Friday, 8 July 2016

The Girl from Simon's Bay

Experienced writers always say that the second book is the hardest...
And they may be right.

Flushed with success (hopefully!) first time around, the enthusiastic author leaps into book number 2 and wonders:

Do I still have it?
Can I do this one more time? Will this new story be as good as the previous one?

For me, writing a book to be set in the beautiful Cape Peninsula where I spend part of every year is a dream assignment. The question was, could I create a plot worthy of my magnificent surroundings?

Simon's Town itself provided the answer, for it has a history which is made for fiction. From its early beginnings as a winter anchorage for Dutch sailing ships (north winds were all too likely to drive them aground in Table Bay) to its vital role in the Second World War and onwards through the apartheid years, Simon's Town has a glorious, bitter-sweet story of its own. All I needed to do was to let loose my characters amongst its rich past, and see what happened.

I always like to layer my fiction atop as much authenticity as possible. Luckily - and credit is due here to the Historical Society plus determined local residents - much of the town is still preserved as it was from Victorian days. The buildings that my hero and heroine walk past or serve inside, are still there today. So my research for The Girl from Simon's Bay took me down the town's streets and through the excellent Simon's Town, Naval and Heritage Museums, and then on to the National Archives in Kew and the British Library in St Pancras.

And the characters?
More next time...

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