Your short story Satan Claus is in the Ho Ho Horror anthology. What can readers look forward in Satan Claus?
By virtue of its title they can expect a devilish mix of horror and Satanism, set on the backdrop of Christmas. Christmas is a day of hope, a day when we all prepare to share love and quality time. The inextinguishable flame of joyful giving flares profusely like the sun. No one expects anything unusual and, suffice to say, in this story the devil takes advantage of that; and threatens to take over the world by extinguishing that flame of Christmas. He ascends from Hell, with his demonic minions and smears evil on this joyful day. He wants to finally take over the world, and consequently Christmas seems under threat and it’s up to a few friends to decide the Fate of this day which for thousands of years has symbolized joy.
You live near Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. What is it like for you writing fiction in Zimbabwe?
Well, unfortunately at this point in time my flavour of fiction is a bit bitter for the general populace. There’s not so much passion for Horror, Sci-Fi and fantasy so in that respect it’s rather awkward. However, Zimbabwe’s such a beautiful place, her natural scenery and picturesque environment helps inspire me in many ways. As a writer it is the things around you; the fresh air, the flora, fauna and quietness which determine the sobriety of your work. I’ve also lived in Botswana, Rwanda and Mozambique and all those settings play a great role in adding texture to my work.
What kinds of fiction do you most enjoy reading, and do you have some favourites?
I love Japanese Manga comics. There is something unique about the Japanese’s appreciation of fantasy, it’s as though fantasy is imbued in the fabric of their culture. When reading Japanese Manga or watching anime films are draw a certain supernatural inspiration from them. My favourite, I’ll are Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball comics; which are brimful of action, adventure and science-fiction. Akira Toriyama paints a very vivid alternative, semi-futuristic universe which captivates me. Beyond that I’m inspired by the likes of George Orwell and the French writer Albert Camus.
What kinds of fiction do you most enjoy writing and why?
I’m so much into science fiction and fantasy. And themes I like to explore are often centred on alien life and mankind being obliged to live with the possibility of aliens existing. I’ve written a novel, though not yet published; centred upon an alien conspiracy. It’s a futuristic novel, and in the plot mankind’s forced to live with the fact that aliens have lived amongst us secretly since the dawn of our civilisation. I guess I like to explore such themes because in many ways I like to identify with the idea of being extraterrestrial. Immersing myself in this extraterrestrial complexity makes me come alive as a being from another planet. On another scale I feel that every human being is an extraterrestrial. And, beyond that, the unknown plagues us all. When we gaze at the night sky, and the cosmic soup bubbles with a melange of stars, we’re forced to ask: Are we really alone?
Have you studied a fiction writing course? Or are you self taught? And would you recommend the way you learned to write fiction to others?
I’d say self-taught. I’ve never attended a writing course, other than my experience in high-school, and my own deep-seated passion for creative writing. From an early age I’ve had an inherent passion for fantasy. I really started seriously writing prose about two years ago, even though I’ve been writing poetry more than five years. I guess I started getting bored of school and needed a form of inspiration; so I started to create alternative universes to thrill, kill and chill myself. I can’t say I’d really recommend anything in particular to anyone. I believe that if anyone has a passion, they should go for it, regardless of the barriers in one’s way. Society often prescribes ways in which things should be done, and I believe that that, in some way hampers creative thought. As a free spirit I believe that one should soar freely in the sky of liberty.
Who is one of your favourite fictional characters, and what makes that character work so well for you as a reader?
Admittedly, I’m not the best reader in the world, but I admire Albert Camus’s Mersault, in the Stranger. He is an apathetical human being; a persona removed from society. Though on the surface he appears to be a simple being; one who is not concerned so much about life, he is a very volatile person. What makes him volatile is not the fact that he kills a man and doesn’t seem remorseful; but more so the fact that he is a non-conformist. Such characters inspire me because they disgust, scare us, frighten us and equally inspire us.
If you could bring one storyteller back from the dead for a day for the sole purpose of talking to them about writing fiction, who would it be and why?
I think I’d bring back the Greek tragedian Sophocles. In Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King Sophocles manages to create a psychologically complex play. He creates an interesting paradox in which Oedipus, the king of Thebes inexorably sleeps with his own mother, and begets children with her, inadvertently. The play managed to petrify and frighten me because of its psychological complexity. This is despite that the play was pre-Shakespearean; it was written earlier than 300 AD, yet it has the substance to capture a modern audience. I’d like to know how he managed to create such an interesting play that has entered in the Realm of Psychology through the Oedipus complex; so long ago.
What is next for you fiction writing?
For me writing is like a form of religion. When I’m write I ascend to another realm and I feel like I’m undergoing some form of transcendental meditation. That gives me a sense of purpose; as a result, I believe that I shall keep on writing, and in the near future I hope to finally publish a novel in Science-fiction fantasy. I’m very active in this genre and have written quite a lot of works; short stories and novel. My hope is that in the near future readers will give me the go ahead to inspire, thrill, chill and let them feel an alternative universe.
More on Keith Mushonga and his fiction can be found at www.keithmushonga.blogspot.com.
The Australian Literature Review