Death on the Limpopo is Sally Andrew’s third Tannie Maria novel and is set mainly in the Little Karoo.
In this book, the investigative journalist Zabanguni Kani makes her appearance and she and Tannie Maria travel to Limpopo. Irna Van Zyl chatted to Andrew.
Tell us more about the third Tannie Maria novel.
Tannie Maria is an agony aunt for the Klein Karoo Gazette’s “Love Advice and Recipe Column”.
She gives a little wise advice, and then a recipe to solve any troubles of the heart. She also gets involved in solving murders, and wrestles (emotionally) with her boyfriend, Henk Kannemeyer, the big, handsome detective with the chestnut moustache.
In Death on the Limpopo Maria goes on a journey with a tall, dark stranger in her little Nissan bakkie, in an attempt to solve a murder, as well as to connect with the memory of her father.
They travel across the Little Karoo, then north to the banks of the great, grey-green Limpopo River.
You and your partner spend a lot of time in the Little Karoo. Is it from these visits that the character Tannie Maria originated?
We live on a nature reserve near Ladismith, and yes, Tannie Maria stories are infused with Karoo spirit and landscapes. But the character is purely from my imagination.
How does this third novel differ from the previous two?
It’s also a feel-good, cosy mystery, infused with humour, small-town characters and delicious food.
But it is more of a thriller and a Thelma-and-Louise kind of chase than a classic whodunnit.
And it engages more directly with current politics. It also has a brand–new central character, Zaba.
I would love to hear more about the character Zabanguni Kani.
She is a “strong, black, no sugar” investigative journalist who works for the Daily Maverick, and exposes corrupt deals.
She played a central role in blocking the South African nuclear deal with the Russians.
Zaba roars into Ladismith on a black Ducati bike, and shakes up Maria’s world.
Your books are published in 14 different countries. Tell us more about the popularity of the books, and how proud it must make you to see it in a foreign language.
I am proud that the books are an ambassador for South Africa, with its gorgeous landscape, diverse and open-hearted people, and delicious recipes.
It is amazing to hold in my hand copies of the Tannie Maria books in languages I have never read before, some with alphabets I barely recognise (Estonian, Chinese, Hebrew, Polish, Turkish, etc.).
There must be something archetypal in Tannie Maria’s personality and setting that allows it to have international appeal.
What advice could you give to new writers?
Write. Write. Write. Read. Read. If you want to get published, drop the preciousness and arrogance, and be willing to listen and learn.
Work on developing a thicker skin, while maintaining a tender heart.
What’s next for you?
I am longing to get back to writing Tannie Maria mystery No 4. And looking forward to some quiet after book No 3 publicity.
Being a rock star (or rather a paper star) is fun for a moment, but I far prefer long stretches of peace in nature.
I am about to retrace the journey that Tannie Maria does with Zaba in Death on the Limpopo: from Ladismith, via Calitzdorp to Prince Albert (where I’ll attend the Leesfees) and then north, to the banks of the Limpopo River in Botswana.
Here, I will spend some weeks writing, and walking amongst the wild things with my beloved, wilderness artist Bowen Boshier.