Clive Myburgh is a young writer from Fish Hoek whose love for science fiction and fantasy novels inspired him to write a novel of his own.
Although his interest in books and reading developed during his high school years, it was only during his gap year after matric that Clive realised he wanted to write for a living. For a first-time writer the idea of writing a novel sometimes seems like a daunting task. Knowing that he should start small and work his way up, Clive realised that the easiest way to enter the industry would be to write short stories.
Armed with only a few instruction books and tips on how to be a good writer, Clive started to practise and soon began to master his trade. He attended a short creative writing course and focused on improving his language and writing techniques. His efforts paid off, and in 2007, his short story “What Makes Us Human” made it into the Top 10 in Science Fiction South Africa’s annual Nova Short Story Competition. It was published in Probe, the club’s official magazine.
After the success of having his short story published, Clive decided to embark on tertiary studies. He completed a diploma in Film and Television Production Techniques at City Varsity. He majored in directing and scriptwriting, and says that learning to write scripts has taught him a lot about writing fiction. “Scriptwriting teaches you the core of how to write a good, solid story,” he says. “It teaches you how to be descriptive and how to write a dialogue, which are two of the most important elements of a good novel.” On completion of his studies, he realised that the film industry in South Africa is very difficult to get into, and that scriptwriting does not offer a writer the freedom that writing a novel does. He began the big challenge of writing his first full-length novel.
Clive completed his novel, Stolen Worlds, last year and is currently working on its final draft. It is a science fiction novel and is aimed at readers aged 16 years and older. “I love stories that contain mystery,” says Clive, “and that is why I love science fiction.” This genre allows the writer to pose many questions to the reader whilst maintaining a sense of mystery, he explains. When asked about the science fiction market in South Africa, Clive says that although it is not as big or successful as other genres of writing, it has certainly improved in the past few years. Films such as District Nine and the rise of Lauren Beukes’s novels (particularly Zoo City) have pushed the market in the right direction.
Whilst many local writers aim their work at a South African readership, Clive wants to target the universal reader. “My novel is not even set on earth, so it definitely shouldn’t appeal to readers in South Africa only,” he explains. The massive following of the fantasy and science fiction genres in North America have created huge successes for writers such as Warren Hammond and Stephen King, two of Clive’s biggest influences. He is thus hoping to get his work published overseas as well as in South Africa.
While many young writers struggle to get started and feel intimidated by the task of producing a piece of written work, Clive has embraced the challenge. This young, talented writer is full of ideas and enthusiasm, and certainly has many successes to look forward to.
Anien matriculated from Fish Hoek High School in 2006 and is currently doing her honours degree in English Studies at the University of Cape Town. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism after she graduates.