“The Seven Day Switch” is my first novel, and the winner of the ROSA Strelitzia Award 2019 for best unpublished romance novel.
It’s an hilarious, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about Becca Stratton, an ambitious hotel concierge who returns home to South Africa to save her famous sister Gem from a social media disaster, a task that would be a whole lot easier if she wasn’t falling for the gorgeous vet overseeing her sister’s punishment at a wildlife sanctuary in the Drakensberg in South Africa.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND “THE SEVEN DAY SWITCH”
An identical twin once told me how tricky it could be to live in the world with someone who looks the exact same as you. She’s a teacher, and often, children would see her twin in the shops and wave enthusiastically at her, only to be ignored. At school the next day, they’d ask, hurt, why their teacher hadn’t waved back at them.
I imagined other ways it must be hard to you have a twin who’s very different to you, despite looking the same. Imagine when your boss was out for dinner and saw your twin dancing drunk on the bar counter. Or a mommy from school saw ‘you’ kissing someone who wasn’t your husband, and told all her cronies that you were a cheat.
These thoughts planted the seeds that would grow into Becca and her twin Gemma: the same, but so very, very different.
THE LURVVE INTEREST
As for the love interest, the gorgeous Dr. Mark ‘Sully’ Sullivan, who’s a wildlife vet … well, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a vet, but being eyes-swelling-shut allergic to horses and cats seemed like a career-limiting factor. So in this book, I get to have fun playing ‘vet vet’, dumping the main character, Becca Stratton, into all sorts of scrapes involving everything from vervet monkeys to vultures.
PAINTING THE BACKDROP
“The Seven Day Switch” is set in the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (If you’ve watched the movie “2012”, you may remember that the “Drackensberg” — properly pronounced, the ‘drak’ in Drakensberg rhymes with ‘dark’, not ‘back’ — was the one place on Earth that had escaped the great floods of the apocalypse, so the big ships bearing the last of humanity were headed there.)
Back to the book though … After a camping holiday (my friends camped, and I made the man fork out for one of those camper homes you see in trailer parks. Nothing fancy, but at least it wasn’t a tent!) in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, at the fabulous Mountain Splendour resort, I knew I wanted to write a novel set in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
I took two real Midlands towns — Bergville and Winterton — and mashed them up into the fictional town of Winterberg, so that I wouldn’t have readers saying “But there isn’t a Spar in Winterton”, or “Our church isn’t next to the town oval”. Just easier that way; although now I keep referring to the real towns as Winterberg, and South Africans give me odd looks and say they’ve never heard of that town. It’s become more real in my head than the real towns!
I just love this photo taken recently by an old school friend of mine, Bronwyn Middleton, of the Drakensberg’s Underberg area as it goes into autumn. It’s a breathtaking example of just how beautiful this part of South Africa is.
BOOK TWO IN THE SERIES
Still in production, “The Seven Day Hitch” follows twin sister Gem, who, like her sister, will find she can’t resist a Sullivan man. Gem’s about to find she’s not that different to her sister in that regard: big brother Rohan Sullivan is going to knock Gem off her glamorous TV presenter heels.
But you’ll have to wait for that one …