Author Liz Fielding chats about how spending the 1970s in Bostwana inspired her latest novel, A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge.

  When I was asked to write a book for the Harlequin Romance mini series, Escape Around the World, I didn’t have to think twice about where in the world I would take my hero and heroine. I’ve lived in many countries in Africa and the Middle East – and set books in some of them. This time it would be Botswana.
     

As long ago as 1993 I first thought of setting a book there. I still have the newspaper article describing the Botswana honeymoon safari taken by Viscount Linley (the son of Princess Margaret) and his bride, Serena.

Some ideas just take longer than others to get to the front of the queue, but the minute that Josie tossed her purple DMs over the end of the office sofa in The Bride’s Baby, I knew she would have a story of her own and despite her purple hair, a punk wardrobe and a lot of “attitude”, heroine and setting came together perfectly.

I went to live in Botswana early in the 1970s. My husband, a civil engineer, was constructing a new town on the edge of the desert and we were 40 miles from the nearest railhead, with only dirt roads and a twice weekly flight out on a DC3 (just like the one in Casablanca) that landed and took off on a dirt runway. On one occasion, flying to Gabarones, we shared the cabin with a parrot, a goat and some day old chicks but barely noticed since we were transfixed by the storm raging outside. It was so big that the pilot was unable to fly around it and we flew through thunder and lightning all the way. Scary!

My husband had a private pilot licence and we flew to the lovely game reserve in the Tuli block when we had a rare long weekend. It was so extraordinarily green after the desert that we could actually smell the grass as we were driven in from the airstrip.


But we didn’t have to go far to see wonderful sights. Just standing outside the door at night watching Mopane moths drawn by the lights, was amazing. They were bigger than a man’s hand and the caterpillars were so large that you could hear them, overhead, crunching through the leaves of the Mopane tree.

The local scenery was dominated by rocky outcrops call kopjes, which were home to troops of baboons, and the leopards that loved to eat them. And the birds. Amazing, colourful, crazy birds were everywhere. Hornbills, lilac breasted rollers, weaver birds, glossy starlings, carmine bee-eaters. Oh, and the meerkats. Who could forget them?

That’s what I wanted my hero and heroine to experience and, through them, the reader. Enjoying some of the amazing things that I’d seen. The thieving monkeys swinging down to steal fruit, the birds, the animals, the wonderful luxury lodges that I’ve been privileged to stay in. And when my hero flies my heroine to Victoria Falls for lunch – well, that’s where my husband and I went on our first date, several years earlier, when we were both working across the border, in Zambia.

A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge follows up The Bride’s Baby (free to download here) with Josie’s story – and the first big wedding she has to handle all by herself.

Newly appointed as a partner in SDS Events, Josie Fowler, has scooped the wildest celebrity wedding of the year in a luxury safari lodge in Botswana. She’s surrounded by prowling leopards and crocodile-filled waters, but more dangerous to her sanity is the resort owner – enigmatic entrepreneur, Gideon McGrath who has moved into the bridal suite and is going nowhere. Escape Around the World – Dream destinations, whirlwind weddings! 

- Liz Fielding

A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge  is on sale as a paper and eBook from May 2010. Stay on top of the latest Liz Fielding news by visiting her website and checking out her blog!

Tags: RT Daily Blog, Romance
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