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Interview with Kopano Matlwa: author of Coconut PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 01:05
Has writing always been a part of your life?

Reading has, writing just kind of followed. 

What do you love most about writing?

You can be whoever you want to be. You can create characters that have all your worst characteristics, who are rude and obnoxious and say and think the things you shouldn’t, and get away with it!

You’re currently at medical school. How do you juggle becoming a doctor with being a writer? How do you fit it all in?

It’s all just an extension of each other, I think. A lot of medicine is about people, human beings, fighting to survive and trying to make or find meaning and all that philosophical stuff. Writing is just a record of all that, I think. 

Was there a seed or a specific incident that got you started writingCoconut?

Ag, yes and no. It was something that I thought a lot about at the time (while I was in high school) but then again I thought about many things in high school (the length of my skirt, boys, my Science homework, boys, matric dance dresses, boys) and I didn’t write about them, so I don’t know. 

Do you have plans for a second novel?

Yes… but don’t tell! 

Does place influence your writing? Do you see yourself as a very Cape Town writer?

Yes, place does influence my writing, but it’s more the change of place, rather than the place itself. No, I don’t see myself as a Cape Town writer, whatever that is! 

Which (if any) author first inspired you to start writing?

Toni Morrison. She’s my hero! 

What was the first thing you wrote that you were proud of?

A short story in grade 6, but my English teacher wrote ugly things all over it in a red pen, sending my heart right into my boots. I didn’t write again for a very long time. 

What are you reading at the moment?

‘All the things we left unsaid’ by Maxine Case. 

If you could switch professions without any repercussions, what would you want to be?

Right now I’m a med student and a writer, I’d like to be a doctor and a writer! 

What surprised you most about writing Coconut?

Everything about Coconut surprised me! I don’t know the first thing about writing and literature and alliteration and all that stuff people get PHDs for, and people didn’t seem to mind – they bought the book, in large amounts, anyway! (Unless they didn’t realize I was a complete amateur, in that case leave this bit out!)

   But on a serious note, the most surprising thing was having my peers study Coconut right here at UCT. When I found that out, I cried. 

Any advice for young aspiring authors?

Just do it. 

What is the meaning of life, according to Kopano Matlwa?

Kopano Matlwa will let you know when she finds out.