Carol Tiyelesa Phiri will tell you she is “A university student who just happens to be in love with all things literature.” But she is also an entrepreneur, brand ambassador, author, blogger and the founder of the Literature Corner: a platform for up and coming writers and poets. She is our guest on Zambia Reads this week.

Have you always been a literature nerd?

Yes, from as far back as I can remember. I have always written and read books.

At what age did you realise that is something you loved?

I don’t think that I realised it, more like it has always been a part of my life.

What book got you into reading?

I honestly can’t remember what book got me into reading but it is probably Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

What about it got your attention?

Her ability to tell a story in that whatever circumstance you find yourself in, there is always room for you to better yourself and your circumstance.

I saw on your blog that you finished writing two novels, back to back, a couple of years ago. How did that happen?

I was writing them simultaneously which when I think back on I have no idea how I managed to do that when one I can only write one book at a time and my laptop is filled with book ideas I am yet to write but then again I had more free time back then as compared to now. I tend to have multiple ideas running through my head that plague me until I write them down as a complete book.

Did you find the publisher you were looking for?

Yes, I did which happened ironically because I was not exactly looking for one at the time because I had put my writing career on hold and then all a sudden the opportunity presented itself to me and I, of course, had to grab it.

Tell me about the novel you are most proud of.

My proudest novel thus far has to be ‘Seven Minutes’ because it helped me through a very tough time in my life as I used it to purge all the hurt and emotion I was experiencing at the time and came out a better person for it after I had finished writing it.

Do you have a favorite author?

My favourite author is Jane Austen

What is it about her work that you love?

She speaks so very deeply to my soul and is the greatest influence in my writing career.

How important is it to you to know about the storyteller?

Honestly, I am more interested in the story than the storyteller; the only storyteller I am obsessed with is Jane Austen.

Have you ever read something that made you change the way you looked at life and yourself?

I feel like I read so many life-changing books and [they] are too many to count but they have influenced and changed me for the better which just makes me love reading even more.

What are you currently reading

Right now I am taking a break from reading and am concentrating on my writing because I like to do this thing where I either read a lot for months on end or write for months on end. 

What was the best book you read last year?

The best book I read last year was ‘A Few Moments of Bliss’ by Bryll Mulangala.

Are there any titles you are looking forwarding to reading this year?

My reading is very random and with that being said, I do not normally have a reading list for the year but choose to read at my own pace.

What is the best African book you have ever read?

That has to be ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe.

Who is your favourite Zambian writer?

My favourite Zambian writer is Bryll Mulangala.

In a nutshell. What is Literature Corner?

The Literature Corner is a platform that supports upcoming writers and poets.

How has it influenced your life?

The Literature Corner has accorded me the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals and at the same time, it has pushed me to grow as a writer.

Do you think Zambian literature will ever be appreciated globally?

I know of a Zambian writer who published their book last year and already had their work sent to Europe so that definitely is a yes.

Do you have a favorite book quote?

Yes, I do it is the first sentence in Chapter one of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen where she wrote, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

What does it mean to you?

Which I find very ironic because in 1813 that was how society thought and in 2018 society still thinks in the same line. What it means to me is that even though society thinks one way, you don’t necessarily have to think like society and that it is perfectly fine to have your own thoughts that go against society.

Are you part of a book club?

Yes, I am part of my own book club where I review Zambian books that I read and also have book swaps for interaction purposes.

What book did you find hardest to read?

That would have to be the ‘Slammed Trilogy’ by Colleen Hoover because I was frustrated the entire time I was reading her books because the main characters were in denial through the books and did the opposite of what any sensible person would do.

Any words of advice to someone reading this that is looking to become a regular?

If you want to become a regular reader I suggest start with something you are interested in and then move on to something that is the polar opposite of what you are interested in as a way to challenge yourself and your thinking. Who knows you might learn something new.

Book recommendations:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A Few Moments of Bliss by Bryll Mulangala

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

You can follow Carol Tiyelesa Phiri on the links below:

Twitter – @CarolTiyelesa 

WordPress – caroltiyelesablog

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