Friday, 2 March 2012

Emily's Writing Life for World Book Day

Emily realized she could write until the cows were slaughtered and turned into biltong from an early age (goodbye vegetarian readers – no please don’t flee that was a joke on carnivorous Zimbabweans). There was no television to speak of in 70’s Zimbabwe, so she read all the Enid Blyton’s (well nothing was politically correct in Africa back then) and then gobbled through her parents bookshelves. She particularly enjoyed Wilbur Smith and Reader’s Digest compilations. At school she discovered that making up stories was impressive to teachers and she won some national poetry competitions. At secondary school she doctored essays for her friends and wrote scathing commentary on the government.

Then she left school and took a dark path punctuated here and there by bright flashes of writing. There followed angst ridden journal writing for a number of years, which, when found and read as they occasionally were, caused widespread chaos. There were songs written in the middle of the night aided and abetted by substances best left untampered with, given the writing that emerged, that was often as fuddled as the writer. Then Luca arrived and life had to become serious and so did the writing. One day, Emily realized that she needed to go to university, it was quite literally, life or death, but the less said about that the better. She rung up the faculty who refused to take her because her South African university entrance exams were not the same as ‘A’ levels. So, drawing on her long lost ability (she was now no spring chicken, but more jaded hen) to impress the teachers with lyrical waxing, she wrote a passionate essay on literature and writing and they accepted her on the BA (Hons) in Literature course.

Her creative writing tutor at the university advised her to do an MA in Creative Writing, and afterwards she was nominated the university’s writer of the future (picture her in a silver spacesuit riding on a giant rocket-pen) in order for her to be put up for the Jerwood/Arvon young writer’s apprenticeships, a national award, one of which she won. Following on from this she read from her work at a literary café attended by agents, several of which approached her offering to represent her. She went with the one who seemed most keen, and began the arduous task of writing After the Rains, which seemed to take until the cows were…

After the Rains is available for £5.00 until Sunday 4 March in honour of World Book Day. Emily realises WBD was 1 March. Please contact author@emilybarroso.com for details

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