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Guest blogger: TM Clark

19 November 2017

A new buzz-word in my repertoire at the moment and something that is close to my heart: companion books.

I have been extremely fortunate that after a ‘lull’ in 2016, I have had three books released in five weeks in 2017. Slowly! Slowly! (a children’s picture book, published by Wombat Books), illustrated by the amazing Helene Magisson. Tears of the Cheetah (Mira, Harlequin), has been reissued in B format, and my adult book, Child of Africa (Mira, Harlequin, out 20 November 2017).

So, why are these close publications significant and so important to me?

Slowly! Slowly! Is a companion book to Child of Africa. The story within the picture book is referred to in the adult book, and the hero in both is Bongani. One when he’s a young child, the other when he has grown up, and the world and adult life are now pressing down on his shoulders. There is a second companion ebook, The Avoidable Orphan, which I released at the end of 2015, which is about a young Joss (the other hero in Child of Africa) and a baby Ndhlovy.

Companion books—they share a connection to each other but are not a series.

So how do these all fit together in the jigsaw?

The Avoidable Orphan came first, the story of Ndhlovy, a baby elephant, who is a real baby jumbo in the 1970s and who I knew about, and wanted to rewrite her story to give her a happier ending. It meant playing with the timeline a little and having her come into the world a lot later, so conservation methods and expectations were on the cusp of change, but for me, it was worth it. In this book, you meet Joss, Peta, Bongani and Ndhlovy.

In Child of Africa, we continue the lives of Joss, Peta, Bongani and Ndhlovy, and many others, and we see what has happened to a cast of characters when a certain elephant didn’t think her story was told and was incomplete, and wanted more.

In Slowly! Slowly! Bongani is my little hero of the book.

You don’t need to read one to know what’s happening in the others; they are all independent. However, if you want more story, then you can read all three, to complete the whole picture.

But I didn’t stop there …

I love writing my longer novels, the fact that I have so many words to play with and share with readers. I hid an Easter egg in Child of Africa: revisiting with some old friends. I wanted to check up on them, see how they were going a few years later. Why? Because in the bigger real scheme of real life, there are not lots of people involved in the specialist type of work that they do in South Africa, so realistically speaking, the lives of these characters could have crossed paths. But that is just a cameo, it doesn’t make them companion books, or a series, as they don’t actually carry on that story from the first book. But it made me happy to see them again, and wave to the familiar faces and it served the purpose of the story. So for me, seeing Tears of the Cheetah reissued so close to Child of Africa was awesome, and the ‘world’ in which I write, begins to slowly ‘connect’ and ‘touch hearts’ across the books and all age groups.

Thank you to ARRA for having me blogging today, it’s always so awesome!

You can find TM here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

There is a giveaway of an ebook copy of The Avoidable Orphan to celebrate the releases of Child of Africa and Slowly! Slowly! Leave a comment below to go in the draw. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Helen.)

Slowly! Slowly!

Slowly, slowly, you catch a monkey …

Bongani wants to go to school but he is too young. To prove to his family that he is big and strong just like his cousins, he tries to catch a monkey.

Slowly, slowly, he must go.

Luckily his family is there to school him in the lessons of patience and compassion.

Adapted as a South African story, this variation of ‘Softly, softly, catchee monkey’ was originally an Ashanti (Ghana) proverb quoted by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the Boy Scouts.


Child of Africa

After returning from Afghanistan, ex-British marine Joss Brennan embraces living as a double amputee, but he finds life at his safari lodge near Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, not quite as idyllic as when he left.

Peta de Longe is a big game veterinarian and no stranger to hard decisions. Working in the messy political society of Zimbabwe, she’s engaged in a constant struggle to save the national parks. When she nearly drives over Joss, the reunion isn’t joyous – Joss let down her dying sister eighteen months before, after all. But once she uncovers the terrible ordeal that Joss has gone through, can she learn to forgive and move forward?

When a corrupt and dangerous businessman with close ties to government threatens all he holds dear, Joss realises he doesn’t need to save strangers in a faraway land. But will he fight to save his own country and the people he considers his family?


The Avoidable Orphan (e-book published 2015)

Recently widowed Rodger de Longe is losing his bond with his daughters. He’s a man of the African bush, and coping with ‘girlie feelings’ was always Helene’s department, not his. When an orphaned baby elephant is found, Rodger sees an opportunity that might help him reconnect with his children. But interfering with the orphan goes against his usual conservation methods. It will require a new approach to save both the baby and his family.

  1. Erin permalink
    2 December 2017 9:04 pm

    Hi Tina, I love interconnected books, getting to check back in with a cast of characters I fell in love with. Looking forward to reading Child Of Africa

    • 5 December 2017 10:09 am

      So glad you do like the interconnecting book style! Hope you love Child Of Africa!

  2. lynette williams permalink
    20 November 2017 9:30 am

    always a good read books by you Tina —-LynW

  3. 19 November 2017 4:08 pm

    I’m going to Africa next year, so your books are a great taster for me. I can imagine I’m there.

    • 19 November 2017 6:43 pm

      Awesome that you are getting to visit. I’m suitably jealous! LOL… Have a ball, but be careful, there is something in the water that gets into your system and calls you back again and again… 🙂

  4. 19 November 2017 12:12 pm

    Hi Tina

    Oh I finished Child of Africa last night and can I say wow it was fabulous but I have not read the companion books I think I need to because Joss, Peta Bongani and Ndhlovy are wonderful thank you 🙂

    Have Fun


    I love elephants

    • 19 November 2017 1:41 pm

      Awwww so glad you enjoyed it…it’s always scary putting your story out there and seeing the first couple of reactions to it… so glad you love my Ndhlovy and her cast of humans! ❤️

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