Suzanne Arruda's exciting Mark of the Lion is out this November. Here, she tells us of how she was inspired by Africa and its literature. . .
Let me first say, I’m very excited about Piatkus publishing the first three Jade del Cameron mysteries for publication in the U.K. I’m assuming many readers will wonder how a ‘yank’ would come to write about 1920’s British East Africa/Kenya Colony. The answer is fairly simple: I blame it on my brothers.
I grew up with two older brothers that lived, breathed, read, watched, and played all things Tarzan; that quintessential British Lord turned King of the Jungle. Of course, the librarians (in trying to turn me to more ‘wholesome’ books), fed me plenty of African missionary tales and books about women explorers. Later I graduated into H. Rider Haggard, whose complete works I’m still collecting. I read them all. I also read Tarzan. All this may have died away, but when I began writing biographies for children, I turned to those explorers for my first work, From Kansas To Cannibals. All those great women adventurers came back to life and fused into my protagonist, Jade del Cameron. She sprang from my head like Athena out of Zeus’ skull.
I love writing as Jade. It’s so much fun to vicariously live her adventures in post-WWI-Africa, when the world was on the move and cultures collided. And it’s fun for the women to have a chance to be the adventurer, to take on the Alan Quatermain role, a fact that my male readers appreciate. Frankly, I just love practicing her skills. In researching Jade, I’ve been up in a bi-plane, learned to fire a lever-action rifle, practiced roping and knife-throwing, and mastered making fire using flint and steel. Toss in any adventures I’ve had when I did a bit of zoo-keeping (did you know that African lions can paw open cage doors while you’re cleaning the other half of the cage?) and I enter a land of adventure which I’d love to share with readers.
Part of my research has also involved reading the old Nairobi newspapers: The Leader of British East Africa and The East African Standard. I found these on microfilm and they have been a treasure trove of wonderful information on the early days of Kenya Colony and its concerns. Reading the letters to the editor and the want ads gave me plot ideas, as well as instructing me in the colony’s early currency, stores, and social activities. In fact, I found so much interesting information that I can’t possibly put it all in my books and resort to posting weekly blogs about life in early Kenya.
Thank you U.K. for welcoming me and Jade del Cameron. I hope you enjoy my books and look forward to hearing from any of you.
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