Monday, 1 August 2011

Guest blogger Fanie Viljoen, author of Scarred Lions, on his research and inspirations for the novel

Where do you belong?
Fanie Viljoen

There are some concerns all teenagers have, no matter where they are in the world. These universal issues include the questions: “Who am I?” and “Where do I belong?” This is exactly what Buyisiwe struggles with when his whole life is uprooted and he has to move from England to Africa to start a new life with his estranged father. Imagine that – packing up your life, your belongings and leaving all else, even your mother, behind.

Whilst in the grip of this emotional rollercoaster, Buyisiwe clings to the thought that if his father is an African, then surely there must be a bit of Africa inside of him too … But what if there isn’t, and he becomes a stranger in a strange place? Add to that the thrill and danger of a man-eating lion on the loose in the wild life reserve where his father lives and works, and you’ve got the ingredients for a great read.

A view of the reserve from Picnic Rock

While doing research for Scarred Lions I visited a game reserve near Bela Bela in South Africa. An experienced game warden, Hannes Haasbroek, drove me around in the veld, teaching me about the wide variety of animals and plants. Having grown up in South Africa one might think that every South African would know all there is to know about the animals and the plants, but the game warden unlocked a wealth of amazing facts for me. These I tried to weave into the fabric of the story, giving the book a realistic backdrop. I then merely had to add a great story and some interesting characters that would capture the attention of readers. Because I also enjoy some fun amidst the tension, I included a generous amount of humour – mostly supplied by the fun loving and free spirited AndrĂ©, a game warden’s son.

In the end I hope that readers will have as much fun reading Scarred Lions as I had writing it! My wish for them is that they too might find their place in the world.

This zebra probably knows his place in the world, but can you spot him?

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