Rory Kilalea has worked in the Middle East and throughout Africa, directing documentaries as well as in various production, script-writing and management positions. Films he has been involved with include Jit (1990); A Dry White Season (1987) and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold(1986). He has also taught broadcasting, writing and performance at the University of Zimbabwe as well as improvisational drama at the British Council in Athens, London, Johannesburg, and in the Middle East.
Writing under the pen-name Murungu, his poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies in countries that range from Ireland; Malaysia; South Africa; the United Kingdom; the United States and Zimbabwe. His writing includes the collection of short stories, The Arabian Princess and Other Stories (Zodiac Publishing, 2002); “Whine of a Dog” which was shortlisted for the Caine Prize 2000; “Zimbabwe Boy” which appears in Asylum 1928 and Other Stories (Fish Publishing, 2001) and was shortlisted for the Caine Prize 2002; and “Unfinished Business” which appears in Writing Now: More Stories from Zimbabwe(Weaver Press, 2005).
In 2005, one of his plays, “Zimbabwe Boy,” was adopted for the Africa Festival at the London Eye and has been performed at the National Theatre in London. Other plays he has written include “Ashes”; “Diary of David and Ruth” and “Colours.”
In a recent interview, Rory Kilalea spoke about his concerns as a writer.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? And who would you say has influenced you the most?
I have always written. I suppose I knew that I would write when I was 11 years of age when a class was captivated by a story I wrote. I still have a copy of it. It was a transformational story about a young girl who becomes part of a vision that she saw.
Doris Lessing, Katherine Mansfield and [Joseph] Conrad were formative short story influences. What I found appealing about them was the fact that they were able to create in a short format, an indelible image that never left my imagination. I still think of “The Secret Sharer” or the “The Lumber Room” and imagine what these writers did with spare use of words to create a world of the ‘now’. It was then that I realised the short story was more than a simple ‘story’ - it was a moment that can have great impact. Alice Munro does the same — and even though I sometimes feel, when I am reading her, that I do not want to go further into the (often) dark areas of her characters, I am compelled to. Her skill is the teasing away of layers until you get to a core. These writers are masters.