Author: Alex van Tonder
Alex van Tonder was promoting her debut novel, This One Time. Alex works full time in advertising and she has been a successful blogger. She used her experiences to create a social media thriller, with reality TV and advertising playing their part in a terrifying game.
When she joined us for dinner, she was funny and self-deprecating. The guests enjoyed her answers, the incredible dinner and each other's company.
The Writers Write Interview
Date of Birth: 8 July 1983
Date of Interview: 21 May 2015
Place: Winehouse, Ten Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
The Book: This One Time
- Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
I would go for a conflicted hero - someone like Victor Frankenstein. He had the best intentions but his creation still turns on him. I love characters who are not portrayed as totally good or totally bad.
- What is your most treasured possession?
A rose gold charm bracelet that belonged to my gran. She was given a charm by my mom and my uncles and aunts for her birthdays.
- Which living person do you most dislike?
Robert Mugabe is a human rights nightmare. What he's done is heartbreaking. He has taken all the power and wealth for himself.
- What is your greatest fear?
Reaching the end of my life and not having done everything I wanted to do.
- Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
I guess I consider my relationship with creativity to be a relationship that has outlasted everything else. It is a conflicted one that I always come back to.
- What is your greatest regret?
I have quite a lot. You learn from every regret. I am more on the introverted side of life and I tend to say no more often than yes and I regret this. I act out of fear in certain situations. When I was 25 I was offered a job travelling around the world 'evangelising' online travel, but I had just been appointed to an important position in an advertising company, and I feel that I had to keep my word.
- If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
One of the female characters in Isabel Allende's novels. They are all a bit crazy, brave, and fearless about their emotional needs.
- Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
Catch 22 settles my mind. It's the right balance of a good story and a sense of humour. I go back to it once a year, read a few pages and put it down.
- What is your favourite journey?
I am a big runner. One of my favourite runs a coastal one around the Base of Lion's Head. It takes you around the whole of Cape Town. It's a trail run.
- What is your favourite quotation?
It changes a lot. It depends on what you're doing in your life. 'We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.' ~Mike Carey. It resonates with social media. The other is Nietsche's 'Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.'
- Dogs or Cats?
Which do you prefer? Cats. His name is Moolie.
- What do you most value in a friend?
When you connect with someone and it's real. A sense of honesty. A willingness for people to be honest with themselves and that reflects in their character. People have to be themselves.
- What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The ability to think for yourself. The courage to be yourself. A lot of women are still really scared to be who they are. I love Lena Dunham and what she's done for women. She's brave.
- Which book that youve written is your favourite?
This One Time. This is my real writing voice. It's the kind of story I wan to write.
- What are your favourite names?
Ariella Oberon - from A Midsummer Night's Dream
- What do you do as a hobby?
Olympic weight lifting, painting, running, and I write poetry.
- Which are your three favourite books?
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
- Perfume by Patrick Süskind
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
I am inspired by the Internet and social media and the effect it has on us.
- What is your Writing Routine?
Write. Work. Run. Write. I get up at 5:30am, get to work, write for about two hours. Then I work, go home, go for a run, and write again.
- What are your Top Writing Tips?
- Write the book you want to read and the one your friends want to read. Because then even if it's not published, it's still rewarding for you.
- Set yourself a goal of writing and finishing a bad first draft. That's not intimidating. Once you have that you can make it better.
- Learn the rules before you break them.You need to be writing while you're learning the rules. It's difficult to understand them if you haven't written.
- Stay physically fit. I have a day job and it helps me with my mental endurance.
- I start with a plot. I am advertising trained. Everything needs to have a point. Once this has been done and the boundaries have been set, I have to find the characters who will serve the plot. The characters have to be a certain way to do this and I have to find out from them why they are there and how they got there.
- Writing every day is important. Time passes anyway. If you do 500 words every day, you will inevitably have a book.
Follow this link for more photographs from This One Time - A Literary Dinner
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Interviewer: Amanda Patterson
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Amanda is the founder of Writers Write.
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