Spotlight Author, Jan Hawke

I actually have a couple of Jan's book on my TBR list, Milele Safari and a compilation she put together called Dreamless Roads. I'm working in that direction, but you guys know how TBR lists get.

Jan is here today to tell us about Milele Safari.

Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey …twines around a single day, in an unremarkable border village that snuffs out the lives of four people and shatters many others, only to draw the survivors back to a different time and, perhaps, a hope of atonement and peace. Step out on the journey and discover an Africa that could have been, is and might one day come to be.

Sophie’s choices

My pivotal protagonist in Milele Safari is Sophie Taylor, whose fiancé Tom, dies in tragic circumstances during the central incident that all the other main character storylines revolve around.

I didn’t know everything about Sophie at first and, believe me, it took a while to find out what her backstory was. If I’d had the chance to interview her, this is probably how it would have gone…

JH – Victoria Falls… sorry, Mosi-Oa-Tunya, holds a lot of significance for you. When did you first go there?

ST – It was for my sister’s wedding. I was fourteen and Claire and Grant were living in Zimbabwe, so they booked The Victoria Falls Hotel for the ceremony and reception (Grant was earning mega-bucks working in the Tobacco Exchange back then). The hotel’s a gorgeous place, like stepping back into the Edwardian colonial era. My parents loved it there, so we always started or finished our visits to Claire at the hotel, and flew via Vic Falls International.

JH – And the time you went there with Tom?

ST – (colouring slightly) That was almost 5 years later. I’ve got so many lovely memories of the southern side of the falls in Zimbabwe. That’s why I couldn’t go there in 2007 – I didn’t want to see the hotel again, in case it tarnished my memories. The Zambian side is more interesting anyway, for me. Like walking out to the edge of the cascades – you can’t do that from the Zimbabwe shore.

JH – It certainly is one of the most impressive sights in the world. Going back to your time working in Zambia, was this a gap year thing?

ST – It was, but also a lead-in to my university courses, so it seemed like a good idea to do some teaching assistant work with Voluntary Services Overseas. That all changed of course, after Tom was murdered.

JH – That must have been terrible for you. But why the switch from wanting to be a teacher to going to medical school instead?

ST – It wasn’t a snap decision exactly… I was all over the place after I got back from Zambia, first recovering from the miscarriage and malaria, and then I just fell apart basically – wouldn’t admit I was severely depressed until I broke down completely. Going to uni just wasn’t on the agenda for nearly a year. When I had got my head together a little, I decided that I was interested in learning more about psychiatric conditions and tropical diseases.

JH – Still a bit of a leap though?

ST – Not so much, really. I’d been seeing a lot of Youssef (Jettou, Sophie’s surgeon mentor) as he’d been coming to see me during his sabbatical and we’d been talking about PTSD (1) after I started the EMDR (2) therapy. Plus, both my parents were in the Forces in surgical teams, and Claire was a nurse with CAMEO (3). I was the black sheep of the family for not wanting to go into a medical profession!

JH – Youssef was a big influence on you, I think?

ST – A huge one, yes. When I first met him he was still recovering from a massive burnout that prevented him from carrying on as a mobile-unit surgeon with CAMEO. In fact, he came back to England with me to go into re-hab for alcohol abuse. He could see the signs of what I was going through and how it would lead into that downward spiral. I had no place to hide from him, because he’d been through something similar. He’s a world expert in malaria and yellow fever, and he really helped me get things in perspective over what caused me to miscarry Tom’s baby.

JH – Why was that, Sophie?

ST – (another blush) At the time I was blaming everything that happened on Teresa. She’d suspected I had a dose of malaria and had wanted to test me, but… Well let’s put it this way – I was so antagonistic towards her, I completely ignored her attempts to discuss why I was having so many abdominal problems, before she left for Tanzania. If I’d listened to her, even a little, then there might have been a chance that malaria would have been diagnosed sooner, and the pregnancy might have stabilised.

JH – You blamed Dr. Olatunde for Tom’s death too?

ST – Initially, yes. And if she hadn’t reacted to the situation in the way she did, then perhaps Tom wouldn’t have tried to intervene on her behalf so catastrophically. I couldn’t forgive her for a long, long time afterwards, as she was the catalyst for her own and Tom’s murders. It wasn’t until I met Henry and Helga Zimmerman in London 10 years later, that I began to understand Teresa’s background better, and how that influenced her actions that day.

JH – You were never close to her while you were in Zambia then?

ST – Lord, no! I barely tolerated her because she and Tom were thick as thieves. He used to get really mad with me because I was so rude to her – told me over and over that she was like his big sister. I saw her as a threat because I was jealous of how close she was to Tom.

JH – Even though she was a nun?

ST – I’m not proud of it! I was a stupid kid – what can I say… Plain old green-eyed monster.

JH – Well, thanks for being so honest about it, Sophie – that’s explained a lot!

ST – We can’t like everyone we meet at work. I don’t think she thought much of me either, but then she had more provocation. Can we have a break for a bit, please – I think I need a beer!

JH – Me too! Very thirsty work these interviews…


1 PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder

2 EMDR therapy – eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing. Developed in the late 1980’s, this type of therapy is commonly offered to people recovering from a violent experience and PTSD, particularly for war veterans, or victims of serious assault.

3 CAMEO – Co-ordinated Aid, Medicine and Education Organisation. An entirely fictional logistical umbrella group for several humanitarian organisations working all over the world.


Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey

Available on Amazon


Follow Jan Hawke on Social Media


Twitter handle: @JanHawke



Craig here. Jan is the Spotlight author at the Rave Reviews Book Club. This blog tour is one of her benefits. As a member, I get the benefit of hosting her and we both gain exposure. If this sounds like a club for you, please check them out at this link RRBC. Tell them I sent you.


Filed under Writing

46 responses to “Spotlight Author, Jan Hawke

  1. Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Thanks so much for putting me up today Craig – much appreciated! 😀 Thanks too for buying my books 🙂 Just to make sure people know, Dreamless Roads isn’t on the RRBC catalog, but it does have lots of quirky short fantasy stories written by myself and several good friends and was the first official title put out by my publishing concern, DreamWorlds Publishing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Bridgwater

    Reblogged this on Skorn and commented:
    More insight into Jan Hawke’s wonderful novel, ‘Milele Safari’ – don’t miss this!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yeah!… This interview brought it all back Jan. Going by how much time you spent in Kenya and thereabout, your insight into the beauty that is Africa is phenomenal. :). What great love! Congratulations Jan. Thank you ColdHand for supporting her.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A most interesting setting for a story! The characters seem well-developed with a lot of history between them. Wishing you much success with the book, Jan!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A terrific backstory on Sophie Jan. I love character interviews and enjoyed this one. Thanks Craig for hosting.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gwen Plano

    I love your character interview, Jan. I look forward to reading Milele Safari! Have a great Tour!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great job, Jan! Sophie had it tough, but she persevered! I’ll say it again–I highly recommend Milele Safari!
    Thank you for hosting, Craig!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I really enjoyed the interview. Milele Safari sounds really, really good. Best of luck to you, Jan!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pingback: Spotlight Author, Jan Hawke – Words Can Inspire the World

  10. myrddinsheir

    My 5* review of MILELE SAFARI: AN ETERNAL JOURNEY is at It’s a really strong book, and I have the greatest respect for its author.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Congratulations, Jan! I wish you lavish reviews and much success!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A very deep and insightful book. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • (((Rebecca))) I’m so glad that people think the book’s well worth the effort as it’s so dark in places I thought it really was going to be a ‘marmite’ book (love it or hate it). So far most people seem to think it’s worth taking up the challenge – I’m so glad you were one of the first to to find your way Rebecca 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m really beginning to appreciate what it takes to put together a character interview. Nice job, Jan.

    Thanks for your support in hosting, Craig!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Shirley Harris-Slaughter

    Jan I’m in the process of reading Milele Safari right now and I know that colonialism had a lot to do with the atrocities visited upon that country. I learned this years ago at the height of the genocide. You can’t inject a foreign culture onto a country and pit one tribe against another by showing favoritism. This builds us resentment and you get a Rwandan massacre. Now you are building your story as a backdrop on similar genocides. Nice Job!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Colonialism has a lot to answer for Shirley, but it wasn’t just European or Middle Eastern Imperialism at fault. I took Rwanda as my model for the and the tension between Hutu and Tutsi was ingrained long before before ‘white men’ got to Central Africa, and even before, there was a gradual invasion of traditional Bantu territory by the Nilotic tribes from north and east Africa in the 1500s. The Tutsi (Watusi) were more war-like herdspeople who seized control and land from the Bantu farmers 500 years before that.
      In more modern times, the colonising Europeans simply opted for the least line of resistance in letting the Tutsi keep their higher status, thus fostering continued resentment amongst the Hutu majority, even though most differences, including physical ones, between the two tribal factions were neglible, since there’d been so much intermarriage…
      I just switched the dynamics around so the Matu warrior cattleherders became the rampaging underdogs looking for vengeance on the peaceful, favoured Lutse farmers! 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      • Shirley Harris-Slaughter

        Jan the history lesson just shows me that there is a lot more to learn about this tragedy. I think the only way American’s learn anything is through higher learning and most of us can’t afford that. I learned so much about MLK just from attending a community college. Letters from a Birmingham Jail was a fascinating look into his life – information that should be at the elementary level. I appreciate you my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Jan! I loved this deep probing into Sophie’s character. A writer knows these characters so much better than the reader ever will. It is a joy to get the rare glimpse into what motivates and drives Sophie’s actions. I spend time writing pages of character development too. I’m glad to see that I’m mimicking my favorite RRBC mentors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re all of us standing on our heroes shoulders Linda! 😉 There are so many good writing habits to use as blueprints out there that we’re spoiled for choice! 😉 I’d never seen character interviews until I joined RRBC and in fact MY mentor was John Fioravanti who hijacked Nonnie into coming along on his tour of his future world of Genesis a while back. 😀
      Can’t wait to find out more about your new dystopian characters in The Neon Houses… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Ali Isaac

    Pleased to meet you here, Jan. Good luck with your book.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Reblogged this on Linda Mims and commented:
    This is reblogged from author C. S. Boyack’s website where my good friend Jan Hawke is on tour with her exciting book Milele Safari!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. A great way to get to know the character, Jan! I honestly think when I’m writing fiction I need to sit some of my characters down and do this! Mine tend to run off and do their own thing. Maybe you could interview them for me? 😉 Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have that problem too Sherilyn! 😀 The worst was Luey, Sophie’s new bloke – he popped up out of nowhere and just lurked there, smouldering as only only a handsome guy with Italian AND Scottish ancestry can, daring me to figure him out! lol 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Reading Links…2/17/16 – Where Worlds Collide

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