Meet the Circle: Tino Chibebe

The members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle are a varied bunch. Prose writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, screenwriters and bringers of silly bits and pieces, we sweep in from all different occupations and locations twice a week to share our scrawlings with one another.

In ‘Meet the Circle’, we introduce you to some of our members, hopefully providing an insight into who we are, what we do, and what we think about Greco-Roman wrestling. Well, maybe not that last bit.

TinoBlogPhotoThis week we will hear from Tinotenda Chibebe. Tino is a 20-year-old student entrepreneur, born in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is currently the Digital Brand Manager at clothing brand, Sight, and a writer. He is studying Biochemical Engineering at the University of Leuven in Belgium. His interests include poetry, prose, technology, film, music and fashion.

When did you join the group?

I joined the group in October 2014.

What were your first impressions of the group?

The Circle was lovely. Everyone was welcoming and open. My young age, which I thought was going to be an issue wasn’t a problem at all. I seemed to seemlessly fit into the conversations because writers understand each other. To other people we might sound a  bit alien though.

Drake in cartoon format

Drake in cartoon format

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am a contributor for www.greenlabel.com which is a Rap-centric art website and movement. I am also working on an allegory of Zimbabwe’s past, present and imagined future. It’s a George Orwell-esque novel which I am writing with a very close friend of mine, Tafadzwa Kufazvinei. We’ve given ourselves 8 years to drop this masterpiece.

 

 

Who are your biggest literary influences? How have they influenced you?

Franz Kafka, Chinua Achebe and micro-bloggers, Lev Novak and Joao Matthews.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis is beautifully insane. He made something so strange into something so normal. That’s art and I feel that’s how writers and artists should aim manoeuvre at some point in their career, that is, “make light of what’s heavy”.

Achebe’s “There Was a Country” changed the way I think of myself, the world and matter in general. It made me question the term “it’s human to…” . That is, what is “being human”? If a human being can hack another to pieces with a machete all becuase they are “different” then what is “human”? This question inspires a lot of my poetry and is a big part of my novel that is yet to be actually written and given a name. We aren’t as good as we’d like to think.

As for the micro bloggers, their tweets are amazing. 140 characters and yet they say so much.

Jay Z also looking uncommonly cartoonish

Jay Z also looking uncommonly cartoonish

Do you have a memorable moment from the BWC that you could share?

“You have made me think about and want to listen to rap music now.”

This quote was on a Rap and Hip-Hop piece that I was writing for my blog which the BWC helped me edit and it has stuck with me ever since. It makes me believe that I have what these people would like to call “talent”.

What do you get out of the group?

New ways of looking at things and new ways of writing. Apart from that, the people are lovely. Not a lot of people my age can say they have 40+ year old friends but I can.

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Works-in-Progress: Lionskin

LidaBlogPhotoThe Brussels Writers’ Circle features members who are hard at work chipping away at various monumental and epoch-making pieces of literature. Or so we would hope. In this continuing segment, we interview member Lida Papasokrati about her current masterpiece-in-progress.

 

 

First off, what is it, novel/short story/non-fiction and what is it called?

It’s a short story called Lionskin, and it’s a fantasy retelling of the myth of Hercules.

Lionskin wearing his eponymous coat

Lionskin wearing his eponymous coat

Where and when does the action take place?

All the action takes place in a ”faraway kingdom, a long time ago”. Even though in the myth the adventures of Hercules take place in ancient Greece, I wanted to give my version a bit of a fairy tale feel by being vague about the time and place.

Which, if any, of Christopher Booker’s ‘Seven Basic Plots’ are you following?

I’d say it’s a cross between ‘The Quest’ and ‘Rags to Riches’. Lionskin, the protagonist, is a just a boy from a village at the beginning of the story, but if he completes the twelve tasks he could become the next king, so I think there are elements of both plot types present.

 

Why a myth retelling, and why Hercules in particular?

LidaBlogGeryonI’m Greek and spent most of my childhood in Athens, so Greek mythology was all around me growing up. The myth of Hercules was never my favourite, though – I guess I just wasn’t impressed by a big strong man going around hitting things with a club!

But then, a few years ago, I read the myth again, and I realised that there were a lot of little details that weren’t that well known – such as the fact that the goddess Athena had helped Hercules in several of his labours. I thought, what if she wasn’t a goddess, but an actual human girl?

How long have you been working on it?

The story has been sitting in my head for about a year and a half and I would occasionally write down a scene or make notes, but I only started writing it ”for real” three months ago.

A work of great length?

For a short story, it’s actually on the long side – it’ll be over 12,000 words when it’s finished.

And where are you at now? Where are you going with it?

I’m about halfway through and I’m reading out to the group as I write. This is technically a second draft I’m working on, but the first draft was much shorter, so I’m adding to it as a rewrite. Then, when it’s finished – I’m going to rewrite it again!

How did the BWC help you in the course of your work?

I don’t think I would have written the story if it hadn’t been for the BWC – not for a long time, at least! When I first joined the group back in January, I had a lot of story ideas (and a lot of notebooks filled with outlines, character names and first chapters!) but very little experience in actually writing – and finishing – a story. Reading and commenting on other people’s work has taught me a lot about the actual process of writing. And of course, getting feedback while I’m working on the story has been tremendous help!

This is Lida doing the rounds of the wards in her day job

This is Lida doing the rounds of the wards in her day job

What was the best feedback you got from the group?

I’ve received so many great tips and ideas from BWC members that it’s impossible to single out a particular one!

We assume that it will one day be published to universal acclaim and that a Hollywood blockbuster will be made from it. Which actors will play the principal roles?

I think Elizabeth Henstridge or Gemma Arterton would be great for the part of the princess. As for Lionskin, for some reason in my head I’ve always pictured him as Eddie Redmayne!

Thanks and good luck!