- What is your “day” job if you are not a full time author?
My husband has a small business. We used to work together but, over the last few years my involvement has decreased significantly. I’m now mostly retired and able to write as and when the mood takes me, however I do take care of the home and the dogs, simply because my husband is the one earning the money we need to live and pay our bills.
- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?
Finally meeting the love of my life. Finally getting to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Finally getting to travel.
It’s taken me a long time to reach this point… this place where I can sit in front of my laptop for hours and hours every single day if I choose to, because I don’t have to be anywhere else. I’m taking hold of this with both hands, and won’t ever be letting go.
- What is the hardest thing about being an author?
I’m learning that being an author isn’t about writing, it’s about promoting my writing. Now Conspiracy of Cats is published I have different responsibilities and new challenges to meet. What’s the point in writing anything, if no one out there gets to read it? But there are millions upon millions of works of fiction, and mine is one single book. As the author of that book I need to stand up and shout about it. I need to make it visible, desirable. I must attract readers, because without readers there is no point in writing. This is a steep learning curve for me as a first timer. I am learning though, because I believe in my story, and I want people to share that with me.
- What is the best thing about being an author?
Writing is the most fun job I’ve ever had. Within the confines of each story I write, I get to do what I like, when I like. I get to travel, I get to shop, Ieven get to kill people! What’s not to love?
- Have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?
Stars were kind of my job for a long time. I met a great number of celebrities through music and theatre, because I worked back stage and on tour for fifteen years. I’ve met more famous people than I can name. I’m sure a lot of those people produced books about their lives, but I’m a lot less sure that most of them actually did any writing.
There’s just one time when I’ve been completely star struck.
I was fifty-five and giggling like a school girl. I even had the blushes. I was at Disneyland Paris with my husband. We were on honeymoon. It was the end of the day and getting quiet. I noticed there wasn’t a queue, and dragged my husband into the venue so I could meet one of my idols. We were the last people admitted that day and I think this guy spent a little bit more time with me because of that. He poked fun at me… making me giggle even more. I literally couldn’t speak most of the time, I was so busy grinning, butwe did pose for loads of photos. I was so very excited to meet Darth Vader! Seriously… this is a highlight in my life.
- What book changed your life?
I read fiction. I love murder and police procedurals. Every book I choose to read changes my life a tiny little bit, in the sense I perhaps learn something new, or see something differently. The only book to change my life is my own, because when Conspiracy of Cats was published I realised a dream.
- What were some of your favorite books growing up?
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, everything by Enid Blyton. Then, when I was thirteen, I read The Bad Seed by William March. This book has a special place in my memory, because this was the story that turned me on to murder. From there I moved on to Agatha Christie, and I’m still a big murder fan now.
- What books are currently in your to be read pile?
A Darker Domain by Val McDermid, The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick, Dark Suits and Sad Songs by Denzil Meyrick, Written In Blood by Chris Carter, The Whistling by Rebecca Netley.
- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audio books?
I put the Kindle app onto my tablet, so I could take advantage of the many fabulous offers, but I prefer actual books. Books smell good, they feel good, and they look good lined up on my shelves.
- If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?
I would want to live in Lyra’s Oxford as created by Philip Pullman. I’d love to discover what form my very own daemon would take, and also how a relationship like that would change my relationship with the world in general.
Looking back, it was as if Peter had known that he was going to die.
It was as if all of them had known, because the Maasai came prepared for their ritual even though their little brother died only a few hours before they arrived. It was the largest group of Maasai Beola had ever encountered at the white house. At least fifty men, most of them warriors, all carrying their weapons and their shields. Their chests and faces and arms painted as if they were going into battle. She watched them from the master bedroom window, just as she’d watched the police arrive, having gone back up to finish changing the bed so it would be clean and ready when Jude returned. They arrived on foot just before sunset, and it would have taken all day to walk from their village on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro all the way to the white house.
Some of the warriors carried armfuls of wood, and immediately began building a large fire in the middle of the lawn. The elders, including their bearded laibon, sat down on the porch steps to rest and, when Beola went out to meet them, they asked only for water. When she offered food they politely refused. When Beola moved to go back inside to fetch the water, a young warrior stopped her. ‘We must leave the white house in peace, little sister,’ he told her, and then he and several of his fellow warriors guided her towards the lodge where they fetched enough water for all. When that was done, the young warrior told her, ‘Word has been sent into the park so your husband and your son will come home soon. When they do, you must be ready to leave.’
‘The laibon wishes to cleanse the white house of sorrow.’
Beola knew better than to argue with the wishes of a laibon, and so she nodded, resigned.
‘How long must we stay away?’
‘Moon die and come back again, man die and stay away. Come back with the new moon, sister.’
Back inside the lodge Beola began to pack, without any clear idea of where her family would go or who they would stay with. By then it was full dark, and the fire was burning so brightly she could see its orange glow above the garage blocking her direct view. Kissi and Ben arrived while she was still packing, in shock at both the death of their friend and the large gathering on the white house lawn. The evening breeze was becoming a wind by then, and the stars were obscured by gathering clouds. The warriors had begun to sing a sorrowful sounding song, their beautiful voices competing with the mounting voice of the wind.
By the time the Nyerere’s were readying to leave, a storm was in full flow.
The perimeter of trees bent and swayed in the wind that had initially made their leaves whisper. That wind was howling and shrilling by then, a tempest that thrashed and whipped the leaves and branches. Storm clouds had gathered so close, they were piled on top of one another, grumbling, rumbling, crashing with thunder directly overhead. Lightening split the night over and over. Up on the roof garden, a solitary figure braved the onslaught. The old laibon was yelling into the night, his spells snatched away by the wind that seemed, in turns, to want to blow him away and push him down. Rain pelted down upon him, it blinded his eyes, dripped from his beard, soaked his shuka and chilled his bones. He fought against it, at the same time as he embraced it, arms stretched wide and high. Calling out, over and over, to the spirit of his friend.
As the Nyerere’s were loading up their jeep, another vehicle arrived, lights sweeping across the scene as it circled the lawn. Beola thought that it must be Jude, but it was Henk de Vries, pulling up in his flatbed truck. She assumed he’d heard the news and had come to pay his respects. She ran towards him, but half a dozen warriors barred Beola’s way. They told her to go, to never speak of this night to anyone. Beola struggled against them, and called out to Henk in some distress, but either the wind stole her voice, or the Dutchman chose to ignore her. Kissi was next to her by then and had to impel his wife bodily into the back of his Land Rover as Ben sat quietly weeping in the front. He then got in himself and set off for his father’s home in Arusha, having called ahead to stay there were sanitation issues at their home, so they needed a place to say for a while. As they were moving around the lawn towards the drive, Beola watched Henk lower the tail gate of his truck and saw two warriors lift and carry something towards the fire. Meat for the funeral feast, he told her much later.
When Kissi’s Land Rover reached the foot of the hill, he turned north towards the main road that would take them to Arusha. They left the storm behind almost immediately. When they reached the top of the escarpment, he stopped and got out. Ben and Beola joined him. Together they stood atop the ridge, watching a small storm rage over the white house.
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