"For as long as I can remember I've always loved literature."
Hi, my name Christine but all my friends call me Scotty.
I was born in England, emigrated to Australia and completed an Honours degree in French Studies at the University of Western Australia. I then moved to Zimbabwe and pioneered a tourism business, based in and around Hwange National Park, living in an assortment of tents, tree houses and bush dwellings, dodging a hodgepodge of charging elephants, rhino, buffalo and a rather angry spitting cobra, before moving to Bulawayo and taking up writing.
Interview with C.M Elliott
- What should we know about you?
I like tea, love dogs and enjoy drama (as in TV & theatre, not personal!). The initials C.M. stand for Christine Mary, but everyone calls me Scotty, and the story behind that nickname is a book on its own.
- Why do you write about the African bush?
I spent many years operating safaris in and around Hwange National Park so it’s what I know best. I find the detail of the birds and wildlife fascinating. Why crime? There are few African detectives in literature but hundreds of British and American gumshoes. DI Sibanda, Sgt Ncube and Miss Daisy, the Land Rover, might be a rare trio and face unusual challenges not seen by the likes of Inspector Morse and co., but in the end, they solve crimes.
- What made you take up writing?
I am tempted to say the boring hole left after a life full of bush adventure but that would not be completely true, I’ve always had the writing bug (see below). With time on my hands, I began to write overlong and drivelling letters to friends, that’s when I realised I needed to spare them my Flannery and focus my creativity.
- Had you written anything before The Sibanda Series?
Yes, age 10, I wrote and illustrated Mystery At Craigie Tops, a full-blown, ten-page blockbuster set on the Scottish moors, followed shortly after by an 18th century, sea saga with a cabin boy protagonist, Joby Todd. This novel sadly petered out due to my lack of knowledge of galleons, the 18th century, or the sea. I vaguely recollect starting a coming-of-age novel at thirteen featuring fumblings in the hayloft, but the project barely made it past the first chapter, again falling foul of bitter inexperience. Recently, I found the skeleton plot of a planned novel from years ago about a reformed elephant hunter and an anthropomorphic elephant family. I had forgotten about that. I wish I had got stuck in then. My first novel, Sibanda and The Rainbird was finished in 2011.
- What next?
The fourth instalment in The Sibanda Series is written and awaiting its moment. Sibanda and the Night Adder is bleaker, blacker with dirty diamond deals and a locked door murder to solve. Big excitement, the whole Sibanda series has been optioned by Videovision as a TV series, so watch out for your favourite crime solver, Jabulani Sibanda, when he hits the screen.
I have recently started a new crime series featuring a feisty Scottish Italian ex-soldier, Siri Starlight set in the UK. The first novel, Girl on a Mission, is with my agent Ian Drury of Sheil land and associates. The second in the series, The Day Never Ends (working title) is almost finished and I have a delightful fantasy novel that I am about to self-publish. I do have other stories and characters stalking me, and at some stage, I would love to go historical. Watch this space!