Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kenya. Show all posts

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Romancing The Wild: From the "bodice rippers" of the 1980's to 50 Shades of you-know-what.

Romance and an accidental collision.

Romance as a category has shown its strength over the decades as it evolved from the early days of the nurse romance—pretty nurse Patricia wins handsome Dr. Phillips—through the “bodice rippers” of the Eighties to the many sub-genres that exist today including, of course, the steamy erotic romances descending from 50 Shades.

No matter the sub-genre, there always seems to be room for further expansion and an eager audience willing to follow writers wherever our imaginations take us. To pirates and pirate ships, to the Middle Ages, Regency England, and the settling of the American West. Wherever there are people, people can—and will—fall in love.  We want to write about them and readers love to read about them.

ZURI—the word means "beautiful" in Swahili—is a romance with an unusual setting: an animal orphanage named Kihali located in Africa. The initial idea for the book was the product of an accidental collision.

Out Of Africa, set in Kenya in the early 1920’s and starring Meryl Streep as the Danish writer Isaak Dinesen, and the young, golden Robert Redford as a white hunter, is a grand romance—and one of my favorite movies. I watch it every now and then and had just seen it again when, while casually flipping thru TV channels one evening, I happened to see a clip of a baby rhino. I was blown away by the little rhino’s appeal and gracefulness.

Baby animals never fail but a rhino? Could a baby rhino actually be adorable? Yes, indeed. Very much so.

Pinned Image
Baby rhino enjoying a handout.

I was also aware via newspaper and internet articles that poaching had become an extremely lucrative international crime. The slaughter of rhinos and elephants was decimating the wildlife populations of Africa to the point where they are now endangered species. Between the glamor of Africa, the vulnerability and appeal of helpless animals and the sweeping Streep-Redford romance, the germ for the book was firmly planted.

The need for research was obvious. I had to find out about the people involved in the dangerous work of animal rescue and protection, the newest scientific discoveries in animal communication as more and more is learned about their high intelligence, the gory reality of poaching and the ruthless criminal gangs who profit from its bloody endeavors.

Then there were the details of rhino husbandry and veterinary, the amazing work being done by African animal orphanages, the risks involved in wildlife care, the details of rhino and elephant behavior—Zuri, the orphaned baby rhino who is the story’s heroine, meets elephant and other animal friends at Kihali. I also needed to find out about the local language, Swahili, Kenyan cuisine & wedding rituals—and I needed to use my research in a way that fit in naturally with the narrative flow of the book.

The research was fascinating. Did you know that the illicit trade in wild animals is third only to the illegal trades in drugs & weapons? Or that rhino horn—it’s actually keratin, the same material found in feathers and nails—is thought to cure cancer, maintain sexual vigor and is considered a miracle medicine in Asia, although it is, in fact, of zero medical value? The price of rhino horn, driven by demand in booming Asian economies, is now more expensive than gold as is the ivory from elephant tusks, used not for “medicinal” purposes but to make carved trinkets.

Of course, in a romance, a love story is crucial. Therefore: Renny Kudrow, the sexy scientist and expert in animal communication, who is the moody Alpha hero. Renny is the Director of Kihali and Starlite Higgins is his newly-hired vet, a talented doctor who hides a horrifying secret. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start when Starlite panics and almost causes Zuri's rescue to fail. The two who must work together to save Zuri and the other animals in their care must also work their way through their initial very rough beginning to a much-deserved Happily Ever After ending.

 By the time I finished writing ZURI, I thought of the book as romance in its broadest sense, meaning love of beauty, love of nature, love of animals, and, of course, the romantic and transformative power of human love.

Readers, do you enjoy romances with off-beat backgrounds and unusual settings? Or do you prefer your romance with backgrounds that seem familiar?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

50 Shades author EL James fesses up. Stop the slaughter. A writer remembers the editor who shaped his work. Nifty Nook promo.

I'm posting today with Anne R. Allen: 6 Things Writers Taught Me About Writing.

Ivory now at $1000 a pound.  Kenya makes efforts to save wildlife & stop poaching. Godawful stories like this about the brutality of wildlife slaughter inspired me to write ZURI.

Her guiltiest pleasure? 50 Shades author  EL James fesses up.

The gold standard: A writer explains how a great editor helped shape his work. Ashbel Green

SHOW ME YOUR NOOK!   December 17 thru December 30

1. Do you have a Nook? Take a picture of yourself holding it and upload the photo to @RuthHarrisBooks at Twitter.  If you don't have a Twitter account,  just attach the photo of you and your Nook to an email and send to me at

2. Contact me with your email address & if my million copy NYT bestseller, MODERN WOMEN, appeals to you, I will gift you a copy. If you'd prefer another book, take a look at this knock-your-socks-off list of participating authors, let me know which book you'd like & I'll forward your request.
  • Cat Kimbriel:  Fires of Nuala  (Science Fiction)  FaceBook & LiveJournal
  • Jeffrey A. Carver:  Eternity’s End  (Science Fiction)  FaceBook
  • Phyllis Irene Radford:  Guardian of the Balance, Merlin’s Descendants #1  (Fantasy)  FaceBook & LiveJournal
  • Mark Chisnell: The Defector  (Thriller)  FaceBook
  • Brenda Hiatt:  Lord Dearborn’s Destiny (traditional Regency romance) FaceBook
  • Phoebe Matthews:  Demonspell  (contemporary fantasy)  Web Site
  • Lorraine Bartlett: Murder On The Mind  (Mystery)  Blog
  • Ruth Harris: Modern Women  (Fiction/Chick Lit)  Blog
  • Jennifer Stevenson:  King of Hearts  (romantic comedy)  Web Site & FaceBook
  • Vonda N. McIntyre: Starfarers, Book One of the Starfarers Quartet  (Science Fiction) Book View Cafe
  • Lise McClendon:  All Your Pretty Dreams  (Adult Fiction)  FaceBook


Million Copy New York Times bestseller MODERN WOMEN (Park Avenue Series Book #4) by “brilliant” novelist Ruth Harris was originally published by St. Martin's Press in hard cover to rave reviews. In its paperback edition, MODERN WOMEN repeated that success, becoming a national bestseller, and then equaled that achievement for the third time when the Kindle edition rose to #1 on Amazon’s prestigious Movers and Shakers List.

Opening with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on 11/22/63, MODERN WOMEN is about the lives and times of three young women—and the men in their lives. The right men. The wrong men. The maybe men.

Lincky Desmond: She marries Mr. Right—only to risk it all for Mr. Wrong.
Elly McGrath: She is loyal and idealistic but when faced with the ultimate betrayal, will she be able to stand up for herself?
Jane Gresh: Bawdy, talented and determined not to be ignored, she manages to shock the entire country.
Owen Casals: Handsome, successful, magnetic. He marries one, betrays another and makes one of them very, very rich.

“Author Ruth Harris's rapier wit spices up a coming-of-age story. A superb 'rags to riches' novel. You'll love MODERN WOMEN.--West Coast Review of Books

“Ruth Harris's breezy prose style, peppery dialogue and irreverent observations make MODERN WOMEN fun to read.--Dallas News

"Funny, sad, vivid, and raunchy. Harris seeks to enliven and entertain, and she does it in spades.” --The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"Upbeat, sassy. Filled with romantic sparks and fast action ."--Booklist

"Sharply and stylishly written. Harris treads a fine line between popular fiction and more substantive women's literature."--Chicago Sun-Times

"Glory be! Excellent, a thoroughly delightful tale of what it was like to be young, ambitious and in love."--Los Angeles Times

"Fiction at its best. Savvily mixes rosy fantasy with truth about women's lives. Open this novel and prepare to be happy."--New Woman magazine

"A sure thing. I greatly enjoyed MODERN WOMEN and, actually, I couldn't put it down." --The Washington Times

Ruth Harris is Brilliant.....trenchant, chic and ultra-sophisticated, a writer who has all the intellect of Mary McCarthy, all the insight of Joan Didion.” --Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The five books in the Park Avenue Series are available as single ebooks and in a Boxed Sets: Books 1-3. All available in Nook editions.

Decades, Book #1—A marriage at risk and a family in crisis, originally published by Simon & Schuster to rave reviews —“Absolutely perfect.” —Publisher’s Weekly

Husbands And Lovers, Book #2—Million copy New York Times bestseller. A wallflower becomes a swan and two handsome, successful men vie for her love. “Steamy and fast-paced.” --Cosmopolitan

Love And Money, Book #3—Rich girl, poor girl. Sisters and strangers until fate—and murder—bring them face to face. “Richly plotted. First-class entertainment.” —NYTimes Book Review

The Last Romantics, Book #5—An epic love story set in Paris and New York during the glamorous but doomed 1920’s. “Full of larger-than-life characters.” 5-stars