Interview with Damaria Senne

What are you working on next?
This is a tough question, as I work on multiple projects, for multiple genres, at the same time. For now, I'm writing a series of children's books for a digital publisher. They're commissioned, and some of the stories are in English and others are in my native language Setswana.

I've also completed two non-fiction books that are due to published and am working on a third. I also write under a pen name and WhatHerName has drafted two novellas to date.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life. It's so short! No time to waste. I get up in the morning to get back on the roller-coaster and to enjoy the moment.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I live in a large property in a rural area and maintain a big garden where I grow vegetable and herbs. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen preserving my produce and trying out new recipes I got from Google. I also love tech, and spend a lot of time testing apps and playing with software. That's also part of my bill-paying, freelance writing gig actually- writing about tech. I'm learning how to quilt. Oh, and I'm currently Chairperson of Royal Bafokeng NGO Forum, a non-profit that provides support to the members non-profits operating in 29 villages in Phokeng.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I've subscribed with some authors and publishers to let me know when they have new releases, trawl my favorite publishers' websites for new releases and get a few copies from other authors to read and review. I also subscribe to Bookbub.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I only remember the first children's story I did finish and sent to a publisher. I was still a student then, in the late 80s and I submitted the handwritten manuscript. It was accepted by Macmillan Boleswa and published in 1993.
What is your writing process?
Another tough question. It varies depending on the story and genre. For example, for fiction, sometimes I draft by hand into a notebook and then type it up into a computer as a second draft. Other times I write directly into my computers.

Recently I've started to use a laptop AND PC simultaneously while I write. One has an open manuscript in Word. That's where I write. The other one has Internet access, usually Google. So I'll write in the manuscript, Google to check some fact when I'm unsure about a detail, and then go back to the manuscript.

Once the first draft is completed it, I'll let it simmer and then edit it, let it simmer again, repeat and rinse until I'm happy with the final product or my editors start demanding that I let go.

Throughout the day, I'll occasionally stop to go for a walk or to weed/water/plant a patch in the garden or cook or preserve some produce.
How do you approach cover design?
I outsource the job. I do a very detailed artwork brief that includes descriptions and photos to illustrate what I mean. I get at least three options from the artist and based on that, we start making changes until we have what we want. It's still difficult territory for me though.
What do you read for pleasure?
Murder mysteries, romance (LGBTQIA, Contemporary, Fantasy, SciFi). Gardening books. Some of them have such inspiring garden photos!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My smartphone. That little device carries multiple roles very well.
Describe your desk
I have two long tables in my home office. One desk is where I do the actual writing and have a PC stationed there. There is also space for my laptop, as I use both when I write. On that table is the notebook currently in use, my lifestyle diary, a container of pens, speakers for when I need to listen to audios (which I do for the freelance writing business), one or two tubs of handcreams and muscle relaxants for my hands.The table is long, so the space is not cluttered, The second table is where I write by hand, edit etc. There is more pens and pencils there and a wooden shelf, where I sort and place printed copies of manuscripts in progress and research material.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a village called Phokeng in the North West province of South Africa, in this very house I now live in. I live on the edge of the village, next to a dam and a small forest.

When I was growing up, there were legends about the the dam and the creatures that live in it and in the forest too. My parents also had active imaginations and told us kids lots of interesting stories. So I had a lot of inspiration for fantasy stories for children and adults.

In terms of community though, I didn't quite fit in, so I spent a lot of time making up stories about the people, events and places in the village and outside of it. I feel like there are so many stories and not enough time to tell them all.
Published 2016-04-13.
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