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I was born on 2 January 1970 in Welkom, South Africa. After school I worked at numerous companies, including a large life insurer. It was during this time that studied for a BA degree in social sciences through the University of South Africa.
I now live in the city of Bloemfontein, the place where JRR Tolkien was born. I am grateful for the numerous literary awards some of my children’s books and youth novels have won, but I always strive to do better when starting a new manuscript.
I currently write and illustrate books fulltime, and I also do some freelance work for magazines and newspapers.
While you are reading this, I’m probably working on my next bestseller.
I started writing when I was still at school but didn’t think much of it. I always thought that only ‘other people write books’ and that most of them were probably dead. And then I met an inspiring children’s author and I decided to try my hand at it. Of course I received endless amounts of rejection letters but then one day I got the call all aspiring writers long for. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today I concentrate on writing for the children and youth market. I think I am still a child at heart. There are no boundaries when it comes to children’s imagination. As I am a constant dreamer, this is a world I feel comfortable exploring.
I find inspiration in the smallest of things. Conversations with people, or subjects popping up in the news sometimes spark up an idea. Oh, and strangely enough, I find trees and food very inspiring. Yes, I know it is a bit weird.
For Scarred Lions I actually went to a game resort for a few days and drove around with a very knowledgeable game ranger who introduced me to the wonderful world of South African plants and animals.
I enjoy listening to music and attending rock concerts. This was the inspiration for MindF***. I studied a bit of psychology, which also helped in writing the book.
I also do a lot of research on the internet and in libraries. For an Afrikaans book about computer hackers I actually managed to get the help of real hackers.
For me the story is the most important thing when it comes to writing. If you don't have an original story that will keep readers turning the page, you might as well not start.
I am busy writing a series for children aged 11+. The first book will be published in Afrikaans next year. It is filled with humour and suspense and will glue readers to each and every page.
I am also scribbling down some children’s verses and working on a graphic depiction of one of my short stories on Facebook. It is part of the Northwest University’s Transgressions and boundaries of the page project.
I am regularly invited to schools and book clubs to talk about my work, and I do give short talks on writing books for children and the youth.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My webpage is at: www.fanieviljoen.co.za (available in both English and Afrikaans)