Growing up in a bilingual family, I was fortunate to be exposed to books in both English and Afrikaans – twice the reading pleasure right there. I finished my first Afrikaans novel I’ve read in years a couple days ago, and oh my word, I realised how much I’ve missed it. While English can be such an expressive language, there a simply things you cannot describe in English quite like you can in Afrikaans. Some of those Afrikaans words just roll of the tongue unlike any others, like some of my favourites – snoesig (cuddly) and slap (limp). While they do translate, they don’t convey the same mental image as the Afrikaans word does.
I recently went to a writers’ retreat. What an amazing weekend! The best part is I got to reconnect with some really wonderful women, who write fabulous books. Some write in Afrikaans, most write in English. But, one talented lady writes in both English and Afrikaans!!! (See, I told you South African authors are talented!)
The charming Elsa Winckler is a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a highly talented, prolific writer. She’s graciously agreed to answer my questions so we can get to know the lady behind the pen a little better.
1. When did you first start writing?
In 2008 when I entered an Afrikaans writing competition
2. What’s the story behind your latest book?
I read an article about an animal communicator and was intrigued enough to find out more about the subject – The Whisperer was the end result
3. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I can finally write down the stories of the voices in my head!
4. What are you working on next?
I’ve started an Afrikaans series about an aunt who has a stipulation in her will – her nieces will inherited a large sum of money if they agree to stay in her house in the very small town of Greyton for one month. And I have an English romance I’m trying to find a home for – a contemporary romance with a ghost in it 😊
5. Who are your favourite authors?
Nora Roberts of course. Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown. I’m also a huge Katie Fford fan and also enjoy Mariane Keyes’s books.
6. What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I can create new characters and watch how their stories develop
7. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I cook, clean and iron 😊 We also love to spend time with our three grandsons. And I knit and crochet – I have to keep busy!
8. What is your writing process?
I’m not much of a planner but I make sure I know the characters well. I develop their background and family life to make sure I know why they behave like they do.
9. What do you read for pleasure?
I try and read as wide as possible but when I want to relax, I read romance
10. Describe your desk.
I had someone made my writing space the way I like it – on the one side I have my favourite books, on the other side dictionaries, how-to books and my own collection of stories. In the middle is my computer and that’s where the magic happens 😊
11. Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I remember reading was an Afrikaans series called Maasdorp – loved it. I grew up in a very small town but we had a library. By the time I left for college, I’ve read just about every book in it.
12. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Upington. At the time the town had two cinemas and my dad loved the movies, so every Friday night he took us to see the latest movie. The only other thing to do was to read – and I loved escaping to all the wonderful places described inside the pages of books
13. What are your five favourite books, and why?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – she’s the grandmother of all romance writers!
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – a beautiful love story
Middlemarch by George Eiliot – also a classic. Through the narrative of the story the author addresses the status of women, the nature of marriage, politics, religion, and education in the 19th century.
A man called Ove by Frederik Backman – beautifully written
A little life by Hanya Yanagihara – nearly killed me but it is so beautifully written I had to finish it. Powerful writing!
14. Where do you draw inspiration from?
It varies – sometimes an article I read or a song I hear, sometimes it’s a conversation I overhear or even something that I do – like the time I stopped the car to carry a tortoise across the busy road. My romance brain immediately wanted to know – what if…? 😊
15. What is your perfect day like?
I only recently realised I’m an introvert – I get my energy when I’m on my own, crowds tend to leave me feeling drained. So a perfect day for me is when I can spend the entire day in front of my computer, making up stories. If I can end it with a glass of wine, good food and my hubby, I feel very blessed. On the very rare occasion all our kids are home, my cup runneth over. 😊
Thank you Elsa for sharing with us. It was lovely getting to know you better.