Mohale Mashigo In Conversation with Toni Kan – “I was a musician in my former life.”

Mohale Mashigo: I am Mohale Mashigo and I am a writer. My debut novel was “The Yearning” and now  I have a collection of short stories called ‘Intruders’.

Toni Kan: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

M.M: When my book was published. I always knew that I liked telling stories but it wasn’t something I knew I could do. So I just finished this work and gave it to Zakes to read and he said you have to get this published. He was surprised that I was writing because he knows me as a musician.

T.K: You are a musician?

M.M: I was, in a former life

T.K: So I know you write fiction, books, graphic novels, and you write film too?

M.M: I am developing projects for films too. So very soon I can say I am a screenwriter.

T.K: So, are they different in the way you approach these various genres as a writer?

M.M: I think what makes graphic novels, screen writing different, is that I have to work with other people during the process. I am not very good at collaborating, so it has tested me. But it’s all storytelling and the format is different.

T.K: So you want to write a story yeah, what sparks it? Is it an image, or smell or conversation?

M.M: For The Yearning, it was because I had just moved to Cape Town, working in Advertising and I was unhappy and I thought about an unhappy woman working in advertising and then it became something greater. I don’t know. It could be anything. Like I wrote Intruders because I was frustrated with South Africa and wanted to get it all out.

T.K: Yeah, but then you now wrote stories that were of an imagined South Africa. So, were you trying to escape the real to go into a future that is better than the real.

M.M: Yes, there are future stories but there are also present stories as well that are basically dreary, violent with some fantastical things that are happening

T.K: Like the one on the beach? (laughs)

M.M: (laughs) Yeah and that helps me deal with the real issues because it doesn’t feel like I am admonishing them – us, South Africans.

T.K: What is your writing process? Do you write at night or in the morning or in the nude?

M.M: I write better at night but I write all the time. I write when I am in line, I have lots of notes that I email to myself, so better at night because everywhere is quiet but I write all the time, everywhere. I am not one of those writers that have to get up at 5 and write for 3 hours. I don’t have that kind of discipline.

T.K: I know you just published ‘Intruders’ about a year ago and I hear that another book is due. When is that happening?

M.M: (Laughs) Did my publisher send you?

T.K: Yes (laughs)

M.M: I don’t know what this book is because it is becoming many different things and what I thought it was about, turned out to not be about that. So this thing is trying to take on a life of its own and I am trying to rein it in unsuccessfully.

T.K: Thank you.

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