You know that feeling when you finish a final exam and you think, 'I never want to do that again'? Well I have the same feeling when I finish a novel. Each time I say, 'I think I may retire now' and then after six months the ideas start to churn again. I could never stop.

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: British

Some suggestions for you :

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.

I shot my first lion at the age of 14 when a pride threatened my father's livestock while he was away on holiday.

To me, my characters are more real than most people I meet.

I know it's politically incorrect but I enjoy things like the kick boxing and cock fighting.

When I vacate this sack of old bones I won't care what you do with it. Bury or burn it but don't make much fuss.

I live in Cape Town but my favourite holiday destination is Hermanus, a little seaside town about a 90-minute drive away, over the pass and down to the sea, on the sunshine coast. It's where I love to escape to with my wife for a weekend every now and again.

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.

Quite frankly, I think political correctness is the worst form of censorship. You're not allowed to speak your mind unless you're black, or unless you're a terrorist, or unless you're an Arab or a minority people. Then you can say what you like. But if you are like a lot of us you are not supposed to say certain things.

My absolute favorite pieces are 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'Begin the Beguine.' I play these when I am working.

I never set out to write literature; I set out to tell stories. And some of my work may be very raunchy and very bloodthirsty - but life, for me, is a violent thing.

I hate politics. I like to write about it, but to get involved in it, to try and make a lot of ignorant people do what you want them to do, waste of time. Go and write a book. It's more important and it'll last longer.

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.

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.'

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