Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Helen Moffett

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

About Helen Moffett

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.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Greywolf</a>
    September 21st, 2009 @11:09 #

    Helen ,I've read excerpts from your latest book - absolutely beautiful and inspiring. Bring them on, girl.I sincerely hope that there will be many more books in the future.You have a wonderful talent for weaving colourful, graphic portraits and landscapes with your words.You have lived these experiences and you share these personal moments with your readers in a most open and refreshing way.I'm heading out to buy myself a copy of 'Strange Fruit'.

    Glad to see you're still singing...!!!!!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    September 21st, 2009 @13:30 #

    Thank you Greywolf, how flattering, and how lovely to have a lupine fan. But I am still trying to figure out your true identity -- did you teach me English at school???

    PS: If you have any trouble sourcing Strange Fruit, insist that your local bookstore place an order. Blue Weaver is doing distribution, so there shouldn't be a problem. But if they look baffled get in touch with


Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat