During the month of October, a group of authors, who either live in Africa or are rooted in this amazing continent, are teaming up for an exciting adventure.
We’re going on an Africa Book Safari! Together, we will discover some of the rich, diverse colors and nuances of Africa through stories, devotions, and memoirs, all set in Africa. What’s more, because we are writers, we would like to invite you all to come along with us!
We will be traveling together in a blog hop through various blog posts featuring fiction and non-fiction books, all centered in Africa. Our Safari Guide will be interviewing each of us, and we invite you to listen in as we chat about ourselves and our books. You will find the interviews on the author’s own sites, as well as posted on one another’s blogs or websites.
So come along and join in the fun! And here comes our guide who will be taking us on our safari.
Safari Guide: Hi! I believe you’re Marion Ueckermann, is that correct?
Marion: That’s me. And you, I presume, are going to be our Tour Leader for this great time. What should we call you?
Safari Guide: You can call me Mr. Africa!
Are you all comfortable? Please buckle up your seat-belts. Starting today, I plan to show you all different angles to this continent.
Marion, it’s your turn to sit up front with me. Everyone, let’s go discover Africa!
As our large safari landrover moves away from the buildings and
heads into the wilds of Africa, Mr. Africa swings in his seat to face me.
Safari Guide / Mr. Africa: So, Marion, tell me a bit about yourself. Have you always lived in Africa?
Marion: No, I was born in Zambia. When I was 5 ½ , my parents returned to South Africa and settled in a small mining town in what was then known as the North Eastern Transvaal. I grew up in a very hot town called Phalaborwa, right beside the Kruger National Park. We did have wild animals breaking through the fence on the odd occasion and roaming the streets.
Then, when I turned forty, my husband, Noel, and I emigrated to Ireland with our two sons. We weren’t coming back. Eighteen months later, God opened a way and we returned to South Africa. We’ve lived in the eastern suburbs of the capital city, Pretoria, for the past seventeen years and are now setting our sights on our retirement in around six years when we will move down to the Western Cape to be closer to our children and grandchildren.
Mr. Africa: And what family do you have?
Marion: Hubby and I have two married sons—Ryan and Kyle. From Ryan and his wife, Amy, we have two gorgeous grandsons aged 9 ½ and almost 6, and a granddaughter arriving on November 18th. They will be moving to Cape Town in December. My youngest son, Kyle, is married to a Finnish girl, Tiialotta, and they live in Stellenbosch near Cape Town. They don’t have any children yet…they’re too busy saving the world.
Mr. Africa: Marion, did you always want to be a writer? Or what prompted you to start writing?
Marion: In my late thirties, I got a yearning to write. When we lived in Ireland, I began to pen my heartaches of emigration into poetry. A few years after we moved back to South Africa, I wrote my first, unpublished, novel. In 2014, I published my first novella with Pelican Book Group, and a few months later, began indie publishing my work. In 2016, God called me to give up the corporate world, company car, and pension plan, and write full time for Him. I haven’t regretted it for one moment.
Mr. Africa: What genre do you write in, and why?
Marion: I write contemporary Christian romances, mostly between 35,000 and 65,000 words long — it all depends on the project requirements, or the actual story. If I’m not bound by word length on joint projects, then the story is as long as it needs to be.
Mr. Africa: What book are you going to be sharing with us during this safari? Tell us a little about it. What inspired this particular story or topic?
Marion: I’m sharing The Other You, set in the winelands of Stellenbosch at the southernmost tip of Africa. Stellenbosch is a place close to my heart because, as I said, my youngest son lives there. It is also such a quaint university town surrounded by the most incredible wineries.
I love seeing how God works to create a story, and The Other You has a fascinating story. I hope you don’t mind me jabbering on about this for a while. It’s a bit of a tale.
Backtrack to the beginning of 2013. I was still unpublished and visiting my sister on her farm, about ninety minutes from where I live. As we sat around the kitchen table, my brother-in-law, Danie, said to me, “So when are you going to get published?” I went on to explain that publishing wasn’t that simple and that it was difficult to get your books seen by a publisher. As we chatted I happened to mention that I really wanted to write a book set in the winelands of South Africa. Danie got up and disappeared, soon returning with an Afrikaans version of the Farmer’s Weekly magazine, open to the story of South African wine farmer, Philip Jonker. In the article, Philip told of how God undertook for his family and their hundred year old family vineyards during the farm uprisings of 2012. That was the beginning of a story idea that started forming in my mind.
I found the wine farm’s website and emailed Philip to tell him how fascinating I found his story. He emailed me back and sent me ALL the correspondence between him and his church during the uprisings. It was an amazing tale of God’s goodness and protection.
The farm uprisings formed an important part of The Other You, and with Philip’s permission, I wrote some scenes based on his experiences. I have to say that The Other You is one of my favorite stories I’ve published. I based certain scenes in this story in this beautiful cellar at my favorite Stellenbosch wine farm, Waterford.
Mr. Africa: Marion, it sounds exciting, and I’m looking forward to reading it myself. You obviously have a deep love for this land. What in particular makes Africa so special for you?
Marion: Family first, obviously, and just the people of South Africa — they’re so warm and friendly, and so diverse. As I said in the first poem I wrote called The Emigrant’s Lament, “Africa will always be in my blood.” I really realized that during the time we lived in Ireland.
Mr. Africa turns off the landrover’s engine and whispers.
Mr. Africa: Everyone, be really quiet. There’s a lioness in the grass, stalking those impala in the open savanna ahead. Let’s park and watch for a while.
Suddenly the impala scatter. The lioness gives chase, then another, but soon both give up and disappear into longer grass.
Mr. Africa hands out refreshments for everyone to enjoy.
Mr. Africa: While we’re quenching our thirst, perhaps one of the other authors can join me in the front.
Marion, which do you prefer? Coffee or tea? Sweet or savory?
Marion: Tea please—Five Roses—in a mug with the milk in first (it really does make a difference). Oh, and a teaspoon of sugar. Thanks so much. A sweet koeksister is always welcome to nibble on—one must be crazy not to enjoy those traditional Cape Malay confectioneries made of fried dough infused in syrup or honey.
Here are the others participating in the safari. Greg Mackinnon, Ashley Winter, Lisa Harris, Anna Jensen, Marion Ueckermann, Dianne J. Wilson, Val Waldeck, Harry Kraus, and Lynnette Bonner. Please, everyone, stay in the vehicle and visitors, feel free to visit us all! And don’t forget to join the Africa Book Safari taking place from Friday, October 25th to Monday, October 28th on Facebook
Marion: VISITORS, don’t forget to come back here tomorrow and I’ll tell you where to go next on this blog hop! See you again at the Facebook safari!