Dr Maria Phalime is one of South Africa’s newest award-winning authors. Born and raised in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, Maria moved to Cape Town in 1991 to pursue her studies at the University of Cape Town, from where she graduated with degrees in Science and Medicine. She practiced for a brief period as a general practitioner in South Africa and the United Kingdom, before leaving medical practice to pursue non-clinical interests. In 2010 Maria found her voice as a writer.
She studied under the acclaimed South African author, Mike Nicol, on the Get Smarter/Random House Struik Nonfiction Story Course. In 2012 Maria was the recipient of the inaugural City Press Nonfiction Award for her memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away. In 2013 her novel for teens, Second Chances, was the English language category winner of the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
I qualified as a medical doctor in 1999, and after a short period of medical practice I chose to walk away from medicine. I have written extensively about the factors that pushed me out of medicine in my award-winning memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away. Just as important, if not more so, was the pull I felt towards a more authentic and purposeful life. It hasn’t been easy and the journey continues, but I believe we can all contribute best to the world when we do what we love.
Are you busy with any projects at the moment?
I continue to write – I have an active blog, and I am also researching my next non-fiction book. I also share my story through speaking engagements.
What is your personal motto?
Dream BIG. Follow your heart.
What are you passionate about?
Purpose. I believe we are all here for a reason; it is our responsibility to find that reason and to fulfill our purpose, in our own unique ways.
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
Books. I’ve always loved reading; books made me realize early on in life that the world was huge and filled with possibilities. Education was my first big break in life, and to this day I continue to read and educate myself
What advice would you give your younger self?
Listen to your heart; it will never let you down.
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
People who have faced challenges head-on and come out the other side.
Tell us a little more about your latest book.
It is a memoir about my time as a medical doctor and the reasons I chose to leave the medical profession. It’s my personal journey as well as an enquiry into the medical profession in South Africa. More broadly it is about dreams – having the courage to go after your dreams and also to know when to walk away.
What inspired you to write?
I wanted to complete that challenging chapter of my life. I also knew that by sharing my story I would open up the space for others to do the same.
What advice would you give women wanting to follow their dreams?
Trust your dreams and honour them. Only you can bring them to life, so go for it!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write and read. Obsessively!
Your favourite daily affirmation:
All is well in my world.
Your favourite quote?
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.” ~Rumi.
What book are you currently reading.
I tend to have a few going at the same time:
Thrive – Arianna Huffington.
This Time I Dance – Tama Kieves
Let Magic Happen – Larry Burk, MD
What book can you read over and over.
The personal development classics by Napoleon Hill, Wallis D Wattles, Florence Scovel Shinn, etc. I listen to the audio-books when I’m driving.
One piece of advice you would like to share?
Do what you love!