Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leigh Archer

A peek at my mood board

Take a well-deserved break. Make a cup of tea, hot chocolate or a steaming coffee, pull up a chair and I’ll share with you my mood board for The Alpha Match and the other stories to follow in The Untamed Safari Series.

Books and films
Where better to begin but fiction? Traveller To The East by Thomas Mofolo definitely gets the travel juices flowing – an enchanting novel with all the intensity of poetry and myth. Or Paul Theroux’s Dark Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, detailing his experiences and mishaps along the way.

The classic Circles in a Forest by Dalene Matthee, about the elephants and woodcutters in the forests of Knysna, South Africa is magical. And Out of Africa, of course – the book by Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen) and the film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Another book along similar lines is I Dreamed of Africa – Kuki Gallman’s memoir of her childhood fascination with the continent and her relocation to Kenya where she managed a farm with her husband and son.

Then there’s the inspirational Born Free that gave birth to a film and a famous song. Jock of the Bushveld was the first grown-up book I ever read and still one of my all-time favourites. It’s the true story of Percy Fitzpatrick’s travels through the former region of the Transvaal with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier. For a unique voice that is both poignant and funny, the memoir about growing up in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia – Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.


The beautiful sounds of Freshlyground and their haunting love songs like I’d Like.


Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West province close to the Botswana border features in The Alpha Match – this is one of the reserves in which Ben, Caro and their team of conservationists release a group of African wild dogs. The plunge pool at Madikwe Hill’s Main Lodge gives a taste of some of the exciting settings in the Untamed Safari Series.


When offered refreshment in South Africa it generally goes something like this: ‘Would you like coffee or tea – ordinary or rooibos. The rich, red tea has been used for thousands of years, not only for pure enjoyment as a beverage, but for its cosmetic and medicinal properties.

Sweet, sticky koeksisters are a delicious inspiration when energy and creativity need a boost. It’s a South African traditional treat present at most social
gatherings and in delis all over the country. Here’s the recipe for you to try at home.


500 ml (2 cups) Cake Flour
20 ml (4 tsp) Baking Powder
3 ml (½ tsp) Salt
25 ml (5 tsp) Butter
125 ml (½ cup) Sour Milk OR Buttermilk OR Water and Lemon Juice
Oil, for frying

Syrup –
1 kg White Sugar
500 ml (2 cups) Water
2 pieces of Ginger, bruised
2 ml Cream of Tartar
Pinch of Salt
Grated rind and juice of ½ a Lemon

Sift together the dry ingredients and rub in the butter using your fingertips, or cut it in with a pastry blender.
Mix with the liquid to a soft dough, which can easily be kneaded. Use more liquid if necessary.
Knead thoroughly until small bubbles form under the surface of the dough, cover with a damp cloth and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Roll to a thickness of 5 mm and cut into 5 mm strips 7 cm long. Place the ends of three strips on top of the other, press together and plait. When plaited, press the ends together again.
Fry in hot, deep fat (170°C) until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper for a moment and then immerse in ice cold syrup.
Remove, allow excess syrup to drip off, and leave to dry on a wire rack.

Syrup –
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Heat, while stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cover and boil for one minute.
Remove the lid and boil for a further 5 minutes. Do not stir.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool thoroughly in a refrigerator if possible.


I’ve fallen in love with the moonflower. Now the title of book #2 in the Untamed Safari Series. Here is Sophie’s explanation of the Moonflower (available for pre-launch order - Moonflower):

‘I thought there was something special about those flowers,’ Sophie told him. ‘Didn’t you feel intoxicated whenever you breathed in their scent? He told me that those magnificent pure white flowers give off their intoxicating scent only at night. They are the embodiment of the romance of night’s darkness. A siren song of narcotic sweetness used by traditional healers and diviners to draw you deep into sacred dreams. He told me that weak infusions of their leaves are used as an aphrodisiac, but if the dosage is wrong, they’re deadly poisonous. You’re my moonflower, Reuben.’

Share your inspiration

I’m sure you have your own go-to items that energise and inspire you when your energy or spirits lag. I’d love to hear about them. Who knows – I might be able to add to my own mood board.


Caro took her grape juice, tinkling with ice, to a cushioned wicker chair beside the wooden rail. She felt a deep peace as the bushveld settled down in the shade to wait out the afternoon heat. She closed her eyes and breathed in the still air.

‘You look right at home, Caroline Hannah.’

Was there a hint of irony in Ben’s voice as he pulled up a chair to sit beside her? He rested one ankle over the knee of his khaki-clad leg and balanced a glass dripping with condensation on his thigh.

Caro looked at the golden hair covering his powerful forearms with their muscle and twisting sinew. She used to run her hand lightly along his arm, making him shiver and reach for her. She looked away. ‘I’d forgotten how tranquil it is here.’

‘Hmm. The last Eden,’ he said.

Caro could see out of the corner of her eye that he was watching her. ‘You always were in love with all this, weren’t you?’ she motioned towards the veld, then turned her head against the cushion to look up at him.

He was still watching her, and as he held her gaze she could summon up none of the usual anger towards him. He was about to speak when they were interrupted.

‘Hi guys. You two getting to know each other?’

They both looked up as Sophie came to stand in front of them. She leaned her back against the railing, one leg crossed over the other.

‘Actually, Caro and I go way back. How old were we when we met?’

Ben was watching her closely.

You’re enjoying this, aren’t you? she thought sardonically. But she couldn’t snub him in front of Sophie. ‘About twenty, I think.’

‘We proposed this project together five years ago,’ Ben said.

‘I never knew that!’ Sophie sounded delighted.

‘All in the past now.’ Caro did not want to have to explain their relationship.

‘So come on guys, tell me all about it. How did you meet?’

‘At university,’ Ben said. ‘Took most of the same classes.’

‘Were there many women studying conservation then?’

‘It wasn’t that long ago,’ Ben countered.

‘There were only three women in our year,’ Caro explained. ‘Back then, it was even more of a male-dominated sector than it is now; really tough for women to break into.’

‘So what was the great Dr Duval like as a student? Any interesting anecdotes?’

Caro glanced at Ben. He was beginning to look uncomfortable. ‘Oh, I’m sure I can remember one. Let’s see. He once wore his swimming trunks for an entire summer holiday. Didn’t take them off for a month. They were blue with beach balls on them.’

‘They weren’t beach balls,’ Ben said, indignantly. ‘They were anemones. My aunt bought them in Malawi for me.’

‘The great Dr Duval had flowers on his bather,’ Sophie said, in a scandalised voice.

‘They were sea flowers. And you’ll remember, Caro, I did take them off.’

Caro’s face heated.

‘So the two of you were dating then?’ Sophie looked from one to the other as the silence stretched out.

‘Yes, we dated,’ Ben eventually said.

‘An alpha male and female. Sounds like the perfect match. I’m surprised you didn’t go on to have a litter of your own.’

Caro felt as if someone had plunged a knife through her heart. She mumbled an apology, got up quickly and walked across the wooden deck.


English conservationist, Caro Hannah, and South African, Ben Duval, must work together to introduce endangered African wild dogs to a game reserve four years after their love affair ended. The challenges of their profession pale into insignificance beside the personal obstacles they must overcome to either bring closure to the events of four years before, or reignite a passion hot enough to burn up the African bush.

The Alpha Match at Amazon.com

The Alpha Match at Amazon UK

The Alpha Match at Tirgearr Publishing

The Alpha Match at Smashwords

The Alpha Match on Apple

The Alpha Match on Kobo

The Alpha Match on Nook


Leigh writes romance novels set in her native South Africa. She has always had a love affair with Africa’s wild open spaces, the intensity of its people and sunsets. Her love of storytelling began as a child when she spent every spare moment playing barefoot in golden grass, watching wild creatures, learning to track spoor and dreaming up heroes and heroines dynamic enough to stand out in all the beauty and drama of the African landscape.

Always in search of adventure, Leigh’s journey as a writer has taken her from journalism through communications, to working as a novelist.

Website - http://leigharcher.net/

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Tirgearr Publishing Author Page - Leigh Archer

Amazon Author Page - Leigh Archer


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Leigh Archer said...

Thanks for having me on your blog, Tory. I enjoyed sharing a bit of my mood board with readers.

Tory Richards said...

My pleasure Leigh!

joye said...

Very interesting about the books featuring Africa. Thanks for sharing. off to the bookstore!

Leigh Archer said...

Hi Joye, I'm pleasured your appetite has been whet. Enjoy!