About this writer
Absence does make the heart grow fonder. It has been proved time and again that the farther African authors are from home, the more in tune they are with said homeland.
Gloria D. Gonsalves was born and raised in Tanzania for 27 years. She later migrated to Europe for further studies. She currently resides in the city of Koenigswinter, Germany. She has published six books, the latest being The Wisdom Huntress (2012). In addition to writing, Gloria’s accompanying passion is inspiring and supporting creativity in children.
AiA: What is your (writing) background?
G.G: I was born and raised in Tanzania. After 27 years I migrated to Europe for further studies. My academic background is a holder of BSc. Tourism Marketing (Dublin Institute of Technology) and MSc. Environmental Sciences (Cologne University).
I have written and self-published six books in the genre of poetry, children’s books and memoirs. That they are all written in English when my native language is Swahili makes it a peculiar feat.
I also enjoy writing about nature and flowers snapshots for my blog “Petals in a Lawyer”, an inspiration from my lawyer husband, who enjoys flower arrangements. Additionally, I am a regular contributor to the AuthorHouse Author’s Digest as a guest blogger.
My love for reading English books and writing stuff began during school years at Kifungilo Girls’ School. While there I read novels as a way to improve my English language skills. During the second year of secondary school, I participated in an essay competition, where I won third position and winning bible. The positive result of that competition inspired me to put together a drama play, which with assistance from my English teacher, became a special act for visiting schools.
AiA: Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
G.G: I am a full-time employee during the day and a passionate writer in free time.
AiA: Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who/what are your writing influences?
G.G: Sad but true, the authors I read when in school did not influence me much at that time. Shaaban bin Robert, Ngugi wa Thiongo or Chinua Achebe were to me part of school curriculum and for many years they remained so. Instead for leisure reading we passed or borrowed copies of Barbara Cartland or Mills & Boon.
It is only later when abroad that I began discovering African and other iconic foreign authors. May be it is true for what they say about missing something until it is out of your reach. Homesick made me seek for African authors. That’s how I began getting acquainted with Ama Ata Aidoo, Tsitsi Dangarembga and others. Gradually they became these authors from my continent who write great things I can read without associating them to tedious study routines. Currently I am rediscovering Shaaban bin Robert and through that process I have written some Swahili poems.
I also admire the works of Maya Angelou, Paulo Coelho, Alicia Walker, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Doreen Virtue, The Brothers Grimm and Esmeralda Santiago.
AiA: What attracted you to become a writer?
G.G: Writing has been and still is a quest for me. It was not one particular thing that attracted me to writing but a series of events and feelings that led me one day to simply sit down, switch on the computer and write. I wrote until all my emotions found a new home on the computer screen. To date, it is the longest poetic prose I have ever written.
Days later I discovered blogging and began to share my poems. A friend suggested I compile them into a book. I listened to that precious advice but did not act on it immediately. Instead, I chose to tread carefully with a written short story to an on-line magazine. Based in a German speaking country where I write in English, I decided to randomly choose an English publisher and found one in Poland. I sent my story (the poetic prose converted to a short story) and it was picked, “Editor’s Choice of the Week.” That’s how I became a writer.
AiA: What inspires your writings?
G.G: Everything around me including moments I have experienced is the inspirational root of my writings. In particular for my memoirs, personal experiences and encounters both in my home country Tanzania and abroad serve greatly as my source of inspiration. For poetry, words become easier to flow when having intense emotions e.g. when extremely happy or sad. My other stimulus source is foreign destinations whereby I have made it a formula to write a poem of the place I am visiting.
I have neither formula nor geography of how I write. This lack of formula can be testified in my published and non-published works. I tend to let curiosity lead me to words that wish to be explored creatively. Experience has taught me that if I start placing limits on how my writing should look like, then I might as well throw the joy of writing out of the window. Sometimes I switch between manuscripts and other times I write things I dare not publish. Poetry, adult stories, children stories, good writing, bad writing, moral writing, immoral writing – I do it all to nurture my creative imagination.
As a required etiquette to children as participants of my work I insist on their willingness, having fun and feel proud of their contribution. It gives me pleasure to involve children in my projects, whether through drawing or contributing a story. The most expensive royalty anyone can give me is a happy child because of their work in my book or because they enjoyed reading my book.
AiA: What are your expectations in the field of writing?
G.G: First and foremost, writing is a pastime I passionately enjoy. As long as it is a passion and I place no limits to my imagination, I will never run out of things to write.
Second, I would love to see my books available worldwide, especially Africa. It would be great to see my books inspire minds both in schools and leisurely.
Third, my writings aim at contributing towards something meaningful i.e. provide inspiration, promote creativity of others and share monetary benefits. I have not yet mastered all these intentions and shall not stop until I do.
Are you working on another project at the moment?
G.G: Speaking of current projects, I have two manuscripts ready to publish, a poetry anthology for adults and a children forest adventure book. On the pipeline are a humorous cook book, a dialogue book, another children’s book and of course more poetry. You see my writing basket is full of colourful milestones to be reached.
AiA: Tell us about the main characters in your last book, and who/what inspired you to center the book around them.
G.G: My recently published book “The Wisdom Huntress (2012)” is an anthology of personal thoughts and narrations by Savanna, a woman who sees herself as a huntress for wisdom from the knowledge-filled expanses of her vast life in the worldly plains. Her exclusive records cover a range of subjects from love to death, food to music, which harmoniously form this book.
This book is aimed at provoking minds to question and subsequently try to understand the acts and thoughts of human beings regardless of their origin and culture. The proverbs are meant to help one connect them to the stories told. It also provides an opportunity to introduce the African proverbs and Khanga sayings, to those not acquainted with them. Further the book offers a means of preserving African literary riches that at times are passed on orally by those who practice them.
Above all, this book is dear to me as it enabled to fully kick off my humanitarian related aspiration. For every copy sold directly by me, I donate a portion to Tanzania Albino Charity. I am also grateful to friends and colleagues who bought it as soon as I told them of my Christmas season intentions. As a result, I collected a generous amount which supported the hosting of a Christmas meal for the children.
AiA: Have you written anything in Swahili?
G.G: Readers are welcome to visit the Poem section of my web page for some of my bilingual and Swahili poems. My next poetry book will comprise a mix of English and Swahili poems (with translations).
AiA: What should African writers do, in your opinion, to gain more international recognition?
G.G: First and foremost any writer, be it full-time or not, should focus on writing the best story as one can.
For writers who are not full-time like me, exposure using free media and social network is a good start. These channels include Facebook, Twitter, an online platform, etc. The messages and images on those channels should identify with your written products.
Full-time writers have an opportunity to do the above and more. Making appearances on international book fairs and festivals provide great opportunity to meet readers, other authors and publishers. Also speaking, conducting readings or providing lectures for wide variety of meetings and events is another method of connecting with international audiences.
AiA: Where can one buy your books?
G.G: One may purchase a copy of my books from any of the following online shops:
– AuthorHouse http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/
By ordering copies at your local bookstore, or rather ask them to have a running stock.
AiA: What is your message to the readers and general public?
G.G: To the readers, go find me, read me, rate me and recycle that book to the next reader. It’s a shame if any of my books end up in a shelf instead of making their way from one pair of hands to the next.
To the writers, write a book and make a difference not only through your words but also sharing your monetary benefits with communities and causes that invoke divine changes in people.
AiA: How can readers connect with you?
G.G: Auntie Glo, Official Website http://www.auntieglo.com/
Petals in a Lawyer, Official Blog http://www.gloria-gonsalves.com/
Read A Book, Make A Difference http://www.rabmad.com/authors/gloria-d-gonsalves/
Africa is Not What You Know, Global Call https://www.facebook.com/AfricaIsNotWhatYouKnow
This interview is done by authorsinafrica.com.