Interviews With Effervescent Writers
The gentleman, decidedly a stranger to me, seemed out of breath, a frisson of scarcely contained excitement about him. “I’m glad I caught you in your office...” he started.
I stared at him as he went on: “As I told the receptionist ‘outside’, I am from a province far away...I am briefly visiting Bloemfontein. The editor would have killed me if I failed to see you in person!”
“The editor?” I said, wondering what this was all about.
“Yes, ntate,” he replied. “I suppose you have seen, even read the book, “Talking with African writers”, by Jane Wilkinson... “
I told him that yes; it was a great book, featuring illuminating interviews with a number of distinguished African writers. I recollected that Nigerian writers, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Odia Ofeimum had been interviewed in the book. Well?
The man said, “I am here on behalf of another South African woman editor who is putting together another similar book of interviews with African writers. The bulk of interviews will be with South African writers, black and white, but writers like you - from other African countries will also feature in the book. The editor wants you in the book at all costs.”
Naturally, I was both flattered and delighted. “That is why I am here, tracking you down,” he went on. “We know your love for writing, and we assume you will be very much interested....”
Gingerly, he went on to stress that “unfortunately” time was of the essence as regards the project. There was a strict deadline and they hoped I would be able to cooperate and contribute as much as I could to the project. “We want the product to contribute in momentous fashion to literature,” he said, “So that the book can be treasured like that of Wilkinson even some 20 years after initial publication.”
He also added that I could suggest a few other writers whose interviews might feature in the work. “We already have rather large contributions, submissions... and of course some pruning will have to be done. Not all writers will feature in the book in the end… but I can guarantee that you will be there…so long as you meet the deadline.” We both smiled.
We need not go into tedious details here, but I became part of the project. I liaised with one or two other writers in the province where I am based. As the book took shape I was briefed virtually every step of the way and a few of my suggestions were incorporated into the manuscript.
I am happy to say that the book, titled “Interviews with Effervescent Writers”, edited by Christine Mautjana, is now out. Some 20 pages are devoted to me in the book! Hantle, (fine) as South Africans say....