An Interview with South African Novelist Deon Meyer, whose latest book Cobra will be released on July 31.
What were your real influences; as a person and writer?
There have been so many. My late father was a huge influence in every way. He was a wonderful storyteller, and a great human being. My English teacher at high school, the late ms. Valerie de Bruyn, who saw something in my essays.
Tom Ferreira, my news editor at Die Volksblad, Herman Engelbrecht and Jan Myburgh, who taught me the dark arts of advertising copywriting, my agent Isobel Dixon, my Afrikaans fiction editor dr. Etienne Bloemhof …. The list is endless.
As far as crime fiction is concerned, Ed McBain and John D. McDonald were perhaps the greatest influences, but methinks we are influenced by everything we read.
What lessons and experiences did you take away from your career as a journalist?
Perhaps the most important lessons were structure in writing, and that the info is out there, and available, if you are willing to ask nicely. The latter has been very handy in doing research.
What do you think about writers doing more than one genre?
It is risky, because it takes a long time to build a brand as an author, and changing genres can sabotage it. But readers are mostly after great storytelling, so the very best can get away with it.
Tell us about your photography; are you a very visual person?
We are a highly visual species, and I don’t think I’m more visual than the next guy or gal. Photography is a hobby, mostly driven by an urge to share the visuals of this beautiful country. The frustration is that I don’t have more time to do it. The same goes for motorcycling …
How do you relax and juggle all the demands?
I relax by motorcycling, reading, or watching movies or great TV series. The only way to juggle the demands is to live a very structured life, and organise everything in great detail. I am a little obsessive in that regard.
What are your writing plans for the next few years?
I hope to produce a screenplay every year, and a novel at least every eighteen months.
What is the process like of working with other language translators?
Lots of Skyping, and e-mail communication at they go through the process. As I can only really read the English translation, so I have to trust the professionalism of the other translators, and be as available as they need me to be.