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Wilbur Smith's Pune Tour

Post by: Deepti Khanna

He enters and he is welcomed with a thundering round of applause and a standing ovation. All of a sudden you overhear people say, “He’s here… Wilbur Smith’s here” and he walks in and flashes a warm smile. As soon as he sits and gets comfortable, this writing phenomenon, Wilbur Smith, takes the mike and clarifies, “I am NOT here to sell my books but to gain sympathy as a writer!” And this is how begins this hour-long warm, candid conversation with this great South African writer at Landmark Store, SGS Mall, who shares his highs and lows as a writer.

As a young boy Wilbur Smith wasn’t encouraged to write, particularly by his father. His father wanted Smith to procure “a real job” and so he went about being a tax officer. Then the writing bug bit him and tried his hand at writing. His first novel was a total failure with no one ready to publish it. “That is when I thought maybe my father as right,” says author Wilbur Smith, who is in India on a six-city tour to promote his latest venture, Those In Peril.

Sometime later he thought of giving writing another chance and penned When The Lion Feeds, which was an instant hit. On one of his tours, he saw someone read When The Lion Feeds at Heathrow airport and he was elated… He could not contain his happiness and walked up to the lady and said: “Do you know this is my book?” She quickly apologized by saying, “Oh sorry. I just found the copy lying around so I began reading it,” recalls this master storyteller.

With a few hits, Wilbur was a renowned name. However, he confessed that it has not been a comfortable journey all along. Despite the fame, there have been times when he has been written off as “sadist, sexist and racist” but that did not come in his way of writing. “I remember this incident when The Los Angeles Times criticized my work. I was so upset that I drove down to meet my mentor and he said: Wow this is a full page article. But I argued they have written only negative things. To which my mentor replied: Being written off is better than not written about at all,” reminisces Wilbur Smith.

Speaking about the highs of writing he said he met an avid traveler who had lost a leg; someone who couldn’t travel anymore. This person told Smith once that it was through his books he traveled all across Africa.

It is great surprise that even after Smith’s six books being made into major motion pictures he chooses to stay away from Hollywood. “In my opinion a movie is one thing and book is another. And they should never meet,” he says matter-of-factly in a country where most judge books by their movie adaptations. Seven of his books have been adapted into movies.

When someone from the audience asked him about writer’s block he said, “If you are a writer you write while the others make excuses.” He believes that this term “writer’s block” should be stricken from English language. Even after writing more than 30 bestsellers he feels he is like a “dam ready to burst…”


With so many books and that too so many critically acclaimed titles we cannot but agree.


Add Your Comment:

He is dam crazzzy
Fri,Jan 6th 2012 10:38 AM
He is not crazy but he is a dream merchant who sells hope, adventure, love, happiness and much more to the lonely souls....
Padho to jano...(Read to know him better).
Wed,Dec 14th 2011 5:44 AM
Madhu Nair
He is as crazy as a man can be. Let the dam burst!
Tue,Dec 6th 2011 8:12 AM