by now. JRR Tolkien of course, is one of my favourites, need I state the reason? Apart from that, Shakespeare fascinated me a lot, his writing always presented a different meaning before me each time I read it. But knowing many other languages, I found Miguel de Cervantes and Goethe very awe-inspiring.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Apart from writing, I have only three other interests- reading, animals and archaeology. So when I'm not slumped over my laptop, you can find me reading 'Ancient Egypt' out in the sun, or lounging in my yard with my goofball pets.
What is your writing process?
I follow this eternal advice- "Write drunk, edit sober." This perfectly sums up what I do. Only in my case, I have to do lots and lots of research work before I can even put a single word on paper. Still, even though my typing process is somewhat strange, I have never really suffered from a bout of 'writer's block'.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, I remember it perfectly. It was the tale of two cats- a black one and a white one. Being only six, I didn't really understand the meaning of apartheid, but that drove me into becoming a staunch advocate for human rights.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Seventh Scroll, by Wilbur Smith. This book is simply amazing! It has everything a book can possibly have- developed characters, a fantastic storyline, enough thrills and twists to keep you on your toes, and a perfect ending! But for me, the clincher was the fact that it was set against the backdrop of ancient Egypt. Dewey, by Vicki Myron. This pet memoir never fails to leave me in tears. It taught me the value of loved ones- both humans and the ones with tails. And it also showed me that no matter how badly you love someone, no one can ever love you back as much as an animal could. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I must confess, I'm not a huge jane Austen fan. Pride and Prejudice never affected me the way jane Eyre did. It really portrays life as it happens, with a miracle or two thrown in for good measure. It is one of the best classics around- it has friendship, love, ethics, society, everything. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie. Dame Christie is not called 'The Queen of Crime' lightly. She is indeed the master of spinning out complex yarns and unravelling them with a single flick of the finger. Although I prefer the Poirot series, this book is a masterpiece. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. I'm one of those people who actually liked and understood Shakespeare in high school. Hamlet was the first book of his that I read, and I loved it immediately. I still don't know why people think his language is tough; to me it was as clear as the sound of falling raindrops on a tin roof.
What do you read for pleasure?
Fiction. Mostly speculative, sometimes historical.
What do your fans mean to you?
To me, my fans are those people who have been able to find a sliver of commonness between us. Every writer's job is to reach the reader's heart and soul, and it makes me sleep satisfied that somewhere out there in the world is a person whose life changed because of me.
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