Welcome to a long-standing friend Maretha Botha, author of lovely children’s books set in down-to-earth Africa. My mouth is watering at the thought of your delicious pasta dish, Maretha – over to you…
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jane. I would like to tell you a bit more about myself and “Trails and Trials: An African Adventure” – the fourth book in the Fauna Park Tales Series. I’m an Italian National who grew up in South Africa and lived in Botswana for several years. I love expresso, and of course, pasta – just with olive oil and a bit of grated cheese, or a tasty Pasta Vongole with a few clams, cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with olive oil – an easy dish when I’m busy illustrating. Stopping to cook a fancy meal for hubby, might destroy the image in my head.
However, when I hit a blank – either with illustrating or writing the next big adventure – gardening also gives me a welcome break. Simply taking photos of what the garden has on offer or getting down and dirty, and doing some digging do wonders to kickstart my rusty brain!
In a way, “Trails and Trials: An African Adventure”, demonstrates my writer’s journey since 2012 – also filled with all sorts of ups and downs after my post as an assistant librarian was localised at one of the schools in Gaborone, Botswana. When I got over the initial shock of not having a job to go to after the short Easter break, I began to unearth all the bits and pieces I’ve written through the years.
With so much inspiration everywhere – we lived on the edge of a game reserve nestling in a valley surrounded by low undulating hills on three sides and a small rural village on the other side – it was only a matter of time before a new world began forming in my head.
Most of the local villagers keep chickens, donkeys, goats and cattle, and many found a way into the stories told in Fauna Park Tales.
The sand has an incredible ochre colour, and herds of cattle constantly move back and forth in search of new grasslands. Of course, the goat herds are very large, and they too, eat a lot. So, during the dry season, food and water often become scarce. Many times, we gave the cows water at night, because they would hang about our outer fence until we responded!
As unbelievable as it might sound, many villagers still regularly burn a ring around a tree – look how dry it is – and let the tree die to cut it up into firewood. Sometimes, such fires spread, causing large areas to be burnt to a cinder. So, there is a fire in book two –
and the hero Flame, aka as Jack Old Boy, rescues a young zebra and her foals during their migration when they are trapped by fires.
Book description: Four trails one destination, “Trails and Trials: An African Adventure”, is written from four different viewpoints, combining four smaller books into a complete book of 148 pages – each with its own title and subtitles, illustrations, descriptions and footnotes of foreign words – based on “African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends”, a HarperCollins Authonomy Writers’ Website GOLD MEDAL WINNER.
Life continues to take strange turns for Flame, a working dog on a free-range cattle farm. He and three of his furry friends follow the trail of Tall Leader and his gang of poachers into the desert, after they kidnapped their beloved orphans and stole all the villagers’ cattle. To follow their enemies’ trail, the brave friends jump on and off trains, sleep under the stars, and find friends and foes while on their dangerous mission. Their loyal feathered friends – a martial eagle and a female eagle owl – are their scouts, helping them when they get lost, which is often.
All the characters – both human, and furry and feathered – strive to reach the last waterhole at the Tukani River as soon as possible. Here, a cattle stampede, heroic deeds, finding long-lost family and solving secrets happen in quick succession.
“Hope’s Memories” is a backstory summary of book three, “The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure” and gives the reasons why Flame and his friends are on this risky mission.
Birds of prey – martial eagles and eagle owls are both endangered in many parts of southern Africa, especially martial eagles who have been mercilessly persecuted because of their ‘reputation’ to hunt smaller farm animals. You may have noticed the pylons in the photograph above. To protect their young, martial eagles often have nests high up on these pylons – also a dangerous situation. In the story, the martial eagle – Mars – keeps an eye on the movements of the cattle thieves while sitting high up on the pylons.
Author Page – https://amazon.com/author/marethabotha
Blog 1 – https://marethabotha2013.com/
Blog 2 – https://marethmbotha.wordpress.com/
Fauna Park Tales Facebook Page – https://facebook.com/flameandhope.co.uk
Should you wish to add the short links to the other books in the series, they are: