So we went to Africa and yes, we got to see the big five, elephant, rhino, leopard, buffalo, lion and so much more. I’ve always said that traveling is a great source of inspiration and Tanzania was a creative treasure-trove at every level. Perhaps it was unavoidable that a setting as magnificent as the Serengeti would spawn an epic love story in my mind. But the truth is I didn’t set out to write a novel set in Africa. It just came.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. The Serengeti is like a big, fat, juicy award-winning novel, where all the elements of fiction are finely tuned to tell nature’s primeval story. My experiences as a guest in Africa combined to produce my latest romantic suspense novel, The Guardian. The Serengeti birthed it fully formed and ready to take its place on the shelves.
The Guardian is the story of Matthias Hawking, an ex-SEAL turned game warden, engaged in a fierce battle to end poaching in Africa. When Jade Romo, a beautiful, stubborn, fiery journalist defies the poachers, Matthias will do everything in his power to protect the woman who has captured his heart.
Matthias and Jade are a sexy, formidable pair. They burn brightly against the Serengeti’s spectacular setting. And what a setting it is! The stunning beauty of the landscape is a treat to the eyes and inspiration to the soul. The grassy plains go on forever, dotted with the occasional kopjes, rocky outcrops that break the endless horizon. The crocodiles and the hippos rule the waterways. The water holes are places of drama where animals congregate. And the light. I’d never seen anything like it. At dawn and dusk, the light dazzles with shimmering tones of red, golds and cobalt that imbue the place with a magical quality.
The wildlife stuns and amazes at every turn. The lions are the stars that bring hordes of tourist-packed Land Rovers darting from the furthest corners of the Serengeti. Hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards round out the star cast. Only in Africa can you see these stunning predators in the wild.
But despite the predators’ star power, by numbers, the Serengeti belongs to the herds. Zebras, wildebeests and buffalos dominate the plains and the water holes. The giraffes are everywhere. No wonder they are Tanzania’s national animal! The diminutive Thompson gazelles and the delicate Grants can be seen at every turn and so can the warthogs strutting about, tails up, as if they owned the place.
We were fortunate enough to see rhinos during our travels, even though these armored beauties teeter at the brink of extinction. The elephants too are in danger. I fell in love with these amazing, fascinating giants. Their social structure, intelligence and behavior is proof to me of higher awareness and ancient wisdom. That’s why elephants are featured prominently in The Guardian. The story centers on a terrible reality: Thousands of elephants are killed by poachers every year and the killing must stop.
The challenges of conservation in Africa comprise a complicated reality, controversial and often heart wrenching. But the Serengeti is a special place and we MUST do everything we can to help protect it. Hope lies with the diverse, dynamic people of Africa, for whom I have the utmost respect, admiration, and love. I got to meet some amazing people when I traveled in Africa, folks from different backgrounds, religions, and tribes who challenge the odds every day to build a better future for themselves and for humanity. I have a lot more to learn from them. I can’t wait to go back.
PS: Would you like to see the images that inspired the scenes in The Guardian? Click here to see a few of my personal pictures of Africa.
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