We are thrilled to be participating in the Blog Tour for Leigh Archer’s latest release The Alpha Match, set in the South Africa. The novel is one in which the central characters are given a second chance at their romance whilst grappling with the practicalities of re-introducing an endangered species of wild dogs in to the bush. It has all the hallmarks of a fascinating and romantic read and we are honoured to be given the opportunity to interview Leigh about the release and her work as an author!
After reading the interview, please scroll down and read the blurb and an excerpt from The Alpha Match and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. ❤
Hi Leigh. Thank you so much for agreeing to be in the hot seat at A Reader’s Review Blog. It’s great to have the opportunity to quiz you about yourself, your writing process and Alpha Match, your latest release.
1. Can you tell us a little about your background and how long you have been writing?
I’m a traveller when it comes to writing. Originally training as a journalist, then specializing in communications, which saw me working for global corporates as well as a tiny art museum. For me, journalism and communications has been like hang gliding or having a whirl in a helicopter; while writing a novel has been like growing wings, stepping off the edge and flying, unaided.
Until quite recently I’d written about serious matters, even the ugly side of life so writing my first romance – The Alpha Match – and having it published by Tirgearr Publishing has been a wonderfully uplifting experience.
2. You’ve set this novel in the African bush, which is a fascinating backdrop to a romance. Is it an area of the world you are familiar with and how much research did you carry out whilst writing it? Did you learn anything during the research that surprised you?
I was lucky enough to grow up in South Africa so spent much of my childhood – when I wasn’t in a classroom – exploring nature reserves, hiking, climbing mountains and playing on the beach. The children in my family have grown up in a similar way.
I’ve explored my own country quite extensively – and South Africa really is a world in one country: cities, forests and woodlands, beaches, deserts and savannah plains filled with lions, elephant and giraffe. I’ve tried to capture in my novels the romanticism of the African bush which can be a simple tent that trembles with the base-notes of roaring lions or the extreme luxury of a bush lodge that caters to every possible whim of the most discerning traveller.
In The Alpha Match, conservationists introduce African wild dogs into two South African reserves which results in some heart-pounding and moving moments. I hadn’t expected to be so intrigued by the lives of wild dogs, also called painted dogs. They have an ancient pedigree – judging by the use of their image by Egyptians, they seem to symbolise order over chaos and the transition from the wild to domestic. The San people of Southern Africa have a story that connects the dog indirectly to the origin of death – the hare is cursed by the moon to be forever hunted by African wild dogs after the hare rebuffs the moon’s promise to allow all living things to be reborn after death. Efforts are being made to keep these wonderful dogs from tipping into extinction but with mixed results. After writing The Alpha Match, I hope with all my heart that the world never loses its paint dogs.
3. What was your inspiration for writing Caro and Ben’s story?
I wanted to explore the lengths we’ll go to avoid being hurt in relationships. Caro and Ben must work together again four years after the end of their love affair. Theirs is a journey of discovery and they have some hard lessons to learn about pain, vulnerability, pride and the importance of communication. Right from the beginning I was rooting for these two strong characters; that the beauty of the bushveld and their common purpose of wildlife conservation would be enough to heal the wounds of the past.
4. What did you find were the most challenging aspects of writing it?
I was at great pains to balance the story of the painted dogs and Africa’s large and unique beauty with Ben and Caro’s story. The other challenge was time, of course, which is not a friend to any of us. It does make an enormous difference when you’re doing something that brings so much enjoyment.
5. What is your writing process like? To what extent do you plan the characters and plot and how much do you just let the words flow?
I would never set off on a hike or bush drive without deciding a basic route. I’d also take a supply of water, something to eat, a small first aid kit, sunblock, a hat and an emergency plan. What happens once I’m out there is up to nature and the path I’ve taken. I approach writing in a similar way. I do some basic planning and preparation but it’s magical when things happen along the way that you hadn’t expected.
6. What motivates you to sit down and write and how do you cope if you experience writer’s block?
I think we all have a way of expressing who we are and the events of our lives in a way that feels natural to us, usually developed in the uninhibited years of childhood. I think that turns into cooking or motherhood, running a business, organising or writing. I feel the urge to write the way another person might feel the urge to bake a batch of delicious biscuits, organising a children’s party that will delight, or have a good day at work.
7. If you could give an aspiring author one tip, what would it be?
Experiment. Be brave, be daring. Write something funny, risqué or scary and get people you trust to give you feedback. You might not think you’re particularly funny, but your characters could have people in stitches. A good place to start is to discover what you’re passionate about and keep practicing. Writing is one activity in which quantity does usually lead to quality.
8. Have you any favourite genres or authors you like to read yourself?
I have an eclectic reading appetite because, for me, reading has many purposes. Sometimes I’d like to be moved or scared. There are times I want to be informed, learn something new. And at other times, I want to escape and feel good about the world. Two favourite authors that immediately come to mind are JK Rowling because she’s so brave and imaginative, and Lauren Beukes for her scary talent and original stories.
9. Can you share with us about what you are working on at the moment?
I’m working on book #3 in the Untamed Safari Series – Wetlands – the story of award-winning wildlife filmmaker, Adrian Barnard, who first appeared in The Alpha Match. He is tasked with making a documentary about a multi-purpose development being built close to sensitive wetlands. His life takes an unexpected turn when he develops a powerful attraction for Dani who heads the corporation behind the new development after her father’s sudden disappearance from the corporate world. Adrian is hell-bent on protecting the sensitive wetlands and its wildlife while Dani has everything to prove to her father’s board of directors.
And Moonflower, the second in the Untamed Safari Series, is now available for pre-launch order – Moonflower.
10. And finally, have you a message for readers?
Africa, and South Africa, is often reported in the media as a place of pain and poverty but it has many different faces. Whether you have travelled to Africa or never set foot on the continent, I hope you will get to travel through some of its exotic beauty, luxury and wildness through the Untamed Safari Series. Happy travelling and, who knows, we might just get to meet one day.
Once again, thank you Leigh for taking time out of your busy schedule. We wish you the best of luck with the release of Alpha Match and your career as a writer. ❤
As soon as Caro stepped off the plane at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport, her heart began to thunder like the hooves of a herd of stampeding zebra. She had no idea who was waiting for her in Arrivals. Her gut told her it would not be Ben, but she couldn’t be sure.
The wild thudding in her chest grew stronger as the passenger shuttle neared the terminal.
She never had this problem with animals, which is why she enjoyed being around wild dogs. Unless directly threatened, they would never try to hurt you. Once you had been accepted, they were loyal, gentle and affectionate. The laws of the wild were so much easier to understand than those of the heart.
As she waited at the luggage carousel, perspiration broke out on her upper lip and she fanned herself with her ticket. She congratulated herself for having worn a pair of low-slung black trousers and a cropped white shirt. At least a sliver of her midriff was getting some welcome ventilation.
Thanks to some deep breathing exercises, she had her nerves under control. Until she walked into the arrivals hall, then it was galloping zebra all over again. There was a huge lump in her throat as people rushed forward to embrace friends, relatives and lovers, and children were hoisted laughing into the air. She had not returned to Johannesburg for four years, even though she had once thought this would become her home. Now she was just a visitor, but in some strange way another part of her felt as if she’d come home.
That made her think of Ben again.
She tried to reassure herself that he would not be here to meet her. Judging by the way he had discarded her all those years ago, he had probably barely registered that they would be working together again. Caro braced herself for their meeting, but still… not yet. Please, not yet.
BLURB AND BUY LINKS
English conservationist, Caro Hannah, and South African, Ben Duval, must work together to introduce endangered African wild dogs to a game reserve four years after their love affair ended. The challenges of their profession pale into insignificance beside the personal obstacles they must overcome to either bring closure to the events of four years before, or reignite a passion hot enough to burn up the African bush.
The Alpha Match is the first in a series set in the African bush where luxury tented camps and romantic hideaways are havens for royals, celebrities and the adventurous at heart. The Untamed Safari Series places unforgettable men and women in this captivating setting and holds its breath as they play out their passions. Moonflower, book #2 in the series has just become available for pre-launch order – Moonflower.
AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS
Leigh writes romance novels set in her native South Africa. She has always had a love affair with Africa’s wild open spaces, the intensity of its people and sunsets. Her love of storytelling began as a child when she spent every spare moment playing barefoot in golden grass, watching wild creatures, learning to track spoor and dreaming up heroes and heroines dynamic enough to stand out in all the beauty and drama of the African landscape.
Always in search of adventure, Leigh’s journey as a writer has taken her from journalism through communications, to writing novels.
Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/leigh-archer/