Zukiswa Wanner Photo credit: Ake Book and Arts Festival

Toni Kan in Conversation with Zukiswa Wanner who says – “I am not a writer. I am an author; an authority and if you want to be an excellent writer, read my books”

Toni Kan: What’s your name?

Zukiswa Wanner: My name’s Zukiswa Wanner, b-tch! (general laughter)

TK: My staff will think that I’m not serious, you know? Don’t do that. So, erm, Zuks, why do you think you are a writer?

ZW: I’m not a writer. I’m an author. I’m an authority, and yeah I write

Tk: Oh wow, wow wow wow (general laughter)

ZW: And I know I’m….

TK: Say it…

ZW: I know…

TK: Seriously, how do you know you are a writer?

ZW: I know I’m a writer because I have, erm, I generally challenge myself to do things differently every time and so, although I started as a novelist, I’ve written children’s stories, I have written YA (young adult fiction), non-fiction, travel, I’ve written satire. I’ve written columns as well so I think that the fact that I have that particular range and constantly challenge myself makes me, an author

TK: When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

ZW: Erm, when my first book came out (general laughter) Prior to that I wasn’t, you know?

TK: Tell me about some of your works?

ZW: Eh…

TK: Ok tell our readers, I mean, I know your works

ZW: Yeah

TK: The Madams, London, Jo…

ZW: Cape Town, Joburg

TK: Yeah

ZW: I, you know, I wanted to say Lagos, Cape Town, Joburg

TK: (Laughing) So, let’s go…

ZW:  Erm, the novels are The Madams, Behind Every Successful Man, Men of the South, and London, Cape Town, Joburg. Hardly Working, a travel memoir of sorts, then the children books, ah, Jamal loves Bananas, Refilwe, an african retelling of Rapunzel, which shall be on a London stage soon by the way.

Zukiswa Wanner
Photo credit: Ake Book and Arts Festival

TK: Yeah, you mentioned it. When?

ZW: Uhm, next month, next month in December (2023)

TK: Send me a ticket

ZW: Uh, Yeah. And erm-

TK: Two tickets

ZW: And… oh and I have a story in Story, Story! Story come! and I have also written The Black Pimpernel: Nelson Mandela on the Rise

TK: Oh yeah?

ZW: Which was a retelling of the time that Nelson Mandela was on the run from the apartheid regime and there is Africa: A true book which is, uh, for children as well but it’s not fiction and it looks at Africa’s history, its present degrada – like, uh, ecological degradation, the pros, the cons of just being African, the type of foods we eat, religions we have, yeah. So and then my satire; which is satirical nonfiction – Maid in SA: 30 ways to leave your Madam. So that’s my work so far. And you’re now gonna ask what my favourite book is?

TK: No.

ZW: Why aren’t you asking me what my favourite book is?

TK: That’s not for you, that’s for non-writers

ZW: Well, I was gonna tell you what my favourite book is.

TK: I’m not gonna ask that.

ZW: Yeah, I’d like to tell you.

TK: This is my interview

ZW: I wanna tell you what my favourite book is

TK: This is my interview, it’s not your interview. I ask the questions.

ZW: Ah!

TK: So, are you a full time writer?

ZW: I am a full time writer, but in addition I do a lot of literary adjusting type of things

TK: You have a side gig?

ZW: No, no, no, my side gigs all have to do with literature

TK: Are you a full time writer then?

ZW: I am a full time writer.

TK: Thank you

ZW: Yeah…

TK: (Laughs )

ZW: …so let me tell you my favourite book.

TK: No!

ZW: Come on!

TK: No, how many times do I have to say it.

ZW: My favourite book is Love Marry Kill which my agent currently has because I just finished writing it

TK: (Laughing)

ZW: It’s a novel that I know you’ll love

TK: What is it called?

ZW: Love Marry Kill

TK: Love Marry Kill – oh yeah!

ZW: Eheh  (general laughter)

TK: So let’s say you want to write a novel or a short story, right?

ZW: Hmm

TK: What is the trigger for you?

ZW: Uh?

TK: – Is it a word you hear? Something you smell? Something you hear? Something you, you know, encounter? What is the trigger for it?

ZW: I think if we knew where inspiration came from, all writers would go and live there (general laughter), So…

TK: That’s nice

ZW: It always changes, depending, sometimes it’s just, uh, a spell

TK: Hmm. So when this idea hits you, when this inspiration comes, when do you write it? Morning; afternoon or night? What’s your process?

ZW: I tend to be a person who writes from 2am up to 6am.

T: Two..?

Z: Two in the morning until six in the morning and then I usually sleep during the day and uh…

T: Vampire moves!

Z:  Yeah, and then late afternoon I will check my communication and also do edits of what I’d written the previous night, the previous morning rather, and yeah, then I go to sleep early

TK: So, last question, alright? I’m eighteen years old, of course I’m not,

ZW: (Laughs)

TK: And I want to be a writer. Can you advise me?

ZW: Yeah, uh, the most important thing obviously, for everybody is, uh, read and read widely so you know how to craft your stories, but, uh, if you really want to be an excellent writer, read my books in particular.

(General laughter)

TK: Zuks, it’s always a pleasure.  Thank you very much

ZW: Alright, cheers.


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