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"It's Minx, Petra Minx."

South Africa: the setting for the next Petra Minx novel

Posted by Emma Cox on November 04, 2015 . 0 Comments

At the end of Dead Man’s Legacy, Petra Minx makes a surprise announcement. She tells Betty Graceby she is going to a wedding in South Africa with her friend Carlo, much to the chagrin of her ex-boyfriend Martin. Hence the working title of Petra’s third adventure: Destination Wedding. No doubt it will change as the story takes shape. The Politician’s Daughter started out as The Lazzara File, while Dead Man’s Legacy had two prior titles – The Killarney Connection and The Man in a Black Shirt.

I never tire of visiting South Africa, despite the six-thousand-mile overnight flight from the UK. While I’m here, my aim is to research settings for the book, develop the plot, and write a synopsis. The fun part is researching the settings. Popular wedding venues in and around Cape Town include Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, iconic hotels like The Cape Grace with Table Mountain as a backdrop, and wine farms in Paarl and Stellenbosch. Or how about tying the knot at one of South Africa’s magnificent game lodges watched by elephants drinking at a nearby waterhole? There’s so much choice, I’m still weighing the pros and cons.

In Cape Town, where the book begins, I see signs of progress: new buildings are going up at The Waterfront, traffic is more orderly, the food and wine are excellent and well-priced, the people confident and friendly. Shanty towns used to line both sides of the road from the airport into the city. Now many have been replaced by permanent housing with electricity and, I hope, running water.

But as a coddled tourist, it’s easy to overlook the huge challenges South Africa faces: millions of unemployed, thousands of migrants from other African countries adding to the load, racial disputes between locals and new arrivals, government designs on legally-acquired land and assets. Armed response security services have multiplied, along with – get this! – satellite dishes on the meanest of shacks. Is that progress?