1. From: Cape Jewish Chronicle
2. From: Books Live
Firstly, congratulations on being the 2016 Short.Sharp.Stories Awards winners! What does this win mean to you?
This prize is wonderfully motivating. Writers frequently scribble away at their projects for years, often with no clear recognition at the end. Even publication may not bring many readers. Ideally you want to get most of your satisfaction from doing the work itself, but an external nudge now and then really helps.
As twice-published writers with Short.Sharp.Stories, what do you feel is the value of the project? And the value of writing short stories?
Short stories immerse you in a new world instantly. Unlike a novel, there can’t be a very long build-up; soon you have to be in the middle of things. Rapid immersion can be shocking and bracing – and after a good short story, you almost always wantmore, but you can’t have it. It’s a teasing art form.
Short.Sharp.Stories in particular helps to dispel the stubborn prejudice that SA literature is worthy and dull. Each year the anthology exhibits a range of themes and styles in SA fiction.
When it comes to DIE LAUGHING, what is your take on humour SA- style?
The incongruity theory of humour says that situations involving the unexpected, odd, unusual or out of place are funny. That’s not always true: when the two of us watched Ghostbusters, we definitely didn’t laugh when that monster came out of the mist in Sigourney Weaver’s fridge. But it can be funny to watch mismatched things rub up against each other, and South Africa provides endless examples.
Read more here.
HN: The NAF Writing competition theme aside (Die Laughing), what inspired you to tell this particular story?
GL: It’s not easy to find the origins of stories, as we work on them for a long time and they change a lot. But we felt drawn to depict a passionate but eccentric teenager and a philosopher whose formal self-presentation and covert activities are at odds. We were hoping for poignancy and humour, and also wanted a character who takes mathematics and Islamic mysticism personally.
HN: Your previous novels (Paradise, When in Broad Daylight I Open my Eyes) seem to be more serious stories. Which writing genre do you find more enjoyable: mystery/ thriller or romantic comedy?
GL: A story or book settles into a style for us after a while, and then we develop it. Paradise was more humorous than the brooding Broad Daylight. Ideally, we like to blend styles, so that the reader is left with a more complex emotional response. Our initial work, The Book of Jacob, was a sort of gothic parenting memoir.
HN: Are the characters (in this latest short story) loosely modelled around yourselves?
GL: Haha! No. We do often draw on tiny bits of ourselves and other people, but this definitely isn’t autobiography! We describe characters who intrigue us and whose interactions might cause sparks. The Book of Jacob, our first book, is autobiographical, but now we like to try to get inside the heads of people who might not be at all like us.
Read more here.
4. From: Amabookabooka
Looking for a pumping soundtrack to get you through a heavy gym session? Here’s an Amabookabooka interview with us in the form of a podcast.
5. From: Paranormalsphere
Your books have a very international flavour, it occurs to me that a reader from anywhere in the world would instantly identify with your characters, and love what they get up to. Why do you think your characters are so real?
Lisa: Thank you. We like our characters to get themselves into tricky situations that don’t always make them happy. Trying to carve out a little patch of satisfaction in hard circumstances seems like a challenge that resonates with many people.
Greg: We know a character is working if we start talking about her like she’s real, as if she’s our friend or enemy or frenemy or whatever.
Read more here.
6. From: The Book Club Blog
How did you decide to write together?
We had a baby. And then we fought all the time. Seriously!
Our first book, The Book of Jacob, was a memoir and we wrote it for cathartic reasons. We also thought that readers might be interested in hearing how one’s life and relationships are radically changed from both a male and a female perspective. Most memoirs about babies are written from the women’s point of view. A few are written by men about their experiences. We wanted both.
After that, it was a short step to fiction. In our fantasy or imaginary world of writing, we never argued – it might sound strange, but it’s true: writing is the one area of our life that is free from any conflict. There’s also something deeply romantic about sharing an imaginary world with your partner.
There are certain places around Cape Town where we know the other one is imagining the same thing. We have a tense scene in When in Broad Daylight I Open my Eyes, a psychological thriller, at Graaff’s pool in Sea Point. Whenever we walk on the promenade, we look at Graaff’s pool and imagine our central character Kristof, an enigmatic and sexually perverse philosopher, diving into the water and swimming out to sea.
Read more here.