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Born The Same and CrimeFest

Ten hours to go…

Born the Same hits the (largely digital) shelves in ten hours and two minutes. Very exciting! My copies of the book arrived last Wednesday, though the first printing went out to Bloggers and ARC readers the previous week. I saw photos of their copies on Twitter, which was most strange, knowing copies were out there but not having one myself.

The T-shirt and the mug had arrived. Both have the front cover printed on them. The T-shirt is a handy prop for my two panels at CrimeFest, 12th & 13th of May in Bristol (that’s Friday and Saturday of this week. Woo hoo!). You can’t stand your book up on the table you’re sitting behind, or the audience can’t see you. So wearing your book seemed to be the way to go. And the mug, well, I have a very supportive relative or two who don’t read much, so a mug in place of a book will hopefully be appreciated.

I’ve also ordered some stickers. Quite small ones. Just the book cover, twenty-four stickers per sheet of A4. I have quite small nieces. My thinking was, if I give them each a sheet of stickers and release them into the wilds of Hertfordshire, they will paper everything they see with stickers of my book and perhaps someone will see one and order a copy. Though the other extreme is I’ll get prosecuted for distributing bill stickers. You have to take a risk some times.

Back to CrimeFest, though. The first panel I am on is entitled Location, Location, Location. I think it might be about where crime books are set and why the location is important to the story. I hope that’s the case. If it’s about buying houses in Surrey, I shall have little to say. But if it is about the crime book thing, then I shall have more to say. Born the Same is mostly set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a small bit of grassland in the top right of the country, next to the border with South Sudan. Grassland surrounded by rainforest. A wild and largely uninhabited space. It’s quite large. There’s a running joke here in the UK that all international scale is delivered by the news in terms of its relative size to Wales. ‘The bushfire in Australia has consumed an area the size of Wales’, that sort of thing. Wales is a little under twenty-one thousand square kilometres in area, eight thousand square miles for the non-metric speakers. Garamba is about a quarter of that, slightly over. A little over 3 million people live in Wales, so a quarter of that is seven hundred and fifty thousand. The population of Garamba is a few hundred. In Born the Same a couple of journalists join an expedition deep into the park to look for signs of the wild rhino.

The second panel I am on is entitled Kicking Against the Pricks: Fighting Power, Injustice and Inequality which is also something Born the Same has something to say about, with a number of the characters being rangers within the Garamba National Park. These men (in Garamba the rangers are all men, though in other parts of Africa there are many women rangers, including some all-female units such as Akashinga (‘The Brave Ones’) in Zimbabwe, and the first and perhaps the most famous, the Black Mambas in South Africa) fight and die to protect the animals in the park from heavily armed and ruthless poachers.

You can read all about them in, ooo, nine hours and forty-six minutes. Pre-order! Pre-order!

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