“Three years later, people still love the Hlomu books” - Dudu Busani-Dube

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Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

What inspired the book series?

I don’t think anything inspires creativity for me. I just wanted to write a story about black people. It’s a story about love, family and it’s a girl-meets-boy story and the struggles they go through. That was Hlomu. The other two books were inspired by Hlomu.

How did you come to create the characters?

Nobody in the book exists, they’re all inspired by ordinary people I’ve met and interacted with in my life. We’ve all come across people like them.

Did you feel there was a need for books like the Hlomu series?

I saw the gap once my books became successful. When I became aware that there were just few books available on South African people, our food, our names, our places and our stories is when I appreciated why people can relate. My aim with the book was just to have simple writing; I know how to write formally for newspaper. I decided simple writing so everyone could read them. I’m a storyteller – I’d rather someone talk to me about the characters in my books than my style of writing. I wanted it to appeal to someone on a social grant, to someone in an executive office.

What was the writing process like?

I started writing Hlomu  in 2014. I always knew I was going to write a book but I never knew what exactly. I was at home, having a glass of wine and decided why not just start writing the book now. The great thing about writing fiction is you don’t know where the story is going. When I was writing Hlomu  I became her – you internalise the character and you let her lead you. It took about 6 months to complete writing the book because I was developing all the characters as I went along. But when I wrote Zandile and Naledi I had known who the people were, so they were quicker than Hlomu. All three books were published within a year – it’s a series so I was just continuing the story from different people’s perspectives.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I won’t lie and say publishing houses rejected my script. I didn’t even approach them.  I wasn’t sure they were going to understand the stories I was trying to tell. I didn’t want to find myself having to compromise and agree to things I didn’t want to. The fun ends when I put the last full stop. I started by blogging about Hlomu and then decide to print and publish after the positive response. But I am open to someone approaching me if they do speak the same language as me.

How has the journey of self-publishing been like?

It hasn’t been easy. I had to decide on the grade of paper, get designers to do the covers and get editors, all of which doesn’t come cheap. I first published 50 copies, which I sold from the boot of my car. Then I printed as per order. Eventually, the love grew and people wanted the books and I couldn’t meet the countrywide demand, which is why I approached Exclusive Books who turned me down twice then I gave up. They eventually approached me last year and I was surprised because they didn’t do self-published authors but the relationship has been great.

How do you feel with all the support you’ve been getting?

I am truly grateful and happy that three years later, people still love the books, and even more people are discovering the series. I love how my followers created a group on Facebook and we communicate about events they organise so we can meet each other.   

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