Hi, I’m Nina Croft and for my first post on Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, I thought I would say a little about how I first started writing and my first book.
I didn’t write when I was younger; probably because I was too busy reading. Then, at the age of twenty-seven, I found myself living in a remote village on the banks of Lake Kariba in Zambia. And almost totally bookless.
For the previous few years, I’d been working in London as an accountant. I was bored and restless (I wanted life to be more like the books I read!) and in desperate need of some sun and some excitement. So together with my brand new husband, I signed on with a charitable organization sending volunteers all over the world.
Lake Kariba is a man-made lake formed when the Zambezi River was dammed in the 1950s. We were working for a charity helping the people displaced when the dam was built and their homes flooded. They were subsistence farmers and fishermen, living in villages dotted along the edge of the lake, and much of my time was spent whizzing around in boats (dodging hippos and crocodiles!)
It was a stunningly beautiful place, but very remote, with no electricity, no TV, no internet and very limited access to books (and this was way before kindles!). For someone used to reading a book a day, it wasn’t long before I was suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.
Even food was a logistical nightmare. A boat ride away was a small supermarket. Unfortunately, it rarely stocked food; on a good day you could buy toilet rolls and toothpaste. We could order beef locally, but it tended to arrive still warm and with the hoof still attached—a little off-putting. Then there was the local dried fish—kapenta—the most disgustingly smelly stuff to ever come out of the water…
Obviously, I needed something to take my mind off the lack of food and books. What I did have was an extremely large laptop provided by the charity (and powered by a solar panel) and it occurred to me that my only solution was to write my own stories. And that started my first venture into writing and resulted in my first partial submission to Harlequin (several years later) called, The Best of Intentions. Sadly (but not surprisingly) it was rejected but with a very positive letter and a compliment slip for if I wanted to try again.
That was my first attempt at writing, but definitely not my last. So are there any major changes in your life that have made you take up something for the very first time?