Evie on the loose

Evie is 18 and eager to tell you her story. Astonishing to think she was born in both 1897 and 2011 (when I first began thinking about her story). I guess it’s fair to say that her ‘birth’ is also 1 July 2015, when she officially makes her appearance in the world. I’m out of the country at the time, but I’ll be having a party for her later in the month. A new novel deserves a party. Years go into each one: years of thinking, researching, writing, rewriting, staying up too late, getting up too early, obsessing over, worrying about, mulling, editing, proofing, adjusting, blurbing, promoting and, finally, selling. And all you have to do is read! I began 'Evie’s War' accidentally. I’d been talki

More writing on the wall

Bulawayo feels like a city in reversion, subsistence poverty overlaid with lush decay. Once grand houses stand empty, crumbling as vegetation re-stakes its claim. Compound walls are in a state of disrepair, razorwire domestic defences blunt compared to those of neighbouring South Africa. Parts of the city lack power and sanitation but it is very safe our driver assures me. Still, there are five police roadblocks between our lodging and the airport. It transpires that in Zimbabwe it is appropriate to smile at police: at number three I do not and am asked why I am angry. I’m not; smiles are easy currency and Zimbabwe invites them. Matobo Hills is our first destination. The lodge is built into

The writing on the (African) wall

You can learn a lot about a place by reading the local signage. Yesterday a restaurant advised that ‘Firearms and or dangerous weapons are not encouraged to be brought onto the premises’. In a public toilet the door notice requests one ‘Please not to chuck tee-shirts into the toilet pan’. As yet I’ve not been tempted to break either rule. But in a new country it's good to know what's allowed and what isn’t; what matters, and to whom. Pretoria is a place of stark contrasts: leafy suburbs locked behind 2m walls and razor wire, while the highways beyond are fringed in shanty towns ranging from brick boxes down to rusted iron lean-to’s. Part of the population is too nervous to walk outside their

Defibrillating the web world

Putting together a website takes more time and energy than you imagine. Alongside your allocation of t + e, I recommend a multiple-use discount voucher for your local masseur, a darkened room and a heart defibrillator. Well. Maybe not that. But it’s a stressful experience, and from the outset one of the critical, clearly-stated goals should be the retention of your sanity. I’ve found the process educational, frustrating, challenging, hilarious. And finally my web-builder and I have reached the end (or beginning?) and the website is up - The next step, apparently, is trying to break it. Wait: what? Yep, that’s what she said. I’m hoping no one breaks it, and that lots

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iBooks Best  of 2014
Donnel's Promise
by Anna Mackenzie