I read a lot of biographies and books with an African background.

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: British

Some suggestions for you :

You don't turn out as many books as I did then by sitting around, being cozy with the family.

I wanted to be a great white hunter, a prospector for gold, or a slave trader. But then, when I was eight, my parents sent me to a boarding school in South Africa. It was the equivalent of a British public school with cold showers, beatings and rotten food. But what it also had was a library full of books.

The first novel I wrote was a monster - clocking in at 180,000 words - but it died a death, a death it deserved. It was called 'The Gods First Make Mad.' It was a good title, but it was the only good thing about the book. I didn't let that put me off.

I write my books in my head, and not in a specific study with a view. The view is from my inner eyes.

I believe that a healthy body breeds a healthy mind. I am 74 years old now and my wife, Niso, is 38 years younger than me. She absolutely insists that I take regular exercise with her.

Politicians all over the world cater to domestic vote banks. They will spend only on what their constituents want. So unless there is a grass root green movement in a nation the politicians will not be willing to spend money on curbing emissions. More awareness is needed amongst the people to effect the real change in how governments spend.

I think one of the most poignant things is unrequited love and loneliness.

They say if you drink Zambezi water with your mother's milk, you are always a slave of Africa, and I am.

The really disturbing thing about Somalia is that in a country where there are few economic opportunities, pirates are perceived as glamorous and are held in awe by young boys who aspire to their lifestyle.

Many people have compared me to the Victorian adventure writer, Rider Haggard. I accept that as a compliment. As a boy growing up in Central Africa I read all Haggard's African novels.

Usually halfway through a book I have a serious depression, so I go on safari on my ranch in South Africa, or fishing off my island in the Seychelles. When I come back and re-read it, I think: 'What was all that about, Smith? It's fine, just get on with it.'

My first novel was rejected by some of the most eminent publishers in the world. Starting again was a real wrench.

I don't know how many lions and leopards I've shot. I've shot two elephants, which was enough - never again. It's a melancholy and moving thing to hunt an elephant. It's like shooting an old man.

I think money is essential to happiness and right now I wouldn't want to be anyone other than Wilbur Smith - I've had a fantastic life, rewarded far more heavily than I deserve. Maybe I'd like to be J. K. Rowling, but I'll settle for second best.