Malla Duncan is a born and bred Capetonian - which means she gets to live and work in one
of the world's most beautiful cities! She has a degree in Psychology and Communications from the
University of South Africa, a qualification in Business Management from IMM, and Counselling One
from SA College of Applied Psychology. She has spent the bulk of her career in copywriting, with
the last 5 years as Senior Creative Copywriter and Account Manager. Writing has been her main
interest since aged 7 - and she has had several short stories published both locally and internationally,
and has won 2 prizes for her writing - with one story selected for an anthology of South African writing.
She now writes women's suspense thrillers, children's fantasy and books for African children.
Well, that's the standard obligatory bio done! Personally, I'd rather talk about writing and books and the process
of writing which has been more like an obsession than a mere interest. I read once that writing is a compulsion
that shows itself at a very young age. Once bitten with this strange desire, it never leaves you. The particular thing
about this bug, is that every writer knows it's there - whether you write or not, you will be aware of a gnawing desire
to achieve something but you're not quite sure what. That is the writing bug. Some people come to it later than others -
but when they do, a lot of things begin to make sense for them.
Mine began with poetry. You see, the fact that I could control something through the arrangement of words was a
powerful insight at 7. I moved on to short stories as I grew into my teens - a format that I love and still feel is one of the
best and most effective mediums for a writer. Writing a novel is the long-haul - it's when the hobby, the interest,
becomes something else, grows into an overwhelming urge to set goals, find characters and bring forth their stories
in the most readable way possible. But achieving a credible, competent novel is probably one of the hardest jobs
you can tackle.
Prepare yourself for hours of planning and confusion to begin with. And much frustration. Some writers set out their
whole story before writing and then just follow it (which to me is rather like preparing your way through a maze with
a thread of cotton before exploring it). That doesn't work for me - I'm a pantser writer - I write by the seat of my pants -
I let the characters take me down all sorts of unexpected paths and the journeys are always intriguing even if sometimes
they just don't work. But more often than not, they do. And therein lies the awesome mystery of writing.
My greatest desire as a writer, though, has always been to find a London agent. I have not as yet achieved
that goal but will continue to pursue it for years to come - although I know it is often the luck of the draw:
time, individual, fashions, economics, distance, genre - sometimes just the state of someone's desk - all play a part.
The reality is that publishers, despite the Net, are still inundated with writers looking for full representation in
professional hands. I don't see self-publishing as a threat to traditional publishing now that the industry
has jumped on the bandwagon and learnt to use ebooks to innovative effect for their stables of writers.
Why do I write what I write? And what exactly do I mean by women's thrillers? I like books with pace and tension -
ones you just can't put down. So naturally, I write what I like. I don't care for detective novels (the formula is always the same)
and I don't have the skills to write good romance. I like books with ordinary women who find themselves solving a murder.
I write whodunits from a different perspective - from a woman's perspective, layered with her emotions and her point
of view - and every book is different because of this. My characters are ordinary people with faults and flaws like
anybody else; they're realistic and identifiable - large Nancy Drew's maybe - but why not?
I write for African children because - put plainly - very few people do. Certainly there's a lack of African writers
focusing on children. There's an entire continent out there with children needing books about their own
environments and experiences. And yes, books in English would be most helpful - but they don't need Harry Potter.
Would love to meet you - whether you're a writer, wannabe writer or reader - so find me on Facebook or on
Twitter at @MallaDuncan - and let's get chatting!