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Helen Moffett

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

About Helen Moffett

Helen Moffett I wear many hats. The pic here shows me clutching a Moxyland beastie in my incarnation as an editor (in this case, of Lauren Beukes’s Moxyland.) I cut my teeth as an academic editor, and soon came to specialise in what some call development editing. This means acting as much more than a copyeditor: ideally, the role is an amalgam of academic supervisor, agent, mentor, advisor and sounding-board. It’s vital that the relationship between the author and writer is a horizontal one, not vertical — both editor and author should meet as professionals with equally valuable skills in a spirit of collaboration. Both can and should learn from the process. Increasingly, I’m focusing on fiction editing, where I’m lucky to work with some of Africa’s best and brightest writers.

Some authors I’ve worked with: Ade Adebajo, Diane Awerbuck, Gabeba Baderoon, Lauren Beukes, Matthew Blackman, Andrew Brown, Edyth Bulbring, Mike Cope, Myrl Coulter, Nadia Davids, Richard de Nooy, Tom Eaton, Justin Fox, Robyn Goss, Lesley Green, Adam Habib, Shamil Jeppe, Premesh Lalu, Jacqui L’Ange, Liesl Jobson, Sarah Lotz, Sindiwe Magona, Siphiwo Mahala, Amina Mama, Zakes Mda, Thando Mgqolozana, Paige Nick, S. A. Partridge, Jamala Safari, Fiona Snyckers, Elinor Sisulu, Sylvia Tamale, Jane Taylor, Ivan Vladislavic, Terry Westby-Nunn, Makhosazana Xaba.

The words “learn” and “enlighten” take me to Hat the Second. Fundamentally, I’m a teacher. Or trainer. This is what I live to do, and love more than anything else. Life has conspired to lead me away from university teaching, although I’ve been doing this both part- and full-time for decades. I’ll never give it up entirely, although I do more training these days, which generally takes place outside of the academy.

Some clients I’ve done training for: African Gender Institute, Centre for Conflict Resolution, Feminist Africa, Human Sciences Research Council, Robben Island Heritage Centre, Timbuktu Project, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa, Creative Non-fiction Collective of Canada.

I have a very serious and dark hat as a feminist scholar/activist who writes about sexual violence. My writings have been used for training purposes by Rape Crisis Cape Town, UN-INSTRAW, Womankind UK and and the National Resource Center for Sexual Violence in the US. I present this work to audiences ranging from trauma surgeons to psychologists to journalists, and I’ve been published in academic journals and essay collections. If only the tide of gender-based violence in South Africa showed any signs of receding.

So I wear other hats to comfort me, including my cricket hat. I spent ten unforgettable years working on the late Bob Woolmer’s magnum opus, with a team that included co-author Tim Noakes and editor Tom Eaton. I am a never-quite-recovering cricket addict, and I’ve also been lucky enough to make two documentary films on cricket and nation-building with the gifted filmmaker Mark Kaplan. I’ve lectured on cricket in the Caribbean, and have an invitation to go back…

Other woolly and comforting hats: mother of Meg and Lily (tortoise-shell girls), a Sunday night singer, and a closet flamenco dancer.

And I have a poet hat: my first collection of poems, Strange Fruit, was published by Mojadji Books, with my second collection due out from uHlanga Press late in 2016.


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


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