The lost art of letter writing – read an interview with John Webb about his novel Nine Letters
 More about the book!

Penguin Random House SA chatted to John Webb recently about his new book Nine Letters – an uplifting novel that celebrates the power of letter writing.

In Nine Letters, cynical lawyer Teddy Dickerson is awaiting a slow decline and a place at an old-age home. But life sometimes brings surprises. When his prickly Aunt Val dies, she leaves an unusual bequest: her task for Teddy is to post letters to eight of her friends around the world, a job that will take him on a journey into new and unexpected territory.

Read the interview:

You have a very interesting life – spending time on most of the continents and with friends all over the globe. How do you keep in touch with the people you want to stay in contact with? And why?
I mostly use email to stay in touch. And I’m partial to occasional marathon phone calls. I could kick myself for relying on text messages as much as I do. They are an ideal way to mutilate a perfectly good language. I avoid social media and am convinced that it is the source of a grave and growing mass psychosis. Still, whatever method you choose, it is important to stay in touch with folks you have met along the way. It gives essential context to the life you’re living now.

Can you still remember the first letter you received?
I don’t think so. But when I was at boarding school, letters from home were dished out by the Headmaster at each midday assembly. It was an indescribable thrill to have your name called out because you’d received a letter and it was an indescribable disappointment if it wasn’t!

What are your hobbies?
I’ve had many hobbies over the years and yet I have fastidiously avoided being particularly good at any of them! From photography and videography, to painting, drawing, swimming and even motor-cycling, I still return to writing which is by far my most absorbing pastime of all.

Nine Letters was launched in collaboration with The Reading List, and you can watch that video here:

Categories Fiction South Africa

Tags Interviews John Webb Nine Letters Penguin Random House SA

1 Votes


You must log in to post a comment


  • Delightful, intelligent read. Once you begin it is not easy to put down. Perhaps a “Teddy Sequel” could follow?