INTERVIEW WITH ELAINE BUNBURY
CUTHBERT MAKWETURA: When were you born?
ELAIN BUNBURY: I was born in Durban, South Africa.
CM: Did you ever get a rejection letter? If so, what mistakes do you think you made?
E.B: I received some rejection letters but understood this is not unusual for
a unknown writer. I consulted the Writers Market in the Public L;ibrary and sent my manuscript out to appropriate
publishers. Most publishers they will not look at unsolicited work. However, I would do it differently now. I would have my
work proffesionally edited BEFORE submitting to publishers as I would believe this would bo more appealing as less of work
for a publisher. However, I do urge first time writwers not to be dicouraged by rejection but to persevere and be persistent.
CM: What inspired you to write What Hope Have You?
E.B: My husband and I and our three married children left Sout Africa in 1978 because of apartheid,
although it cost us financially. We believed at the time that this system was firmly entrenced and as we could fresee any
change and that the was nothimg that we, as white liberals and a minority, could do to bring about change within the framework
of the law and the official opposition with whom we were working. Other whites regarded us as traitors and many black people
didnt believe we could really understand their situation-there was no place for us in our own country! After living in Canada
a while I began writing down storiesv my mother had told of her own experiences, growing up in Kimberely during the Anglo-Boer
war and stories of herb mother, who had been taken to South Africa as a young child from Eastern Europe when diamonds were
discoered, because I wanted my Canadian born grandchildren to know about their South African roots. I soon realised however
that people in North America understood verry little about how clonialism affected the lives of the families of black people
and thosevof mixed race. I wanted to tell how they handled their oppression and how they finally overcame with their
innate sense of optimism and hope and so I explainedf my story to include two other families, one black and one of mixed
blood, based on the lives of people I knew and those close to us. THE STORY EXTENDS OVER FOUR GENERATIONS and one hundred
C.M: Which published writer do you admire most and why?
E.B: I admire many published writers for different reasons. One in particular is Philip Roth for
his ability to get into the mind of his characters showing their innermost feelings and consciuosness. He is also able to
capture the comedy of a situation.
C.M: What are the challenges do you think the modern writer faces, published or unpublished?
E.B: I believe the biggest challenge facing the modern writer is getting recognition first to get published
when there ias so much competition and then, once published, promoting ones work because many of the new writers leave
this to the writer.
C.M: Which genre or genres do you special;ise in?
E.B: My story is socio-political family saga.
C.M: To be a writer does one necessarily have to join some writing courses?
E.B: I believe it is helpful to join a creative writing workshop at a university or take courses in
English literature. I did this. Some courses give advice and help on getting published.
C.M: Brsides writing, what do you do, hobbies etc?
E.B: I enjoy reading and volunteer work, fundraising for thwe Arts such as our local annual Literary
Arts Festival and local Opera Society. I am also involved with fundraising for an organisation called W.HE.A.T( Womens Hope,
Education And Training Trust) in South Africa. Together with another South African we have launched W.H.E.A.T(Canada) and
have organised fund raising events with the funds sent directly to South Africa. I also enjoy gardening.
C.M: What word of advice can you give to unpublished writers out there?
E.B: Do not allow rejection letters to maske you feel rejected! Be persistent, positive and persevere.