Shortly after my husband John died in 2008, I started to think about my childhood and my three young friends. The four of us went in such dramatically different ways, that somewhere there, lurked a great story which somehow encapsulated our history and its relevance to the present.
The pressure was on when I was able to meet up with one of those three in Botswana in 2010. That meeting covered every possible topic - we spoke from the heart, confronted issues difficult to us both, affected as we had been, by a war which saw us on opposite sides. I found a remarkable man who spoke with generosity and gentleness, and with such acute observations ...
Neither of us wanted to waste time catching up on sleep, because we had only a precious 48 hours of chat time to talk. Eventually we gave up the debate late and by 5 a.m. we met round a small table in the freshness of a central African morning to talk again. When I waved him goodbye through those heavy security gates - I felt such a sense of loss that we had talked only one other time in 65 years. He asked me to write his biography - but sadly, I couldn't do so on such little information.
However, the historical novel was becoming very much a possibility.
This is our story, but it isn't our story. A few markers in our lives are accurate - but most of the rest is fiction. Many markers in our history, thought to be accurate, are thoroughly dissected in lively discussion and contemporary events until we arrive at what we feel might have been the fact - yet still leave room to agree - or not.
It's been an extraordinary exercise. I had no idea how I would pull it together. But it emerged with character and brought our history to life. I pray THE HORNS will, through greater understanding, bring a degree of healing to the people of our glorious, yet damaged land.