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Why set a book in the Amazon?


 Okay, I know I promised I would blog more regularly this year, but it didn't go as planned. Instead, I spent my time writing books - lots of books! :) And the first one coming your way is Ransom, Benson Security Book 4.
Out March 27

Ransom tells the story of a couple who're kidnapped from a celebrity wedding at a high class resort and taken into the Amazon jungle while a ransom is demanded. They know the kidnappers have no intention of letting them go unharmed, so they escape into the jungle. Where they're hunted by the kidnappers, the wildlife and Benson Security. It's nail biting stuff folks!

So why pick the Amazon?
From the rain forest on the edge of the Andes
Well, many years ago, when I was young, fit and unencumbered by kids and animals I spent a year working with a charity organisation in Peru and Bolivia. And part of my time there was spent in the rain forest. The experience changed my life and I have to say, I've been pining to return to South America ever since. In fact, every year I try to get my husband to move there, but he's having none of it!
Digging up clay on the banks of the Amazon
During my time in the jungle, I taught ceramics to kids and helped deliver supplies into the more remote areas of the forest. We dug our clay up from the Amazon river bed and I taught in an outdoor hut with the humidity turned up full and the animals interfering in our classes. The monkeys in particular liked to crash my classes and run away with the clay!

At night, I shared my cabin an army of giant ants that had decided the most direct route to their nest was straight through the middle of my room. I just lived around them. It was too hot to get decent sleep, and I lay on top of my bed, under the fan, hoping for some relief from the heat. This made me fair game for a cheeky gecko who'd wait until I fell asleep then lick the salt off my sweaty body. I'd wake up, grab it by the tail, smack it onto the wall - where it'd run around for a bit - then I'd fall asleep and it would start all over again!

The ceramics class I taught using the clay we dug up.

I remember going up the river on a dug out canoe with one of the villagers. He pointed out all the local sights. Like the tree where a soldier was killed because he climbed it, unaware that the tree was hollow and filled with ants. The ants came out, overwhelmed him and he died from their bites. Then there was the beach where a black caiman dragged a local woman into the water while she was washing her laundry. And the massive pod like nests of bright red spiders that he recommended avoiding at all costs. 

On a trip into the interior, in a tiny plane held together with duct tape and prayer, we landed on a short grass rectangle, cut out of the dense forest to make a landing strip. The local tribe appeared from the trees and swapped beaded necklaces and ten feet spears for the supplies we carried. They took us to a cooking hut, made of bamboo poles holding up a palm covered roof. In the hut, they fed us a meal in gourd bowls of monkey stew with cooked banana. It was delicious. 

All the while, the noise of the jungle was a vast wall of white sound wherever we went. Birds, insects, monkeys...all calling out relentlessly. I always suspected they were complaining about the heavy humidity that made every step you took feel like you were wading through jelly. And then the rains would start. One second, the air was almost too thick to breath, the next a deluge. The rain didn't fall in drops, it fell in a waterfall. Heavy, relentless, deafening. The ground would quickly turn to mud. Fruit and branches would fall from the canopy. And then just as suddenly as it started, it was gone. Then we would run to our plane and get out of the jungle before the next bout of rain started. Sometimes, if we were really lucky, we'd get caught in a storm on the way back, with the thunder crashing, lightning flashing and the air pressure tossing our tiny plane around like a kid with a toy.

My time in the Amazon was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I always knew, that given a chance, I'd set a book there. And that's why Ransom is set in the Amazon - because I wanted to relive the time I spent in one of the most awesome places I've ever been. I hope you enjoy your slice of the Amazon when you read Ransom. You never know, there might be another book set there one day - because the lure of the jungle is hard to shake.


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