In my last year of high school, my English teacher, Miss Botha (we never knew her first name then), inspired a whole generation of boys (I went to an all-male school) to write. I remember the exact moment I was inspired to become a writer. She asked us to read a passage from James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, where the protagonist is walking on the beach. He is about to become a priest and take his vows, but he sees a woman swimming in the sea and walking onto the beach. Her beauty is a vision that inspires him to leave the Church and to become a writer, to become, in his words, a ‘priest of the imagination’. I too decided then and there to become a priest of the imagination, to explore new worlds, to experiment, to dare to dream, to write. Every so often, a new book explodes on the scene that takes everyone by surprise.
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