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Jacana

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

And our sunshine noir author for March is … C.M. Elliott!

A new month calls for a new sunshine noir author sending shivers down the spines of local thriller fans…

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview C.M. Elliott for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers.

Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

C.M. Elliott, author of the popular Sibanda-series.

 

Here’s what the two thriller aficionados chatted about:

C. M. Elliott (everyone calls her Scotty, but she says the reason why makes too long of a story) writes a series of mystery/thrillers set in Zimbabwe near the Hwange National Park. She certainly has the perfect background for it, having spent 40 years in Zimbabwe with her game-ranger husband pioneering a tourism business based in and around the national park. She says she lived in the park continuously for 20 years “in an assortment of tents, tree-houses and bush dwellings, dodging a hodgepodge of charging elephants, rhino, buffalo and a rather angry spitting cobra” before moving to Bulawayo. Along the way, she has won literary prizes and awards, and the books have just been optioned for a TV series.

The first novel, Sibanda and the Rainbird, featuring the redoubtable Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda, was published in 2013 to an enthusiastic reception. It was followed two years later by Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth, and last year Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk was released. The books have a wonderful sense of place as a backdrop for the gritty crimes and action.

It’s clear from your writing that you have a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the people of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe. How did you come to know the area and the people there so well?

I’ve lived in Matabeleland for 40 years and most of that time has been in rural locations. I’m fascinated by people and culture and the Ndebele are a particularly warm and welcoming nation, always smiling despite recent adversities. It’s hard not to admire and store away instances of such stoicism, good humor, ingenuity, and tradition.

What motivated you to write a series of detective novels set in Gubu, a fictitious small town close to the national park?

When I started this creative journey, I hadn’t a clue what to write about, but I knew the setting was going to be the African bush. It’s no secret that Gubu is the nom de plume for Dete, a village near the park that I know really well.

Sitting in front of a blank computer screen, I set myself the exercise of writing short stories in as many different genres as I could think of. My first attempt was crime, a serendipitous pick. I never progressed to sci fi, romance, or historical et al, because I became completely engaged by my characters. They wouldn’t let go and led me on a merry dance through an entire novel!

While I was reading the book, President Mugabe was deposed after 37 years ruling Zimbabwe. Where do you think the country is going in the future under the new president?

Onwards and upwards. Anyone who watched the peaceful transition in Zimbabwe, where up to a million people took to the streets with no incidence of looting or violence and no arrests, could not fail to be moved by the determination and unfettered joy of the people. With a ground swell like that behind him our new president must succeed.

Continue reading their conversation here.
 

Sibanda and the Rainbird

Book details

 
 
Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth

 
 
 

Sibanda and the Black Sparrow Hawk

 

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