Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Meet the Author: Shaida Kazie Ali
What was the challenge in writing Lessons in Husbandry?I loved writing the first draft but the challenge was learning to trust the story and let go of the preconceived ideas I had about how the plot should develop.
Are you satisfied with the end product? Yes. Probably. I doubt that I'll ever be pleased with a final draft. If there wasn't a publishing deadline, I'll write revisions forever.
What drove you to write the book and what do you aim to achieve with it?A vignette near the end of the novel kept materialising in my mind and it intrigued me because I didn't know how the two characters in the scene had arrived at that point. I wrote back to the beginning of the book to unearth the background to the story but I found the writing process was one that was filled with surprises.
Of course there were other motivations for writing this particular novel. After my first book, Not a Fairytale, was published I was irritated by all the people who asked if it was a memoir, so I thought if I wrote this specific kind of fictional memoir, I wouldn't be asked that question again.
However, I also wanted to demonstrate appreciation toward my writing teacher, Anne Schuster, and the other women in the writing classes that I've attended under Anne's guidance. The |novel "speaks" to Anne's book, Foolish Delusions, which is also a fictional memoir.
Mostly I was inspired by my |curiosity around triangular relationships and I don't mean clichéd love triangles. My characters are connected to each other by several triangular links: there's the mysterious triangle Malak and Amal form with their dead great-granny; the tenuous triangle between Malak and her parents |after Amal's vanishing; the peculiar triangle between Precious, Malak and Taj; the gloomy triangle between Malak, Taj and her missing sister Amal; and then of course the more obvious marriage triangle in which Malak finds herself, without much malice aforethought.
What impact did the writing of Lessons in Husbandry have on you and what insights did it give you?I was addicted to the process of writing the first draft and resented intrusions from the real world, except in the form of reading other people's books. I found the story meandering in a direction that I hadn't anticipated and at first it was difficult coming to terms with several unforeseen developments because it felt like the novel had become organic and was exerting its own will.
What are you working on?
My publisher, the conscientious Fourie Botha, has sworn me to secrecy, so I can't tell you.
Okay, half truths aside, I'm supposed to be completing my third novel but I seem to be sidetracked by other writing projects, new hobbies (purely for research purposes, of course).