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Andie Miller

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

21 questions for Short Story Day Africa

On 21 June we celebrate Short Story Day Africa, and in its honour we answer 21 questions.


1. Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?

I only write when I have something burning to say. But when I’m feeling particularly preoccupied with something, there is nothing better to me than writing about it. Sitting down is hard, but when my bum is firmly planted on the chair and things start falling into place, I do love it.


2. What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).

Killing for Profit, by Julian Rademeyer. It’s a gruesome piece of investigative journalism about rhino poaching, but extremely well-written and researched, so it’s pulling me along. The supply side I understand, but I’m trying to understand the demand, so I’m hoping it starts to shed some light on that.


3. Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

No, I’m very glad to be able to say, since I write mostly non-fiction.


4. If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?

I was at a book launch the other day of a new book by explorer Patricia Glyn. She appears in my book Slow Motion, a collection of stories about walking, where she talks about her walk from Durban to Vic Falls in the footsteps of her great-great-grand uncle. And I was reminded again of what a great raconteur she is, and thought what a lovely dinner guest she would make.


5. Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?

I suppose I would have to say my muggers. But they did prompt me to think about others’ experiences of walking and produce a book about it, so – apart from the contents of my handbag, and my nerve for a while – all was not lost.


6. Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?

Alas, I fall asleep when drunk. The real question is – was Hemingway drunk or sober when he dispensed this advice?


7. If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?

Not advisable when you’re attempting to write non-fiction.


8. Our adult competition theme is Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?

I think way back I was told not to eat while walking, and there seems to be an absence of food in my book. There is some sex, though.


9. What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?

Where did you park?


10. If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?

Matthew, Mark, Luke or John – just for a month or so – I’m sure you had to be there.


11. If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?

Comments on other people’s blogs. They seem to hang around for longer than our books.


12. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

I got an artist friend to change my date of birth on my passport, so I could fly under-25 when I was 27. It was a long time ago. I have a new passport now.


13. If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?

I think at the time I hoped she’d fall on her face while out walking, but I got over it.


14. What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?

It probably involves a bus.


15. What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?

For several years’ work, most of us earn from our creative writing enough to support ourselves for a few weeks.


16. Have you ever written naked?

It sometimes feels like it.


17. Does writing sex scenes make you blush?

At the moment, editing others’ sex scenes is making me blush.


18. Who would play you in the film of your life?



19. If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?

Write more fiction.


20. What do you consider your best piece of work to date?

Slow Motion: stories about walking.


21. What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?

I will probably be at home, editing someone else’s novel, smiling about the days getting longer.


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