Angelina Kalahari

"Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself." by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Author: Angelina Kalahari (page 1 of 5)

WHAT DOES A CHARACTER’S VOICE SAY?

A reader asked a thought-provoking question on voices about my novel, The Healing Touch.

For someone like me, who has worked with voice all my life, it was particularly intriguing and more so because I hadn’t thought of it myself, nor had I written it deliberately.

The reader who had approached me noted that all the male voices in The Healing Touch are described as sexy, mellow, tenor, baritone, etc., but the character, Simon, spoke only once and his voice is not commented on by anyone.

Isn’t it fascinating what impacts readers in books?

Her question, “Does the lack of voice connect with his lack of sexuality?” is excellent.

It reminded me that techniques for classical singers involve the use of our pelvic diaphragm to help support our voice. It is such a creative area in our body because we can create children from there.

Optimal breathing further engages muscles in the lower half of our body and contributes enormously to voice production and quality, and to the emotional impact on our voice.

The voices characters use can be tantalising and something I hear authors and readers talk about frequently.

In my opinion, all art is a form of communication, often profound, and therefore has a voice.

In novels, however, we as readers must ‘hear’ the voices of the characters if those characters are to become real for us. It starts with the author being able to ‘hear’ the characters’ voices first. But the author may have had to write several versions of the book – or at least the first few chapters – to come up with the points of view and the voices that most accurately communicate the story.

Furthermore, voice isn’t necessarily what someone says, but how they say it. Their actions, reactions, movements, and general bearing are all forms of voice. Writing such characters can be a challenge.

You can read The Healing Touch for FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

UK – http://amzn.eu/eEVSpPJ

US – http://a.co/bi2HhBI

CAN YOU SEE ME? WHY SHOULD I BECOME INVISIBLE?

One of the most disturbing elements of getting older is the idea that we become invisible after a certain age, apparently after fifty.

In my novel, The Healing Touch, Isabelle is already over fifty when she attracts the attention of a much younger Greek Adonis, the man with whom she falls in love, and he with her.

But you might imagine I’m talking about women and while it’s true that many women I’ve spoken with, feel this way, I have also talked with men who think the same.

We all age and most of the features of ageing sneak up on us. We may notice a few extra lines, a few extra pounds. Our eyesight may not be as perfectly clear as it once was. We may have a few aches and pains and don’t get me started on menopause. But none of these things disturbs us too much because they happen gradually, allowing us to get used to our changing bodies.

I assumed becoming invisible – the dreaded concern I’d heard so much about – was an element of ageing that would sneak up on me, too. But I’ve been told the truth is very different. Apparently, there is a sudden realisation of the feeling that you are no longer attractive to others, no longer considered vital and useful, no longer considered sexy and desirable. And often, it happens because of others’ reaction towards you.

A few years ago, I was very ill and ended up in the hospital. I was fifty years old at the time and relegated to the geriatric ward where – I kid you not – most other occupants were just shy of a hundred years old or older. We were all treated as though we didn’t matter, as though our lives were already over. It disturbed me greatly.

After I got better and left the hospital, I promised myself that I will never be treated again as invisible just because of the number that makes up my age.

Sure, I don’t have my skinny, toned, youthful body anymore, my face no longer carries the glow of youth, but I’m happy in my skin. I keep my body healthy by eating properly. I exercise as much as I want to by walking and swimming. I paint my nails, wear make-up, colour my hair and look after myself.

So, what if twenty-five-year-olds don’t fancy me anymore? Do I really want them to? No. I like myself, and make the most of myself. I have nothing to prove anymore. I feel confident, and I enjoy my life. And guess what? Younger guys still look at me, and younger women appreciate my style and sometimes even ask for make-up tips.

I don’t think we have to become invisible. I certainly don’t intend to, and I urge you not to either. You are still valuable. You are still useful. You are still vital no matter your age. Your mere presence in this world is a blessing to those who know you and those who meet you.

Some of the most interesting, inspirational, glamorous, confident, funny and stylish women in my life are all much older than fifty and I adore them.

It is time we honour ourselves and each other and not allow labels to affect who we should become as we age, just as my character, Isabelle does in my novel, The Healing Touch.

Inspired by true events, The Healing Touch is a mesmerising story of loss, heartbreak, passion and love in many guises.

If you liked The Notebook, then you’ll love The Healing Touch.

Explore The Healing Touch, the first novel in the captivating Love Beyond Reason series today.

http://a.co/bi2HhBI

“Profoundly moving, delightfully evocative and totally absorbing… reminds me of novels by Nicholas Sparks.”

– Mary Anne Yarde, author of the award-winning series The Du Lac Chronicles.

Disclaimer: This novel contains some heat and a happy ending. Don’t forget, it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

Can you see me?

 

One of the most disturbing elements of getting older is the idea that we become invisible after a certain age, apparently after fifty.

In my novel, The Healing Touch, Isabelle is already over fifty when she attracts the attention of a much younger Greek Adonis, the man with whom she falls in love, and he with her.

But you might imagine I’m talking about women and while it’s true that many women I’ve spoken with, feel this way, I have also talked with men who think the same.

We all age and most of the features of ageing sneak up on us. We may notice a few extra lines, a few extra pounds. Our eyesight may not be as perfectly clear as it once was. We may have a few aches and pains and don’t get me started on menopause. But none of these things disturbs us too much because they happen gradually, allowing us to get used to our changing bodies.

I assumed becoming invisible – the dreaded concern I’d heard so much about – was an element of ageing that would sneak up on me, too. But I’ve been told the truth is very different. Apparently, there is a sudden realisation of the feeling that you are no longer attractive to others, no longer considered vital and useful, no longer considered sexy and desirable. And often, it happens because of others’ reaction towards you.

A few years ago, I was very ill and ended up in the hospital. I was fifty years old at the time and relegated to the geriatric ward where – I kid you not – most other occupants were just shy of a hundred years old or older. We were all treated as though we didn’t matter, as though our lives were already over. It disturbed me greatly.

After I got better and left the hospital, I promised myself that I will never be treated again as invisible just because of the number that makes up my age.

Sure, I don’t have my skinny, toned, youthful body anymore, my face no longer carries the glow of youth, but I’m happy in my skin. I keep my body healthy by eating properly. I exercise as much as I want to by walking and swimming. I paint my nails, wear make-up, colour my hair and look after myself.

So, what if twenty-five-year-olds don’t fancy me anymore? Do I really want them to? No. I like myself, and make the most of myself. I have nothing to prove anymore. I feel confident, and I enjoy my life. And guess what? Younger guys still look at me, and younger women appreciate my style and sometimes even ask for make-up tips.

I don’t think we have to become invisible. I certainly don’t intend to, and I urge you not to either. You are still valuable. You are still useful. You are still vital no matter your age. Your mere presence in this world is a blessing to those who know you and those who meet you.

Some of the most interesting, inspirational, glamorous, confident, funny and stylish women in my life are all much older than fifty and I adore them.

It is time we honour ourselves and each other and not allow labels to affect who we should become as we age, just as my character, Isabelle does in my novel, The Healing Touch.

Inspired by true events, The Healing Touch is a mesmerising story of loss, heartbreak, passion and love in many guises.

If you liked The Notebook, then you’ll love The Healing Touch.

Explore The Healing Touch, the first novel in the captivating Love Beyond Reason series today.

http://a.co/bi2HhBI

“Profoundly moving, delightfully evocative and totally absorbing… reminds me of novels by Nicholas Sparks.”

– Mary Anne Yarde, author of the award-winning series The Du Lac Chronicles.

Disclaimer: This novel contains some heat and a happy ending. Don’t forget, it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

 

WHAT INSPIRED UNDER A NAMIBIAN SKY?

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had difficulty sleeping. It’s a serious issue for me and others who suffer from insomnia. Over the years, I’ve learned to live with it and tried to adjust my lifestyle to incorporate it rather than fighting it. I discovered insomnia has its uses.

Around two o’clock one morning, unable to sleep, I switched on the television. As I flicked through the channels, I came upon a BBC Four documentary in which literary novelist, Stella Duffy, took on the challenge of writing a romance for Mills and Boon (Harlequin in the US).

I believe it was part of a celebration of their one-hundredth birthday and a re-run of an earlier program. What fascinated me, in particular, was how impactful romance had been and continues to be, on society and on women.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, but I hadn’t realised romantic fiction is written primarily by women for women. Most other art forms have been created and/or developed by men. But romantic fiction looks at the world through the eyes of women.

Romance novels have changed drastically over the years and not all romance readers are women. But the vast majority are. I suspect there are as many reasons people read romantic fiction as there are genres and subgenres of romantic fiction in the world.

It soon became clear from the documentary that writing romantic fiction was rather more difficult than I’d imagined it to be.

Mills and Boon know a thing or two about romance novels as they’d been in the business so long. Perhaps that’s why they’re so difficult to please? They know instantly whether a romance novel will appeal to their readership.

Many have tried to write romances and have failed. But there is good news. Dedicated courses are on offer and reading as many good romance novels as you can, also helps. And the program showed Stella Duffy joining specialist romance writers’ courses and her progress as she wrote her first romance novel.

I thought starting to write a romance novel sounded like a great idea because the early morning hours is the time when all great ideas are born, isn’t it?

Visiting Mills and Boon’s website, I learned they required three chapters and a synopsis to gauge my suitability as their next superstar romance novel writer. When I read they were keen to find writers who were born in Southern Africa or who wrote novels set there, I thought I’d scored the jackpot. Being from Namibia and having lived in South Africa, I had at least one of those two requirements in the bag. I read their guidelines and sat down to write a story I’d like to read.

Over the following days and weeks, I agonised over it, re-wrote it multiple times, dreamed about it, talked about it to anyone who’d listen, and sent it to all my closest friends for their brutally honest opinion.

Satisfied I could do no more, I hit the submit button and started to write something else. To my utter surprise, I received a long email back from them, expressing interest in my story but asking for changes. I duly implemented the changes, again driving my poor friends loopy with my requests to check even the smallest changes until I felt I had something Mills and Boon might like enough to commission.

But a few weeks later, when I received a short rejection email, the characters in Under A Namibian Sky started to scream at me, as characters so often do. They were alive and wanted to live in the world. They wouldn’t be denied.

It brought me immense pleasure to revisit the world I’d known in my youth. Writing Under A Namibian Sky felt as though I was on holiday in Namibia. I could feel the sun on my skin, breathe in the dry, hot air, and see the vastness of the desert in my mind’s eye as I wrote. I know the people, the characters – several are based on dear friends and family members. But I took a few creative liberties here and there, and those who know Namibia well will recognise where I’ve endeavoured to make the story more exciting, more dynamic.

Under A Namibian Sky isn’t a Mills and Boon novel, but a story that looks at love on many levels, and the first in my Desert Love series.

I’ve been delighted that readers of this novel wanted to know more and it’s a real pleasure to return to Namibia to write the rest of the stories in the series.

Won’t you join me?

Making a case for romance novels

I never thought of myself as a romance writer. My go-to staple genres have always been science-fiction, fantasy, psychological thrillers, and horror. Those genres sometimes include romance but it’s not usually the main subject of the book. Yet, whenever I sit down to write something, romance comes out. It puzzled me until I analysed it and the truth dawned on me. We all want love. I’d say we crave it. We want to be loved and fully accepted by another human being. It drives us.

When we read a romance novel, we experience feelings of love through the characters in a way that may not exist in our everyday lives. It gives us the high, the hope that the love we yearn for is possible for us. It helps to renew our belief in love.

We live in a world where we’re bombarded with images of pain, divorce, disasters, acts of violence, and war. But when we read a romance novel, we reconnect with love, with the idea that there is something higher than the pain and discontent that pours daily from our TV screens or from social media.

For readers who have not yet experienced a soulmate love, reading a romance novel can open them up to what that might feel like and how worthwhile a pursuit it can be for them. As one of my characters says in my novel, Under A Namibian Sky, “In the end, love is all we have.”

Yes, love is all we have. We come into this world with nothing but love and when we leave again, that’s all we can take with us. It’s how we expand our souls through love while we’re here that matters most.

 

 

Human beings and human relationships are complex. So, stories are a safe way to explore those complexities and can even help us deal with our own issues.

There are many other reasons romance novels are important, but that it can also be entertainment is not to be sneezed at. When a reader with a demanding job or a mum pulled in many directions, read a romance novel, it’s a great way to just relax, have fun, and escape from the daily grind.

Even though nowadays, romance novels are widely accepted, there are still those who turn up their noses at the thought of reading one. That these novels are unrealistic – who really gets the happily ever after, right? – or at worst, that such novels are ‘trashy,’ ‘titillating’ or ‘fluffy,’ and inferior to other genres, is still very much the perception, especially of those who do not read romances. (Interestingly, opponents of romance novels often overlook the fact that classics such as Jane Austen’s books are the most sigh-worthy romances. I assume it’s because her books are ‘older’ that it doesn’t count?)

And yet, the romance genre is the biggest selling genre in the book world. Why? Why do we read them?

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about why you feel romance novels are important?

My Novels

This page is for my novels. I’d be delighted if you’d be so kind as to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, telling me what you thought. Reviews are really important. Not only do they tell other potential readers what to expect from a novel, but it also allows the novel to live in the world. It also allows me to continue to write more stories.

You can reach me directly at angelina@angelinakalahari.com. I read every email.

***

Under A Namibian Sky

Under A Namibian Sky is now available on Amazon.

UK http://amzn.eu/is2wuza

US http://a.co/emSLRn4

The paperback is also available on Amazon or from here for £8.75 with free delivery in the UK only.
£3.99 postage for orders worldwide.


Under A Namibian Sky – Paperback


Vivacious, independent young Naomi grew up on the edge of the Namib Desert. After she becomes a safari guide, nothing is more exciting than showing off her desert’s fierceness, its raw beauty, and its exotic wildlife to guests staying at Desert Lodge.

Luca, the heir apparent to the Armati supercar dynasty, is blessed with the beauty of an Italian god and born to a life of wealth, power, and influence. In Namibia for a short holiday, he wants to fulfil his dream of photographing and painting African elephants.

Used to the wiles of such spoiled princelings, Naomi is suspicious of his motives. Begrudgingly, she feels drawn to his kindness, charm and aura. Impossibly, it appears he is equally drawn to the girl from the African desert.

But will the pain of their past experiences prevent them from being courageous enough to admit their soulmate connection? Will their love overcome the challenges they face when Luca ends up in hospital after a dangerous anti-poacher raid, and Naomi has to confront her fears about falling in love with him?

Compulsively readable, Under A Namibian Sky is an emotionally riveting romance that will enchant, fascinate and delight.

***

The Healing Touch

The Healing Touch is available from Amazon:

UK – http://amzn.eu/dNqf5q1

US – http://a.co/2ACHZ4f

The paperback is also available on Amazon or here for £8.75 with free delivery in the UK only.
£3.99 postage for orders worldwide.


The Healing Touch – Paperback


The Healing Touch is one woman’s quest for love. She finds it. But it proves impossible to hold on to. Will she be third time lucky?

Gorgeous, talented, complex Isabelle Cooper, a sexy, youthful, fifty-five-year-old, is going through the menopause. But is it also a new coming of age for her? Is it time to question her long-established position in life, her well-learned role? Is she bold enough to open new windows and walk through new doors?

When not one, but two new men enter her life, her world is turned upside down. Will the unexpected loss of one man drive her back inside her safe, albeit unfulfilling life, or push her into the arms of the other? Has she finally had enough of an unsatisfactory sex life with her husband in a loveless twenty-two-year-old marriage? Or will the cost and pain of ending it be worth feeling more fully alive than ever before?

A mesmerising story of loss, heartbreak, passion, and love in many guises, The Healing Touch is a gripping read you won’t want to put down. Funny, devastating, and uplifting by turns, The Healing Touch will leave you yearning to experience the perfect love yourself.

Love Beyond Reason Series

 The Healing Touch

The Healing Touch is available from Amazon:

US – http://tinyurl.com/gmsqxo9

UK – http://tinyurl.com/zfoguwm

The paperback is also available on Amazon or here for £8.75 with free delivery in the UK only.
£3.99 postage for orders worldwide.


The Healing Touch – Paperback


***

I’d be delighted if you’d be so kind as to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads, telling me what you thought of The Healing Touch. Reviews are really important. Not only do they tell other potential readers what to expect from a novel, but they also allow the novel to live in the world. It means I’ll be able to continue to write more stories for you.

You can reach me directly at angelina@angelinakalahari.com. I read and respond to every email.

***

“Profoundly moving, delightfully evocative and totally absorbing… reminds me of novels by Nicholas Sparks.”

– Mary Anne Yarde, author of the award-winning series The Du Lac Chronicles.

Isabelle spent her career as an opera singer and her life married to an emotionally unavailable man. Reaching the age when menopause is a reality, Isabelle loses her most precious gift – her voice. Critical decisions about her career and her marriage force her to face truths, passions, lies, loss, and love.

Isabelle must forge a new life for herself in a world that is suddenly unfamiliar.

But can she protect her heart in this love triangle in which she finds herself?

Explore The Healing Touch, inspired by true events and the first novel in the captivating Love Beyond Reason series, today.

***

Answering Readers’ Questions

 

Is Sexual Neglect A

Spiritual Issue?

 

Angelina talks to Elizabeth Dockrell-Tyler – Part 1

 

Angelina talks to Elizabeth Dockrell-Tyler – Part 2

 

Angelina talks to Elizabeth Dockrell-Tyler – Part 3

 

 

Desert Love Series

Love In Modena

Love In Modena is available as an ebook here:

UK – http://amzn.eu/0BFEyXz

US – http://a.co/afXQRD1

“Often I am left with a feeling of ‘what happened after’ in romance books, and it was really refreshing to read a follow-up story.” – Mary Anne Yarde, award-winning author of the Du Lac Chronicles.

Naomi has found her prince, her Luca, her soul mate. In Modena, she also found her place in the world with him. But she can’t let go of Namibia so easily, not now she’s become the new owner of Desert Lodge.

Luca, the heir apparent to the Armati supercar dynasty, understands Naomi’s dilemma. Their decision to split their time and responsibilities between the two countries seems like the perfect solution.

Theirs is a lifestyle others can only dream of.

But neither expects that an unforeseen foe in their midst would test their relationship to the limits.

If you’ve loved Luca and Naomi’s story in Under A Namibian Sky, then you’ll be thrilled by Love In Modena, the follow-up novella to that much-loved contemporary romance novel.

Get your copy of Love In Modena today to find out what happens to Luca and Naomi once they leave the desert.

Disclaimer: This novel contains some heat and a happy ending. Don’t forget, it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

 

***

Under A Namibian Sky

Under A Namibian Sky is now available on Amazon.

UK http://amzn.eu/is2wuza

US http://a.co/emSLRn4

Or paperback from here for £8.75 with free delivery in the UK only.
£3.99 postage for orders worldwide.


Under A Namibian Sky – Paperback


***

A beautiful love story that will capture your heart.

No one remains lost. Love is the deepest healer of all.

Desert guide, Naomi Smith, is an ordinary young woman – until her world is shattered by the arrival of Luca Armati, the heir apparent to the Italian supercar dynasty that bears his family name.

Naomi is appointed to look after Luca and his older secretary during their short stay at Desert Lodge. She suspects he’s a spoiled brat, like all the other ‘princes’ who come to vacation there and readies herself for his demands. But she soon realizes there is more to Luca than meets the eye. When Luca’s secret is exposed, the hurt he carries allows Naomi to share her secret heartache with him.

Will the pain of their past experiences prevent them from having the courage to admit their soulmate connection?

If you like novels by M. M. Kay or Mary Stewart, then you will love Under A Namibian Sky, an emotionally riveting love story.

Explore Under A Namibian Sky, the first novel in the captivating Desert Love contemporary romance series today.

“The story was so compelling, I simply couldn’t put this book down.” – Amazon reviewer.

Disclaimer: This novel contains some heat and a happy ending. Don’t forget, it’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

***

 

If you liked reading the stories in this series, I’d be delighted if you’d be so kind as to post a review on Amazon telling me what you thought. Reviews are really important. Not only do they tell other potential readers what to expect from a novel, but they also allow the novel to live in the world. It means I’ll be able to continue to write more stories for you.

You can also read more about Under A Namibian Sky here: http://circleofbooks.com/2017/09/05/under-a-namibian-sky-by-angelina-kalahari/

You can connect with me directly at angelina@angelinakalahari.com. I read and respond to every email.

***

UNDER A NAMIBIAN SKY LAUNCH

 

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the launch of Under A Namibian Sky. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m excited to introduce Under A Namibian Sky to you.

I know this bit usually goes at the end, but I’d like to thank all the amazing people who have helped Under A Namibian Sky to become a satisfying novel for readers. It takes teamwork.

So, to my amazing editor, Christine, thank you so much. You asked all the difficult questions that made me dig deeper.

Thank you to my great beta readers for the amazing job you guys have done. Writing can be a lonely process and a scary one once you give your baby to someone else to read for the first time. Thank you for giving your honest feedback and notes in a kind and encouraging manner. It means the world.

So, what is Under A Namibian Sky about? It’s essentially a contemporary romance. It’s the story of Luca and Naomi and it’s set in Namibia.

Briefly, Naomi’s parents died when she was five. After being shunted from foster parents to foster parents, she was understandably traumatised, to say the least. No one had really taken the time to explain to her that her parents had died and no one had seemed to realise that she needed to grieve. As a result, she’d locked up her emotions and carried a deep and abiding fear of loving anyone else in case she’d again lose them to death.

But her grandmother’s best friend, Auntie Elsa, eventually adopted Naomi. She went to live with her and her husband, Uncle Wouter, at Desert Lodge. The lodge bordered on the Namib Desert and when she was old enough, Naomi was allowed to play with the San tribe’s children there. They taught her about the desert, about what plants were safe to eat and where to find water. This led to her working as a desert guide at the lodge when she became old enough.

Luca, on the other hand, comes from a very privileged background – the Armati supercar dynasty in Italy. He is the heir apparent. But Luca has other hobbies that he’s passionate about. One of which is photographing and painting elephants. His secretary, Santina, who has taken care of him since he was a child when his mother left them, arranged a holiday in Namibia so that he could fulfil his dream and take a break from work at the same time.

Luca immediately recognises how different Naomi is from the models he usually hangs out with. But she assumes he is just another one of the rich ‘princes’ who makes everyone’s lives hell for as long as they’re on holiday at the lodge.

I don’t want to give too much away but I will say this – Under A Namibian Sky has many twists and turns. A sneak peek is when Luca and Naomi come in contact with a tiny newborn elephant. They help to rescue her when her mother is killed by poachers.

***

Namibia holds a special place in my heart because it is where I was born. The setting is perfect for romance, danger, spirituality and love.

THE COVER

The original cover was designed by the multi-talented Sharon Brownlie.

Covers are really important because they’re “the picture that paints a thousand words,” as the lyrics of one of my favourite Bread songs says. Or in the case of a novel, thousands of words!

I saw one of Sharon’s pre-made covers with a couple that looked exactly like Luca and Naomi. I couldn’t believe it. Usually, it’s impossible to get a picture that looks exactly like the couple in your head. But there they were.

Luca, as he appeared to me, is tall, athletic and although aristocratic, has a somewhat devil-may-care boyishness about him. A kind of Richard Branson vibe, if you like.

Naomi, also tall and athletic, is independent and strong and I feel the figure on the cover depicts her somewhat stubborn streak perfectly.

Neither Sharon nor I imagined Luca and Naomi to be in silhouette, to begin with, but realised the night sky would have no light source to show them in any other way.

The picture of the sky that Sharon used, is an actual picture of the night sky over the Namib Desert. The fact that it has a purple tint, is a hint of the spirituality behind the fact that Luca and Naomi are soul mates.

In the distance, you can see the mother and the baby elephant that played such a big part in their relationship. Because Naomi had reluctantly allowed Luca to accompany her on the ellie’s rescue mission, he then invited her out for dinner. Perhaps without that initial dinner, who knows if they’d ever got together?

Again, I’d like to thank everyone who helped choose the elements for the perfect cover.

Unfortunately, this cover didn’t translate well into the paperback version and I felt a new cover was needed.

Stepping into the fray was my lovely niece, Mia Troost, a very talented artist, currently in her second year at University, studying  for a BA degree in Graphic Design.

Mia’s brief, like Sharon’s, was for a romantic cover with a sky that takes your breath away, somewhere in the Namibian Desert, lovers, a tree or two, and elephants in the background.

Though I adore Sharon’s cover, I love Mia’s cover, too and I’m deeply grateful to her for stepping in at such short notice because I wanted the new cover to be available at the same time as the follow-up novella, Love In Modena, was launched. I feel Mia more than delivered.

 

Although I loved the cover Mia had created, I felt the novel deserved to live in the same space as other novels of its kind and I wasn’t sure that this cover did that job.

As I’m a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors, I checked their website for a suitable cover designer. I came upon the award-winning cover designer Jane Dixon-Smith, who took my covers under her wing and delivered the most beautiful and romantic covers to sit on the same shelves as other novels in the contemporary romance genre.

I’m deeply grateful for Jane’s amazing work. It was so easy to work with her and can’t wait for her to create the covers for my next novels.

 

 

 

THE CHARACTERS

As I don’t want to spoil it for you, I’ll talk only about Luca and Naomi. I may post something on another day about some of the other characters.

Writing her, Naomi made me feel compassion and fury almost in equal amounts. I was sad for her that she was so traumatised as a little girl by the loss of her parents and by being moved from foster home to foster home. She was unloved and felt like a failure when she couldn’t make her new families love her. She was too young to understand death and what was happening to her. But her deep-seated fear that everyone she loved would die, stopped her from loving others when it’s so clear that it’s what she craved.

When she developed feelings for Luca, she talked herself out of those. I couldn’t believe that she would be prepared to give up such a love for fear that death would take her from him. But she was stubborn! It would take another traumatic event in her life to let her see the light at last.

Luca, on the other hand, having been abandoned by his mother when he was eight, regarded women with a healthy dose of suspicion. What made it worse, was that the beautiful models who he was used to having in his life, were mostly after his money and fame. But he realised pretty early on, that Naomi was nothing like them. He saw her strength, her independence, her vulnerability and her genuineness.

But when he overheard her saying something to her friend that he was rich and could have any woman he wants, he freaked out. It was a phrase he’d heard too many times.

It took a very distressing situation for him to realise that he loved Naomi and couldn’t imagine being without her.

These characters never stopped talking. I had no choice but to write them down!

THE SETTING

Namibia is very special to me. It’s the country of my birth and although I haven’t been there for many years, I know it’s the kind of unspoiled place – for the most part – that doesn’t change. It feels good to know that something can be that constant, especially in this crazy fast-paced world we live in, right?

Desert Lodge is based on a real lodge near the desert. The people and the place will always live in my heart, no matter where in the world I find myself.

Like Naomi, I was lucky enough to have had children from the San tribes to play with when I was a little girl. They taught me about the desert. About which plants were poisonous, which were good to eat, how to find water, which insects were a good source of protein, and which to avoid if you wanted to keep your eyes! So, these are the things I share with Naomi.

The Namib Desert is vast. It’s silent. It’s unearthly beautiful. Parts of it has featured in Hollywood movies, and parts of it have become a source of joy for people seeking action-adventure holidays.

It is this aspect that Desert Lodge eventually adopts as well. But until then, they offer only sunrise and sunset safaris with desert guides in a truck or the odd walking safari with one of the anti-poacher guards employed to keep the wildlife safe.

Here is a short video that shows how San hunter/gatherers find water in the desert.

WHY ROMANCE?

Under A Namibian Sky is a romance novel and one I hope you’ll all enjoy reading. The funny things is, I never thought of myself as a romance writer. My staple go-to genres have always been science-fiction, fantasy, psychological thrillers and horror. Those genres, of course, sometimes include romance as well. Yet, whenever I sit down to write something, romance is what comes out. It puzzled me until I analysed it and the truth dawned on me.

This is where my thinking led me:

The point that immediately sprang to mind is that we all want love. I’d go so far as to say, we crave it. When we read a romance novel, we experience the feelings of love through the characters in a way that may not exist in our everyday lives. It gives us that high, that hope that the love we yearn for, is possible for us as well. It helps to renew our belief in love. We live in a world filled with pain, divorces, disasters, acts of violence and war. When we read a romance novel, we reconnect with the idea of love, with the idea that there is something higher than the pain and discontent that pours daily from our TV screens or from social media. For readers who have not yet experienced a soul mate love, reading a romance novel can open them up to what that might feel like and how worthwhile a pursuit it can be for them. After all, as one of my characters in Under A Namibian Sky says: “In the end, love is all we have.”

At the other end of the spectrum is the fact that human beings and human relationships are complex. Stories are a safe way to explore those complexities and can even help us to deal with our own issues.

There are many other reasons why romance novels are important, but the fact that it can also be a form of entertainment is not to be sneezed at. When a reader with a demanding job, or a mum who is pulled in many different directions, read a romance novel, it’s a great way to just relax, have fun and escape from the daily grind.

Of course, even though nowadays romance novels are widely accepted, there are still people who turn up their noses at the thought of reading one. The idea that these novels are unrealistic at best – who really gets the happily ever after, right? – or at worst, that such novels are “trashy,” “titillating” or “fluffy,” and inferior to other genres, is still very much the perception, especially of those who do not read romances. (Interestingly, opponents of romance novels, often overlook the fact that classics such as Jane Austin’s books are the most sigh-worthy romances. I assume it’s because her books are “older” that it doesn’t count?)

And yet, the romance genre is the biggest selling genre in the book world. Why? Why do we read them?

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about why romance novels are important to you?

WHY UNDER A NAMIBIAN SKY?

Late one night, several months ago, I was watching a programme on TV about Mills and Boon (Harlequin to some of you.)

The programme looked at how difficult it is to write a good romance novel. How so many people have tried and failed.

The programme followed the journey of a traditionally published mystery writer going through the process of writing a romance novel. She went on away days with other romance writers, writer’s circles and writer’s workshops led by successful Mills and Boon authors at great settings. They filmed her at home making notes on her white board, writing, re-writing, getting frustrated and re-writing. Eventually, she handed in the manuscript to Mills and Boons offices here in London.

I never learned what happened to her novel. But having read a number of romance novels through the years, I wondered if I could write one.

I went on their website to learn more about what they’re looking for and discovered that they were actively looking for novels set in Southern Africa. Well, I was born in Namibia and while I’ve lived all over the world, the country of my birth will always live in my heart. There is a saying that once you have felt the Namibian sands beneath your feet, your feet will always walk you back to those sands. It’s a rough translation, but I think you get the gist. I’ll add to it that once you have Africa in your heart, she is a jealous mistress and will hold you to her bosom – you can never escape her arms.

So, it was a no-brainer for me to set my novel in Namibia. I know the place like the back of my hand. It’s one of the few places on earth where things don’t change, yet a desert is a place of ever-changing sameness. The sky over the desert, once you’ve seen it, will live in your heart and mind forever – it is breath-taking, yes, but more than that, it’s a most humbling experience. Its vastness reminds that we are a tiny part of something so big, we cannot comprehend it. The people are warm and friendly, and the animals are a reminder that the world offers more than concrete jungles and the rat race so many of us are only too familiar with. There is a deep peace, a unique calm that a place like Namibia offer, that you can’t find anywhere else on earth.

To cut a long story short, I wrote the required three chapters and submitted them along with a synopsis. A few weeks later, I received a long email from them, stating their interest in the novel and asking for specific changes. It was obvious from their email that they’d read the synopsis and the chapters. I felt encouraged and set about making the changes they’d asked for before running it past some of my beta readers. But after I’d re-submitted it, a few weeks later, I received a short email thanking me for my efforts but rejecting the novel. But rejection is a normal part of a writer’s life so it didn’t phase me.

By now, though, the characters lived in my head. They were talking to me, as characters are wont to do and they wouldn’t go away. There were other projects I wanted to work on but these guys wouldn’t let up. I had no choice but to finish the novel.

Luckily, the publishing world has changed so much now that Mills and Boon aren’t the only romance genre publishers.

That’s how Under A Namibian Sky came to live in the world today.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #1

Namibia is a very large country – Namibia is more than a third larger than the UK and Germany combined or twice the size of California. It has rich deposits of diamonds, uranium and other minerals that are already being extracted extensively. There are 11 main ethnic groups living there.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #2

What is a desert? To most people, it is a hot, dry area with little or no vegetation and often covered in sand dunes. Even though this may be an adequate definition of a desert, hot and dry are not specific enough to be scientifically accepted. Scientists use the measurement of rain, or rather the lack of it, to define deserts because water is the critical factor which controls all life and biological processes. According to such classification of deserts, the Namib is hyper-arid as it has a mean rainfall of less than 100mm per year. It is amazing that the Namib is a desert at all since north of it, Angola is subtropical and south, the Cape of Good Hope has copious winter rainfall. But the unique high-pressure zones and the cold ocean currents that border it has created the Namib Desert.

We know that the Namib Desert is old and could have been semi-arid to arid for about the last 80million years with true desert conditions predominating the last 15 – 20 million years.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #3

Fairy circles – there is a peculiar unexplained phenomenon along the edge of the Namib desert commonly known as fairy circles. Unusually named they occur on sandy planes and on vegetated dune slopes. Scientists suggest that the fairy circles may, in fact, be termites which have eaten all the grass seeds in the vicinity of their nests.

INTERESTING NAMIBIAN FACT #4

What is the origin and meaning of Namib? The word is of Nama origin. It translates literally from Nama as “a bare plain” and means “the vast place of nothingness.”

 

Thank you so much for joining me today. I trust you enjoyed the launch of Under A Namibian Sky as much as I have.

I’m currently writing a novella in the Desert Love Series telling of Luca and Naomi’s life in Italy. It’s called Love In Modena, and you will receive a free copy when you sign up to my email list when it is finished.

I’d be very interested to know what kind of stories you would like me to write? Let me know what kind of characters you’d like, what obstacles and what setting – I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you again so much for spending time with me.

 

ASTROLOGICAL ANNOYANCES

The Moon crossed her arms. She nearly stomped her feet but refused to be so crass. “That Mercury!”

The Sun couldn’t resist the hint of intrigue. “Why? What has he done now?”

The Moon’s voice was filled with frustration. “He is so full of himself, strutting around like he’s something special, just because he rules two Signs. I can’t stand it.”

Mars inserted himself into the conversation. “Well, he does. It’s a bit of a trip.”

The Moon and the Sun both swivelled round to look at Mars, annoyance clear in their eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that. I understand perfectly what it feels like to rule two Signs.”

The Moon was just about to complain about Mars’s interruption and attitude when Pluto stepped forward.

“That’s right. Mars did rule two Signs. He ruled Aries -”

“And I still do,” Mars interrupted.

Pluto smiled. “That’s true. You do, Mars. And you also used to look after Scorpio.”

Mars still resented Pluto, even after all this time. Pluto wasn’t even a real Planet, for heaven’s sake. “Yes, I did, until you suddenly appeared out of nowhere.”

“Not out of nowhere, exactly. I was here all the time.”

“Yes, but why would you hide like that? No one saw you for ages.”

Before Pluto could respond the Moon spoke again, her voice whinier than she would have liked, but she didn’t seem to be able to help herself. “What has all that to do with Mercury? His arrogance is beyond words. I don’t care that he is the only Planet to rule two Signs.”

The Sun tried to get next to her, but Mars blocked his path. The Sun had to crane his neck to look past Mars when he spoke to her. “I don’t understand why you’re so riled up about Mercury. What does it matter to you that he rules two Signs.”

The Moon pouted. “It’s unfair. All of us have only one Sign to look after, but he has two. And that makes him utterly insufferable. He’s always darting about, never still. It’s so annoying.”

Mars had always thought the Moon to be the most beautiful, but she had always scorned him. He was as curious as the Sun about her sudden outburst and hoped that she would confide in him, at last.

“Why? What happened?” he asked.

The Moon dropped her head, suddenly shy. “Nothing…”

Jupiter, who had overheard the conversation, came to stand next to the Moon and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders as he came to her defence.

“It doesn’t matter what happened. It’s between the Moon and Mercury. I’m just grateful that I don’t have to look after two Signs like he does. I can still remember the stress of having to do so. Long ago, I was responsible not only for Sagittarius but also for Pisces – nightmare – those two Signs couldn’t be more different. It was quite the juggling act! Probably similar to what Mercury has to deal with from Gemini and Virgo. I’m grateful that I have so much more freedom now that I have only Sagittarius to look after.”

Jupiter seemed utterly oblivious to the poisonous glances from Mars who was trying to reclaim his place beside the Moon.

Pluto was aware of Mars’s interest in the Moon and his jealousy aimed at anyone who got too close to her. But he chose to ignore it, and instead, nodded. “I agree with you, Jupiter. Not only about the freedom…also about the stress. Having only Scorpio to look after is quite enough, thank you. It’s a complicated Sign and takes up all of my time.”

Neptune had walked up without being noticed, meanwhile. “Why are we all standing here? What’s happened?”

The Moon shook her head, close to tears and unable to speak.

The Sun and Mars spoke simultaneously, “Mercury has done something again.”

Neptune immediately focused on the Moon’s distress. He went to her and took her hand to comfort her. “I’m sorry to hear that Mercury has upset you. Don’t mind him. He can be a bit…well…mercurial. It’s just his nature…nothing personal. Let’s go dancing, instead. I know it will cheer you up. You’ll forget about Mercury soon.”

The Moon swallowed harder at the tears that threatened to spill down her flawless face. How could she ever forget about Mercury?

Uranus, who’d overheard Neptune’s suggestion to go dancing, quickly took the Moon’s other hand. “Oh, yes! That sounds fabby. Let’s go dancing. I know just the place. It’s modern and hip and has fantastic music. You’ll love it. Let’s go.”

But just as he was about to drag the Moon off, Saturn appeared and they had to take a step back from his imposing form barring their way.

“Where are we going?” Saturn asked.

The Sun explained everything to Saturn, beginning with the fact that the Moon was very upset about Mercury’s attitude towards her. He ended by agreeing with the Moon that Mercury’s attitude probably was as bad as it was because he ruled two Signs and therefore felt superior, somehow.

Saturn took a moment to think things through. Everyone waited patiently. Even though in reality Jupiter was the eldest of the Planets, Saturn was the father and founder of civilisations, social order and stability. Everyone, including Jupiter, relied on him for his guidance and words of wisdom. Saturn always seemed to know the answer and he always spoke the truth.

He stroked his beard thoughtfully before speaking. “First of all, it’s not true that Mercury is the only planet to rule two Signs. Mars -”

Before he could complete his sentence, Mars interrupted. “Yes, we’ve been through this. I used to rule two Signs too until Pluto, here, came along and took one away from me.”

Pluto’s intense eyes cast daggers in Mars’s direction.

Saturn held up a hand to stop Mars from starting an argument unnecessarily. “Alright, alright. Yes, true. Mars, you did rule two Signs until Pluto relieved you of Scorpio, for which you should be grateful and thank him instead of trying to start a war. The same happened to Jupiter. He is responsible for Sagittarius only because Neptune now looks after Pisces.”

Mars was becoming very impatient. “Yes, yes, we know all that.”

Saturn didn’t allow Mars’s interruption to flummox him.

“But do you remember that I used to be responsible not only for Capricorn as I am now. I also used to look after Aquarius until Uranus came along to relieve me of that responsibility.”

The Sun clapped his hands together. “Oh, yes. I’d forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder, Saturn. So, actually, those of us looking after only one Sign are the special ones.”

The Moon looked up, hope shining in her eyes. She had forgotten that there were more Planets who once looked after two Signs. Perhaps Mercury wasn’t deliberately ignoring her. If what Saturn said was true, then looking after two Signs simultaneously was not a walk among the stars. Perhaps she was being unfair towards Mercury. But why was he forever on the move, unable to sit still even for a second? He always seemed to be in two places at once. If he would just stay still for a moment, perhaps she could talk to him. How else could she make him understand how thrilling she found him, how exciting, and how much she loved him?

Again, Saturn didn’t allow the Sun’s interruption to throw him off his stride. He continued as if he hadn’t heard the Sun’s comment. “Also, it seems to me you have all forgotten that Venus is still taking care of two Signs herself. She looks after both Taurus and Libra.”

The silence that followed as everyone processed this information, was suddenly shattered. Mercury and Venus arrived arm-in-arm, laughing and skipping as they came to join the others. They stopped in their tracks when the weird atmosphere hit them.

The Moon shook her head. She could not believe that Mercury would be so friendly with Venus. And that after she was prepared to forgive him. See? It’s probably because they’re the only two Planets who have two Signs each to look after. They have things in common that she couldn’t hope to share with Mercury. She blinked back more tears. Crying in front of the others was not an option and especially not in front of Mercury.

Mercury pulled his arm from Venus.

“What’s up? Why do you all stand here like someone’s died? Has someone died?”

Venus laid a restricting arm on Mercury. He could be very blunt. He turned to cast a questioning look at Venus. When she smiled at him, deep dimples in her cheeks made her even more attractive. She gestured for him to stay silent. She had immediately noticed the Moon’s tearful eyes and the hostility from Mars, especially, towards Mercury and understood exactly what was going on. But she didn’t care about Mars. Her focus was on the Moon and Mercury. She knew her friend could appear uncaring and preoccupied, but she had known him for many years. His heart was true and loyal and he had confided in her recently that it belonged to the Moon.

The Moon, meanwhile, wanted to run and hide. She didn’t want to have to witness Mercury’s happiness with Venus. How could she blame him? Venus was stunning. She always behaved with such decorum and diplomacy. She acted with wisdom and taste. Who could resist her beauty and charms? As these thoughts swirled in her mind, the Moon felt even more upset. But how could she escape without drawing more attention to herself?

No one responded to Mercury’s question but all for very different reasons. The Moon was too upset to trust her voice. Mars was too angry with Mercury for upsetting the Moon. Pluto and Saturn were watching Mercury, wondering what he would do or say next. The Sun, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune and Venus got that Mercury was only trying to lift the heavy atmosphere. They knew he was trying to use his usual shock tactics, which didn’t shock them at all. But when he pulled the biggest ruby they had ever seen from his pocket, everyone caught their breath. They parted to make way for him as he walked toward the Moon, his hand held out to her.

“I know this is your birthstone.”

The Moon looked down. A blush crept up her cheeks. She couldn’t believe that he was standing in front of her with such a huge ruby in his hand.

She cleared her throat and whispered, “But it’s not my birthday.”

Mercury moved even closer to her. She could feel his breath on her cheeks. His voice was soft and melodious as he spoke. “I know. I tried to find something that could adequately express my love for you, but this is the best I could find.”

The Moon gasped. She had not expected those words to come from his mouth. But she had longed for it forever. Once again, Mercury had more than surprised her. Her heart overflowed with happiness. He must have known that the ruby wasn’t only her birthstone, but that it also promised love, integrity and passion.

His embrace was gentle but firm. His kiss was soft and passionate. She didn’t care that everyone witnessed it.

***

Thank you for watching/listening/reading.

If you like my short stories, please share it with others – I love it when people enjoy reading my stories.

Also, if you sign up to my email list, you will receive more information about stories, novels and freebies. You can email me directly here: angelina@angelinakalahari.com or angelinasbooks@hotmail.com.

 

SHORT STORY – THE DOOR

 

As her consciousness shifted, the sounds from her dream slowly morphed into day sounds that she recognised. She kept her eyes closed. The sounds – birdsong mostly – beckoned her with the promise that today could be a good day. But how could it be good when she felt so emotionally disturbed. The presence of the dream lurked. Its tentacles, as always, reluctant to let her go. She pushed the duvet aside. Drenched in sweat, her body displayed the evidence of her struggle to get away from the dream.

She opened her eyes and sighed.

Daylight poured through the sheer yellow curtains. She had always liked yellow – such a happy colour. The curtains matched the accent wall opposite her bed. She wished she could match the happiness that the colour represented. But the darkness of the dream still clutched her close to its sinister bosom.

The alarm’s shrill call announced the day’s urgency. Simultaneously, her phone vibrated on her bedside table. It was a text message from Mary.

U still up for lunch? Xxx

Was she? Was she up for anything? She had to be up for work – no choice there. So, why not lunch.

Sure, see you there xxx

Send.

Her weekly lunch meeting with Mary had worked itself into her life with as much insidiousness as everything else she had allowed. It was one of the things she didn’t regret. A good old chin-wag was often the antidote to an assortment of anxieties and hang-ups. Perhaps it was just the act of sharing things with another person – someone you could trust – that did the trick. No need for scientists to fiddle with your mind when you had such a friend as Mary. Hopefully, Mary got as much out of their relationship as she did.

Outside, the day seemed friendly enough, unlike her fellow commuters who, no doubt, hated this part of their lives as much as she did.

At five minutes to one o’clock, she switched off the computer and tidied her work into her to-do basket. She grabbed her handbag from the bottom drawer where she kept it out of the way and walked around the corner to the tiny restaurant to meet Mary.

Mary had already secured their favourite table at the back of the restaurant and waved to her as she walked through the door, indicating that she had already placed their lunch order. A few other regulars sat at small tables but mostly, tourists who could not believe that such a quaint little place existed, made up its daily clientele.

Mary smiled at her as she sat down. “I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you look like you could do with some more sleep.”

“Not so much more sleep – more quality sleep.”

Mary leant forward, concern in her eyes. “Oh, no. Not again? Did you try writing it down, like I’d suggested? Has it helped?”

She shook her head. “No, I haven’t managed to write anything down yet. I’ve got the pen and paper ready on my bedside table, as you suggested, but unlike you, I don’t remember much when I wake up. There’s only the sense of danger and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. It’s really beginning to get me down.”

Mary nodded. “I can see that. But it’s not true that you don’t remember anything. You’ve told me about the door before. I take it you had the same dream again last night?”

She sighed.

“Yes, it was the same dream about the door. I don’t even know why it’s so terrifying. I mean, it’s just a door. The door itself isn’t scary. It’s actually rather beautiful – an ornately carved wooden door. I think it might be because it’s so old. I get a sense that it’s truly ancient and that the secret it holds must not be revealed.”

She sat back in her chair, flipping her hair out of her eyes. “It sounds so stupid when I talk about it. I can hear myself say these words to you and it sounds like it’s nothing.”

Mary’s eyes continued to show her concern for her friend. “Well, it’s clearly not ‘nothing.’ If writing it down hasn’t worked, and talking to me hasn’t worked, perhaps you should see a professional.”

“Like a shrink, you mean?”

“Yes.”

Their food arrived and neither spoke while the waitress put the plates on the table.

When she left, Mary continued. “Maybe there’s some deep-seated something you need to let go of. How long have you been having this dream did you say again?”

She finished chewing a mouthful of mashed potato before answering. “Ever since I can remember… It must have started when I was very young – maybe five or six?”

“And there was no trauma around that time?”

“My dad died. But I was too young to really know what was going on.”

Mary sat back in her chair, a satisfied smile on her face. “Well, there you are, then. It must have something to do with that, don’t you think?”

“Maybe -”

But before she could continue, Mary interrupted her. “I know what you should do. Tonight when you have the dream again, you should open the door.”

“What!”

Mary nodded as she munched on a tomato. “Yes, you should open the door.”

“But that’s what I’m scared -”

“Remember that it’s just a dream. You can’t really be hurt. If I were you, that’s what I would do. Confront your fears head-on. My mum always said when you do that, you’ll find the lion turns into a kitten.”

She smiled despite herself. “You mean you want to use me as a guinea pig to see if your mum’s words of wisdom are true?”

“Sure. Why not?”

In a way, it was a relief that Mary wasn’t taking her dread of the recurrent dream too seriously. It was just a dream, after all.

The afternoon dragged. She could hardly wait to get home to try Mary’s advice. Mary had inspired her to feel excited, rather than scared, about going on the adventure to find out what lies behind the door. Why had she never thought of opening the bloody door herself? Just the thought of taking action made her feel a hundred times better about the situation. Her feelings of hopelessness were almost completely gone.

That night, she took extra care when getting ready for bed. She made sure that the pen was lying on top of a blank page, ready to be used. She squished her pillow until it felt comfortable and then switched off the light, ready for whatever the night and the dream would bring.

This time, when the door appeared, it came with the knowledge that she was dreaming. She found herself moving closer and closer to the door, as always. Its massive size rose above her head and towered over her, shrinking her to the size of an ant. She had to stand on her toes as her hand reached out to touch the massive black handle above her head. So far, nothing was different from what had happened in the dream every single time before. But this time, instead of withdrawing her hand, she willed herself to stay. She knew this scenario usually ended with her running away as fast as her legs could carry her, even though she could never get away from the door – that was the horror of it.

Slowly, very slowly, she turned the handle. The door started to move inwards. On the other side of the door, only darkness met her eyes. She nearly lost her nerve then. Her breath was coming fast and high, her heart was thumping in her chest and she knew her body was drenched in sweat. The scream that usually accompanied her efforts to get away from the door sat in her throat. Her eyes felt as though they were on stalks as she stayed alerted to even the slightest movement that might spell danger.

The door moved further inwards and she went with it even though everything in her wanted to scream and run. She squared her shoulders and clenched her jaw in determination, instead. This time, she won’t be beaten.

The door stood wide open. The space in front of her was in total darkness. She remained in the doorway. Just as she was wondering if it was a good idea to go inside, light flooded the room. It was massive. Maybe that’s why it had to have such a big door. Her heart still thumped in her chest, but now it was with excitement. It was the most beautiful room she had ever seen. Every wall, from floor to very high, ornate ceiling, was filled with books. Rows and rows upon rows and rows of books…

The room drew her inside. As she walked, she glided her finger along the spines of the books. Each spine displayed only one name at a time. So many names – a different name for each book. Sudden insight flooded her mind. The names – it was their stories. Their lives…all our lives…they’re just stories. That was the door’s secret. She wanted to remember that. She wanted to write it down when she woke up. And she had to tell Mary that her mum was right; the lion, when faced, turns into a kitten. Except her kitten was the most beautiful, exotic sort of kitten she had never expected to find.

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