Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Inspiration for Killed in Kruger by Denise Hartman





I had a job with a nature photographer doing writing and graphics. He was a college president before he retired to do photography and loved challenging me to expand my horizons. When he went to do a photo safari for 16 weeks all over the southern tip of Africa, he challenged me to come during some part of that trip.

I did a ton of research for the trip setting up self-safari camping sites for him and reserving rondavels in National Parks in three countries. I signed up for some email reports from some of the sites and started receiving all kinds on things relating to the Southern tip of Africa. I became intrigued by odd animal behavior and strange news from the parks. 

A couple in South Africans befriended my boss and let him stay in their home. When I was in Johannesburg I stayed there too. They were like a pair from a SWAT team when it came to getting in and out of their home compound. They’d both been robbed numerous times. He had worked in the police force at one time. They planned who would go for the gate and who would open the garage and how it would all go before they approached the house so that there was no lingering in the street. Their fear was palpable. It was 1998 and tensions were still running high and crime was rampant.

We photo safaried Kruger National Park in South Africa and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. It was a wonderful experience. Later after my boss came back from Africa, I would do research identifying the animals in the slides and finding information that might fit into stories to sell the slides. 

In my research I came across a website that was stories from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was a post-Apartheid attempt at cleansing the collective conscious of the traumas that had occurred. People could testify of wrong doings that had occurred to them or a loved one and others could confess things they had done and ask for amnesty.  Most of the stories were heart breaking and while the commission has been criticized, it was fascinating for me as an outsider to look into their world.

Out of all that research, looking at my boss’s slides of Africa, and our traveling came this book. Unlike some of the characters in my book, my photographer boss and I both made it back from Africa alive. 

I chose in Killed in Kruger to have an outsider’s perspective on South Africa.  My protagonist, Tabitha Krans, is an aspiring travel writer from the U.S. with a bend toward sarcasm to help the book keep from being too dark. I didn’t want to presume to speak from the point of view of an insider. All the locals in the book that share information about the country express something I saw in my research in one way or another, so I do not try to judge what they are. 

I also limit the scope of the Killed in Kruger to basically the Park and one other town to make it simpler and hopefully more accurate. I hope it’s clear from the novel that South Africa is a beautiful place with a complicated past that is worth a visit. 

Killed in Kruger Book Blurb:

Tabitha Krans arrives to discover the veldt of South Africa’s Kruger Park seems to have swallowed up Uncle Phillip. Tabitha’s afraid her writing career has disappeared along with him and dire things lie in wait for her as her mother had predicted. Uncle Phillip’s connections are her only link to travel writing and his photos are crucial. When he turns up dead, she wants the truth. Dead men don’t speak but photos Phillip took evoke strange reactions in park authorities. Her nosing around turns up suspicions of human trafficking, poaching and covert investigations but not many answers. South Africa holds dark secrets and deep beauty but it doesn’t want to give Tabitha the truth. She keeps prying until someone believes she’s a threat in need of elimination.




Dense Hartman’s Bio: Denise's background in journalism and television production has influenced her writing style and habits, while living overseas for several years, currently in Madrid, Spain, gives Denise's imagination new sites and sounds for her mysteries on a day in and out basis. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, including having been the president of her hometown Kansas City Partners in Crime chapter. Denise has a passion for reading, books, travel, dogs, tea, and teapots not necessarily in that order.

5 comments:

Denise Hartman said...

Thanks for having me Marilyn! It was fun!

Denise Hartman said...

P.S. Today is the last Free day on Kindle.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

So glad you stopped by, Denise. Love your story about the beginnings of Killed in Kruger.

Monti said...

Interesting and intriguing, Denise. I just got your book and have it waiting in the cloud.

Thanks!
Monti
Mary Montague Sikes

Sally Carpenter said...

How interesting that Denise has traveled to so many places. Sounds like Africa was amazing. Good luck with your book.