Thank you to all those lovely readers who have celebrated with me so far by reading Alice during the past few days. I am humbled and overwhelmed by how many wonderful emails and reviews I have received already. THANK YOU!
Last year in June I decided I wanted to write a shorter LesFic novel with a romantic storyline. I had a little idea for a straightforward lesbian Alice in Wonderland meets Shirley Valentine, set in a wonderful holiday destination that I know really well — South Africa, specifically Cape Town.
Well, those were my famous last words.
I did manage to knock out a first draft of what I thought was a pretty straightforward LesFic holiday romance, but when I read it, I hated it! It felt like it was missing something key. I tried very hard to get enthusiastic, so that I could get on and write the next draft… but, I just was stuck.
As I started to reread my first draft again, I began thinking up all sorts of plot twists which then buzzed and fluttered around my brain and I almost had to sit on my hands not to start rewriting immediately. I sat with this, mulling away for about a month last summer, while I was in Lesbos and then the Maldives, where there was enough to distract me and keep me focussed elsewhere.
But, when I got back to the UK to start re-drafting in earnest, before my research recce to South Africa, I couldn’t resist the inevitable and soon my simple holiday romance took a more sinister turn. Before I knew it a psychological drama emerged, with plot twists and turns I could never have envisaged at the start.
Although “Alice” was always intended to be another one of the Toni Mendez adventure, it really was meant to be a straightforward romance!
I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I am incapable of writing a lesbian romance without complicating the plot!!!. Meanwhile, I had another idea for a short series of Maldivian romances, based on the island where Toni and Lizbeth go on holiday just before “Alice” in their timeline, but even those have turned into something more complicated and mostly darker… so, watch this space!
The publication date for “Alice”, my new psychological drama set in Cape Town, South Africa, really could not be any more fitting. I couldn’t have planned this better if I’d tried, and believe me I did try! I had great ideas about how I was going to publish “Alice” towards the end of 2017. But, no matter how much effort and sheer will and determination I mustered, I could not, for some reason, get “Alice” to progress any faster than it has. And that has been a good thing too, because now publishing “Alice” can coincide with and mark the momentous occasion of my 20 year anniversary of leaving South Africa – to go backpacking in Europe and get a bar job in London!
I never intended to leave South Africa permanently on that day, all those years ago. I was just going on a round-the-world trip abroad, to see what the world outside SA was like. So my reason for not having returned yet…? Well, I’m still looking for that bar job and unless I find an agent or a publisher soon, I will have to redouble my efforts in that regard!
Despite having been away for two decades, my heart has never really left South Africa. It is a beautiful country with so much to offer despite its troubles and challenges of the past, present and near future. Every few years I return gladly, to visit my friends and family and relish in the familiar landscape, sunshine, and fresh sea breeze – a pet hate from when I was young and living in the path of the brisk South Easter.
And when I now have the pleasure of meeting a fellow South African abroad, regardless of how long they have been out of the country, there is an instant, unbreakable, visceral bond because they know, they feel and understand in their bones what it means to be South African — something impossible to explain.
The one thing that saddens me when I return to the UK is that I’m unable to share my beautiful country and all that is has given me with my foreign friends. If I won the lottery, that is what I would do: take all my friends on an extended trip to Cape Town, Camps Bay, up the garden route, through game parks, to Victoria Falls, peep in at Kimberly, stop off at Bloemfontein, and venture up to Namaqualand….
In many ways, writing and publishing “Alice” is an attempt to do just that in the smallest, humblest of ways. By telling a story set in Cape Town, Camps Bay and the Cape Flats I hope to give my friends and readers a tantalising glimpse of my beautiful and complex country and what it’s like to live there.
Although the characters, businesses, organisations and legal entities in my book are entirely fictional, most of the locations are based on and inspired by existing places. Later, I aim to write a post giving a little insight into my research trip to Cape Town last year, with some photographs and images that inspired the fiction.
I am thrilled!! I have just received this amazing review on Amazon. Thank you Lily!
“I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Alice’ from start to finish. It is a compelling, can’t-put-it-down read. I have been waiting for more from this author since the last book, and this one does not disappoint. The characters are rich, the plot full of suspense and intrigue and the twists and turns of the story are very cleverly put together. All in all a very well written novel which I will read time and time again.”
Just received this wonderful review on Amazon. Thank you Ellie!
“I loved this book! A really compelling and original plot, full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming. Most of the action takes place in Cape Town, SA, and the writer really brings the city, culture and landscape to life throughout the novel. The characters are well-drawn and develop in really interesting ways – I found myself very quickly invested in their fate and keen to read the book as quickly as possible to find out what happens to them! This book is an excellent, character-driven thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the last page!!”