Words have power to lift you out of bad day

SINOVUYO Nkonki is an author of young adult fiction who wrote her first novel Crooked Halo at the age of 19 and is now working on her second novel.

Q: What books did you read when you were a child?

A: My earliest memory is a pop up Aladdin story book that my aunt bought me. I was ecstatic! Roald Dahl's BFG, Matilda and the Goosebumps series by RL Stine were my favourites when I was in primary school.

Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?

A: I would be Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She's one of my favourite female characters because at a time when women were meant to be timid and focused on flighty things, she was headstrong, passionate, a deep thinker and willing to stick her neck out for the ones she loved. Plus she got the guy at the end, so that's always good!

Q: What is the best thing about reading?

A: The best thing about reading is losing yourself in the lives of the characters you're reading about or a line of thinking that never occurred to you and then being able to sit back later and reflect on how that has impacted you. I always aim to create that experience for my readers because words hold so much power. They could lift you out of a bad day or remind you of what's important ... there's really nothing bad about reading!

Q: What is your all-time favourite book?

A: For me, the answer to this changes every couple of months. But so far, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini has left a lasting mark with me. His writing style grabs you and gets you stuck in the character's lives and surroundings almost immediately.

Q: How would you encourage children to read?

A: If I had children, I imagine I would read books that would entertain yet educate them at different stages of their lives, not only academically but emotionally and morally as well so that they could grow up knowing that reading is enjoyable and a necessary part of growth.

Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children's communication skills?

A: I've noticed that parents who really get to know their children and patiently teach them in ways that are enjoyable or appealing to their children often raise well-rounded adults. So, make learning fun for children through different mediums and most importantly, make time to teach them yourself ... (Note to self: remember this when you are a parent someday).

Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?

A: My parents played a big part. My mother encouraged me to start writing in a diary and that's what led to my love of writing. When I wrote my little stories in primary school, my parents would actually read them and make comments and as I grew older and wrote about deeper topics, that never changed. Their support has been unrelenting.

During my gap year, when I wrote Crooked Halo, I didn't have to ask twice for financial support to attend writing course after writing course. And not only my parents, but my aunts and uncles encouraged me too, took me seriously, critiqued my "work" and that made me feel and believe that I could really do it and most importantly, not give up.