Caroline Addenbrooke was born in Broken Hill, (Kabwe) in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) in 1957, and was raised in the small copper mining town of Ndola.
At sixteen, she attempted, and completed her first work of fiction (unpublished).
She finished her education in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and then moved to South Africa. Here she studied part time to obtain a diploma in Corporate Governance, a national diploma in property evaluation, and her master�s degree in business administration. She has worked on mega projects in South Africa for the last twenty years.
Caroline has a passion for wilderness, and a great love of animals. Travel and adventure are primary in her life. She is based in Johannesburg with her partner, their two dogs and a cat called Virgil.
Question: Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
Answer: Well, I’ve lived in Africa all my life. I was born in Zambia, and I now live in Johannesburg, in South Africa. Africa is my Eden. I doubt I will ever leave.
Question: When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
Answer: When I was about ten, I read a book that captivated me. I so admired the writer, I wanted to become like her.
Question: Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
Answer: Yes. Once I read my first real novel, I was hooked. I absolutely remember the incident. The book was called “The Mystery of the Whispering Box”, by – yes – Enid Blyton.
My English teacher had suggested that I visit the library, and take out a book – that this was a good thing. Being an obliging child, I did as she asked, and settled down that Friday evening to comply with the reading exercise. Well, I read all of Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night, and finished the book on Sunday evening. I have read avidly ever since.
I liked mysteries, and adventure stories as a child, and those are still my favorite, although I have branched out into thrillers, human interest stories and I do so love humor now.
Question: Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Answer: That is an interesting question. I didn’t start out writing this particular book. I intended to write a present day adventure story set in Africa, but as I began researching the early history of the West African coast, and the Congo, the Gates of Hell emerged by itself. I do contend that I didn’t write the story; that it was written by the characters. Essentially it is a story of a family torn apart by war, sectarianism and racism, and it describes the journey of the characters from this tragedy, to their individual resolution. The Gates of Hell, incidentally, is a limestone cataract through which the Congo River plunges on its way to the ocean.
Question: How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
Answer: Well, I come from the Project Industry. I planned it, structured it, outlined it, divided it into scenes, sequels and tactical disasters…. oh, and I researched it to death. Then I started trying to write within the structure – and the first thing that happened was that Catalina turned up, in a part of the world I had no intention of writing about. Portugal. What to do? Well I tried ignoring her, writing her out, moving her to another more appropriate place in my mind. This all took an awful lot of rewriting, re-planning, re-plotting etc. Finally I just gave up, and let her tell me her story. When I stopped trying to write, and started to listen, the book became something I could never have dreamed up on my own.
Question: Did your book require a lot of research?
Answer: About two years of the seven it took to complete it, were spent in research.
Question: Who is your target audience?
Answer: People who like adventure stories. Adults. Anyone who would like to go on an incredible journey, sailing the Atlantic ocean in a small wooden ship to the mysterious land of the ManiKongo, Mbemba a Nzinga.
Question: What will the reader learn after reading your book?
Answer: A lot about the fifteenth century circumstance of Portugal, Spain and Africa; modern age ships; the Mbanza Kongo.
Question: Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
Answer: When I am traveling, I think. New places are all so interesting and engaging.
Question: Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
Answer: Not sure I have such a thing. When I have written myself into a corner, I get out my notepad and draw mind maps, and what if scenarios till I come to the most intriguing scenario – then I proceed with that.
Question: From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
Answer: About 10 years.
Question: Describe your working environment.
Answer: I don’t have a specific environment. Sometimes I will work in the study I share with my partner; sometimes on a stool in his workshop (because it’s nice to be with him). Sometimes I fire up my laptop in my car – if I have to wait for something. Any place will do.
Question: Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
Answer: I edit as I am progressing with the story. If a scene / sequel is relocated somewhere else, I review the section to make sure it makes sense.
Question: They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
Answer: Well, I think criticism is a good thing, as long as it is honest and constructive. I think if I had a really bad crit, I would consider it, and look for the truth in it. If I felt it was valid, I would address the issue, and fix the problem – if it was in my capacity to do so. If I felt it was not valid – well, there is a rub….. in the end, it is my story, and it is the best I could do.
Question: When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
Answer: I am passionate about Africa; the magnificence of her landscapes; the humor of her people, and the variety and uniqueness of all of her creatures.
Question: Are you a disciplined writer?
Answer: Yes. I’m disciplined in most matters.
Question: When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?
Answer: Whenever I can fit it in.
Question: What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
Answer: I think an association with other writers is really useful. However, it’s a bit like the blind leading the blind. In the group I was in, none of us had a clue. We talked a lot about writing, what we were busy with, what we’d found out. And some quite irrelevant stuff… and became really good friends.
Question: Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle the most when writing? How do you tackle it?
Answer: The laziness of telling and not showing. I stop, empty my mind, get into the characters boots, and describe what is happening through their eyes.
Question: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Answer: If you are doing it for the money, or the fame – you will fail.
Question: Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Answer: I have a blog (http://carolineaddenbrooke.wordpress.com), am on the publisher’s website (www.rebelepublishers.com), and have a Face book account.
Question: Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Answer: Yes, I am busy with another adventure story called Sperrgebiet. It is about the discovery of a fifteenth century wreck off the coast of Namibia, in the Forbidden Zone (Sperrgebiet). It is set in 2010 between Switzerland and Africa, and has a honey badger (inspired by Stoffel the Honey Badger in Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Center in South Africa) as quite an important character.
Question: As an author, what is your greatest reward?
Answer: Living the story through the eyes of the characters.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!
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