I've taken to social media and started interviewing South African authors who have participated in the NaNoWriMo writers program.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
I'm Cat Hellisen and I've been failing nanowrimo for about as long as it's been around. I don't consider this a bad thing. I'm a fantasy writer and I work in both long and short formats.
Why did you become a writer?
Complete inability to hold down a real job means I had to pretend to be doing something with my time. You call it watching Supernatural. I call it research.
What is your message and drive behind your writing career.
An understanding that the path is long, rocky, and rutted with failure. You need to keep going despite that.
Your experience in the publishing industry.
I began writing well over a decade ago, but it was only in 2012 (I think, it's all pretty hazy) that I sold my first book. Even though I began writing short stories long before I tackled novels, it's only more recently that I've started making any headway with sales there.
What works have you produced?
My novels are When the Sea is Rising Red, House of Sand and Secrets, Charm, and Beastkeeper, and I have short stories in a host of magazines and anthologies, ranging from Apex and Shimmer and F&SF magazine, to Short Story Day Africa, and Year's Best Weird Fiction II.
When did you start Nano and why do you Nano?
I began Nanoing in the early days of nano and I use it to give me a kick start for a novel idea. Because of the way I work, I've not yet actually won Nano, but that's okay. For me, it's not the point.
Your current Nano project?
I'm playing around with a book about witches and dead angels set in South Africa.
What happens after Nano?
It gets added to the stockpile of half-written ideas, for when I'm ready to tackle them.
Is there a trick to Nano?
I think the trick, sadly, is not a trick at all. It's sitting down and writing. Or as they call it on Absolute Write forums: BIC (butt in chair)
Writing schedule and positive habits.
This is a tough one. I think there are lots of rules, and people suggest that if you follow them you'll be a good writer. Some say to be like Stephen King and write 2000 words a day, others that you must write daily no matter what, others that you should write only when inspired, etc etc. Find a way that works for you - do it that way until it stops working, then find another way.
best advice you can give new writers that you wish you knew back then.
Don't listen to all that writing advice. Be aware of it, if that helps, but don't let it rule your creative process (maybe your editing process though...). Don't get too hung up on Three Act Structure, or Hero's Journey, or whatever the writing method of the year is. Find good beta-readers. Treat them well. Be a good beta-reader.
favorite genre to read?
Fantasy, of all stripes.
favorite genre to write?
Fantasy, of all stripes.
what is your message/ what are you saying to the world.
I have no message. Messages are boring. If I wanted to send messages I'd put up a billboard.
If not a writer what would you be doing?
Finding a different excuse to read books and watch movies.
where can we connect?
I am @CL_Hellisen on twitter, and my website is cathellisen.com
Carlyle Labuschagne is an award winning South African author working her way into the hearts of international readers .