Talking authors: Kgebetli Moele

The Mail & Guardian is running a series of interviews with South African authors. We posed difficult questions; we also asked some easy ones. Kgebetli Moele obliges.

Describe yourself in a sentence.
I don’t describe myself anymore, though I used to describe myself in the past and then within a period evolved into something else, contrary to the self-descriptions, but for the sake of it: I am human.

Describe your ideal reader.
Have not found him/her yet, thought I had but she didn’t like the thoughts and the way issues are presented and handled in The Book of the Dead (apparently because they hit home).

What are you working on?
Promisingly, my next novel, a completely new work—new in the sense that it is post-Room 207. I work on it sometimes but most of the time I am engaged with how to pay the rent. Sorry to say, but you know as well that this life is for rent and I don’t want to pass on leaving some huge debts behind.

Tell us about your everyday writing routine.
Wish I had an “everyday writing routine”, it could make this writer’s life liveable. If I am writing, I want to do it in the shortest time possible, breathe it, wash it, eat it and sleep it until I get to the end of it—at times I wish I could wire my mind to the computer and just download; this is not everyday.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
Moswarataukamariri by David wa Maahlamela. Sad, sad, sad that I have to read every line twice then read the whole thing just to get to the marrow of it.

Do you remember the first novel you read?
This is the question that I have been most asked. It bypasses that life question that normal humans will always ask normal humans, the question: “What do you do?” But today I refuse to answer.

Which book, if any, changed your life?
I am not sure if books change lives but I am sure that books have inspired my life and fulfilled the voids in it. My first girlfriend, I found her between the covers and more than anything else I discovered and understood this self far better. If any of these count as consequences of reading a book, the book will be Bogobe bja Tswitswi.

Do you write by hand, typewriter or computer?
Ultimately one has to use a computer, but that light out of the notorious, if not deadly, writer’s roadblock-mindblock doesn’t always come at a convenient time when the writer is in front of a computer. So please believe the writers when they say they have written on awkward things. I have written a chapter in a magazine by hand.

Why should people buy your book as a gift this holiday?
First because is a great book, a great read that will light up the dark potholes in people’s life (I am not boosting, it is). Secondly, because of the first reason and thirdly, because writers need readers. Fourthly because of the third reason until reason infinity: writers need readers, period.

Which book(s) are you buying as presents?
I don’t know how many Nervous Conditions I have bought; it is my first present of choice for females. I believe that they can learn the great lesson of personal and spiritual emancipation within that book.

What CD are you currently listening to?
I do with Tracy Chapman’s collection; she reminds me that all I have is my soul while telling it like it is.

In a multi/polymedia world, why is book publishing still important?
A book engages with and challenges one’s mind, at least my mind. It sharpens the mind, revealing the world. I have lived in a block of houses called Buckingham Palace in District Six, Cape Town; I took a raft down the Mississippi and went adrift on the Nile in the many souls of the people that I have lived within the pages [call it fiction, but I say reality inspires fiction]. Most importantly, I have interpreted the experience and challenged it in my own way.

What subject is now passé in South Africa?
Racial segregation based on colour and tribe. Oh! No, it’s rears its head as economic segregation, today. Sad!

Kgebetli Moele is a 30-something award-winning author of Room 207. He has recently published his new novel, The Book of the Dead. Moele believes that he is a hardcore hustler but his close associates think that he is just a hobo with a manuscript.

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