I’m a Cape Town girl and have spent the bulk of my career as a copywriter but my main interest has always been fiction writing. I was lucky enough to have several short stories published both locally and internationally, winning 2 prizes for my writing, with one story selected for an anthology of South African short stories. After struggling like so many writers with the vagaries of agents and publishers, I discovered self-publishing on the Internet. After uploading 5 women’s suspense thrillers, 2 children’s fantasy books and a series for African children – I find myself in contact with many people around the globe and the experience has been exhilarating!

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

With a degree in Psychology, I think I fell into the psychological thriller genre with a head start (excuse pun!) Writing is a process of learning every day. A desire to write is not enough – you need to learn the tricks from established writers. My lessons were drawn from, amongst others: Stephen King “when a book is finished, put it aside for six weeks and then re-read – you will find holes big enough to drive a truck through”; from Ruth Rendell “never tell the reader the same thing twice”; from Ray Bradbury that the less you describe, the more you lead the reader’s imagination; from Nicci French’s style which taught me to lose the little words – and, that, as, then, etc. But the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey have been: patience, tenacity, resilience, determination – and to keep an open mind with regard to criticism.

Are you busy with any projects at the moment? If so, please tell us a little more about them.

I am always busy with at least one writing project. At the moment I’m writing the 2nd book in my children’s fantasy series “The Shadow Garden”. Book I ‘The Vampire Castle’ is selling well on Barnes & Noble and I hope to complete ‘The Ghost Road’ by mid-year. I’m also working on a paranormal mystery thriller entitled ‘Midnight Gods’ which will take you into the dark pagan world of the Celts and the cobwebbed history of a mysterious family on the east coast of England.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about books for African children. There are very few people writing for children in Africa. My aim is to produce a series of books with a hero called ‘Miki’ – an 11-year old boy who loves sport but has a rather annoying family (just like everyone else!). I would love to motivate other writers to write specifically for African children and find a way to distribute books throughout Africa at affordable prices. I’m also dedicated to writing thrillers that keep readers glued. Keeping pace, mystery and intrigue in high gear is what drives me.

What is your personal motto?

For every problem there’s a solution.

Who or what is your inspiration and why?

Nature fills me with inspiration: sea, forests, mountains. I am inspired by ideas, innovation, positive people – whether in business, science or the arts. Mostly I am inspired by writers who have honed their craft to a fine art: Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked this Way Comes), Sarah Waters (The Fingersmith), Rose Tremain (Restoration), Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) – and many others.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn more. It was Warren Buffett who wisely advised that no person should have skills in only one area – but should arm themselves with qualifications in at least two or more professional streams to protect themselves against life’s curved balls. Do wish I had grasped this when I was younger – I would definitely have learnt more about stock markets and investment!  

Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Without doubt my mother. It was my mother who nurtured my love of books and reading. She wrote many poems and short stories herself and was always my most staunch supporter when I chose writing above other endeavours.  

Please tell us a little more about your latest book.

ONE NIGHT is an eBook in the suspense thriller genre currently on Amazon’s KDP Select programme. Casey Blaydon is asked to look after her friend’s dog for one night at a lonely cottage in the woods – and instead of a few peaceful hours to herself, encounters a man bent on revenge, human trafficking and murder. With the odds stacked against her at every turn, Casey doesn’t give up – and that’s what motivated me to write about her.

What inspired you to write?

Oddly enough, I think my greatest influence came from the tragic poetry of the WW1 poets – Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. It fascinated me how the use of language could evoke such emotion. I always loved reading but I loved poetry most of all and began trying my hand at it when I was 7 years old. Producing my own (first) poem so shocked and excited me that I was hooked.

What advise would you to aspiring authors?

If you are driven by the compulsion to write and enjoy it above all other activities – and are prepared to do it even if you don’t get paid – then my advice is that you must write otherwise you will experience a nagging sense of dissatisfaction all your life. Read to learn to write. Write what you like to read. Write where your imagination takes you. Write to learn and improve. And always write with your reader in mind.

Your favourite quote?

“Imagination is better than knowledge.” ~Albert Einstein.

What book are you currently reading.

I’m always reading one Indie book (independent author) and one traditionally published book at the same time (because the Kindle runs out of battery!). Just finished eBook “Leap the Wild Water” by Jenny Lloyd. I’m also reading Stephen King’s “Full Dark, No Stars”.

What book can you read over and over.

“My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell.

One piece of advice you would like to share?

The world is changing so fast, it’s difficult to keep up – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother. Technology is awe-inspiring and hugely beneficial in all aspects of our lives. Learn as much as you can every day – and keep up as best you can. Investigate, analyse, apply and experiment. It will keep you forever young and focused!

Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?

Xtraordinary Women is a supportive and highly effective network for all women at work. Informing, encouraging and motivating – you help women to market, promote and develop their businesses – and there’s no finer engagement. So please don’t stop what you’re doing. You have already added a whole new dimension to my personal journey.

Contact Information:
Website:
www.malladuncanbooks.weebly.com
Twitter:
@MallaDuncan
Facebook:
 www.facebook.com/MallaDuncan