Purely in the interests of research I’m off to Sierra Leone in mid February. As my novel is set there it is only right and proper that I visit to fully authenticate the settings in which the characters interact. Once upon a time I volunteered in Sierra Leone. I’d applied to VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) as I was living in London at the time. Also it was a non denominational organisation. When they offered Sierra Leone the first thing I did was resurrect the battered old school atlas to find out where in the world it was. There it was – on the bugle of the west coast of Africa, not far from the equator. In spite of choosing to volunteer with a non denominational organisation the post on offer was in a mother and child health clinic run by the Catholic mission. The only thing to do was laugh.
It turned out to be a wonderful two and a half years.
Now, years later, I hope to spend nearly five weeks exploring old haunts and discovering new ones. As well as savouring the heat and the endless blue skies with dazzling sunshine, I will enjoy having cassava leaf or groundnut soup for dinner. Served with rice and Star beer.
While relishing it all, my mind’s eye will visualize my characters walking these streets, traveling on poda poda, or listening to the cicadas last thing at night.
All this, and more, purely in the name of research. Well they do say, write about what you know!