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Diane Awerbuck Answers 21 Questions on Being a Writer in Africa for Short Story Day Africa

Home RemediesDiane Awerbuck, author of Home Remedies, has taken part in the Short Story Day Africa 21 Questions Challenge, revealing all about killing characters, mind-altering drugs and writing nude.

Read her answers to the 21 questions below:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1. Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?

Writing terrifies me, actually. I hate losing hours like that. I feel like someone’s slipped me a Rohypnol every time. DRINK ME.

2.What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).

I’m a late bloomer: I’ve just read the Louis Greenberg-curated Home Away stories, which were compulsive. There’s an Ivan Vladislavic short story in there that is my new favourite thing.

3. Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

Nope. They all deserved to go.

4. If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?

I do, all the time. They’re all me. Me, me, me.

5. Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?

See above response cf. “vampirism”; “cowardice”; “convenience”.

6. Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?

I am against Ernest Hemingway. He is the scourge of the creative writing class.

7. If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?


8. Our adult competition theme is Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?

I like cake. I think about it a lot. Hence, I write about it a lot.

9. What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?

“Where do you get your ideas?” From now on I’m just going to say, “Bloemfontein”.

10. If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?

Helena S. Paige. She seems to be having herself a good time.

11. If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?

That I said Hilton Datnow was a fatty. He no longer is, as he was at great pains to tell me. Not only that, but he also works for the UN. So there.

In all seriousness, writing is an art, but it is not a martial art, as some half-famous American memoirist once said. The revenge is never worth the guilt.

12. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Most interview answers, naturally.

13. If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?

I was wondering why there was suddenly an upturn in krimis. It all makes sense.

Reviewers are an odd bunch, aren’t they? They’re hardly ever in it for the money. It must be the job satisfaction.

14. What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?

I’m seeing a theme here, interviewer. Let’s talk about your mother.

I don’t mind a negative review, but I want it to be by someone smarter than I am. Reviews should make writers better, by carrot or by stick. I don’t want them done by the little man who usually does the motor reviews and doesn’t see “the point” of fiction, or the old lady who didn’t read the novel but had a problem with one term in my pre-Internet glossary. (I have had both of these things actually happen.)

15. What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?

Who’s frustrated?

16. Have you ever written naked?

Sometimes, if it’s night-time and I can’t find my notebook. Bear in mind that I sit on a big rubber ball at my desk, so things can get a little unhygienic.

17. Does writing sex scenes make you blush?

On my face?

18. Who would play you in the film of your life?

Christopher Lambert

19. If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?

Did you ask Mary Watson this question?

Live on it, goddamn you! Live on it! This is why serious writers – writers who actually contribute big, beautiful, new things to South African fiction – need to win prizes. So they get the chance to write more.

20. What do you consider your best piece of work to date?

“Duiweltjie”, a short story in the Bloody Parchment series

21. What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?

Looking for spelling mistakes in Rachel Zadok’s frenzied press releases

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    June 19th, 2013 @15:35 #

    And I thank you for helping Rachel with the typos because we all know asking me to find them would be useless.


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