These days everyone is talking about long-term plans. If you don’t have a long-term plan for the economy, the deficit, your life, your retirement, or the war against terror you’re just no fun at a party. With that in mind, I have come up with a long-term plan for my writing career. Here it is: When the time comes, my wife and I plan to retire to Umhlanga, South Africa where we have a charming apartment on the beach, and from there I hope to write, if not the great American novel, then at least one that will keep me and a few others entertained.
My wife has suggested that I consider moving away from the adventures of Rulon and Yohaba and invent a new character – a black South African police detective who in the process of solving crimes becomes embroiled in the political and economic fabric of South Africa. It’s actually not a bad idea! – for South Africa is a most extraordinary place!
South Africa defies description. Incredibly beautiful, wild and woolly, democracy with an African beat, almost incomprehensible, on the brink of something – not sure what…perhaps Zimbabwe…hopefully not…perhaps something really special, a rainbow nation, the hope of black Africa…if only…if only.
Mysteries set in SA would have so many possibilities. First, there is the crime – brutal, unnecessarily violent, random, and all too frequent. Second, the customs – plural wives, muti (witchdoctors) and lebolas (the dowry of cows paid by the husband, usually about ten cows but more if the girl is college educated), the tribal system and the Zulu king. Third, the corruption, the rich black fat cats, soldiers of the revolution who sold out when given the keys to the economy.
Fourth, the SAP – South African Police – fighting and dying by the hundreds every year, laying their lives on the line for a few hundred dollars per month, many of them knowing that if SA were ever to achieve its goals, it was up to them to hold the line. Fifth, the Africaners, most accepting the new order, but some still bitter. Sixth, the ANC – the African National Congress – Nelson Mandela’s party now threatening to be torn apart by a firebrand named Malema who likes to lead his young followers in singing a song titled, “Shoot the Boer”. Finally, the millions of increasingly dissatisfied poor. Wow! If you couldn’t make a good story out of all of that, well, you don’t deserve to be a thriller writer.
My next post will be on the movie Master and Commander and how re-watching it has caused me to reflect on the nature of book and movie reviews.