Guest blogger: TM Clark
Years ago I began a long long journey down the writing runway. If someone had told me then where I was heading I might have reconsidered this ‘trip’ and given it some more thought. But I’m glad no one did, and I am so very glad that I never questioned the direction I was heading in.
I’m glad that I rushed onto that runway!
At full speed!
And didn’t give myself time to detour off it …
I’m glad no one warned me, because at every incredible step I have taken, I have been so fortunate. No, it hasn’t all been red roses and champagne, but then it hasn’t been a continual deluge of bad either. I have stumbled, and I have fallen, sometimes hard, sometimes not so badly, sometimes I even landed with my bum in the butter, and come up smiling! I consider myself one of the lucky ones!
Even with the knowledge I have now, that there was so much work involved and so much heartache, I would make the same decision, to become an author.
Because slowly my dream came alive.
Looking back at those footsteps I have left behind I know why I was able to continue on this writing journey and there is only one answer: support.
Other than my super-supportive, long-suffering husband, I have found a place I belong, and that is within the writing fraternity. Within the romance writing and also the children’s literature communities.
I can hear many people asking now … But you write for children, you run a conference to help people within the children’s literature industry, yet you write for adults? That’s two totally different genres …
I smile because this is very true but it never mattered to me. They both achieve the same objective of getting stories published!
But now, when I have finally started earning my wings, and have progressed to the next level in my adult writing, I technically shouldn’t fit into the romance writing community.
I write contemporary literary fiction. My books are always set with an African backdrop. I kill heroes and heroines and I don’t always have good overcoming evil. I have conflict within my stories that pushes people to the edge of where they are not comfortable reading, but are compelled to continue, to know what happens. I run my fictional stories along real time lines and intertwine multicultural traditions and beliefs. I don’t have happy ever after and sunset endings that are expected within this genre …
Yet they are my crowd, and I have run in this pack since 2004 when I discovered Romance Writers of Australia! So for the last ten years it’s a place where I’ve been comfortable, and I have learned so much, and I have made friends. Not all of them writers, but readers, editors, publishers, agents, bloggers and industry professionals too.
The support system within this community is unrivalled, both here and worldwide. It is within the romance writing community that I was allowed to make my mistakes, and I have the support to pull me up when I fall over. When I wanted to give up and walk away, they wouldn’t let me. Instead, they were there, helping me to continue, on my side, not only cheering with the pompoms but offering ways I could continue to grow as an author!
I have found that within this romance community, people are comfortable around me, despite my accent and my clumsy nature; my different upbringing is accepted here, in fact welcomed because of its difference. My writing has evolved to be more crime and thriller with romantic elements, and yet here I am. I am just me, and I have noticed the romance community don’t care, it’s all just part of who I am within the community.
It is a support network that is amazing and I find I am privileged to be part of!
And in case you were wondering … Yes, eventually I have lifted those wheels off that runway, and am now airborne with Shooting Butterflies just released and Tears of a Cheetah about ready to be handed in to my editor at Harlequin, Mira … but I know that there is still so much to learn to keep on my own flight path, and to keep this fat-bird on track and flying as an author!
TM Clark completed her primary school years at boarding school in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and holidays at her family farm in Nyamandhlovu. Her teenage years were spent in Kokstad, a rural town at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. Tina Marie has combined her passion for writing with her love of Africa, and her novel My Brother-But-One, first published in 2013 by Harlequin Mira, has gone into a second edition. Shooting Butterflies has just been released and Tears of a Cheetah, will be published in 2015. Tina Marie also runs the CYA Conference in Brisbane, providing professional development for new and established writers and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature.
He sees ‘the butterfly’ in his dreams.
She is the key to setting a child’s soul free.
She is the perfect sacrifice.
Ex-soldier Kirkman ‘Buffel’ Potgieter lives by the motto of his former military unit: Tiri Tose, which is Shona for ‘we are together’ … but also for ‘there is no escape’. So when Shilo Jamison Khumalo betrays Buffel by saving a neighbour’s child, Tara Wright, from becoming the latest addition to his sinister ‘butterfly’ collection, it sparks Buffel’s obsession with hunting them both down.
After Tara witnesses the murder of her father and uncle, she and her remaining family leave Zimbabwe for a new life in South Africa. There, a teenaged Tara meets Wayne Botha, but finds she isn’t prepared for the price she is asked to pay for falling in love. After Tara secretly flees the conservative rural community, Wayne never gives up hope of ever seeing his one true love again.
But years later, out of the blue, Tara makes contact with Wayne to reveal a secret and some potentially devastating news. In a twist of fate, Wayne and Jamison find they have far more in common than just a passion for African wildlife and join forces to protect Wayne’s new family. But the threat of Buffel is still looming and Jamison knows only too well that there will be ‘no escape’ for him and Tara, ‘the Butterfly’.