Ceridwen Dovey is a South African born novelist who now lives in New York. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 2003, Dovey returned to South Africa to write a novel. Blood Kin, the result of that work, was published in 2007 to critical acclaim: the novel was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Informed by Dovey's South African roots, the novel tells the story of a fictional military coup from the perspective of the overthrown leader's portraitist, chef, and barber. Dovey is currently completing a PhD in Anthropology at New York University. Dovey doesn't see a conflict between her two passions. "Both anthropology and good fiction are full of thick description and a layering of detail," she says.
Question: Do you have any advice for young writers
Dovey: I guess just that it’s always a kind of work. I mean I know that’s sort of self-evident, but there is a kind of myth, I think, surrounding all artists that it’s this kind of hallowed form of creation; that somehow something is parting through you, the way inspiration is talked about in general – almost as a sort of external force that, you know, manifests itself. And it’s never felt like that for me. It’s always felt like hard work. And maybe it means I shouldn’t be doing it. But mostly the pleasure is in the relief of just having got your quota of words for the day; and a kind of long term pleasure of the slow, crawl of something that turns into something. But I guess yeah, not to get . . . not to get disheartened by the slog . . . the everyday slog of the process. Recorded on: 12/6/07