We took a peek into the mind of world-renowned crime writer Deon Meyer during his chat with FAIRLADY’s editor-in-chief, Suzy Brokensha, as part of our 20/20 Masterclass series.
South Africa’s favourite whodunnit novelist – whose work has been translated into nearly 30 languages and whose novel Trackers has been adapted into an M-Net TV series – is a busy man. But 20 minutes was more than enough for an inspiring chat over morning tea.
Deon was also happy to answer burning questions from the online audience: do his characters live inside his mind like good friends? How does travel influence his stories? And, for those aspiring novelists out there, what is his writing process?
It’s no wonder Deon’s novels are so well researched and rich in character – before he dove into the world of fiction, he was a journalist. Which is probably why Suzy and Deon bonded over what they both love most about their careers – research. ‘I love talking to people and to experts one-on-one,’ Deon shared. Not a fan of just sitting behind a computer, he encouraged writers to get out of their chairs and travel. ‘You have to expose yourself to potential stories, ideas and people.’ This is where the unexpected discoveries come for his novels. For Deon ‘it’s not just research – it’s enrichment’.
Suzy and Deon also spoke about how two-thirds of writing a book is about knuckling down, and Deon shared an exciting teaser for his next novel: a ‘whydunnit’ set in Stellenbosch, which is partly inspired by real-life events. Like everyone else, he’s faced the great paradox of lockdown: more time, but no concentration. ‘It’s been the hardest writing process of my entire life,’ he said.
Deon’s trick to penning gripping mysteries is to write with one eye on reality. As for his feelings about South Africa, he said: ‘I have great hope; I’m an eternal optimist and I’m a romantic. I believe that we can make this country work.’
He left the audience with a strong message about the writing process: ‘Writing is like driving a car at night: you know more or less where you’re going, but all you can see is what’s illuminated by the headlights.’ A 30-minute masterclass indeed!
Be sure to get your ticket for the next 20/20 Masterclass when Helen Wills demonstrates life-changing yoga asanas to unwind, sleep better and breathe deeper. To book your spot, go to https://qkt.io/ZWnBwz.
If you’d like to follow Deon Meyer, find him on social media: