About Helen Moffett
I’m an editor, poet, teacher, and scholar.
People, especially writers, often have strange ideas about what editing entails. It means acting as much more than just a copyeditor or a proofreader. Ideally, being an editor is an amalgam of being a supervisor, agent, mentor, advisor and sounding-board, as well as someone who re-arranges words and fixes errors of concord. In my work, editor and author meet as professionals with equally valuable skills in a spirit of collaboration, from which both parties learn and grow.
Although I cut my teeth as an academic editor, more recently I’ve been lucky to work with some of the African continent’s brightest writers of fiction, including (and this is not even vaguely an exhaustive list) Lauren Beukes, Zakes Mda, Ivan Vladislavic, Sarah Lotz, Thando Mgqolozana, Jane Taylor, Diane Awerbuck, Gabeba Baderoon, Nadia Davids, Sarah Lotz, Jamala Safari, Liesl Jobson, and Sindiwe Magona.
To balance things out, I also work on the other side of the author/editor relationship, mostly as a poet. I have so far released two collections of poetry: Strange Fruit, published in 2009 by Modjaji Books; and Prunings, published in 2016 by uHlanga. Both have been received kindly by the press. John Eppel found Strange Fruit a “compelling” read, containing “a poetry of glittering surfaces”. (LitNet found the poems more “altogether edible”.) Prunings likewise has been lauded for its “wonder” and “power” by the Cape Times.
Perhaps my greatest commercial success in writing has come with the deliciously fun A Girl Walks In choose-your-own-erotic-adventure trilogy I co-wrote with Sarah Lotz and Paige Nick under the nom de plume Helena S. Paige. A Girl Walks Into a Bar, A Girl Walks Into A Wedding, and A Girl Walks Into A Blind Date have been translated into I-don’t-know-how-many languages.
Away from creative writing, I work primarily as a teacher. Teaching and training is what I live to do, and what I love more than anything else. While life has conspired to lead me away from university teaching, I still manage to work outside of the academy, both in South Africa and abroad. My clients include the African Gender Institute, the Centre for Conflict Resolution, the Human Sciences Research Council, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. As that client list might suggest, I take feminist scholarship very seriously, particularly when it comes to sexual violence. My work on sexual violence has been used for training purposes by Rape Crisis Cape Town, UN-INSTRAW, Womankind UK and the National Resource Center for Sexual Violence in the United States. It is emotionally draining, but necessary work.
Until the tide of sexual violence abates in South Africa, I have to find comfort in other work (and my two felines, Meg and Lily.) Most notably, I spent ten unforgettable years working on the late cricket guru Bob Woolmer’s magnum opus, Bob Woolmer’s Art and Science Of Cricket, with a team that included co-author Tim Noakes and editor Tom Eaton. I have also worked on an anthology of landscape writing, a collection of African short fiction, an anthology of writing about animals, and much more besides.
You can find out more about all of my books (that are currently in-print) here.