His first novel, I Speak to the Silent, was published in 2004 by UKZN Press to widespread critical acclaim, and his second novel A Hill of Fools (a fabulous book) was published in April 2013 by Picador Africa.
1. From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?
For my first book I had no less than 8 drafts. For my second book it must have been double that. The books, in terms of style and content, improved with each draft.
2. What research do you do for your books?
I don’t write about what I don’t know. So most of the books I read are on subjects I have an interest in. So I choose very carefully what I read.
3. How many words do you write, on average, per day?
Varies from 300-500.
4. Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you?
I usually have the story in my head, and I just write it all out and edit later. I have not tried writing out an outline before. Maybe I should experiment and see what impact it has on the writing process.
5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?
For me it is overcoming fatigue. I am a very busy medical specialist and most of the time I come home tired. It is a great challenge to write creatively under such circumstances.
6. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I take writer’s block in the same way I take a bad day at the office. Even on those bad days when words don’t come I try to write something no matter how scanty or woeful. These are cycles of work that every worker, whether a writer or a nurse in a hospital, has to confront. Just do what you can no matter how uninspired you are.
7. When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, what information do you include in your proposal?
There comes a period during the writing when the story reads and ‘feels’ finished. It is just a feeling that comes during the process when you feel that you can’t possibly add anything more to the story. This is when I submit the story to the publishers with a synopsis and a list of all the characters.
8. What advice can you give aspirant writers?
Keep writing for enjoyment. The more you write the better you become.