24 August 2016

Get to know The Yearning’s Carol Mashigo

Imagine your debut novel going for a reprint in a country where selling 1000 copies of a local novel is considered extraordinary. That was the enviable fate of bubbly Carol Mashigo, better known by her pen name Mohale Mashego when she published 'The Yearning' earlier this year.
A woman of many talents, Carol is also a musician. Growing up in Mapetla, Soweto where a culture of reading wasn't necessarily promoted, it was her father who encouraged her love for books.
Carol said she read the book 'The Color Purple' way too early, when her father judged the book by only its title. "He thought it was about colours and let me read it. I got exposed to too much too soon, but it was the first book I read with black people in it and changed my perspective and opened my eyes to see that black people can be in books too, they can even write books."
She said after that she got exposed to African writers and that is when she knew it was possible for her to write a book of her own one day. Carol got her storytelling from her mother, who loved stories and the entertainment industry but couldn't get a chance to show the world who she is because of the lack of opportunities.
We got Carol to answer a few question, and she let us in on a few things:
Is there a character in your book that is inspired by an actual person?
Yes. Nkgono (especially her sense of humour) was inspired by my late aunt. She was one of the funniest people I knew. Even when life handed her obstacles, she always found a reason to smile.
Has writing a book always been what you wanted or is it something you thought of at a later stage?
I've always written stories but for some reason, I didn't think it was something I would do "professionally". My best friend and manager, Marcia is the reason why The Yearning is published. I write selfishly; I write what I want to read.
How did your mom feel when she saw her name come alive in your book?
I think she was confused until I explained it to her. She is very proud of me, the book and "our" name.
What books shaped your love for reading and writing?
The Pipi Longstocking Books, anything written by Toni Morrison, Ways of Dying (Zakes Mda), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga), all books by Roald Dahl etc.
Have the critics started chewing you up yet?
Dunno. I don't read reviews. I made that decision when I was starting out as a musician.
Which celeb would you like to read your book?
Someone get my book to Idris Elba so we can discuss it over lunch.
Thulile Gama