Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and eighty-sixth, is of African-American novelist Temba Magorimbo. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Temba Magorimbo was born in August 1966 in the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in Gwelo (then) now Gweru. His father was a British South Africa Police (BSAP) officer from 1960 to 1977 while his mother was a housewife. He grew up circulating Gwelo’s police camps like Mkoba, Mutapa, Old Camp and Monomutapa as the family moved residences until he started school in 1973 at Bumburwi Primary in Mkoba for a term. The family moved to Senga from 2nd term 1973 until he concluded his primary education in 1979. He did his high school briefly (two weeks) at Nashville High in Gweru before moving to Ascot in 1980 until 1983. He is currently married to Itayi with whom they have two daughters. He is a government bursar since 1989.
Now a satirical look at Temba’s reading culture…
Picture a small wide-eyed boy getting into the high school library in 1980. The uniform should have been cotton grey shorts and shirts with a navy blue tie / jersey. The girls wore pleated navy blue skirts and white blouses that were washed every day. The shoes looked like brown beef cattle on the range. Beards and long hair were forbidden. He was trying to find if he had any hair under my chin. He never shaved during his four years at high school. He bathed instead. There were four classes in form 1 with the 1-D comprised of boys only. That meant the boys therein had the advantage of being naughty. They could shed real tears when the teachers beat them for their pranks. He and his class couldn’t cry, watched by the girls, and could you, if you were a small boy in 1980? That was being sissy. There were no skin lightening creams / pills or plastic surgery then. They remained black or chocolate or coffee / ebony brown in complexion. They kept their ugliness / deformities then, for generations to come. They didn’t change their names. Temba was never called James Brown. Temba could have eaten live coals just to please the girls. He didn’t have a girlfriend. He looked like a clone made of Jeleele Whyte and Harry Porter.
The library was the theatre of dreams.
It was the hall of fame. Silence! Senior prefects manned it with a teacher nearby like secret service. Temba had no inkling of who was who among the authors but his peers knew more than love notes and forbidden sex secrets. He followed them. Temba never liked the D-I-Y magazines. The last time he had tried woodcraft he had ended with a limp. Temba delved into Franklin W. Dixon [the Hardy Boys]. Oh boy, he fought for every title in the series. His height meant he got second hand air, breathed out by others. His lankiness stopped him from bullying the tall boys. He hid under the fact of being a devout Christian. Besides, they could easily keep him away from the shelf he wanted because there was no ladder around. He tried Alfred Hitchcock mysteries. When they started athletics training, he found solace in the library. They never thought of checking for deserters there. The last time had had tried long distance running, he had ended up coming to the school gates after they had been securely locked for the night.
The girls liked him [that is what he says. He doesn’t give names, says their husbands or families may sue for defamation]. They [the girls] advised him to try Carolyn Keene [Nancy Drew]. The boys laughed at him for reading that. He knew they and him read Mills & Boon when they were off school premises. The History master talked about Douglas Bader, a British World War 2 air force hero. He could run away from the Germans leaving his legs behind. Temba researched. He discovered books by Captain W. E. Jones [Bigglesworth] about a pilot of the air force who was an investigator. He read the entire series while the bigger boys ran out of new Hardy Boys. They talked about Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Links and others. The boys talked of books by Nick Carter and James Hardley Chase. These had sex content. Being caught with one on at school resulted in one holding a wooden rail by stretching far out. The problem was there was a bench like plank under one’s stomach. A cane worked on the rump. Temba read Nick Carter and James Hardley Chase away from school, borrowed from those that owed him favours, believe it, they were few and far in between. His mom complained about the models on the book jackets. He put James Hardley Chase’s crime filled thrillers inside school texts. If engineers could solve problems, why can’t teenage readers?
Scope from South Africa was a forbidden magazine. Not because it supported apartheid, it had models without breast plates. He learnt of Ed McBain from Scope. His crime stories like Ax paid dividends. He read Luis L’Armour starting with The Iron Marshall until he ran out of steam or stock. He also found the girls reading Barbara Stressland & Danielle Steele. He liked to argue and talk a lot so he read both. He somehow fell in with Rosemary Roger’s Sweet Savage Romance which had sex boys wanted to hear. Did he mention it was practically impossible to find Wilbur Smith in the library? His first one by him was Shout At The Devil. He can’t remember the author but he read Diamonds In The Dirt too. For posterity, he also read Colin Seymour, Jack London’s White Fang was good so were Jack Higgins’s The Eagle Has Landed. Was he serious about kidnapping Churchill in fiction?
His English master liked him.
He introduced him to C. S. Forster who wrote British English full of teas, lawns and pretty ladies with hats blushing at the first kiss. In those days publishers for teens included Granada. Bigger boys looked for Pan Books or Hodder & Stoughton. They made boys and girls to read Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and Macbeth in literature including Wordsworth and Dylan Thomas. He Thor Heyerdahl [Kontiki] which was rejected by so many publishers one wonders why it became a best seller. He liked read Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge [make sure he doesn’t sell his own wife, that is if he has one at all], Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d’Urberville. He wanted to be a soldier so he read war stories like The Forgotten Battalion about the war against the Japanese. Then there was Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice which was hard to understand. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens was good. Then there was Enid Blyton and the Famous Five much better than reading about Noody in primary school. Living in an area without electrical power kept him from watching Dallas but he did see Mr. T in the A-team years later. Gone With The Wind wasn’t in the library but Coleen McCullough [Thorn Birds] he read in later years. How does a celibate priest make married women pregnant? A Girl Called Tamiko he read after school. The Japanese don’t just make Toyota and sushi. He read Sho’gun. In later years he found and read Chickenhawk by Robert Mason, a rendition of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a Huey helicopter pilot. No wonder the kids shitted in the flying machines. After school he turned to writing. Oh bookness!
And now from the author himself…
How did your life as a writer begin?
I started writing when I was less than twelve years old. In those days, in Rhodesia there was a radio program by Hilton Mambo that featured a Doctor Bobo who was a villain and Jason Zonk and his friends who were law abiding citizens. I tried copying them by creating my own villain and law abiding citizens stories. The stories (then) had no endings [maybe they were meant to be series]. Then I read Franklin W. Dickson [the Hardy Boys] and Caroline Keene [Nancy Drew]. I tried creating American based characters with a fictitious city. That was between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.
What makes you feel inspired to write?
I like to be creative. I believe creative fiction writing is the only trade where one can be what they research to be. One can be a doctor, a mistress, a lecturer albeit in fiction. When I read an ordinary web post I feel I need to expand on it.
How did you come with the idea for your current story?
Which one of my stories? Okay, let’s pick one, Lake Of My Heart, it is a general romance novel. It started as a short story looking at the possibility of divorce for a middle-aged couple which later expanded into a fully-fledged fiction piece. I fell in love with the characters such that I was unable to separate them forever.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I plan maybe a single page, go back and create what looks like a short story. I outline. Then I create a longer piece allocating what happens in which chapter before embarking onto the full story. At times, I leave the entire outline to create a new issue. I can’t remember where in any of my stories I just dived in without planning. My processes evolved from writing in long hand to typing using a Hermes Baby typewriter thence to a word processing computer.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
The customary marriage scene because that is our culture and the white wedding because that is western culture imported into Zimbabwe. The outdoor and tent scenes are reminiscent of current wedding trends in Zimbabwe. All these scenes follow one after another in this story. I like marriages because that is the foundation of families. Take away strong marriages and look at those who are incarcerated, most come from broken homes. Just check the internet for these facts.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I write my ideas even in phone messages before transferring to a computer. That is better than writing in long hand. I also have ideas for novels that refused to germinate for decades! Maybe one day they will come to fruition. Some novels went into thin air, their stories didn’t make the grade when I converted from long hand to word processing on computer. When I have a new project, I balance my writing by working on Excel and creating the number of minimum words per chapter so that not a single chapter has 15, 000-words while another has 1, 750!
What is your usual writing routine?
When I start writing I really get on it like a job. I write up to a minimum of 1500-words a day consistently every day of the week whenever I am available.
Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?
One of the best of all authors I would like to meet are Wilbur Smith who is based in Cape Town, South Africa and has a track record of bestsellers. Besides which, Wilbur Smith is so creative that his creations are legendary. I would also like to meet our Zimbabwean favourites like Shimmer Chinodya and Charles Mungoshi because they created roads where there were none for the indigenous writers like me.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Writing is 10% inspiration, 30% perspiration and the rest is hard marketing. You have to really work the midnight oil on this one. It is more important to market the book than find a publisher first. That is unless you are Barak Obama or Tiger Woods.
What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Morgan Freeman for the tall and lanky father of Trevor. Samuel L. Jackson as father of the bride. Both though will be more of guest artists as they won’t argue much in the ‘film’. I guess Kimberly Elsie could do as a cousin of the bride, Rosetta. Jennifer Hudson would do well as Naomi. As for Trevor, Danny Glover would do well with Lawrence Fishburne as Trevor’s friend Dumisani. I guess that pull the plug on the best African-American actors and actresses of our decade.
How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I watch cricket or English soccer on television if three are current matches. I like travelling noting scenes, roads and odd places. As to being mobile, it requires a good 4 x 4 to see the nice spots within Zimbabwe which I don’t have. I try always to relax when I am free looking at nature and God’s creation.
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I hope and wish to create as many bestsellers as I can write. Above all I would like to go on a holiday in and around Cape Town to blow off steam.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I am (i) humorous, (ii) creative and (iii) honest. There is a note of humour in my books though I am not a comedian. I think to beat the stress, one has to see the fun in hardships. Believe you me, life in Africa is all but fun. You can’t write fiction if you are not creative. Honesty breeds good character references.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
I have three books which are double series making six titles. They will be out in years to come. One deals with a Caucasian woman and her love woes while the rest settle the scores between my fellow African protagonists and their heroes and heroines. In between might chip in new projects, who knows?
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
My web links are written below besides which readers can read free material on www.timbooktu.com, search by my surname or archives.
http://createspace.com/Butterscotch [for example and the rest]
- For All Have Sinned
- If Women Can Weep
- Lake Of My heart
- Let Close On Me
- Off The Eagle’s Claws
- Splash In The Loch
- Tigers Hunt At Night
Thank you, Temba. You can find more about Temba and his writing via…
- Butterscotch: meet me in Alberta (Volume 2): http://www.amazon.com/Butterscotch-meet-me-Alberta-2/dp/1499345232
- If Women Can Weep: then God will be the comforter: http://www.amazon.com/If-Women-Can-Weep-comforter/dp/149934533X
- Lake Of My Heart: where do broken hearts go?: http://www.amazon.com/Lake-My-Heart-broken-hearts/dp/1499345399
- Off The Eagle’s Claws: http://www.amazon.com/Off-Eagles-Claws-Temba-Magorimbo/dp/1499345453
- Splash In The Loch: some guys have all the luck: http://www.amazon.com/Splash-Loch-some-guys-have/dp/1499345488
- Let Close On Me: a Caucasian’s fight for love in black Africa: http://www.amazon.com/Let-Close-Me-Caucasians-Africa/dp/1490513353
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