People often complain about winter: dark mornings, icy wind and broody evenings. But it’s a magical time of the year: red wine, blankets and of course, diving into a really good book. We’ve had a literary crush on Yewande Omotoso for a long time. Her book is a finalist in the Sunday Times‘ Literary Awards, for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. A while back she spoke to us about The Woman Next Door, her book about how Cape Town’s colonial past affects the lives of bickering neighbours.

After I published my first book, Bom Boy (Modjaji Books), it became easier to write. I knew I would come out the other end. I don’t write in a linear fashion; nothing is in order. I draw from intuition that produces the aesthetic result I enjoy. So once complete, I piece it together.

I usually set my narratives in Cape Town because it’s the city I am most familiar with. When I started writing The Woman Next Door in 2012, I was spending a lot of time with my grandmother, so I wanted to write about older people. I was also preoccupied with friendship and how effective it was as a tool for redemption.

My favourite time to write is in the morning, when everyone is sleeping. I can write anywhere, as long as I’m on a comfortable chair and the desk is at the right height, so I don’t get backache.

I don’t find it difficult to juggle my job and my writing. I usually write between 4am and 7am, which allows me to focus on my architecture during the day.

The shortlist for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize is:

  • The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotose
  • The Printmaker by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen
  • Period Pain by Kopano Matl
  • Little Suns by Zakes Mda
  • The Safest Place You Know by Mark Winkler

Last year, the prestigious award went to Nkosinathi Sithole for her book titled Hunger Eats a Man. The winner of the Barry Ronge Prize will be announced on 24 June. We’ll keep you updated.

The original interview with Yewande Omotose was conducted by Stefanie Jason for Marie Claire.