We chat to Tumelo about his debut novel
This year might have come with its fair share of drama but on the bright side it has also been a year for great reads. We have been showered with words from Mohale Mashigo, Panashe Chigumadzi and Khaya Dlanga to name a few. This was also the year of the new fiction author. One such author is Tumelo Buthelezi who burst onto the literary scene earlier this year with his debut novel, The Last Sentence.
The Vaal native has always had a love for reading, this passion has resulted in him founding the Ink Gallery, a movement that promotes reading in youth.
The Last Sentence is a thriller that follows Banele, a struggling screenwriter, who has lost his inspiration and his fame after a series of unexplained events. Enter Molly, the spirit of vengeance and a young actress who met an early end after she was kidnapped and killed for ritual sacrifice- the ritual sacrifice that gave Banele his fame.
We had a chat with Tumelo about his novel, his writing process and the future of Banele and Molly. This is what he had to say.
Take us through your writing process in general and more specifically your writing journey with The Last Sentence
TB: The Last Sentence is one of the many stories that I wrote in support of the Ink Gallery. It’s unique structure was born from my love for scripts (screen and stage). I wanted to feature this component of writing in my first book to come out of the gate swinging with a special debut, and make an impression that will be hard to compare to anything that was or will be in the market. As soon as I finished the manuscript I placed it on the desk of a publisher ( shout out to Black Bird Books) who believed in it and committed resources to turning it into the product you see today.
The story is very gripping and colourful with twists and turns that are unexpected. What inspired the plot?
TB: I had already written some other projects, but none of them really felt like the best way to officially introduce my work to the world. So, when I was going through my personal archives searching for ideas that needed to be further developed, I found these two scripts I had written a while back and immediately understood that I was going to struggle to get them published. That’s when I decided to create a new layer around them; an atmosphere that became the story of Bandile Ndala, a once-successful scriptwriter who now struggles
with substance abuse, anxiety and depression. Gradually losing
his grip on reality. One day he wakes up in a hotel room at the Cariba Inn with a sultry temptress. Holding him hostage. Forcing him to write his Last Sentence. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? But not to Bandile for he was given a few days to write something that would save his life.
Do you see yourself in any of the characters?
TB: Remove all the dense layers Bandile Ndala is dressed in and you will see a part of me in him. I also know a thing or two about losing the things that meant everything to me and having to start over.
Let’s talk about Molly, how do you want her to be seen by the audience?
TB: Molly is my most unapologetic response to violence against women and children. She’s a young lady who fell victim to the greed of men with little to no regard for human life. Just like Molly, the victims of fatal violence must have had dreams and goals they wanted to pursue before the merciless hands of their perpetrators took their lives. So I included her in the book for the reader to decide if they agree with her sense of justice or not.
What are the three words that you would use to describe The Last Sentence?
TB: Unique. Suspenseful. Dark
What are you hoping the reader walks away with after reading your book?
TB: Readers will reach the back cover entertained and begging for more. But most importantly, I hope they would pick up one of the main themes in the book… Depression. Start discussing the importance of mental health. It affects a lot of people and needs serious attention.
Can we expect a sequel?
TB: (Malevolent grin) You haven’t seen the Last of Molly or Bandile
What are you plans for the future?
TB: Promote the book and try to strike a movie deal (crossing fingers). Publish a few more novels. Spread the influence of the Ink Gallery movement.