My family and I love the Drakensberg. It is a spectacular mountain range that stretches its spine across the middle and top half of South Africa. We try to visit it as often as possible, but it’s never as often as we would like.
When life begins to feel claustrophobic and unextraordinary I crave the mountains with their stoic grandeur. There is nothing about the mountains that feels ‘ordinary’ – they make me feel like anything is possible.
It was there, in the Drakensberg, that I discovered the world that would become Of Magic and Memory. The book is not set in the Drakensberg but in an imaginary place very like it. My daily hikes inspired every tangle of bush and flurry of bird. I called these walks ‘research’ but in truth, they were merely soul-food for a weary writer.
Every time I go back to the Drakensberg, I swear I can see Ava, Russet and Ebony standing just inside the tree line, waving me hello. They, and all their magic, have become as much as part of the landscape as the mountains themselves.
I guess this is why this book is so dear to me: my heart yearns for the mountains, and now my book holds my heart.
(Below is the part of the Drakensberg my family and I often go to.)