Lokal is Lekker - An Interview with Jevon Brown
I am so happy to share my interview with Jevon Brown with you today! And if you would like to purchase a copy of The Scavenging, you can buy one here. You can also find the book on Goodreads.
About the Author
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved writing. I still have stories written in crayon, done when I was only 6 or 7 years old. The Scavenging is dedicated to my late grandfather who was a fantastic storyteller, and used to tell us the most amazing bedtime stories, so I think my love of story-telling came from him. Writing was the natural place to start if you wanted to tell a story!
Why did you choose to set your novel in South Africa and also in a fantasy setting?
The choice to write a fantasy novel preceded the decision to set it in SA. I have always loved SciFi and fantasy which, I think, are the most advanced forms of fiction anyway. (To me, if you’re going to write fiction and make up a story, you may as well use as much imagination as possible!) Over time I realized that ‘writing what you know’ meant that it would be more natural for me to set the story in SA, and that SA lends itself to great storytelling anyway: after all, we have muti, wild animals, sangomasand witch doctors! If magic is going to happen anywhere in the world, surely South Africa would be the place.
What was the path that led you to publication
I wanted to get The Scavenging out there and read by as many people as possible. The more research I did online, the more I realized that self-publication is an increasingly viable and efficient way of getting published. I did my research and went ahead with self-publishing my own paperbacks and digitally on Amazon.
At what point in your life did you just know that you wanted to become a writer?
The earliest moment I remember is being in Grade 3 and having to write a short story for our teacher, Mrs Kassel. She read my story and liked it, and told me that one day she’d be reading my books. That just sounded so amazing to me, and that was what I wanted from that point on!
What books have influenced you the most?
Anansi Boys and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Black Man by Richard Morgan, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, A Handful of Summers by Gordon Forbes, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and absolutely anything by David Mitchell..! And I can’t leave out Roald Dahl, of course. I must have read all of his books at least three times each!
If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Anything to do with wildlife and the outdoors – maybe a game ranger! Then again, I’m a social person, so it would have to be on a game farm with good bars and coffee shops
What is your preferred method of getting in touch with your readers?
(Is email old-fashioned?!) I’m not great with facebook..but I’m much better at email! You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you believe that writers are born or taught?
Definitely taught. I firmly believe that talent only gets you so far, whereas hard work can overcome anything
What was the first book that made you cry?
I can’t say that I’ve ever cried while reading (I know… typical male…) but I do know that I was left overwhelmed at times by the beauty of Anthony’s Doerr’s All the Light we Cannot See.
What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing?
I love telling a unique story..making up new settings and characters is so much fun! I hate the overthinking: I wish I could just write one damn page and not feel the need to analyse it a dozen different times!!
Have you ever been in a reading slump? If yes, was there a specific book that put in you in the slump?
I like to think that I would give up on a book before it puts me in a slump.. Life’s too short for bad books!
How many unpublished/unfinished/ work in progress books do you have?
So many unfinished books! I think that’s part of being a writer…
Another part of being a writer is, of course, always being busy with the next one..
I’m currently working on an entirely new project and, once that’s done, I’ll work on the sequel to The Scavenging.
How much time do you spend writing and reading each week?
I write for an hour and a half every day before work. And I think I probably read around an hour a day total too..usually over breakfast and before bed. (And..ahem..the toilet..!)
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or the good ones?
With a good whiskey..!
No, I think you have to be honest with yourself and know that not every single reader is going to love every single book.. It’s not personal. Your novel may just not be for everyone. Having said that, I’m fortunate that the positive reviews have far outweighed the negative..! So luckily I can just focus on that..
About The Scavenging
If you could recommend any three books that are similar to the The Scavenging or that you would like your readers to read, what would they be?
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Johnathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman!
Where did the idea for The Scavenging come from?
I’ve always loved fantasy and fiction..and I’d been trying to write a novel where the magical intrudes on the everyday life of a detective. I was interested in what it would be like for a normal, run-of-the-mill detective to have to investigate a crime that proved inexplicable unless magic was somehow involved. It took a little time (I kept trying to set the book in ‘cool’ places like New York or London) before I finally realized that Joburg was actually the perfect setting.
After all, where else in the world would you read newspaper headlines like: “The Tokolosh Won’t Leave Me Alone!” ?
I realized that South African police have to deal with magic and superstition, in some way or another during the course of their careers. I wondered what it would be like if my Joburg detective then had to face the possibility that muti, witchcraft and the tokoloshwere real..and the novel grew from there…
In ten words or less, describe your book?
Joburg detectives solve muti murders and battle African magic.
(That was hard!)
What is the most exciting thing about The Scavenging being published?
The feedback. Hearing from friends, family and, most excitingly, strangers who loved the book but who each have their own reaction to it.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The rewrites: thinking that you’re done and then re-reading it and realizing you’re nowhere close to finished.
What was your favourite chapter or part to write and why?
Definitely the battle between Lancaster and the Sangoma – I could just let my imagination run wild!
Is there a message in your books that you hope readers will grasp?
No – I just hope they have fun and get transported to a new world, which is what all good storytelling should do.
What did you edit out of this book?
Too many things to count! For a long time I played with the idea of Gcumise having special powers or abilities too...but eventually thought that he would be more interesting as a regular human detective..
What was the hardest scene for you to write?
Probably the autopsy scene..just in terms of the research that went into it and making sure that I had all the details and anatomical descriptions correct. I had fun writing the scene – it just needed more work to get it right!