‘I have always loved the idea of creating your own world’– Phumlani Pikoli


Why did you start writing?

I love telling stories. I have always loved the idea of creating your own world when I was a kid. I watched lots of TV and when we started reading in class I just loved it. Even listening to your grandmother telling stories and urban legends was amazing.

You took about the clinic a lot and your fight with depression, why share that?

I didn’t want the gimmick of ‘another tortured artist’ but it was what I was going through. I had given a lot away through social media. While in the clinic I posted about what I’m dealing with.  Once I was done with the book I shared that I had a book coming out, then most of my interviews became about my depression. Many people found the origin of the story more interesting than reading the actual content. I was bleak, but I realised that people are interested in people more than as artists.

How long did it take you to put together the book?

I had three stories that I had written before I went to the clinic, but I spent three weeks in the clinic and I finished most of the stories there. Then when I got out I found out how much it costs to publish a book but it took about five weeks to write the stories, get the images, and get them printed.

Why did you feel the need to write an introductory essay in your book?

My publisher suggested it because it is a new chapter for the book since it had a whole new life when I self-published. People will find it interesting to find out where it comes from and how it all started.

Why decide to go with a publisher after self-publishing?

I approached two publishers and one said no because it was already out, and Pan Macmillan had a really great attitude and had wanted to take it on and explore. I think there was a real big concern as a first time author and because I had a collection of short stories, which doesn’t happen often. I also didn’t want to wait on people and their response so once I found out how cheap it was, I decided to go for it. Also the fact I had amazing people surrounding me who were willing to go on the journey with me, so I printed 100 copies and went the self-publishing route.

Were you surprised at the interest the book got?

I was really surprised. I tweeted once I was done in the clinic and a lot of people responded and I didn’t even know that a lot of people were following my writing. I saw my dream realised because I hadn’t thought I’d publish my own book but the response I got was really wild.

Race is a subject and theme in most of your stories, why?

I think race is big for most black people; it’s hard to go through a day and not realising that you are black. So I think race will come up naturally in any story written by a black person. I wanted to contextualise the stories because we are living in interesting times.

Images: Supplied

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