I was thrilled when Lauri Kubuitsile, an award winning multi-genre writer from Botswana, invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing. It’s an opportunity for writers in the blogspere to tell readers what they’ve been working on, and introduce them to other writer’s work they may or may not already be fans of. I guess it’s sort of like standing in one of those old elevators that has mirrors on every side: you can kind of see yourself reflected behind yourself, a writer behind a writer behind a writer ad infinitum. No? More like dominoes? Ok then, back to the topic at hand. Lauri answered questions about her Next Big Thing HERE. Lauri’s latest collection of short stories, In the Spirit of MacPhineas Lata and Other Stories, is available from Hands On Books.
So, as it’s Wednesday, on to my next BIG thing.
What is the working title of your book?
The title is Sister-Sister.
The novel had another title for years, which I suppose could be defined as the working title, but the final draft excised all the scenes that made sense of that title. I’m loathe to say what it was for a variety of reasons, not least because it was a great title that I may eventually use for something else.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It began with a voice in my head while I was writing the final chapters of Gem Squash Tokoloshe. It said: My name is Another and I have no soul. I wrote that sentence down amidst my GST chapter notes, and began to investigate who this person might be. I studied Fine Art, so I’m quite a visual person, and there are lots of doodles of two girls in that notebook. That simple sentence unravelled into a complex novel that pushed me to edge of my ability as a writer and then some.
What genre does your book fall under?
Set in a near-future, alternate version of South Africa, it’s dystopian in setting and tone, though there are elements of African magic realism and horror.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a difficult one, because the two main protagonists are young girls, so by the time a movie version actually got made, whatever actors I chose would be too old. I’m also loathe to cast characters in a reader’s mind. One of the joys of reading is being able to amalgamate the characteristics of people you know into literary heroes/villains (especially villains). It seems unkind to deprive readers of that pleasure.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In childhood, the gregarious bright Thuli and her stuttering introverted twin, Sindi, are inseparable outcasts, but the arrival of an uncle they never knew they had sets into motion a course of events that will destroy their relationship and, eventually, their lives.
I think that’s about as close as I can get. If I was any good at one liners, I’d write comedy.
When will your book be published?
Sister-Sister is due to be released in South Africa by Kwela Books in April 2013.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft took two years. It took several more drafts over a period of four years to get it to a stage where I felt good about it. At one point, I stuck it in a drawer for months, but it refused to go away so I took it out again, dusted it off and gave it another shot. It was a long road to get to Sister-Sister, a novel I’m immensely proud of (yes, I’m going to use the word immensely, editors, I am).
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, I think the Sister-Sister may end up ruffling a few feathers in South Africa because I’ve chosen to write about superstition and taboo by referencing outmoded cultural practices and belief systems that are not my own. Some South Africans may not like that, as there’s still the feeling amongst many that you can’t write from the view point of the other here. I feel we need to stop seeing people as other and realise the core of human experience, our emotions and the things that make us tick, are the same. “If you prick me, do I not bleed?” kind of thing. I expect some flack, and I’m a little nervous, but I believe Sister-sister is a well-crafted piece of work that I’ve poured my soul into and I hope people will receive it as such.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got to say right now, other than the cover design is beautiful, and I wish I could share it here, but Kwela want to reveal it first. So I will pass the baton on to Tiah Marie Beautement and Yewande Omotoso, who will blog about their next big thing on Wednesday 2 January 2013.
Tiah Marie Beautement is the author of the novel Moons Don’t Go to Venus. Shorter works have appeared in various publications, including two anthologies: The Edge of Things and Wisdom Has a Voice. Tiah says her next big thing is actually a rather small thing for a novel. It is also taking its fine time to come into being. She says, once it is done, she hopes to have written a beautiful story. She wrote it for herself. Which is rather selfish. Still, there remains a hope that others will eventually read it, too.
Read about Tiah’s next big thing on her blog HERE.
And Yewande Omotoso, author of Bom Boy, which was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award and won a SALA. She may be having cold feet about revealing her next big thing, which is okay – what writer doesn’t have the occasional doubts? But, even if she decides not to write about her next big thing right now, her blog, 1 of 6 billion, is worth a read, as is her debut novel Bom Boy.