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Colleen Higgs

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The interview

For Short Story Day Africa 2013, here’s my take:

Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?

I like to turn back
it’s a compulsion
to look back with longing and regret.

I’ve been a writer since I was eight
but mostly too afraid to admit it

What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).

Most Saturday afternoons she finds herself alone, reading the Weekly Mail from cover to cover, ironing, or listlessly reading a novel on her unmade bed as though her imagination stretches no further than reading.

Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

My eyes die of hunger
as I make up my life
look for forgiveness, dream onward

my face is sour, her face is hungry
for a cup of tea, for enlightenment
I’d choke her, make a stew of her carcass if I could

she has no name, she hurts all over
her teeth bleed, her memory hurts like logic
her life hurts like liquor, like broken dinner plate

If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?

How I miss your arm
and red fly music.

Here dust tastes like a man
who appears unexpectedly in the distance.


Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?

blue Boadicea riding a chariot
naked into battle
heroic and foolish

Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?

Whisper your name to me
I’ll tell you mine in return
get drunk with me
and let’s feel no remorse

If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?

being happy is not a thread or a quilt or a road
it’s like bees buzzing on a hot afternoon
separately, then disappearing

Our adult competition theme if Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?

It’s easier to travel by foot.
People take time to greet each other.
The only food is mealie meal and vegetables.
It’s a poor country.

What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?

Will you love me forever?
Will I love you beyond your death?
Will you die before me?

If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?

I’d like to polish the words of your poems with beeswax,
hold them close to my nose, sniff them like fresh washing, like an early peach.

If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?

Women of all shapes and sizes and races have bruises on their faces. Once or twice I’ve wanted to say something, but what? I see you?


What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Lying isn’t always bad, but mostly it isn’t good
for the digestion, it’s like white sugar
or mixing your drinks


If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?

My mother is slowly forgetting her life
Who she is and what holds her together.
She forgets more each day
as though forgetting were a job.

What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?

The extra wors with the Sunrise breakfast – vocabulary of intimacy?

You always remember too much of what doesn’t really matter to anyone but you.

What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?

The past was too bright, too hot, too white
What’s left over, left behind
is a long piece of string


Have you ever written naked?

You asked me if we’d closed the gate.
I would remember if I had closed it, the memory would be in my body
the metal cold on my hands, the heaviness of the gate.

Does writing sex scenes make you blush?

Your body is heavy. I ache and long to go to sleep. That is how it is between us.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

The room is full of moths, beautiful velvety ones.

If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?

Sometimes we sit on the couch and watch the lava lamp.
It’s not like watching TV

What do you consider your best piece of work to date?

I vow to do it better
not to hesitate to bring a child downstream
like gold floating in
a bowl
or a cup

What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?

sticking all the bits together, painstakingly gluing each piece in the dark.

As a poet, many of the questions weren’t relevant, so I decided to answer with lines from my poems and a couple from short stories.

Halfborn Woman by modjajibooks

Lava Lamp Poems
Looking for Trouble

Book details

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    June 17th, 2013 @11:17 #
     
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    I LOVE this. *goes looking for Colleen's book of poems*

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  • <a href="http://tiahbeautement.typepad.com/quotidian/" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    tiah
    June 17th, 2013 @12:11 #
     
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    Very creative way to tackle the questions.

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