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What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I started writing this book in the year 2000, when I was still in South Africa working as an international reporter for the Italian press. I kept writing it and finished it in Australia, where my husband and I moved after our two children were born. I then rewrote it when we moved to Canada and after I completed my PhD in Comparative Literature.
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. I wrote most of it on a small desk in my home studio but also at several public libraries and coffee shops, both in Adelaide and Vancouver.
What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I like taking initial notes with pen and paper, wherever I am. But for the real writing I need to be in front of my laptop. I love writing early in the morning, from 5.00 am onwards. I like having coffee or tea by my side. No music, though – too distracting.
“Koma! Ek sien jou!”
The old Bushman comes up to her with light steps and
Startled by the dream-like apparition, she briefly looks
“Ja, too old to work on a plaas.”
The old man slips the offerings in his knapsack. “Oom, how come our paths have crossed here, in the
In one of my trips to Namibia as a reporter, I had a chance to meet with a Bushman shaman. Regular communication between us was rather complicated: I would ask him a question in English and the ranger who accompanied me there would translate it into Afrikaans, the language that the shaman had learned during his time as a tracker in the South African Defence Forces.
The answer arrived through the same laborious path. Thus, most of the time we shared the silence of the desert. Soon I realized how much the old shaman could “tell me” with his simple gestures and facial expressions. In this passage I tried to recreate that emotional space, that sense of being suspended between reality and some other plane of existence and meaning.
Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I rewrote these pages many times, adding, deleting or changing things, reworking the wording of the dialogues. Please see below photo with an example of one of my multiple marked up rough drafts.
Other works you have published? In English, I have published a creative nonfiction which constitutes the first part of my book Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility (Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, 2015), and Jesus Christ Cyberstar, freely inspired by the 1970 Broadway’s first rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar: in it, I compare certain values of the digital age (at least in its early period) with those of the Christianity of the origins.
Anything you would like to add? Many early readers told me that being highly visual and with a captivating plotline, The Afrikaner could become a great movie. I have now started working on a film script together with Ernest Mathijs, my colleague and Professor of Film Studies at UBC. I would like to find a way to involve my readers in this process of transforming a novel into a script.
For example, since I will have to cut a lot to reduce a 280-page story into a 120-page script, I would be curious to see which characters and scenes they would keep and which ones they would delete and then compare the results with what Ernest and I have come up with. I am also working on an audiobook version of The Afrikaner with Los Angeles-based, South African actor Dennis Kleinman ().
In her career as an international reporter, literary translator and academic researcher, Arianna Dagnino has lived in many countries, including a five-year stint in South Africa.
The author of several books on the impact of global mobility, science and new technologies, she holds a PhD from the University of South Australia and currently teaches at the University of British Columbia.