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Franschhoek Literary Festival

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Tadjo, Ebersohn, Mhlongo Talk “Who Wants to be an Author?” at the FLF

Karabo Kgoleng and Veronique Tadjo

It was a trip across the Sahara desert that finally helped Veronique Tadjo make the choice between becoming a photographer or a writer. Tadjo, together with Wessel Ebersohn and Niq Mhlongo shared stories on how they became writers at the Who Wants to be an Author panel discussion chaired by Karabo Kgoleng at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

The October KillingsQueen PokouAfter TearsTadjo recounted how she couldn’t take her camera with her, because they didn’t want to attract any danger on their journey. However, she felt she had to record this life changing experience and so Tadjo started writing. “At the end of the journey I had a whole collection of poems.” Her poems were published, but it was only when she won a literary prize that Tadjo really believed it would possible for her to continue writing.

Wessel Ebersohn has a day job, but he continues to make time to write. He considers writing simply as “something I do”. He wrote his first novel when he was eight years old. “It was about a rugby match and it had lots of action, but no character development.” Ebersohn’s eighth novel, The October Killings, has just been published.

When Mhlongo was growing up, there was a rich lawyer and a popular journalist living close to him in Soweto. He wanted to take on one of these professions to also achieve fame and fortune. Because Wits University didn’t have a Journalism course Mhlongo had to do a BA degree and he specialised in African literature.

After unsuccessful postgraduate studies in Law he came to Cape Town, where reading old diary entries about his life in Soweto made him feel less lonely. He started writing to entertain himself and enjoyed it. At last Mhlong had found his true calling.

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