Inspiration for The Girl from Simon’s Bay
Given Simon's Town's rich historical background, I'd always felt it would lend itself to a story of love and heroism. The ghosts of wartime sailors, the ships that came and went, the folk who served ashore... I had a sense that they were watching me as I explored the town's alleys, discovered the old Royal Naval Hospital, and identified ships badges on the dry dock walls. And from the post-war era, a new set of ghosts began to populate my imagination: people who had once lived on the mountainside above the dockyard but had been evicted from their homes in the 1960s. Was it possible, I wondered, to marry the two threads in a book that would stretch from the sea battles of World War 2 and onwards into an uncertain future?
I latched the garden gate behind me without looking back, took up my case and walked away.
Wild pink belladonna lilies nodded from the dry verges of the railway line as I travelled home.
There would be lilies wherever I went. Perhaps not as beautiful as these, but I could learn to love the substitutes like I loved all the ones I'd grown up with - regal Cape arums in winter, burnt orange clivias in spring.