Saturday, December 13, 2008

Real life characters in books of fiction

Tom Warder (Freddy) at 19

Selby - the other 'Warder boy' aged 21

Contributed by: Elaine Murray

Marie Warder — 'an unsung public relations officer for South Africa, the country of her birth.'

In reading any of Marie Warder's 21 books, the world has been learning things about South Africa it never knew before. Saddened by ignorance of South African history, her stories have covered it from the earliest days to the present. She has consequently been referred to by the South African press as 'South Africa’s unofficial ambassador in Canada'.

For example, when she overheard a clerk at Veterans' Affairs Canada, state that South Africa was “never in the war!” loyalty to her husband’s South African squadron immediately triggered the writing of 'With no remorse…' set in Malta, and complete with a photo of the South African Air Force band 'The Venturians'. Marie sets another novel—'Tarnished Idols'— in a Johannesburg newspaper office during World War 2, so that she can make mention, among others, of Field Marshall Jan Smuts, Dan Pienaar and South Africans in POW camps. Saddened by widespread ignorance of South African history, she tells - in 'Storm Water' - the story of Van Riebeeck, the Dromedaris, Paul Roux, the Huguenots—and the avaricious, unscrupulous governor, Adriaan van der Stel.

It is not surprising therefore, that reviews on and Chapters/, as well as references on Google and other search engines, reveal how many of her readers, falling in love with South Africa, now want to go there for themselves. She has promoted South African Airways, Castle Beer, and such uniquely South African delicacies as biltong (best 'jerky' anywhere!), melktert (milk tart), koeksusters (a favourite confection), braaivleis (barbeque), and beskuit (South African 'biscotti'); weaving them so skilfully into her tales, that is not unusual for readers to write for more information, ask for recipes and express surprise upon learning that the blooms they love in North America are called Barberton daisies in South Africa, for good reason.

For many years her obvious love—for the Orange Free State, the Basotho people of her youth, as well as her affection for Kempton Park, where she founded a private school), Parys (where everyone now wants to go fishing) — has shone through every chapter of every novel she has penned; the enthusiasm of her readers has further inspired her. How tragic to have to hear her now confess that she is having difficulty with the storyline in the current manuscript on which she is working - to satisfy the clamour for 'more about Benjamin Ashton and his family'.( The Beauclaire Saga)

"All that I have written in the trilogy, so far, applied to a time before an ever-rising tide of ineptitude and violence began to threaten the Edens my characters enjoyed.What do I do with them now?" she wonders despairingly. "Get them out of there?"

Loyalty triggered her books.
As has already been said, it was loyalty to 27 Squadron SAAF, her husband’s, that triggered the book, 'With no remorse...' set in Malta. While it is unapologetically a work of fiction, it is an extraordinary narrative of daring and courage, of sacrificial love and rock-solid loyalty while, at the same time, a tale of suspicion and jealousy; of devilish cunning and despicable treachery. The reader is taken to the strategic island during the period between the historic siege and the end of World War 2, after which - because of the phenomenal courage of the people - the whole island was rewarded with the George Cross by the King of England, George V1. We fly with the men of Coastal Command and their Ventura aircraft, meet some of the civilians who are caught up in the turmoil and, finally, the Venturians the band of 27 Squadron SAAF who, even in the midst of war - make music wherever they go.

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