Sally Andrew. Sally lives in a mud-brick house on a nature reserve in the Klein Karoo, South Africa, with her partner, artist Bowen Boshier, and other wildlife (including a giant eland and a secretive leopard). She also spends time in the wilderness of southern Africa and the seaside suburb of Muizenberg. She has a Masters in Adult Education (University of Cape Town). For some decades she was a social and environmental activist, then the manager of Bowen’s art business, before she settled down to write full-time. Recipes of Love and Murder (a Tannie Maria Mystery) is her first novel. It is being published in at least twelve languages, across five continents.
Exploring the Relationship with my Protaganist
I enjoy mystery series with the same protagonist. I get to know and love the character. I often wonder about the link between the author and their main character. So I thought it might be fun to explore the similarities, differences and relationship between myself and the protaganist in my series of Tannie Maria mysteries.
Tannie Maria is a short, plump, half-Afrikaans auntie who is obsessed with food and is a brilliant cook. I am a tall, skinny, English-speaking woman who – until researching this book – has not read a recipe book in her life.
Don’t get me wrong, I can throw together something yummy (and will do so if you come and visit) but I’m not a cook in Tannie Maria’s league, and I got expert help to ensure that the recipes I included in my book were moan-out-loud delicious. I do appreciate the emotional power of food, and the ritual and magic of preparing meals (see video ‘Food as Magic’ below).
The biggest thing Maria and I have in common is that we live in the Klein Karoo, South Africa. She stays just outside the small town of Ladismith, and I live on a nature reserve a little further out. We both love the veld, the gwarrie trees and the birds that surround us. But her expression of her love is more down to earth, and simple than mine. Whereas I might celebrate the long-awaited Karoo rain by throwing off my clothes and going to dance on top of the hill, singing ‘Halleluja', Tannie Maria would say, ‘That’s nice,’ and celebrate with a marmalade-and-bacon sandwich.
Tannie Maria is the agony aunt for the local Gazette’s Love Advice and Recipe Column. People write in with their love problems – she gives them some advice, but the main remedy she offers is a recipe that will fix things.
In her own life, she is lonely, and struggles to find love (after an abusive relationship with her late husband). She meets a tall detective with a chestnut moustache, (my partner of 15 years is tall with some chestnut in his beard) and the journey to open her heart begins.
My own journey to open my heart is a life-long one.
Tannie Maria, like me, has a strong interest in justice (which is what gets her on the trail of the murderer). For many decades, I was a social and environmental activist. However, Maria is driven more by the personal than the political. And she is less judgemental, and more forgiving, than I am.
I think I invented Tannie Maria to keep me grounded, laughing (she is funny) and teach me how to love – and maybe how to cook.
One of the strange things about our relationship is that I know all about her, and she knows nothing about me. I think I’ll keep it that way. If I see her shopping at the Spar, in Ladismith, I may watch from afar, but I won’t go and introduce myself.
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