We’re introducing you to people who are part of the Betterwrite world. Welcome to Michael Anthony.
Michael, what’s your connection with Betterwrite?
Betterwrite development-edited and copy-edited my latest novel, The Divided Country.
Tell us about your work.
I was once asked who I write books for. It’s an interesting question. I’m passionate about both Zimbabwe and South Africa. I want people to read my books and see Africa through my eyes. And to understand what happens when men, women and children are persecuted just because of their skin colour or tribe.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m about to begin the autobiography of Michael Anthony.
It’s called The Boy from the Bush.
What do you like about your work?
Descriptions of Africa. Sitting in front of a log fire on a cold English night, I sometimes close my eyes and see again the lourie birds dancing in the fig trees. And I hear once more the Shona women singing their haunting lullabies in the fields, their songs the voice of Africa. With this in my mind and my memory, the only way back is to write the story. That’s why I love writing.
What don’t you like?
Publishing houses’ closed shop. Why is it so difficult for first-time authors to find a publisher? Is it because good descriptive writing is no longer a fashionable genre and often overlooked by agents? Or is it because I’m unknown?
Have you got a personal bugbear?
How easy it is for those who get a deal in publishing to write rubbish.
What has pleased you in your work?
My books reflect the beauty of Africa. They also right terrible wrongs and go some way towards helping abandoned kids. We cannot bring back the dead. But we can at least give the next generation a future.
What didn’t please you?
I’ve been writing for thirteen years. It’s a solitary profession.
Time apart from my wife is the most difficult aspect.
Whose writing do you enjoy?
Ernest Hemingway and Eric Remarque.
All Quiet on the Western Front.
What do you like about Remarque’s writing?
His characters and descriptive work.
Give us a quote.
Remarque tells us that the book above is neither an accusation or a confession and least of all an adventure, for war is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. The book simply tells of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped the shells, were destroyed by the war.
What’s your favourite word in English?
Any other quotes that are special for you?
All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is that good men do nothing.
From The Divided Country, Edmund Burke
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
Apart from your work, what plans or ambitions have you got?
Supporting my charity in Bindura, Zimbabwe. I’m trying to address the unimaginable suffering of orphaned and abandoned children in that country who will never have a future as you and I know it. But at least they now have anti-viral drugs, shelter, food and an education. And a smile that’s as wide as the Zambezi.
How will you help them?
By trying to bring my books to a wider audience and increase sales.
What have you learned about life?
Positive thinking. There is no such word as can’t.
What have you learned about people?
As Nelson Mandela once said, remove religious and racial differences and we’re all one people.
Tell us something quirky about yourself.
I tell stories which means I talk too much, especially at dinner parties when I’ve drunk too much red wine. The result is I’m the last one to finish eating, and my food is cold!
Finish with a story, true or false, with beginning, middle and end, up to 30, 60 or 120 words.
Driving from Zimbabwe to South Africa
It was early morning when I crossed the great grey-green Limpopo river at Beitbridge. Behind me lay the land of Monomotapa and in front, the Rainbow Nation. The sun was just climbing out from behind the distant mountains when the border post became a blur in the rear-view mirror. Early-morning mist covered the acacia trees like a blanket and through this mist rode the natives on their bicycles, going to work in the fields – an African scene that made me sad, because I knew I was leaving it all behind. I watched the sun slowly lift the mist and expose the glistening tarmac running straight as a die all the way to Johannesburg. (113)