"The multiple strands of story, the different time-periods, the pain and the happiness, are skilfully brought together so that events and people are solid and four-dimensional, so that the reader can walk into these histories of love and loss and hope and sorrow, and feel as keenly as if they were there." -Sue Bridgwater
"The writing is heart-felt, deeply probing and personal." -Frank Ryan
Sophie’s Diary: Thursday 26th April ~ near Livingstone, Zambia
Amazing! We walked across the actual lip of the Falls from the Zambian side almost as far as Livingstone Island. This place is different every time I come here. I remember seeing the Falls just after the rains last time all those years back, when I’d never really regarded water as an element that defined Africa, except in a negative way. Tom was with me and it had such a profound effect on us both (not just the emotional-sexual side although that made it so memorable of course) that I could never again forget the power and beauty of water and how much it sums up every part of Africa and its people and their economies. Perhaps that was because my earliest travels took me mainly to land-locked farming communities where water was far more precious than gold during droughts and the children listened to my stories of rain that fell gently and steadily for days on end with longing in their eyes, and of snow with open-mouthed disbelief. In those areas a lack of water was at least well understood but a surfeit – flash floods and suchlike were almost more dreaded than drought and much less predictable of course. Too much water or nothing like enough – an eternal dilemma for African farmers. I had never thought deeply on how much abundance of water could be such a boon if it could be controlled even a little until I visited Victoria Falls, but at the time all I could think of was how truly beautiful and spectacular the Zambezi was.
How would I describe the Falls? I suppose it would depend on what time of year you went to them. In dry seasons they are still impressive and, to some people, more beautiful as the constricted river flows in ethereal, lacy ribbons down the various gorges. People from North America scoff that ‘Niagra beats the pants off this’, conveniently forgetting that their connubial resort’s attraction is firmly under control and almost completely tamed by dams and hydraulic engineering. But if they try to say that just after the rains you won’t be able to see or hear them for the heavy mists and the rumbling, tumbling roar of the Zambezi as over half a million cubic metres of water career hundreds of feet downwards, across a span over a mile across and seemingly through a thousand channels and chasms. Dr. Livingstone was right you inevitably conclude if you experience the Falls at this time when the Zambezi is swollen to its limit – Angels would indeed pause in their flight.
The Smoke that Thunders…
I live near Launceston in Cornwall UK with Toby and Benji the Springer Spaniels - it's a tie between the boys as to who's maddest, but as I outrank both of them in being weird anyway it's not open to debate really.
I'm physically lazy with things that don't hold much interest for me (so that's mostly housework and, increasingly, cooking...), but I love where we live, mainly because I chose it for being so quiet and off the beaten track, very close to the moors and quite near to the sea.
I also love books, both to write and to read, the latter of which can be very eclectic (I enjoy Julian Barnes, Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson and will happily admit to Jilly Cooper too) but in the main I'm heavily into SF&F, particularly Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Julian May, although I can pass on Zombie Apocalypses fairly easily...
...how I've chosen to write about Africa for my first novel may be something of a surprise to my friends, but if you read it you may find that all of the above information manifests in there somehow!