interview by Joe Vaz

From Issue 12 (August 2011)

Where is home?

Home is Harare, Zimbabwe, but at present I’m living in Jhb, South Africa.

Where was Devil’s Advocate previously published and when?

StoryTime#11, October 2008.

What inspired this story?

Mainly, persistent human fallacies that good and evil are forces external to human nature. So an equally absurd idea occurred to me that if this was indeed the case, then what would happen if one of these forces could be captured and put on trial?

Where did your characters come from?

Who knows really? I suspect most of my characters tend to be amalgams composed from a multitude of sources (experiential and not, conscious and subconscious) with plenty of added imagination, which altogether forms them into unique beings. However, perhaps in this particular case, they predominately crawled out from underneath rocks kicked over in a bleak corner of my mind.

The introductory letter only really makes sense once you get to the end. How did you go about structuring the story?

I had the initial story concept bouncing around for awhile and I wanted to experiment with a story written in a severely limited format. So the concept was married to a single short letter and accompanying incomplete court transcriptions. This did not allow for the usual story devices, so it was an interesting challenge that worked out quite well in retrospect I think.

Is this story typical of your work, if not what do you normally write?

I don’t know if I can call any of my stories typical. They all start with a concept(s), but usually in the writing develop lives of their own that I neither plan for, nor foresee outcomes; and that’s how I like it — early on I found intimately planned stories, characters, plots, etc. terribly boring to write. So generally I don’t like to restrict myself to any one genre, format, style, etc. but rather let my imagination roam free and see what happens in the writing crucible. In this way I am fully engaged when writing, and when I am so may be the reader.

Tell us a little about StoryTime and African Roar?

I formed the StoryTime online magazine in 2007, when I decided to start writing seriously and discovered how relatively few African platforms for fiction (in all genres) there were. The annual African Roar anthology came three years later, when StoryTime had enough published work annually to form a pool that the editors (Emmanuel Sigauke and I) could select from and further workshop with the writers to create an anthology.

How has editing other people’s work influenced you as a writer?

My first editor in 2008 (Vianne Venter of SW: Earth Rise, Devil’s Advocates), aptly showed me how much more there was to writing and how indispensable and rare, a good editor (one who is your harshest critic, well-versed in the craft, provides valuable outside perspective, and yet does not drown your writing voice) is to all writers. So, enthused by Vianne, I decided to try editing for a number of reasons, but one of them was to improve my own writing and it has. When you do edit many works on a continuous basis you become finely attuned to all the usual (and unusual) boons and pitfalls of the writing craft. You can’t buy that kind of condensed writing experience, or rather you could but it would take years and perhaps many (expensive) writing courses/degrees/etc., and I’ve always been a fan of autodidactic learning.

Mr. Goop sounds intriguing, what is it about?

Mr. Goop is a speculative-fiction YA book (Vivlia, 2010). Set in Harare, Zimbabwe, in a post-apocalyptic climate change future. It touches on many issues from genetically modified humanoid life-forms to climate change consequences; all from the perspective of a young boy in how he deals with, and what he thinks about, the world he is living in.

Are you working on anything right now?

I’m always working on something; I have a few novels that are progressing nicely, and I am building a collection of short stories.

Where might we be able to read more of your work?

Something Wicked, StoryTime, African Writing Magazine, Munyori Literary Journal, Sentinel Literary Quarterly,, Wordsetc, African Roar. Forthcoming: The Apex Book of World SF V2, African Roar 2011, Outcasts (African/Asian anthology).


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Joe Vaz

Joe Vaz is the founder and editor of Something Wicked, which occasionally affords him the honour and good fortune to hang out with really cool people.
In his other life he is a film and television actor who gets small parts in big movies, most recently in Dredd 3D, due to be released in September 2012.

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