The Conception of DICE MODISE

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Peugeot 404, 1976. “Buttercup.”

I can’t really say exactly when Dice was conceived, but, whenever that was, he certainly wasn’t born nine months later. He and his world involved a lot of research, which eventually made a visit to Maun, Botswana, his home, mandatory. All I knew for certain was that he was to be a black Motswana, (Yes, there is such a thing as a white Motswana, a citizen of Botswana.) and he would be a policemen in their CID.

Asked how on earth, as a honky, I planned to get inside the head of a black policeman, I was stuck for an answer. But whether I’ve succeeded or not, or simply concocted a reasonably exciting bunch of yarns, is up to my readers to judge. I didn’t know there would be a series of three adventures, but that’s how it turned out in the end.

HV cover front finalMPO KindleChildren Apart - soft cover

But I digress. A trip to Maun was planned for early July, 2009, but it would have to include a family catch-up along the way, and I hoped to sell enough of my first two novels to pay my way….

Collecting my yellow 1976 Peugeot 404 from my mechanic, who had given it the once-over for the trip (and expects to inherit it when I croak,) I drew three weeks wages for Sheila to pay my building teams.

Early the following morning I was on the N9 to Graaff Reinet where I flogged a couple of copies of Purgatory Road and The Barros Pawns to McNaughton’s Bookshop there and wolfed down some Wimpey breakfast. On through Colesberg and Bloemfontein to Welkom to spend the night with my salt-of-the-earth old family friends, Anne and Herman van Hees. I got to Pretoria after lunch the following day.

Back in the 80’s, I used to work for a Consulting Engineers, called Strydom, Newmark & Anthony based in Pretoria, so I found their offices and saw old friends like Vissie Visser, Gordon Hart and the ‘new boss’ Dave Temple who had taken over since Dolf van Huyssteen retired. (The latter 2 were also at school with me at Pretoria Boys High.) Vissie kindly bought 2 books!

As arranged, I went on to my daughter, Nicci, and her husband, Frederick’s home near Hazeldene, Pretoria, and spent the next couple of nights with them. The next day, Nicci kindly took me scouting the malls looking for bookshops. We left 5 of each book with Eddington Esterhuizen of eBooksetc. We also made an arrangement to meet up with Estienne van Wyk of Fascination Books when I get back. The following day, Nicci showed me around Frederick’s family farm. It is still huge, despite the fact that parts have been cut off for housing complexes. They have retained a stand in one of these, where the streets are named after members of the family – there is a Frederick Street and an Anna’s Way, amongst others. Their future home will be overlooking a dam. We had supper with my son Ryan. He, his wife Elaine and his 3-boy-family lived about twenty minutes away. Thomas was nearly 5; Nicholas was 2 years and 4 months, while James was a blob of 5 months. Nicholas spokes nearly as well as Thomas and was a tease. He pretended to miss out a number while counting and then said ‘Jokes!’ when the adults corrected him. He did jigsaw puzzles of 30 pieces in no time at all. Unbelievable. It’s quite sickening how gooey these proud grandfathers can get.

The next day, Saturday, 11  July, all of us went north to the farm of my ex, Greet, and her husband, Dennis Driver for the day, where Sheila and I had gone to Nicci’s wedding. Dennis’ sister and family were there, as well, so it was very festive at the camping ground and chalets. I got a bit of chat in with Dennis and Greet, and slept at their farm house.

Armed with sandwiches Greet made, I set off for the border post at Martin’s Drift in the Peugeot, leaving the cool of winter behind, to Francistown, Botswana. I bought a starter-pack and airtime for my phone. The Peugeot started jerking, around about Nata where I filled up with fuel, and she died on me about 10 km short of the little village of Zaroga so I slept the night in the car. It was not too cold and I had food and beer. There was no cell coverage, where I was.

After awaking several times before daybreak, cramped and aching,  a passing 4×4 towed me to Zaroga for P50-00 and a ‘mechanic’ charged me P150-00 to lend me a 9mm spanner to open the carburettor and move a pipe back so that the float could be free. His lucky day!

I arrived in Maun at about 11h30. The Thamalakane River was as high as I had ever seen it. I went straight to the Bon Arrivee restaurant to find the owner, Klaas Boll to ask to use it as a venue for my book signing on the following Sunday. Then I went to the Ngami Times to see Norman Chandler, the editor/owner, to get an advert in about the signing, but he promised an article, instead.

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Maun, Botswana.

The quirky little town was still much the same as when I had last visited. Over the next week, I stayed a night here, another two there, with dear old friends, including Mieke and Kokkie van der Post and Becky Collins. There is no place on earth I have more friends in one place, so it was a delight to catch up with them all. Some, like Bonty Botumile and David Tregilges, were able to give me advice on Motswana culture which I was later to weave into the series. Most of all I needed help with details about the Botswana Police and CID. I called on the local station commander and was disappointed to hear that he would not help me without permission from higher up.

He told me to phone the Police Commissioner in Gaborone. I told him not to be ridiculous; the man would not talk to me, but he insisted that the Commissioner was a nice friendly fellow and gave me the number.

I called from the car park, reaching his secretary, expecting to be told not to bother the Man. She put me through. I stuttered an explanation about my research needs, while he listened politely. Then, blow me down, he said he’d assign a Deputy Director to be at my disposal. He told me to give him ten minutes to brief his Deputy, and a number on which to call her!

Which I did, and spoke to Maloti Pauline Gabositwe, Director of the Botswana Police College who was expecting my call. She apologised that she would be busy with a passing-out parade, but would be back in her office on Monday – Could I phone her back then? I asked for her email address and in the following months, and years, I got my every query answered. Amazing! Sometimes it pays to go to the top.

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Visiting Robert James, Maun Senior Secondary School maintenance supervisor, 2009.

I sold some books, gave some away in thanks for being a house guest, and had a fairly successful book-signing.

The old Peugeot gave me some more headaches with a clutch cylinder leak and timing problems, but there were always friendly folk to help overcome these, so when I headed back to South Africa, I had an uneventful trip.

Posted in Backgrounds, Botswana, Exploring Africa, Shaping a writer, Travels, Writing novels | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Promo – CAPE TOWN BOOK FAIR

In May 2009, seeing as I had to take my visiting daughter, Nicci, to Port Elizabeth, there was the opportunity to visit bookshops with the object of encouraging my book sales. At Walmer Park, I took 3 copies of each to Fogarty’s Books in the same complex and Theresa Fogarty took them on consignment. These were the first I had on sale in any bookshops, but I had plans to go further afield. The Cape Town Book Fair was just around the corner.

So on 11 June 2009 I left for Cape Town in my old Peugeot 404, going via Bernie and Kerrie Marriot who had built a home on a smallholding near the Robertson Pass between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay. I dropped off a copy of The Barros Pawns as I had used Bernie’s photo of a parachute on the front cover.
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Chris Ashby (RIP)

From there I took the route through Carlitzdorp, Montagu and Bonnievale to the N2; Sir Lowry’s Pass to Somerset West, arriving there in the late afternoon to spend the night at the home of old friend Spine van Niekerk, with whom I had worked in Mozambique way back in 1971.

The next day after breakfast I headed via Muizenberg to Fish Hoek. My brother-in-law, Tom Maling and his wife Shirley had kindly agreed to put me up for the rest of my stay in Cape Town.

Rick Prince, a friend of Bernie’s, who was also writing a novel, phoned to ask to join me at the Cape Town Book Fair. He agreed to pick me up the next day and take me along

CTICC

CTICC

We took the Ou Kaapse Weg route over the mountain with its beautiful views over False Bay and down into the City. The Cape Town International Convention Centre was where the Book Fair was on, alongside a Muslim Convention. Robin Stuart-Clark’s stand was C13 and I had to bluff my way in as his phone had been stolen and I could not get hold of him to bring me my author’s entrance ticket. It was weird, and pleasing, to see my books on display there.

I tried to get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks of Wordsworth Books but they told me he would only be coming in the next day. Exclusive Books were not allowing more Vendors so I shall not be selling through them. Clarke’s Books had not received my invoice yet so were not selling The Barros Pawns although they have Purgatory Road on their shelves but had ‘lost’ the invoice for that.  Friend Dirk Versveld, who was proof-reading my next book, the first in the Detective Dice Modise Series, phoned to say that he was on his way just as we were leaving, so I’ll visit him at home tomorrow.

purgatory cov frontHe said there is an article including Purgatory Road in a book review from The Mail & Guardian, under the heading, The Rise of the Slasher. It suggested that the four books the reviewer had lumped together were all jumping on some sort of gory story bandwagon.

On Sunday, I drove the Peugeot to the CTBF on the same route as Rick had taken me the day before. I couldn’t get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks but attended a lecture on self-publishing and met one or two interesting people. In the early afternoon I phoned Dirk and got the directions to his home. What a lovely job he has done in renovating the house from a single storey to a double with a garage beneath it.

The following day, I stood Tom and Shirley to lunch at the fish & chip place called ‘Kalky’s’ in Kalk Bay after we went to see the bookshop there who were not interested in selling my books. Thanks to Tom and Shirley’s persistence, I placed 5 of each with a coffee shop in Fish Hoek and 10 of each with a chain store called The Write Shoppe in the Longbeach Mall which had 4 other branches.

After dropping off the orders at the coffee shop and The Write Shoppe on Tuesday, I got back to Tom’s in time to see Andy, his son, and Colleen arrived. That was a treat because I had missed their wedding there in Cape Town back in February, while holding the fort at home when Sheila and Neil had come down for the event.

By Wednesday evening I was back in Haarlem, not having found any more receptive bookshops for my novels along the way. That was the start of my rather futile attempts at book sales and marketing, but interesting, never-the-less.

Posted in Shaping a writer, Writing novels | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

From Ruin to Home

Sept 2008 – 2010.

Plot123.jpgIn a little hollow, one of several scooped out of the hillside over the millennia, I bought a one acre property with a ruined cottage. Plot 123. This tiny side valley in our village of Haarlem is called Klein Gatjie, or Small Hole. Other similar dips are Groot Gat, Die Fonteine and Skilpad Gat. The latter means Tortoise Hole, and nobody can tell me why. Surely not tortoise’s arse?

In September  2008  my little construction team were starting the veranda foundations and digging the septic tank pit. Despite the fact that the city of George is 130-odd km away, the village lies under the control of George Municipality. Because the ruin was a metre into the road, I approached the City Engineer/Town Planner who assured me that its location was historic and sited long before streets were laid out. However, I decided that, being on the lower side of the hillside road, it would receive road storm-water run-off, resulting in rising damp, so I dug down beside the wall and installed some subsoil drainage to sop up the moisture and release it beyond the French drain into the road.

Hooked to one wall of the roofless walls was the still live electrical box, covered only with a bent sheet of rusty iron and a plastic fertilizer bag. As soon as I raised and completed the walls and installed the roof, I could move it to a better, safe position. Then I could apply to have a replacement installed at no cost due to the age and weather damage.

Before the roof was on, the solar company I had approached mailed to tell me that the batteries I had ordered had arrived, but they agreed to store them until I could install a wooden floor on the upper storey.

The old mud-brick walls were collapsed by myself with a two-handed push, so rotten were they. The rubble went into filling the under-floor of the new veranda.

VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERABy October the outer walls were completed to the top of first floor level and the new doors and windows were installed. We moved to the internal walls and the veranda columns, then in November the upper walls up to the gables. Limited scaffolding and having to move it frequently slowed that down.

I designed the roof to be split-level. One half being trusses with an attic bedroom and a store inside them. When that was covered in corrugated iron sheets, we tackled the other half, which was higher, (completed by March 2009); the rafters on a central beam, housing a bedroom where the batteries and gas geyser were situated on the west side, and my office with two spare beds on the east. As I write, I see a lovely view down the valley to the east through one of those three small windows to be seen above the veranda.

By mid November 2008, the team started plastering; outside when the weather permitted, inside the roofed half when it rained. I put in the last sewer connection and also the water line into the house. In early December we roofed the veranda and worked on the street-side wall to remove the visible mud from between the rocks and replace it with cement mortar, coloured to emulate the mud.

By the end of February, 2009, we completed the under-floor waste plumbing, the concrete floors and final plastering. I welded a steel security gate for the front door and a second one to put on the bedroom door to the veranda.

In May of 2009, the main team finished the floor toppings. With a lot of work to do on a part of the Backpackers in Uniondale, I didn’t get much done except welding burglar bars for the windows. I’d had the break-in and robbery at my Twin Chimney’s property with a lot of power tools stolen, which had to be replaced. Luckily, the robbers missed the big angle grinder so the men were able to cut the roof-sheets. They started on the gables but the glare off the new roof sheets kept the work to overcast days.

I tackled plumbing, electrical installation and also the wooden staircase, myself; an interesting exercise in planning to make it fit with even risers… I tried to build a solar water-heater on the roof with 50mm irrigation piping but it kept bursting, so I ordered a commercially-made unit what works beautifully.

2016 Home

There being still work to do with the transformation of a garage into a flat at the Backpackers, and more work at the Twin Chimneys property, as well as another one acre property with a cottage ruin to rebuild, it was well into 2010 before the place was liveable. I built on a workshop/garage, as well. It became my home in April 2011; a welcoming little cottage where I write in blissful solitude.

Posted in Building, South Africa | Tagged | 3 Comments

The SELF-PUBLICATION Route

PJE-logo1

PJE Publishing

In late 2008, in resurrecting the two manuscripts that had lain dormant since the early 1980s, the first step was to retype them into the digital age. The process was valuable for several reasons. It gave me a refreshed view of the time-frame I had mostly forgotten, solidly in the era of Apartheid, and it was satisfying to see that I had not been totally blind to the injustices of the times, although obviously my view was very one-sided. I decided not to try and gloss over the past with the benefit of hindsight. From the writing viewpoint, I was able to proof-read as well as correct errors, and tighten the stories.

Harry-bingham

Harry Bingham – author

That done, I approached a company called The Writer’s Workshop in the UK to polish them up, if needs be. The Writer’s Workshop, brainchild of author Harry Bingham, with some thirty other published authors of every conceivable genre on tap to advise the aspirant author, is now called JERICHO WRITERS

https://jerichowriters.com/

I ordered Harry Bingham books from my library to see whether I would like what he himself had written, and was very impressed. He continues to write works of the highest order, and goes from strength to strength. http://www.harrybingham.com/harry-binghams-books/ (I had the delight of meeting Harry in person in 2010, but that’s another story.) www.amazon.com/Fiona-Griffiths-Crime-Thriller-Book/dp/B071XJ5G2G

Dexter Petley

author- Dexter Petley

My books were steered into the care of Dexter Petley (author of WHITE LIES) who praised what he thought was good and slammed my weaknesses. It was quite an ego-deflating experience, but absolutely invaluable when my pride would finally admit to the accuracy of the criticism. I would very strongly recommend their services to any seriously aspiring author.

Robin S-C

Robin Stuart-Clark – publisher of Bumble Books.

 

 

Needing help with this self-publishing lark, on 28 August 2008 I contacted a man named Robin Stuart-Clark of Print Matters (http://www.printmatters.co.za/bumble_books). He also designs layouts and markets, as well as publishes, books, although not my genre. He suggested that I send him my thoughts on a cover for PURGATORY ROAD. He liked my attempt but made suggestions with regard to the fonts and the title positioning and the ‘teaser’. I was very excited about it and wrote, asking what I needed to send him to do the design. I also had to get stuck into writing an author’s profile and blurb for the back cover, and some alternate ‘teasers’.  He also required a photo of myself, which I was reluctant to send, but Sheila and friend, artist Johan du Plooy, both thought that most people like to see what the writer looks like.

Once I had accepted his quote for the design and printing, including the reduced rate for printing 200 books from Digital Print Solutions, he got the ball rolling. Every step was new to me. It included things I’d naively never heard of, like Imprint, Tradesheet, and Blurb, never mind the ins and outs of establishing a Website.

Robin was peppering me with questions that I tried to answer, and any reviews or positive comments I had received, but I had difficulty justifying using Dexter Petley’s comments on Purgatory Road without his permission. I needed to come up with 20 meta tags for my web-site, whatever they were. I made a deposit into his bank account so that he can get on with the job, then sent him PURGATORY ROAD. Thumbs were tightly clutched.

There followed a tennis match of back and forth when I agreed to use his recommendation of Dr Eva Hunter as proof-reader.

Robin asked me to send him the name of my publishing company and suggested PJE Publishers.  I replied okay. I really couldn’t give a damn; I just wanted to see my baby in print! So I now had a Publishing business too!

I received 4 alternate choices of cover for Purgatory Road and showed them to Sheila and Johan. We all agree which was the best but there were certain bits we thought needed to change. I also received the ISBN number. Robin sent me another cover choice and 2 text & layout choices.

I received proof 1 of Purgatory Road text, re-read it to check I agree with it, or not, then returned it to Robin. Back and forth…

By early October I completed the corrections in Text proof no. 4.

Robin sent me a suggestion for the PJE Publishing monogram and an improved cover where he had got rid of some shiny strips.  Robin again asked about the PJE logo which was becoming a nuisance as I stupidly did not really care if it was there or not in the first place. Finally there was an improvement that I replied to accept. There was still one detail on the cover that bothered me – lettering that lay on top of a cartridge case, that I drew to Robin’s attention.

purgatory cov frontThe general summary Dr. Eva Hunter gave was positive. She also liked the cover.

Dr. Eva Hunter’s Report on “Purgatory Road” by Peter J. Earle

The story is an exciting one, with excellent twists, especially towards its conclusion.  Some of the scenes are especially vivid, including those set in Rhodesia and the cast of characters is an interesting one.  The title is a terrific choice.

I input Eva Hunter’s contribution into Proof 5 and returned it. When it came back to sign off, I found 9 mistakes which I sent back to Robin to implement. Back and forth. Two mistakes corrected, okayed and finally sent for printing.

Robin sent me yet another proof after fixing the two (only) mistakes. I supposed they were washing their hands on any further errors that might exist, even if they made those mistakes themselves. I checked that those two were dealt with and asked him to send it off for printing.

By the middle of November, Robin had sent me a nice example of my web-page and tradesheet, (whatever that was!) On 21st. November, my 62nd birthday, I met up with Robin in Haarlem, on his way from Cape Town to Grahamstown. He brought my 180 copies of Purgatory Road with him, keeping 20 to distribute to whoever he wants to in Cape Town for promo purposes. Having a copy of my own book in my hand was a special triumph.

But, I was to discover, the biggest hurdle, one I have still not crossed  ten years later, was yet to come. I still have not got a distributor; I was to discover that they take about 60% of the cover price, and are still not responsible for marketing! That’s yet another hurdle.

TBPpic5528In January 2009 I had a few good words of praise from Dr. Eva Hunter with reference to the novel she was working on, The Barros Pawns. She said:  “Peter is very good when it comes to describing battle scenes and landscapes – he creates vivid images and his plot successfully suggests the tortuousness of what goes on behind the scenes when power is being fought for – I have the impression this MS is even better than Purgatory Road.”

Robin Stuart-Clark, in writing to Brian Joss, News Editor of Independent Community Newspapers, sent him a copy of PR and finished: “PS – I am currently working on Peter’s second novel, The Barros Pawns, which is a remarkable follow up from a writer to be watched.”

Ahem…

Posted in Backgrounds, Crime genre, Shaping a writer, Writing novels | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crooked Cops & Robbers

In early March 2009, as I arrived at my office in the Twin Chimneys property, it was to find that someone had broken the security bar door and opened my office. VIVITAR DIGITAL CAMERABesides about R10,000-00 in power tools, they went off with a lot of valuable personal items including my father’s WWII medals. The robbers had emptied my desk drawers onto the floor. They even stole two large plastic tubs in which to load all the loot. Spending the whole morning with the police, I gave them as complete a list I could of items I claimed to have been stolen. It was very not very accurate as I could not remember everything in the desk drawers. The fingerprint man came out from Oudtshoorn as well, and the CID came out the following day. I gave them the details again and also the name of a witness to whom the thieves had tried to sell some of my goods; some printing cartridges and my Dictaphone.

Two weeks later, while in Uniondale, I went to see the CID cop, Sgt. Jacobs, who is handling my robbery. He showed me my little spirit-level, a dagger and a Dictaphone all taken in the robbery but I knew these had not been listed. He claimed that they had been retrieved by his ‘informer’ while she visited Zhivago, the local fence and gangster. (Saw them on his bedside table, he told me!!) How did the so-called informer know that the items were mine? It is said that the ‘informer’ is related to the cop, too. And I was asked to pay R300-00 to the ‘informer’ for retrieving the goods! Very interesting. Now that I had the Dictaphone back, I thought I’d put new batteries in it to use whenever I met up with the crooked cop.

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I got an interview with the chief of CID in Uniondale, a Captain Benn, and reported the situation about the “recovered” goods. He admitted that it was not required to pay informers as they receive payment from the police, anyway. He said he would look into Sgt Jacobs actions, but avoided the subject whenever I asked what had happened. (Soon afterwards, Jacobs was promoted to Warrant Officer and transferred to Johannesburg…)

On 27th May I had to attend court as a witness. Eventually the case came up – they had a man named ‘Getuie’ Borchards accused of complicity and he was in the dock when I was questioned. I simply repeated my statement that I had found my building broken in to and agreed that the list of items stolen is accurate, after trying to tell them that it was incomplete. Also that I had received 3 items recovered by the police. From then I was not allowed to re-enter the court to see the rest of the case which was very frustrating as I was burning with curiosity, both for personal interest as well as from a crime-writer’s point of view!

There seemed to be four men involved in the robbery. Three of them swore, so help me god, that they were all playing cards with their mate, the one in the dock, at the night of the break-in, so he was released. No reference to fingerprints. No statement by the man who was offered the goods for sale. And so the matter rested; unsolved…

 

Posted in Crime genre, Shaping a writer, South Africa, Writing novels | Tagged | 1 Comment

A Novel of a Road-Rage Decision.

I thought, after a really nasty attitude by a traffic cop roadblock, that I might just understand the ultimate road rage of losing it completely and blowing them away. That action which would send one’s life to hell because of one stupid emotional blow-out.

purgatory cov frontPURGATORY ROAD – self-published 2008. Originally written in the ‘70s, this is another non-PC tale set in Southern Africa. I didn’t try to dolly it up to meet our more exacting PC obligations of the present, but to reflect the moment in history through the eyes of a South African pale-face.

At the time, in the early ‘70s, Apartheid South Africa was under siege from the self-righteous West and by the Communist Block (in retrospect, a weird alliance.) From a vision of Southern Africa’s nations proudly developing their own states separately, Apart-ness morphed into a majority oppressed by a privileged minority. Of course the vision was flawed, and even naive, but the intentions were, I perhaps also naively think, not bad. They just could not come to fruition in any practical manner, so the experiment exploded when nobody else shared the impractical dream.

The Bush War in Rhodesia was in full cry. Both the Rhodesians and South Africans were under sanctions. Petrol was rationed; speed limits to save fuel were in force. PURGATORY ROAD unfolds against that background as a stockfeed salesman speeds home to his little farm at midnight and runs afoul of a roadblock manned by corrupt police. He stands to lose his little dream-farm, and his job.

He snaps. Minutes later, he is a murderer.

At home, he finds that his wife, a city girl, has left him. With a death sentence awaiting him and nothing to live for, he sets off for Rhodesia and the Bush War, to commit a useful suicide.

It is a tale of redemption set against the powder-keg of 1970s Southern Africa.

Some reviews:

What sets Peter J Earle’s debut novel,

Purgatory Road, apart from the

rest of the genre is his compelling

no-nonsense, fast-paced narrative using

credible characters and a strong

sense of location, delivered in

unpretentious language.

In short: refreshing and remarkable.

– READERS’ FORUM BOOK CLUB –

Dexter Petley

Dexter Petley – author

…a veld-noir

just ripe for the

picking with an

original setting

and an incredible

knowledge of

the terrain. – Dexter Petley, author.

 

James NESBITT

James Nesbitt – author

“...Stafford is a product of his times — born in South Africa well before the end of apartheid and white-minority rule in that country, drawn to again take up arms to defend white-minority rule in Rhodesia as a death-wish penance for his horrible crime. Earle makes no apologies for Stafford being on the wrong side of history and portrays the time and place of his novel with unblinking frankness and the same absence of apologia….Stafford knows he is caught in a vise and that’s what makes this such a classic noir tale. The setting may be the veldt, but the feel is the concrete urban jungle of American noir. Earle deftly ratchets up the fear and pressure while masterfully bringing to life one country well before its dramatic change and another that no longer exists. That’s what makes PURGATORY ROAD such a crackling read.”Jim Nesbitt, author of THE LAST SECOND CHANCE and THE RIGHT WRONG NUMBER

Enquiries and Orders for the soft-cover edition from me: sales@peterjearle.com

eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Purgatory-Road-Peter-J-Earle-ebook/dp/B01M6ZJX5S

More reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11423727-purgatory-road

 

Posted in Backgrounds, Exploring Africa, racial development, Shaping a writer, South Africa, Writing novels | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Non-PC Reflections on my first novel

Some South Africans clearly remember the increasing difficulties of life in their country as the World focused, in the seventies and eighties, on bringing the Apartheid regime to its knees by, among other methods, increasingly throttling sanctions.

Both the sanctions and the resistance thereto impacted on both the Haves and the Have-nots. Besides the tightening of belts, heightened security and stringent racial controls, there was innovation and invention.

A view through white eyes during that time expressed now is of course blatantly non-PC. However, it is historic. There is also no doubt that a certain feeling of guilt for their privilege was at the time, if not blossoming, beginning to bud.

Barros eBookCommunism was the bogeyman of the day, and a tool of good use by the burgeoning Black Resistance. My novel, written in the ’70s but finally seeing light of day in 2008, THE BARROS PAWNS, reflects this unease at the imbalance of justice, as well as the feeling of threat and the security methods used to counter the Communist advances. Only a thriller novel of adventure and the efforts by various ruthless interested parties to manoeuvre the struggle of Frelimo in Mozambique to shed the yoke of Portuguese colonial control, the background, nevertheless, is a reasonable reflection of the times.

Prof Pelissier

Dr René Pélissier

French historian, Dr René Pélissier, had this to say about THE BARROS PAWNS:

…We have in hand a late testimony on the Wagnerian twilight of Portuguese colonization in Mozambique in 1974, little before and after the 25th of April. We are under the impression the author of “The Barros Pawns” is not only inspired by Jorge Jardim, but he has visited him or has been close to him, at least at the end of his golden age.

In any case, the author probably lived in Central Mozambique at that time (early 1970’s), as he reveals himself to be an expert on the Rhodesian and South African Secret Services, as well as on the shady world of mercenaries which some rich (or super-rich) colonists of the Extreme Right want or wanted to recruit in order to save their interests against the MFA and the FRELIMO. One does not improvise to be a specialist of the aviation club of Beira, not without having known the place and Jorge Jardims’ parachute girls, at the time they were illustrated in magazines.

The incredibly complicated story of a band of mercenaries, who are killing one another due to lacking leadership, the invented episodes by the author etc, are all less essential in comparison to the realistic description given of the “end-of-era” sentiment, which reigns in the Portuguese army in 1974.There is no consideration for its army’s martial qualities (except when in the commandos), any more than it admires the settlers’ indecision, divided between its generations. No matter what it is, it is a book which subscribes itself under a series of relatively old fictions in English on Central Mozambique and even on Zambezie. The unforeseen heritage of Livingstone? Perhaps not, but certainly that of the Company of Mozambique, without any doubt.

Translated from the French by Ximena Maartense. (Bold emphasis by me.)

Jardim ladies

Gorgeous Jardim girls with their mum.

For the record, I had heard of Jorge Jardim, and indeed, as a skydiver, of his adventurous and beautiful daughters, who sparked my imagination, but my characters actions bear no resemblance to those of that family.

The Softcover edition of The Barros Pawns is currently out of print, but the eBook is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y5RYRBC/ 

Enjoy.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/7945783.Peter_J_Earle

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