What Is The Spark?

Spark by Gabriel Pollard

Inspired by John Scalzi’s awesome The Big Idea, I’ve set up a weekly guest blog called The Spark, where African novelists can promote their new novels by writing a short personal essay about the inspiration (or the spark) for the story. 

It’s a side project  I run in my spare time because there’s incredible writing talent on the continent (and the diaspora) and I want to shine a blazing light on it.

Over the last four months, writers have written about how their novels were inspired by wondering what if the crazy tabloid headlines were true or by a popular Soweto ghost story, or because you were clawing your way out of depression,  or trying to live down the embarrassment of being a black student mugged by a white guy, or because Rihanna saved your life or you wrote this story because you wanted to look fancy reading alone in bars.

niq-mhlongo-way-back-homeSmall Things Cover

It’s going gangbusters, with contributions from the likes of  Alex LatimerNiq Mhlongo, Nnedi Okorafor, Fiona Snyckers, SL Grey, Kgebetli Moele, Sally Partridge, Charlie Human, Jason Staggie, CA Davids and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma among others. 

I’m always looking for new guest contributors, so if you are an African novelist (in the broadest and most inclusive sense), with a new book out (now or in the last six months) and the book is out with a traditional publisher, please get in touch.

And if you’re a publisher, please spread the word to your authors!

If you’d like to write a guest blog for The Spark, please read the following guidelines below VERY CAREFULLY.

KabuKabu cover finalrisk cover The Blacks of Cape Town cover jpeg-1

What I’m Looking For:

You should be able to write a personal guest blog 400-1000 words that will give readers insight into what sparked off this book for you, what it’s about, what you put into it, how you built that spark into a blaze.

It can be funny, moving, sad, gut-wrenching, silly, enraging as long as it’s personal. The idea is you get to talk about your work and pitch it to a potential new audience.

In this pitch, please include your name, a sentence about you,  the title of the book, a sentence or two on what your spark was and what you’re going to write about and the book’s publication info (release date, publisher)

If I say yes, awesome, then I’ll slot you in and give you a deadline for your essay.

Please, please, please, read the rules and guidelines first.

To query me, email me via my contact form with the words THE SPARK QUERY in the subject line.


Please query me first, do NOT send me a completed essay! 

You should be a South African or African writer, in the broadest and most inclusive sense of that.  I’m looking to highlight all kinds of writers across all kinds of fiction.

You should have a new novel or short story collection out (allowing for a 3-6 month window. eg. if your book is out right now or it came out in the last 3-6 months, it’s eligible.)

If it’s coming out later this year, query me now with the release date.

I’m not doing non-fiction at this time.

The book has to be published by an established third party publisher (ie. no vanity press, Smashwords, Amazon Digital Services etc, no self-published ebooks).

Please don’t try to convince me otherwise. It’s my blog, my rules and it’s to make my life more manageable running this passion project in my free time.


(*Image: Creative Commons by Gabriel Pollard)