interview with Alex van Tonder

The Writers Write Interview – Alex van Tonder

Writers Write creates writing resources, shares writing tips, and interviews authors. In this post, we share our interview with Alex van Tonder.

Alex van Tonder, who is promoting her debut novel, This One Time, works full time in advertising. She is also a successful blogger. She used these experiences to create a social media thriller, with reality TV and advertising playing their part in a terrifying game.

When she joined us for dinner, she was funny and self-deprecating. The guests enjoyed her answers, the incredible dinner, and each other’s company.

The Writers Write Interview With Alex Van Tonder

Date of Birth: 8 July 1983
Date of Interview: 21 May 2015
Place: Winehouse, Ten Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
The Book: This One Time

1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
I would go for a conflicted hero – someone like Victor Frankenstein. He had the best intentions but his creation still turns on him. I love characters who are not portrayed as totally good or totally bad.

2. What is your most treasured possession?
A rose gold charm bracelet that belonged to my gran. She was given a charm by my mom and my uncles and aunts for her birthdays.

3. Which living person do you most dislike?
Robert Mugabe is a human rights nightmare. What he’s done is heartbreaking. He has taken all the power and wealth for himself.

4. What is your greatest fear?
Reaching the end of my life and not having done everything I wanted to do.

5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
I guess I consider my relationship with creativity to be a relationship that has outlasted everything else. It is a conflicted one that I always come back to.

6. What is your greatest regret?
I have quite a lot. You learn from every regret. I am more on the introverted side of life and I tend to say no more often than yes and I regret this. I act out of fear in certain situations. When I was 25 I was offered a job travelling around the world ‘evangelising’ online travel, but I had just been appointed to an important position in an advertising company, and I feel that I had to keep my word.

7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
One of the female characters in Isabel Allende’s novels. They are all a bit crazy, brave, and fearless about their emotional needs.

8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
Catch 22 settles my mind. It’s the right balance of a good story and a sense of humour. I go back to it once a year, read a few pages and put it down.

9. What is your favourite journey?
I am a big runner. One of my favourite runs a coastal one around the Base of Lion’s Head. It takes you around the whole of Cape Town. It’s a trail run.

10. What is your favourite quotation?
It changes a lot. It depends on what you’re doing in your life.  ‘We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.’ ~Mike Carey. It resonates with social media. The other is Nietsche’s ‘Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.’

11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
Cats. His name is Moolie.

12. What do you most value in a friend?
When you connect with someone and it’s real. A sense of honesty. A willingness for people to be honest with themselves and that reflects in their character. People have to be themselves.

13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The ability to think for yourself. The courage to be yourself. A lot of women are still really scared to be who they are. I love Lena Dunham and what she’s done for women. She’s brave.

14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
This One Time. This is my real writing voice. It’s the kind of story I wan to write.

15. What are your favourite names?

  1. Ariella
  2. Oberon – from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

16. What do you do as a hobby?
Olympic weight lifting, painting, running, and I write poetry.

17. Which are your three favourite books?

  1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  2. Perfume by Patrick Süskind
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
I am inspired by the Internet and social media and the effect it has on us.

19. What is your Writing Routine?
Write. Work. Run. Write. I get up at 5:30am, get to work, write for about two hours. Then I work, go home, go for a run, and write again.

20. What are your Top Writing Tips?

  1. Write the book you want to read and the one your friends want to read. Because then even if it’s not published, it’s still rewarding for you.
  2. Set yourself a goal of writing and finishing a bad first draft. That’s not intimidating. Once you have that you can make it better.
  3. Learn the rules before you break them.You need to be writing while you’re learning the rules. It’s difficult to understand them if you haven’t written.
  4. Stay physically fit. I have a day job and it helps me with my mental endurance.
  5. I start with a plot. I am advertising trained. Everything needs to have a point. Once this has been done and the boundaries have been set, I have to find the characters who will serve the plot. The characters have to be a certain way to do this and I have to find out from them why they are there and how they got there.
  6. Writing every day is important. Time passes anyway. If you do 500 words every day, you will inevitably have a book.

Follow this link for more photographs from This One Time – A Literary Dinner

Follow Alex on Twitter .

Interviewer:Amanda Patterson.

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

Posted on: 24th May 2015