The Mail & Guardian is running a series of interviews with South African authors. We posed difficult questions; we also asked some easy ones. Angela Makholwa obliges.
Describe yourself in a sentence.
I’m a cigar-smoking, hard-thinking, tough-acting, cowardly person who’s occasionally sweet and usually quiet sanguine.
Describe your ideal reader.
Smart, progressive and open-minded.
What are you working on?
I’m working on another crime thriller, the working title of which is: “The Black Widow Spider Society.” As the title suggests, it’s about a bunch of wealthy women who form a society that assists them to dispose of their husbands once the first blush of love subsides and turns into its nastier cousins: infidelity, jealousy or some such malaise.
Tell us about your everyday writing routine.
I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on my business, but when I do get around to tinkering with the written word, I usually do it at night because I love the quiet that descends with the blanket of darkness.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
Architects of Poverty by Moeletsi Mbeki, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and I do not come to you by chance, written by Nigerian author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. It’s hilarious.
Do you remember the first novel you read?
I think it was one of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series.
What book, if any, changed your life?
It was, quite literally, Paulo Cuelho’s The Alchemist. My business might not have existed had I not read that book. I was ready to call it quits and I guess it gave me the courage to shepherd forward.
Do you write by hand, typewriter or computer?
Laptop is best for me.
Why should people buy your book as a gift this holiday?
It is effervescent, uplifting and a sign of our times.
What book(s) are you buying as presents?
I’m buying myself a lot of African and European classics as presents because I have this urge to rediscover all the golden nuggets of literature. Then I think I’ll get my clients my own book! Charity begins at home, doesn’t it?
What CD are you listening to?
I love hard-hitting gangster rap from the Nineties, so I’m listening o a lot of Dr Dre, Tupac, Niggaz With Attitudes and a lot of other stuff that I’m ashamed to admit to. And yes, I am that woman in the car with the speakers on full blast bobbing her head like an idiot while rapping along with the big dawgs. My 10-year-old son has long recovered from the utter humiliation of it all.
In a multi/polymedia world, why is book publishing still important?
Nothing beats the thrill of rustling through the fresh pages of a new book. That first contact with the writer’s translation of words, thoughts and images on to a canvas that reveals new faces, new places, and exciting, lively words. Not to mention the anticipation as you hold your breath, waiting to discover what happens on the next page. It is always a revelation, and so very fulfilling. It’s just not the same as clicking a mouse. Sorry.
Angela Makholwa is from Johannesburg and holds a BA degree in journalism and industrial psychology from Rhodes University. She worked as a magazine journalist and a public relations consultant for several agencies after acquiring her degree and, in 2002, established her own public relations company, Britespark Communications.
Her first novel, Red Ink, was published in 2007 by Pan MacMillan. Her second book, Thirtieth Candle, is out.