As regards to personal safety, you do have to be careful not to put yourself at risk when travelling in South Africa. You don't want to go out exploring at night, for example.

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: British

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I've been associated with Macmillan for over 45 years. I'd like to thank them for their continued commitment to my backlist and I look forward to continuing to work with them as they publish my next novel, 'Vicious Circle' in 2013.

I work on my novels wherever I have a PC, and I have four or five places around the world where I do have a PC. These days you can just slip a little flash drive into your top pocket, fly for 12 hours, come to another place, plug it into a computer and you are away again.

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'm a feminist. The women in my books in recent years have been powerful characters and I love to see a woman with a cute bottom walking past.

My father was my god. His approval was so valuable to me.

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.

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.

This first print run of the first edition of my first novel, 'When The Lion Feeds.' back in 1964, is so rare it can fetch several thousand pounds at auction. I always wanted to be an author, and I decided to write about what I knew.

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

I have never had too much trouble for creative ideas to spring up in my mind.

I put my soul into every book I write.

Herbert, my father, was born in Britain but went out to Africa in his teens to join his father and built up an 18,000-acre ranch in what was then Northern Rhodesia, providing work for the locals. He was my hero when I was a boy.

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

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.