Wilbur Smith, author of Those in Peril, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |March 22, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks


author of Those in Peril, When the Lion Feeds, Elephant Song, River God, Assegai, Hungry as the Sea, Cry Wolf, Warlock and many, many more…

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born on the banks of the Zambesi River and roaring lions heralded my birth. I was raised in the bush and schooled by sadists wielding canes. Now go and read the truth on my website.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a matador because I had just read Death in the Afternoon. At eighteen I wanted to be a gigolo because girls smelt so good. At thirty I wanted to be a novelist so I was.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That it was obligatory to marry every girl who came to my bed.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

King Solomon’s Mines by Rider Haggard, Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin’s polynesian women, and Jungle drums beating in the African night.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

For me there was only one avenue open. I couldn’t sing nor dance nor wield a paint brush worth a damn.. but I could weave a pretty tale.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel… Those in Peril

It’s another pretty tale of sex, violence and mayhem with a few belly laughs thrown in for good measure.

(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis – Hazel Bannock is the heir to the Bannock Oil Corp, one of the major oil producers with global reach. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, Hazel’s private yacht is hijacked by African pirates. Hazel is not on board at the time, but her nineteen year old daughter, Cayla, is kidnapped and held to ransom. The pirates demand a crippling twenty billion dollar ransom for her release. Complicated political and diplomatic considerations render the civilized major powers incapable of intervening.

When Hazel is given evidence of the horrific torture which Cayla is being subjected to, she calls on Hector Cross to help her rescue her daughter. Hector is the owner and operator of Cross Bow Security, the company which is contracted to Bannock Oil to provide all their security. He is a formidable fighting man. Between them Hazel and Hector are determined to take the law into their own hands.) Pre-order your copy now.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope they will have a good warm feeling in the pit of their stomachs and that they will say to themselves “Now that was fun!”

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Lawrence Durrell, Robert Graves, Papa Hemingway and John Steinbeck because there just aren’t any greater.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To go on writing the best I can until I turn 100 years of age.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Its not a game for sissies. If at first you don’t succeed try! Try! and then try some more.

Wilbur, thank you for playing.

It was fun. Give my love to all my readers Down Under.


Visit our WILBUR SMITH author page for a full list of Wilbur’s books

Wilbur Smith has a great website, too (click pic below)

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • March 22, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Pretty impressive to get Wilbur Smith to answer your questions… well done everyone in the Booktopia Marketing Team for getting Wilbur to answer these questions and thanks to the publisher, Pan MacMillan for making it happen.

  • alex

    June 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Wilbur’s an awesome guy,His sense of humor as he answers his questions just shows how humble he is.I love wilbur,and perhaps someday, I will be as great as he is in my own field(s) of art.

  • Ian Peter Silver

    October 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Hi Wilbur,
    I have all your books which I have read each several times.
    Could you please explain what happened to M’bejane and why you have never wrtten a novel about this guy?
    Keep writing so I can keep reading.

    • jjj

      November 2, 2011 at 1:05 am

      mbejane was killed by dirk courtney, although no books I have read say how.

  • November 3, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I am a South African born woman now living in the US via Europe. I started reading Wilbur Smith as a young adult and was intrigued by the African bush that I know and love so much. After I read his first novel I was totally taken. I continue to read his books today and continue to enjoy them. His book Those in Peril show us how vulnerable we are regardless of fame and fortune.

  • wimpie

    July 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    will there be another adventure for taita or was the quest a conclusion ? wimpie krugel southafrica

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