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Children's Literature in Southern Africa

Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan is one of South-Africa's very talented childrens's book authors, illustrators and storytellers! She is probably best known for her Sleepy Hollow series. And, the author says: "Growing up, I have never had a problem believing in the unseen. The tooth fairy? Sure! You got it!" PUKU was delighted when the author agreed to be interviewed in spite of a very busy schedule.

Why did you start writing?

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been crafting stories when it wasn't thinking about something else. I decided I wanted to share these stories with someone else.

Rachel Morgan What is the most difficult part of being a writer for young adults?

Probably reaching my target audience. Teens have many other things to spend their pocket money on, so I'm sure a lot of them are NOT rushing out to buy books all the time! Especially considering the high price of books in South Africa. I think I need to rely more on school libraries in order for teens in South Africa to discover my books. Fortunately, YA fiction has crossover appeal, so there are a lot of adults who read my books (especially in ebook form) who could potentially pass them on to the teens in their lives.

You've probably been asked about what advice you would give to aspiring writers. What advice would you not give to an aspiring author?

Procrastinate. (Those words will write themselves.) Don't read. (That's for other people.) Your first draft is your final draft. (It will be perfect the first time, so no need to revise.) Only write one book. (It will be a bestseller and you'll never need to write anything else.) Sit in the back seat of the vehicle driving your publishing career. (A publisher will FIND YOU and take care of EVERYTHING from then on.) If you meet an obstacle along the way, don't try and get over it. (You're obviously just not meant to be a writer.)

Do you think that fantasy from South Africa has a unique literary perspective? Why/why not?

I do think so, yes. There are folktales, myths and legends from South Africa and other African countries that writers could choose to incorporate into their works to produce unique fantasy stories. In the fantasy I've written so far, most of the story takes place in a fictional faerie realm, so readers can "place" the story anywhere in the world they'd like to. But in the future I hope to write fantasy that takes place specifically in South Africa, utilising our country's folktales.

What are you working on next?

The third book in the Creepy Hollow series, which is titled The Faerie War and is scheduled for release in October. After that I plan to take a break from fantasy for a bit and write some contemporary teen fiction.

What was your favourite book as a child/teen?

As a child, Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (alternately titled The Golden Compass). As a young teen, it was definitely Harry Potter!

Buy book hereBuy the Creepy Hollow series

Rachel's blogRead Rachel's blog