I read a book that hasn’t been released yet. Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds.

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine WorldsIt’s not rare for that to happen. Authors or publishers often give away a few review copies. But more about that later.

I enjoyed the book and wrote a review, which I put first on Goodreads. This is it:

“I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. This makes no difference to my rating/review of it.

What if…? That’s a question all fiction authors ask many times in the course of writing a story. It can lead to: What if character A met character B? Or: What if X happened to Character A? The premise of this novel is much more unusual: What if two bumbling Victorian detectives found themselves having to solve a mystery in the world (or worlds) of Norse mythology?

Of course, if I’d read the first book in this series, Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab, I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the notion. But I’m sure I’d have found the story just as fascinating and the humour just as appealing. The writing is excellent; descriptions, dialogue and plot are, too. And I was happy to learn something of a world I’ve never examined.

Occasionally, the language seemed unfitting for a Victorian English gentleman, and that would tend to make me award the novel 4.5 stars. For example, Barnabas calls women Ms rather than Miss or Mrs; temperatures are in Centigrade rather than Farenheit; and he uses that annoying (to me) US expression, “off of.” But mostly, I was happy with the choice of words; I don’t expect the dialogue in a modern book to sound exactly as it would in times gone by, and there are enough hints in the novel of the period the detectives came from.

What next? I do hope Barnabas and his assistant, Wilfred, get to India at some stage of their journey.”

And then, as I have often done in the past, I copied my review to Amazon US and Amazon UK… or at least I tried to.

Amazon US informed me that I can’t leave a review for a book that hasn’t been released yet.

Amazon UK informed me that I haven’t bought enough on the site to be able to leave a review. On further investigation, I discovered that I’m supposed to have spent at least £40 in the last twelve months.

Both of these rulings are new and they don’t make sense to me.

If Amazon continue to have a pre-order feature, then they should allow pre-release reviews. Otherwise, how can potential readers determine whether they want to pre-order?

And I wanted to make my review visible to UK customers, who would pay to buy the book, if they could see read reviews. In other words, I don’t think Amazon should only allow reviews from those who buy on the site, because those reviews could influence others to buy.

But the mighty Amazon has decreed and we dwarves must bow to them. END OF RANT.

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds is released by Crooked Cat Publishing on 4 September, 2018.

There will be two more blog posts this week – on Tuesday and Friday. What a busy week this is! Happily so. I wish you a happily busy week, too!

Running up stairs

 

(Continued from Klimt and Judith I)

The brochure continues:

klimtjudith2brochure1997reduced“Perhaps influenced by the 1907 performance of Richard Strauss’s opera, Salome, Klimt returned to the subject of the femme fatale in 1909, when he painted Judith II. Here again, critics mistakenly identified the subject as Salome. Indeed, this Judith appears threatening and monstrous: her face and claw-like fingers instil fear, and her dress engulfs Holofernes’ head, symbolising his loss of identity. As in Judith I, the artist’s counter-decapitation of Judith is suggested by the two white stripes cutting across her neck.

“Klimt’s depictions of Judith and Holofernes deviate from the traditional narrative and express the ambivalent attitude towards women in fin-de-siècle Vienna. In art as in society, women were compartmentalised into one of two categories – vulgar prostitute or untouchable ideal creature. Sexual hypocrisy was rampant: many upper-class men carried on affairs with working-class young women, prostitution flourished and pornography developed into a thriving industry. Women’s unprecedented demands for political and social emancipation, the Secessionists’ call for sexual liberation and Freud’s writings on the unconscious all heralded a revolution in traditional perceptions of sexuality and guilt. However, the new, sexually-liberated life-style was seen by many men as a threat to their identity and also brought with it a gnawing fear of venereal disease. It was this terror which gave birth to the image of female lover turned insatiable predator – the femme fatale, epitomised in Klimt’s Judith I.”

The Women Friends is a series of novellas written by Emma Rose Millar and Miriam Drori, and based on the painting of the same name by Gustav Klimt. The first in the series, The Women Friends: Selina, will be published by Crooked Cat on 1st December, 2016.

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Author of the Day

Sarah Louise Smith writes chick-lit. Her four novels to-date have all been published by Crooked Cat and one of them, Izzy’s Cold Feet, is free to download from Amazon for one day only. Sarah can be found all over the Internet, sometimes with Arwen the puppy.

“So, Miriam Drori,” says Kirsty Young and I’m thinking: why isn’t Roy Plomley here? because his is the name I associate with this radio programme. “As a lover of music, you must have had a hard time choosing just eight pieces.”

“I certainly did,” I answer confidently, because of course this is all made up, so I might as well make myself and my communication abilities up, too.

“How did you narrow your choices down to just eight?”

“I chose pieces connected to my life,” I say, because it’s what they all say and it happens to be true. Turntable-floating-view

I continue to answer Kirsty’s questions with ease and to explain why I chose these particular pieces of music.

  • Ledavid mizmor… (the prayer): The synagogue played an important part in my childhood, and my father often led the services there. I particularly remember this tune, for a prayer that is said only on special occasions. Most of the members of the congregation didn’t know the tune and so my father’s beautiful tenor voice easily rose over the rest. (I listened to several Youtube videos but couldn’t find the tune I know.)
  • Ma Nishtana: The seder night – the first night of the festival of Passover – was a specially fun time in our family. I enjoyed my moment of fame with this song, traditionally sung by the youngest person present. I was always the youngest.

  • Beatles – Here Comes the Sun: I grew up with the Beatles. I had to include them in my list. So I chose one that’s lively and good to dance to. I expect I’ll do plenty of dancing on the desert island.
  • Bach’s Double Violin Concerto: This is one of the pieces I studied at school, and it’s one that I love.
  • Paul Simon – Something So Right: I’ve always felt this song is about me. “They got a wall in China. It’s a thousand miles long. To keep out the foreigners they made it strong. And I got a wall around me that you can’t even see. It took a little time to get next to me.”
  • Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar: At university, this was the song I loved dancing to the most. I had no idea what it was about; I just loved it.
  • Back Street Boys – I Want It That Way: My daughter was just six when this song was popular. But she heard it a lot because her big brother liked to play it. So she learned it – words and all. No wonder she became a singer!
  • Vatikach Miriam: I had to include a song from the many I’ve danced to at Israeli folk dancing sessions. And why not one that’s lively and includes my name!

“Thank you, Miriam Drori, for letting us hear your Desert Island Discs.”

“Thank you for inviting me,” I reply. “I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”

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Author of the Day

Stella Hervey Birrell knows about being concise and keeping to rules. All the posts on her blog are exactly 140 words long. She also draws simple pictures to accompany the posts. When I submitted a guest post for her blog, I managed the first but not the second, and was delighted with Stella’s rendering of Neither Here Nor There. Stella writes women’s fiction and is the author of How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? – a novel I enjoyed and recommend.

(This is where I get to reveal the gorgeous new book cover.)

What links my first book, Neither Here Nor There, with my second, The Women Friends: Selina, written together with Emma Rose Millar?

Not a lot. It would be easier to list the differences:

  • Contemporary – Historical
  • Romance – Story of love, but not romance
  • Light – Dark

One link is orthodox Judaism. Esty in Neither Here Nor There leaves the ultra-orthodox community in which she grew up. Janika, the second of the models in The Women Friends, does something similar, but that’s described in the second novella. In the novella to be published by Crooked Cat on December 1st, Janika takes a big part but is not the main character.

The other link is orange, which is what makes the two covers so distinctive.

Neither Here Nor ThereCoverFront

A little Sunday sunshine.

There was a Crooked Cat and another Crooked Cat.
They found a crooked painting and yelled a crooked “That!”
They wrote a crooked story and took a crooked look.
And it all came together in a little Crooked book.

CrookedWomenFriendsExcept that it wasn’t as easy as it sounds!

The Women Friends – coming early in 2017.

Disclaimer: this post is in no way political. (Well, that’s almost true.)

It’s time for a CHANGE. I’ve been feeling that for a while. It’s time to make that happen. Let me explain.

History of An’ de walls came tumblin’ down

The Point of the Blog

I began this blog over seven years ago when I was in a very different place. I wanted to write about writing and about social anxiety – especially social anxiety. It had been my ambition for some time to tell the world about this common but little-known disorder. I began anonymously, because I was afraid  of negative reactions. (In all seven years, I haven’t had any at all.)
ClosetGradually, as I became more confident, I added my first name, then my whole name. And with that came the other secret: I live in Israel – the place I felt everyone loves to hate. I don’t know whether that turned anyone off, but I still had readers after that revelation. And some readers even said they wanted to know more about what living in Israel is really like. So I added a category: Everyday Life in Israel, because I was scared to mention anything controversial.

Only occasionally – very occasionally – I felt I needed to write about something more serious. And I put it under Everyday Life in Israel, because that was all there was, even though the serious topic was far from ‘everyday.’

So, for me, as far as this blog goes, the walls did come tumbling down. In real life, well, that’s much harder, especially after nearly fifty years of SA.

Swerving Off the Path

Then, at the beginning of 2014, I received some wonderful news: my novel, Neither Here Nor There, was going to be published by Crooked Cat. I was thrilled… ecstatic. I’m still very grateful and happy that Crooked Cat accepted me and my novel.

Letters from Elsewhere

Farewell, for now

From that time, I became a member of a large and ever-growing community of writers. Many of those lovely writers hosted me on their blogs and I hosted them on mine. I started the series Letters from Elsewhere, in which characters sprang out of books to share their letters or to write directly to blog readers. It turned out to be popular among the writers.

During those two-and-a-half years, I hardly wrote about Israel or about social anxiety. I lost sight of the point of this blog and it became just another writer’s blog. Don’t get me wrong – there are many blogs that are solely about writing and are interesting, because their owners do it much better than I can. But I had a different purpose for starting this blog and it’s time to return to it – not as that frightened, anonymous individual who began it, but openly, as me: Miriam Drori, an author who lives in Jerusalem and who still lives with social anxiety, as do many others all over the world.

What’s New?

As well as social anxiety and Israel, I will talk about writing – my writing, starting with some very exciting news that hasn’t even made it onto this blog yet. I will also mention my fellow authors, at the end of each post, with links to their blogs and books.

With that decision in mind, I have changed some of the categories. That will be a problem for old posts, but it needed to be done.

There may still be guest posts; I’m hoping there will be. But guests will have to relate to Israel (or Jews) or social anxiety in their posts.

This decision isn’t set in stone. If you have any further ideas, do let me know and I’ll consider them.

 

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to welcome Fra’ Roberto to the blog today. He comes from the pages of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard and is sharing an excerpt from his diary. Take it away, Fra’.

FRA’ ROBERTO’S DIARY

Today we welcomed two new postulants to the friary. 

As always, I instructed Fra’ Amadeo that I wanted to meet them in person before I learned anything about their backgrounds.  I prefer to form my initial opinions of people purely on their own merits, and this is much easier if my mind is not cluttered by any preconceptions.

The new postulants are called Gianni and Sebastiano.  From their appearance, I divined that they are both around twenty years of age.  Gianni is short and slight, and despite his cheerful demeanour, he looked (to my mind at least) as though he bore the signs of a deprived and impoverished past.  Sebastiano, by contrast, is tall, solid in frame, and appeared well-nourished and well-cared-for, yet I discerned in him traces of an indefinable sadness.  These differences aside, both of them looked nervous and bewildered as they stood before me in their postulants’ robes.  But perhaps this is only to be expected; they stand on the threshold of a whole new mode of life, completely different from whatever they might have previously known.

One reason for such nervousness became evident during our brief conversation.  It transpired that Sebastiano had his own preconceptions about life in holy orders.  He was familiar with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the principles of poverty, chastity and obedience, but like so many postulants before him, he appeared to hold the belief that this would entail long periods of discomfort and self-denial. 

It continues to trouble me that those outside the cloister should have this unfavourable (and incorrect) perception of monastic life.  Sebastiano appeared genuinely surprised when I explained that we in the Order of Saint Francis do not condone unnecessary fasting, sleep deprivation or self-chastisement.  As our founder has decreed, our purpose is to serve – and none of these practices are conducive to full and proper service to God or to our fellow men. 

I sense that both of these young men, but especially Sebastiano, have come to us under difficult, perchance even troubled, circumstances.  Tomorrow I shall ask Fra’ Amadeo to tell me what he knows of their stories.  In the meantime, I shall say an extra prayer for each of them at Completorium.  May the Lord Almighty grant them a quiet night.  Amen.

I’ve read your story, Fra’. It’s so much more satisfying than Shakespeare’s version. I’ll never understand why the Bard thought to change it as he did…

About The Ghostly Father

tgf2bfront

Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

About Sue Barnard

 

Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.

Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue BarnardSue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014.  This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t.  Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.

You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.

 

Letters from Elsewhere

I’m delighted to be joined today by Maximus Decimus Meridius, a.k.a. Marc, the lead character in Catriona King’s Craig Crime Series. He’s here to tell you who he is and what he does.

Hello.

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions…and if you’ve ever watched the movie Gladiator then you’ll know the rest. That’s not really my name, obviously; it’s Marc Craig. But I am Roman, on my mother’s side, and we are both fighting a war, in my case a war against crime.

The other half of my blood is Irish, from the north, but borders are irrelevant to me when I’m hunting for a murderer, and the only blood I’m interested in is the blood left at a crime scene, and the details of its DNA.

I’m a murder detective, a Superintendent now, a promotion I only accepted because I won my argument to stay on the street. That’s where the killers are. Not just in the alleyways or rough estates, but in the luxury offices and government buildings, the hospitals, farms, shops and universities. Murder is all around us, not from The Troubles now, because Northern Ireland finally has a hard won peace, but since the conflict ended ‘normal’ murders have risen, their motives the same as everywhere else in the world: sex, money and revenge. Without that triad I wouldn’t have a job, and I love hunting killers, but not as much as I hate the pain and mourning that they create.

The only way I get through it is to mainline coffee and by having the support of a brilliant team, most of whom have a sense of humour that if it ever started out as normal has definitely become warped through the years. They cope with my foibles and obsession when we’re on a job, and in return I try not to take my moods out on them, although I’m not always sure that I succeed.

Well, that’s it really. I have to go now because I have to case to solve: a hacker who infiltrated a lift’s operating system, plummeting it to earth and killing the two people on board.

Thanks for listening. Perhaps you’ll join me on a case or two?

See you then.BookCover5x8_BW_290_pathedJT2

Goodbye.

Marc.

About The Craig Crime Series

The Craig Crime Series is a police procedural series comprised of thirteen novels, with number fourteen coming in late autumn.

The novels in the Craig Crime Series are

  •  A Limited Justice
  • The Grass Tattoo
  • The Visitor
  • The Waiting Room
  • The Broken Shore
  • The Slowest CutTheTalionCode
  • The Coercion Key
  • The Careless Word
  • The History Suite
  • The Sixth Estate
  • The Sect
  • The Keeper
  • The Talion Code

About Catriona King

Catriona King is a medical doctor and trained as a police Forensic Medical Examiner in London, where she worked for some years. She has worked with the police on many occasions. She returned to live in Belfast in 2006. She has written since childhood and has been published in many formats: non-fiction, journalistic and fiction. She has also been a radio presenter.

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Find Catriona’s books on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Find Catriona on Twitter and Facebook.

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Important Notice

Most Crooked Cat books are currently on sale for a short time. Find out more at the Facebook event or just toddle off to Crooked Cat’s page on Amazon.CrookedCatSummerSale2016

Letters from Elsewhere

My visitor today is Sam Longmore, son of the main protagonist in The Calgary Chessman series by Yvonne Marjot. He’s going to have a lot more to say for himself in the next volume of the Calgary Chessman series (The Ashentilly Letters, forthcoming from Crooked Cat).

March 28

Montrose University

Dear Mum,

What do you mean, what does pollen have to do with archaeology? According to Prof. Heyes palynology is the most important and useful scientific tool available to archaeologists and climate scientists today. To be honest, he’s a nice old bloke and he really knows his stuff. He’s almost managed to convince me he’s right.

Palynology is the study of pollen grains, and it works like this: You take a core sample or two from your site of interest. That’s a cylindrical plug of soil about 2cm across and as deep as you can possibly get it to go. In a nice bit of old swamp you can get three or four metres of core.

Soil builds up slowly over time, and the different layers correspond to changes in the local conditions at the time that the soil was laid down. So you can get a pretty quick look at the development of the site by seeing if there are changes in the colour and texture of the soil layers. E.g. a layer of sand might indicate that the sea had covered your site for a while, or series of stony layers could mean that a river or glacier once flowed over the area.

Then you take samples of all the different layers and make them into microscope slides. (Remember to add the proper stain, as I will never ever forget to do again!) You take a look at your slides under the microscope and, hey presto, instant information.

If your slide has a lot of grass pollen, that could mean that there was a prairie-type landscape, although grass types mixed with certain herbs might mean a swamp. Birch pollen is cute. It’s a rounded triangle with a hole at each corner, and every time I see one it makes me think of an ocarina. Seeing lots of that indicates a seral stage, where trees and shrubs are beginning to colonise an open landscape. Hazel pollen comes later in the succession; it’s triangular with dimples, a bit like tiny prawn crackers. And if you see pollen that looks like a scrotum, that’s Scots pine, which tells you there was a proper forest near the site you’ve sampled.

What’s interesting is that pollen has given us evidence for a worsening of the climate at the end of the Neolithic. The spread of uncultivable land and the change in the distribution of cereal crops coincided with changes in human behaviour: more building of fortified structures, more warfare, and eventually the emergence of the Bronze Age, which was all about the new metal weaponry and the opportunity it gave for a few individuals to gain authority over large numbers of people.

That’s your pocket lecture for today. I promised to tell you a funny thing that happened. Well, it wasn’t funny at first. In fact, Niall and I had a little tiff. At least, I shouldn’t say tiff. I called it that to Niall’s face and he was really upset, because actually it was quite serious for a while.

You know my friend Pete, the one I play darts with? Well, we’ve been playing a lot. He’s the one who got me into rowing, too. A few weekends ago Niall turned up to see me, but I’d forgotten he was coming and Pete and I had gone to a darts match in town. We had a few drinks and then we rolled home in the early hours of the morning and there was Niall waiting for me. I felt really bad because I should have remembered it was his weekend, but Pete just laughed and told him not to be such a boring old fart, we couldn’t help it if he’d forgotten what it was to be young.

Anyway, I did say sorry. Niall was really angry though. He told me Pete fancies me, and he wasn’t so sure that I didn’t fancy him back. I told him not to be an idiot and he told me I was so innocent I couldn’t see what was under my nose and I accused him of being jealous. Well, I won’t tell you the rest. You can imagine, I’m sure.

We made up in the end, and we’ve been all right since, but I still had to worry about what I was going to do about Pete. Because he’s my friend. There isn’t anything else in it, but I can kind of see where Niall was coming from. After all, he doesn’t know what I’m getting up to the other twelve days of the fortnight, and he just has to trust me. I told him that I have to trust him too, but he says that’s different. Just because he’s been around a bit and has found the man he truly loves, doesn’t mean that I’m ready to settle down. So he’s afraid of losing me, but he’s also scared that if he holds on too tight he’ll lose me anyway.

Well, in the middle of all that going on Dr Rigby gets a new post-graduate student. At least, he really came to work with Prof Heyes, but Tim’s his official mentor since the prof is due to retire next year. Guess who it is: Rick Mason that we met on the Lismore dig. I bumped into him down at the Student Union, and Pete was with me so we invited him to come to darts with us the next Friday, and guess what? Now Pete and Rick are going out.

It’s great. It’s like I’m some sort of lucky charm for people, because I sorted out a fight between Becky and her boyfriend the other day and now they’ve got engaged. Then the next weekend Niall turns up and there’s Rick and Pete all over each other, snogging for Scotland. Honestly, could they at least get a room? So Niall and me are okay again.

Other than that it’s pretty boring here in student land. How’s the old homestead down under? Please tell me there’s a hunky man living next door and you’re having a wild fling? Or was I right all along about Ewan, and now you’re pining for him madly? I know – you’re my Mum and you’re never going to tell me. Are Nanna and Granddad okay? Your last letter was a bit scary – I hope the news is good. But anyway, let me know you’re all right. Miss you.

Lots of love

Your Best Beloved

Sam

About The Calgary Chessman Trilogy

 The Calgary Chessman

YMarjot TCC TBL picsDiscovery is Only the Beginning

On a windswept beach on the Isle of Mull, Cas Longmore is walking away from loneliness when she unearths a mystery in the sand. To Cas, torn between Scotland and her New Zealand home, the object seems as odd and out-of-place as herself.

Intrigued, she begins to search for its origins, thinking it will bring a brief respite from isolation. Instead, the Calgary chess piece opens the door to friendships and new hope. Her son, meanwhile, brings home his own revelation to shake her world.

The Book of Lismore

The Past is a Lost Book

While visiting the beautiful Hebridean island of Lismore, Cas and Sam stumble upon a new chapter of the island’s past. Once again, they are confronted by the ghosts of the distant past, and ancient tragedy combines with present danger as each is faced with a fresh challenge.

Archaeology provides a strong bond between Cas and her favourite men, but the mystery they uncover proves easier to solve than the ongoing conflicts in her personal life, and love seems as fragile and elusive as ever.

About Yvonne Marjot

YMarjot profile 1Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Her archaeological romances The Calgary Chessman and The Book of Lismore are published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

She has worked in schools, libraries and university labs, has been a pre-school crèche worker and a farm labourer, cleaned penthouse apartments and worked as amanuensis to an eminent Botanist. She currently has a day job (in the local school) and teenage children, and would continue to write even if no-one read her work, because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. In her spare time she climbs hills, looks for rare moths and promises herself to do more in the garden.

You can follow her work via the Facebook page and group The Calgary Chessman, @Alayanabeth on Twitter, or on the WordPress blog The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet.

Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s guest speaks to me from Africa and is brought by Jane Bwye.

SPEAKING FOR MYSELF

Thank you for having me, Miriam, and letting me come alive from the pages of Breath of Africa.

 

You ask me to speak for myself? Where shall I start…

My birth name was Charles Omari Ondiek and I was born in a remote village called Amayoni (which means birds) in a beautiful pocket of tropical forest in the western region of Kenya.

But I’ve used different names in the course of my tumultuous life. At Oxford, I was known as Charles (yes, as a student more mature than most, I graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from that venerable university in the early 1960’s).

But when I returned home and started a career in journalism I had to cover my tracks for fear of being discovered by Mwangi, a Mau Mau oath-giver who’d placed a curse on my family. So I called myself Ondiek, a name which is shared by very many people. I still shudder to think of that curse, and the fear which consumed me. Mwangi caught up with me eventually, and I was left for dead. That is where the book left me, gasping to catch up with my only son, whose mother had already succumbed to the potent curse.

My son, half black, half white, was intensely angry because I changed my name again, and disappeared.

Oh – what a tangle of events and emotions we separately went through. And now in the evening of my days, I am Charles again, looking back and wondering what might have been – could have been, if…

But it’s no use looking back, however much we are tied to our grass roots. That’s why you should also read Grass Shoots, the working title of my creator’s next book.

Kenya, my country, continues to stumble along through the impediments of violence, politics and corruption. Is it making progress? What you think depends on who you are and what you mean by progress…

Thank you, Charles. I have read your story in Breath of Africa and was moved by it.

About Breath of Africa

51nyeeudxzlDedicated to the people of Kenya, BREATH OF AFRICA is a novel by Jane Bwye, retired businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist who lived over half a century in Africa.

After the 2013 elections and the Westgate siege, Kenya moves on in hope, epitomised in the book, which means different things to different people; it can be read as a love story, a psychological thriller, or as an exploration into the interactions of people of different races. Superstition and Christian faith clash. And the stunning beauty of the country is a major character in itself.

Caroline is a privileged woman from the highlands, and Charles Ondiek, a farm labourer with dreams of Oxford. A drama of psychological terror is fuelled by Mau Mau oath administrator, Mwangi, but against the backdrop of Kenya’s beautiful but hostile desert, the curse is finally broken.

About Jane Bwye

janeJane has been a businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist for fifty years, mainly in Kenya.

Six children and seven grandkids are scattered over three continents. She developed a taste for travel, and in 2001 “walked” round the world, buying a bird book in every country she visited. She has written numerous magazine articles and short stories, two newspaper columns and several newsletters. She co-ordinated a cookbook, “Museum Mixtures” in aid of the Kenya Museum Society in 1989, and has written a History in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of her local church, St. Wilfrid’s. Breath of Africa is her first novel, published in 2013. I Lift Up My Eyes, published in 2014, is a novella set in East Sussex.

Jane has managed her own Guest House and Riding School, and worked as a freelance Secretary. While home-studying for a degree, she started a consultancy business, providing human resource and computer advice, locum services for small businesses, and doing Organisation Reviews and Project Management for leading Management Consultancies in Kenya.

After graduation in 1995, she became Head of Computer Studies/IT at Hillcrest Secondary School, Nairobi for five years.

From 2002 Jane has operated her own consultancy in Eastbourne, UK, mentoring small business start-ups as an Associate of EDEAL.