I am very pleased to have P. Zoro joining us. In the short history of Nothing Any Good, we have had the privilege of interviewing wonderful authors from the UK, Texas, and Australia. Now we can Africa to our list.
P. is the author of The Sleeping Pool and Shadows, Darkness and Light. She is our first African author interviewed at Nothing Any Good and she hails from wonderful Zimbabwe.
The lovely Ms. Zoro once told me that my book (Pieces Like Pottery) would have been something she would have written if she were on this side of the world, and Shadows, Darkness and Light would have been something I had written if I were on her side of the world. I found this to be such a beautiful sentiment.
Thank you so much Dan. I feel honoured.
Since I have Engineering and Law degrees, I have to ask: How in the world is someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Business Studies writing such beautiful literature?
Aah. You’re too kind. If I had the opportunity I would have done something in Creative Writing or filming. But back then when we were choosing careers, and I think even up to today, in our country one couldn’t really think of writing as a career. It was something that you did as a hobby. I started writing poems and plays at a tender age and never stopped. At some point I even won the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition, then I forgot all about it to concentrate on my ‘acceptable’ career. But there comes a point in life when the real you cannot be kept in prison anymore and you just have to be yourself. Writing is something I love to do. During the day I run a family owned ICT business. So it is a workable compromise.
I suspect that many of my readers have not read many (any?) African authors. Help us understand what the climate for writing is like for you in Zimbabwe. Is there a large writer community? Do you find a lot of author resources available to you in your local communities?
I have had limited opportunities to meet other local writers but I intend to join the local Writers’ Association and remedy that. However, I meet writers from all over the world through social media, writing groups and Goodreads and have made some lifetime friendships with people I would never have known.
There is support by some international organisations for literature and other forms of art. However there is a huge piracy conspiracy by street vendors that make publishing in print a mockery. One remains a writer for the love of writing.
We have learnt to open up to the world and interact with the global writing community so that we take our writing to another level. You will find Zimbabweans winning international awards, writing on online journals and taking advantage of self-publishing.
Most of what I have learnt about writing, marketing , social media and social media has done on the web.
“There is a huge piracy conspiracy by street vendors [in Africa] that make publishing in print a mockery. One remains a writer for the love of writing.”
You say that writing is not considered a career there locally. Do people in your community or the larger country look down on writers? Is it something that is shunned?
You talk a lot about the “mystical world” we live in. What do you mean when you refer to this?
Africa inspires a lot of spiritual mystery, fascination and awe. One cannot help but be mesmerised by its wildness, its wonderful people of diverse cultures and languages and the natural wonders all around us. It is enough inspiration for a writer to put pen to paper and attempt to capture some of this forever before is disappears like a mist. I have no doubt a visit to Zimbabwe and a tour of some of our famous tourist destinations would do wonders to any author with a writer’s block.
Our mystical world is just inspirational. It begs for you to tell a story about it. This has inspired the Destination Series of which The Sleeping Pool is the first book. The Sleeping Pool II will be out in May. The third called The Blinking Eye will be out by the end of the year. It is set in Mauritania. Then I will go to the next African country until there is a book on the series for every African country.
“I have no doubt a visit to Zimbabwe and a tour of some of our famous tourist destinations would do wonders to any author with a writer’s block.”
In your stories you tend to focus on female protagonists. I tend to think that we have far too few female authors and just as few female protagonists. Where do you think the state of female authors and heroines is right now?
From my part of the world, female authors have their share of international success. Talk of Tsitsi Dangarembga, NoViolet Bulawayo, Alexandra Fuller, Yvonne Vera, Petinah Gappah, Catherine Buckle, Lauren Liebenberg, J. Nozipo Maraire, Elinor Sisulu and many more who are linked to Zimbabwe one way or the other. But their number is far too limited.
There is a general tendency to feature men as protagonists in books but the rise of the strong female character is unstoppable. Female authors and heroines are making progress towards acceptance and recognition, although the female author’s acceptance started off earlier than the female protagonist. The latter will eventually catch up.
This still strikes me as odd in the current environment of indie publishing, though, particularly because women purchase 60%–65% of all books. Why do you think this is? Is it just another ramification of patriarchal society?
I think to an extent that might be true. Society has imprinted it on our minds the hero must be a man. In a romantic setting he has to be a billionaire, drive a limo and be ruthless. In an action and adventure he has to be a clever survivor. In a war film he is the soldier at the battle front. But like I said the woman is being recognised for her part that has been ignored but is increasingly being recognised for what it is – an immense contribution to the existence of humanity. Be it in the home, taking care of the sick, managing the family’s finances and so forth. There is a hero in every women who deserves to be sung abut and celebrated as such.
Speaking of patriarchal society, a lot of your writing focuses on the pain women endure, often times at the hands of, or due to the ignorance of, men. One reviewer even commented that he thought you were writing anti-male propaganda pieces. How have you found your stories to be received? Do you find a lot of males insulted by your stories?
Shadows, Darkness and Light is a collection with women’s daily emotional struggles as the main theme. I might do a collection with a different theme altogether one day. But as it is, this collection focuses on women in different circumstances. The stories are as close to real life as one can get in fiction. They have happened and are still happening to some woman in this country. My reviewer enjoyed the stories but wished I could include more stories that showed women’s problems as coming from another source besides men. I am currently writing three more stories that will eventually be added to that collection and I have taken into consideration his wishes in two of them. But he did enjoy my stories and I am grateful for a happy reader.
The book has been well received by both sexes and the reviews are quite encouraging.
I admire you and I am grateful that you have shared some of your life experiences with us in the form of fictional narratives.
Thank you Dan. I hope everyone who reads the stories goes through the emotional journey with my protagonists and understands them better. There is a hero in every woman and this is just her time to shine.
Thank you for your time, P.! It has been a pleasure. If you have a question for P., put it in the comments section below.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
Author of The Destination Series, an ambitious project aiming to have one book on every African country. The first book is the series, The Sleeping Pool, is set in Zimbabwe. Her short story collection Shadows, Darkness and Light is an expository of the heroic emotional struggles faced by women in Africa. The first story in the collection titled Shadows In The Darkness will appear in the acclaimed Kalahari Review of South Africa this February.
She is currently finishing the second book in the series The Sleeping Pool II and working on The Blinking Eye, the third book in the series set in Mauritania. Besides writing and reading, not necessarily in that order, she loves cooking and baking. She lives in Zimbabwe with her husband Simbarashe and their five sons.
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