Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kruger in the rain and Mombasa in the sun

Coming to you live, Legion of Fans (LOF), from the beach bar, 50 metres from the white-fringed blue waters of the Indian Ocean, at the Nyali International Beach Hotel, Mombasa (crappy web cam picture, above, shows my view).

This is the third year in a row that Mrs Blog and I have taken the waters and the Tusker Lagers and lobsters at Mombasa. We have an annual date to catch up with our mate, Bwana James, who has his own mini family reunion here each year.

Mombasa itself is hectic - crowded, grubby, polluted, noisy, but here on the beach it's like nothing's changed since the hotel was built back in the late 40s. Looking out I can sea a couple of dhows, some dudes coming back from a fishing trip in their canoe, some beach kids practising acrobatics and a few fat lazy white people (myself included) lazing on sunbeds.

Beyond the still waters in front of me is a line of breakers on the reef. It's cloudy in the early morning but by now - just afer 10am, the sky is clearing. It's murderously hot away from the coast, but here there's a constant breeze - stiff enough to keep you cool all day, and to send the kite surfers' rigs aloft, but warm enough so you can stay in your cozzies until the sun goes down.

This is where I based the denouement (the end bit) of 'THE DELTA'.

In the evenings we go in search of another restaurant and another lobster. It was Spaghetti Al Aragotsa (with lobster) last night, at the Italian joint, Il Covo, at Bumburi Beach. Tonight's it's flash lobster at the Tamarind (flashest place in town).

I'll post some pics when I can, but for now, there's another post up on my Getaway Blog so please pop on over, have a look, and leave a comment. You might also like to check out the link to the very nice Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga private game lodge, in Kruger, which you'll find in the story.

Happy Australia day, y'all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE DELTA - Out now in South Africa!

Well, what a nice surprise. Mrs Blog and I are on our way to Mombasa for a week of eating seafood and drinking Tusker Lager, and while loitering in Johannesburg Airport I discovered that not only is my latest book, THE DELTA, now on the shelves, it's already in the Top 10 in the CNA at the Airports bookshops!

I knew it was coming but wasn't actually expecting to see any copies just yet. And lo and behold, there it was, sandwiched between Tom Clancy and John Grisham in the Number 2 spot in the new releases section. Not bad company, eh?

I'm pictured above with the charming Cindy, Manageress of the OR Tambo International Airport CNA. I love everyone at CNA at the Airports. As my books are prominently displayed there I don't have to skulk about and move them from the back of the shop to the front of the shop. And no, I didn't put THE DELTA in the Number 2 spot.

But wait, that's not all the shameless self promotion and big-headed gloating for today. As well as having a Top 10 for new releases, CNA also has a Top 10 for its bestselling paperbacks. And looky here who happens to be in Number 2 there as well.

Thank you, CNA, and all you travellers looking for airport novels. I love youse all.

I'll have more news from Mombasa in the coming days, as long as the somewhat patchy wireless interent at the Nyali Beach Hotel is working. After that, it's off to the wilds of Rwanda to see some misty gorillas.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family photo

Baboons to the left of me, impala to the right of me... I'm in Pretoriuskop Camp in the deep south of the Kruger National Park, desperately trying to get on top of my blogging and my writing while the camp animals wander about, chomping contentedly on the lush summer vegetation. But I couldn't resist the temptation to share with you a rare picture of my two Land Rovers and my one wife.

The diminutive Mrs Blog shies the limelight of the blog, but I think she won't mind this rare public appearance with her two children (some would say three).

Here, on our friends' farm (or what's left of it after half was recently taken by a farm invader) somewhere in Zimbabwe are our two children... errr... Land Rovers Tonka (left), who turns 27 some time this year, and Broomas, the baby of the family who was born in 1997.

Tonka is as fit as a 27-year-old fiddle can be. We took him for a run to try and get his rego renewed (we were unsuccessful - this is Africa after all), but we were able to wind him up to a cracking 75kph.

Broomas and Tonka seemed to get on well (neither blew a head gasket or a radiator hose in an attempt at attention seeking) and they will next meet again in February when our intrepid (some would say crazy) friends A and J take part in Operation Tonka's Great Escape. They've agreed to drive Tonka down to South Africa where our friends in Joburg who look after Broomas have agreed to take on the equally adventurous (crazy) task of trying to change Tonka from a Zimbabwean to a South African registered vehicle.

For all its veneer of first-i world civilisation, South Africa has a bureaucracy that, well, makes Zimbabwe looks efficient.

Mrs Blog and I are heading up country to East Africa this weekend - to Mombasa, in Kenya, and Rwanda, in Rwanda. We're off for a healthy serve of seafood and gorillas, respectively. I will do my best to blog live from these corners of darkest Africa.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blogging again with Getaway - now with added video!

I'm getting back into the swing of it, LOF. No more literary ranting, just a bit of good old fashioned whingeing and Africa story telling here on my Getaway Magazine Blog.

And the BIG news is that I've worked out how to upload video to Youtube. If you go to the abovementioned blog you'll find a video with a bit of subtle promotion of 'THE DELTA' in it.

Make sure you leave a comment - I want them to think lots of people really do read my blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Cheated, that's how I feel.

I'm not talking about Africa - at least not today. No, I thought I'd kick of 2011 with a bit of a whinge about books.

I try not to read literary fiction. I just don't get it. And when I do, by some odd twist of fate find myself reading something other than the airport novel thrillers that I really like (to read and write), I always end up disappointed.

Anyway, thanks to the wonders of the Amazon Kindle, I found myself exposed recently (or is that recently exposed?) to a work of literary fiction by a British author (I won't name names). You can have 11 Kindles linked to one account, so Mrs Blog and I share our selection of trashy potboilers with our relatives - some of whom creep occasionally into the high brow end of town.

So, I thought I'd give this worthy tome a try. And you know what - as I started to read it, thinking I would hate it, I actually started to like it.

It was, I think the term is, character-driven. Its many (many, many) characters all had fascinating back-stories and interesting problems and aspirations, or lack thereof. I found myself wanting to know more about these people and, more importantly, what would happen to them.

And beaneath all of this profiling was the beginnings of a story. Yes, a real-life honest-to-goodness story. When an element of impending danger reared its head, I thought, game-on! I could see how the author was setting up all these very different people's paths to cross. However, I couldn't guess which one would get it in the neck, which would survvie, and which would get it on (if you know what I mean).

And then, at the end of the book....

My brainy, personable, attractive and single publisher, C, has had occasion to ask me, when she's finished reading the manuscripts of one or two of my books; "Tony, did you get to a point where you thought, 'I've done enough words, I'm a bit sick of this book, so I think it's time to end it?"

To which I have replied, on each occasion, "Umm, yes."

That does happen. I get to the stage where I think, enough twists and turns, enough red herrings, it's time to wrap this sucker up. It's time to kill off the baddies (and perhaps one or two noble supporting goodies), give the guy the girl, or the girl the guy, and let those who deserve it ride off into the sunset.

I actually like books with short, sharp endings but, importantly, they must have an ending. My publisher, wise person that she is, gets me to tie off a few more loose ends that I might have missed, and insert an Epilogue which tells the reader what happened to everyone later. I can live with that. I can live with just about any sort of ending, but I must have an ENDING.

And so, at the end of this beautfiully crafted piece of fiction that I'd been reading, ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOTHING HAPPENED.

There was a culmination of sorts, when one of the characters, an evil genius, almost saw through his plan of bringing down the western banking system, but.... we didn't see it happen. OK, so maybe we don't need the 'big bang', maybe it's enough to imply that it would happen, but surely this should have had some impact on the lives of some of the other characters?


They had nothing to do with that part of the book. There was a girl and guy - misfits of sorts - who looked like they might get it on, and they did (well, they didn't actually get it on - perish the thought, nothing so cheap as a sex scene in this book). No, they well... seemed like they were getting on famously, and....

And, nothing. There was nothing to link their story with anyone else's. God, this was like sitting through five days of Tarantino movies! All these irrelevant sub plots with nothing in common.

And then there was the guy who was going to set off a bomb. Yes, an actual bomb.

But, instead of the Big Bang, well.... nothing. Didn't Chekov or some Russian dude say that if you introduce a gun in the first act then someone's going to get a sucking chest wound in the third (or something like that?).

All these sub plots could have, should have, to my feeble mind at least, gone somewhere and drawn in all the other characters and sub plots. But... no.

Oh, and let's not forget the top line athlete and his pin-up girlfriend. They were... well, totally bloody irrelevant to anything at all related to any of the other characters or sub plots as far as I could see. And the schizophrenic brother of one of the characters who... well, don't worry, because nothing happend to him, either.

Reading the author's notes at the end of this book (which were almost as long as the book, but, hey, mine are a bit like that) I learned that the author had consulted many, many people and had done an awful lot of research into his characters' life stories. And it showed - they were, as I've said, perfectly formed. It's just that nothing happened to any of them. What's more it took him FOUR YEARS TO WRITE THE THING.

I wonder what would happen if I wrote a book with no ending. Perhaps I'd win a literary prize and the book would be made into a movie and I'd make a heap of dough.

And you know what, the other thing that would happen is....

What do you reckon, LOF? Read any worthy books that just fizzled out? What do you look for in a story? Do you look for a 'story' at all?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm back...

HNY, LOF (Legion of Fans), if there are any of you still out there.

I'm back, with a repaired laptop and bursting with things to blog about. I've just got back to South Africa, land of internet access and cheap beer, after a sojourn in Zimbabwe and Zambia. I have much to report.

I'll be hitting all my many blogs and desperately trying to convince people that I am still alive and kicking.

Had me a fine old time on Lake Kariba, on a houseboat (more like a house ship, actually) where I coincidentally met the people from Getaway Magazine who post my blogs there. Amazing. We had a great chat and one of them sprayed a bottle of champagne all over Mrs Blog and me just after midnight on Jan 1. I also recall doing the limbo at some point, and singing 'The Gambler' in a bout of improptu Karaoke. Zimbabwe, I apologise.

Anyway, I also still have a ninth novel to write so I can't dally here all day. More to come, in the very near future...