interview with James Hendry

The Writers Write Interview – James Hendry

In this post, we share our interview with James Hendry. The South African author answered our questions in Johannesburg, South Africa.

James Hendry spent ten years working at exclusive lodges in southern Africa. He co-authored the non-fiction bestseller Whatever You Do, Don’t Run (Tafelberg), and wrote A Year in the Wild and its sequel, Back to the Bush: Another Year in the Wild.

The Writers Write ‘Essentially’ Interview With James Hendry

The Author: James Hendry
Birthday? 23 October 1976
The Book?A Year in the Wild (Macmillan)
The Venues? Leighwood Lodge, Parktown, Johannesburg and Thrupps Centre, Illovo
The Date? 7 October 2011 and 20 June 2012
The Interviewer? Amanda Patterson

Questions and answers

If love were a colour, what colour would it be? Red
What is the colour of anger? Black
What is the colour of money? Green
What is the colour of beauty? Pale Yellow
What is the colour of desire? Scarlet 
What is the number you associate with reading? 8
What is the number you associate with writing? 8
What is the number you associate with writing music? 1
What is your favourite number? 7
If your life were a city, what city would it be? Paris

Writing Sense

Writing sounds like a Beethoven Symphony
Writing looks like a wilderness
Writing tastes Talisker
Writing smells like Spring
Writing feels like a warm embrace

In your novel…

If Sasekile, the setting, a game lodge, were a country, it would be South Africa
Where would it shop? Oriental Plaza
Sasekile sounds like tribal drums
Sasekile looks like wilderness
Sasekile smells like Spring
Sasekile tastes like sweet & sour worms
Sasekile feels like the earth

More Q&A

What is your favourite meal? Steak
What are you reading? I’ve just finished An Inconvenient Youth by Fiona Ford. It gives an interesting insight into Julius as a post-liberation African Big Man.
Where do you live? Johannesburg
Why do you live there? I grew up here.
How has living there affected your writing?  Not a lot.
What is your favourite quality about yourself? Honesty
What is your least favourite quality about yourself? Depression
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? Writing this novel.

How did you come up with the title of your books?

A Year in the Wild – Perfectly appropriate for the story
Whatever you do, don’t run – A non-fiction book by game rangers and whatever you do…

You have two protagonists in your story…

If Angus were an animal, he would be A lone elephant bull growing up
If Hugh were an animal, he would be A Vervet Monkey
If Angus were a city, he would be a medieval walled city
If Hugh were a city, he would be Cape Town

Why did you choose to write this particular book?  

I had so many stories from working in the bush for 10 years. The people I worked with inspired me to write the book. The people I met and their stories needed an outlet somewhere.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

I loved itThe challenge was to keep a plotline going instead of merely having a collection of anecdotes. The structure of the story – with the brothers emailing their sister their stories helped sort this out.

Mini-Bucket List?
  1. Conduct my own composition with a full symphony orchestra in the open air.
  2. Write an epic novel .
  3. Make a lasting contribution to humanity’s understanding of itself through music, writing and film.
When you stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? That I said everything I wanted to say. 

About the book… 

Angus and Hugh MacNaughton are brothers. They dislike each other … A lot. They have loathed each other since Hugh bit Angus at a family picnic many years ago. In a last-ditch attempt to forge a brotherly bond between the two, Mr and Mrs MacNaughton secure them jobs at an exclusive five-star game lodge. They manage to convince (bribe in the case of Angus) the siblings to work at Sasekile Private Game Lodge for a year.

A Year in the Wild tells the uproarious, cringe-worthy and hilarious tales of Angus and Hugh in the form of weekly emails to their sister Julia. Their experiences include encounters with guests, animals, female staff and often a mixture of these.

Combine: an eclectic mix of rich, over-demanding and adulterous guests, a dash of crazy bush lodge staff including two jealous brothers (one a bitterly sarcastic game ranger and the other an over-eager lodge manager) and throw in the beauty of the African bushveld. Shake well. Conflict and disaster are inevitable.
Photograph by Christopher Dean for Writers Write, Parktown 2012

by Amanda Patterson

If you want to read more of our interviews, click here

Posted on: 17th October 2011