Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Lauri Kubuitsile

 Lauri Kubuitsile is an award winning, full time writer living in Botswana. Her short stories have been published on four continents and she has 14 published works of fiction, primarily for children. (You can read my review of her book, Signed, Hopelessly in Love.) She’s also written six textbooks, two television series and numerous radio scripts. She has twice won first place in Africa’s prize for children’s writing, The Golden Baobab. Most recently she was shortlisted for The Caine Prize.

Recently, she set off on a book tour and graciously agreed to make Straight From Hel one of her stops. I’m asking her some questions, and I hope you’ll have some of your own to ask in the Comments Section.

Welcome Lauri Kubuitsile.

 When you started writing Signed, Hopelessly in Love, was the ending already decided or did the full plot develop as you wrote?
The thought that was the seed of this book was how we make mistakes and how we think they’re the end of the world when they’re really not. And how this is amplified by a million for teenagers. Everything they do seems to be wrong and they’re absolutely positive everyone in the world saw it and are having a grand time about it at their expense. But the truth of the matter is usually very different. That’s what I wanted the book to be about. So in that sense, I knew the ending, I knew she would find her way to the other side and see that it wasn’t quite the end of the world as she had thought. So how to get from A to B was the complicated part, the work of writing the book. There was some pre-planning, and some plot development along the way; this is the normal way I approach books. I need a guide but I’m not a slave to it if I find the plot going elsewhere.
I really enjoyed Signed, Hopelessly in Love. When you wrote it, did you channel your teenage self a bit? If so, which character did you relate with most?
Amo was definitely me. I had a huge, mammoth crush on a guy on the football team two years ahead of me in school. He didn’t even see me. I was invisible. And yet I had this whole drama built around our interactions. For example, I’d pass him in the hall while laughing with my friends and for weeks I’d fret about how stupid and childish I must have looked. But like I said, I was invisible to him. It was an entire universe in my head. So I could definitely identify with Amo.
I love that Amo had a definite character arc over the course of the book. Will there be a future book with Amo and Nono ?
When I hear terms like “character arc” I shake a bit and my palms start to sweat. I know what such terms mean but- I need to lay myself bare here- I really am an instinctual writer. I’ve been a story addict since birth, so the story format has become part of my DNA, I occasionally get things right but by complete accident. I’m glad Amo has a complete character arc but anything that happened in that direction was not purposefully guided by me.

Every stop on this book tour people have asked me about a sequel, so I think it may be a good idea. Initially, as soon as I finished the book, I wanted to write a second one. I had a very good idea that I was sure would work, but didn’t write it down and have forgotten it a bit. (Be that a lesson for all of you writers out there- write it down!) Then it was all about getting it published, and this you know takes time, so things have grown a bit cold. But who knows? Maybe that’s better. As a reader I love series, so perhaps.
Thank you so much, Lauri.

Signed, Hopelessly in Love is a Young Adult book published by Tafelberg, a South African publisher. You can find it online. Check the review I did on Monday for links to online places where it’s available.

Before you zip away, leave a comment and/or question, please.


  1. Helen, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. You've been very generous. :)

  2. Perfect description of teenage drama! Great interview.

  3. What a wonderfully prolific author. I'm intrigued by having Lauri's having written six textbooks. And all of the other things as well!

    This sounds like an encouraging book for young people and a reaffirming book for those of us who are young at heart.

    Thanks, Helen, for the introduction to Lauri and her work.

    Best selling author Lani Diane Rich visits
    Tossing It Out
    Wednesday November 16th.

  4. I love your thoughts on writing--I can relate to the whole "instinctual writer" concept, lol!

    Having teens currently, you have their *universe perceptions* down pat.

    I'm ordering your book for a couple of teens who love to read.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  5. Thanks Liza!
    Arlee- I used to be a science teacher, most of my textbooks are science textbooks.
    Sia- thanks so much for ordering my book. I'd love to hear what you and your teens think of it.

  6. Howdy Lauri & Helen! Great interview. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets sweaty palms at the talk of character arcs! I feel the same about outlines!

    Good luck with "Signed, Hopelessly in Love" Lauri!
    Judy, South Africa

  7. Very nice interview and especially intrigiung because the author's in Botswana.

  8. Too true. In retrospect, many of what we consider emergencies, even as adults, really aren't.

    Morgan Mandel

  9. Teenagers and drama go together like milk and cookies.

  10. Very true Morgan! The older I get, the calmer I stay.

  11. I think we stop caring about impressing other people as we grow older. Lauri, did you ever meet the hunk again after you were both grown? Did he notice you then? I'm always nosy about the after-story. I've had men confess their devotion to me decades later, and I was just speechless! Me? Of course, then it was too late.

  12. What is it with men, Dani?

    Except for the aches & pains, I so am enjoying not being "young" anymore. I even like my silver hair.

    Teen drama for the win! It writes itself! Fun blog. :) Best of luck with the book!

  13. Dani (and Lauri) when you do find out what it is with men, let me know!

  14. Congratulations Lauri, very insightful and important subject.

    My Darcy Vibrates…

  15. Thanks Judy you are always a darling!

    Thanks for your kind words Jean. Nowadays, thankfully, the world has become much smaller for writers and being in Botswana is not as much of a problem for me as it would have been in the past.

    Yes, Morgan, I agree I think time gives us perspective to see clearly what's important.

    Dani- never met him again. :(

    Thanks Red and Enid!

  16. Sorry I took so long to get here but what a fabulous interview. I particularly liked the question re. the ending because I always wonder about things like that. Fantastic interview, Helen. Lauri is a true talent!

  17. I'm late here, but had to drop by to read another stop on Lauri's blog book tour.. I enjoyed your Setswana comments in the earlier book review post, Helen!!

  18. Why, thank you, Karen. I'm thinking I could become a translator.

  19. Even I was impressed with her quickness in learning Setswana Karen!
    Thanks for stopping by Selma and as always for your wonderful support!


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