Scott is facing bankruptcy amid the turmoil that grips the financial markets of 2008. He is saved when money is transferred to his account from an unexpected source. We flash back to war-torn 1970's Rhodesia where Scott is growing up as a privileged white boy alongside his best friend, Simba, a black boy, on his parents' farm ... A sweeping tale of naivety, treachery, war and genocide, of love and friendship... and ultimately of hope and regeneration.
Mason Cranswick was born and raised in Zimbabwe. He received an MBA from Cambridge University (Magdalene College) in 1995. Prior to that he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the UK, after obtaining a degree in commerce from Rhodes University, South Africa. A career in investment banking has taken him around the world - from London, Tokyo and New York to Singapore during the Asian currency crisis of the late '90s. A keen sportsman, he played international rugby for Zimbabwe Schools in 1984 and, as an amateur boxer, was a Cambridge University Blue and captain in 1994/95. He now lives in Cape Town.
1. When did you decide to start writing?
I have always wanted and aimed to write since I was a little boy... so after getting some financial security behind me, I took the risky jump of actually becoming a writer. I booked myself onto a writing holiday to Greece in 2008 and whilst there, I got the idea for Blood Lily, and pretty much wrote it as soon as I got home.
2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a novel in it?
I like action-packed fiction that moves at a fast pace and I think it is best to write what you enjoy reading.
3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?
Yes – as the book got longer, the editing became harder – when you are faced with an 85 000 word manuscript that is quite an intimidating piece of work to edit. I eventually managed to get the word count down to a pacey 75 000.
4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?
When I am writing, I do little else. I write, eat, write, sleep. I am usually up in the middle of the night getting ideas down – I find it hard to do anything else when I am in the middle of a project. Sometimes, I just shut myself away for days and all I do is write.
5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?
Enduring. The novel is set amid the Rhodesian war and the subsequent waste and decay of Mugabe’s rule in Zimbabwe...but they are all transient...only the land is forever.
6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?
I agonised over the title and eventually settled on Blood Lily, which is a striking Zimbabwean plant. Growing up as a child in Zimbabwe, I remember their crimson puff-ball blooms bursting into colour in the summer months. They symbolise regeneration throughout the book, which ties in with the theme of the enduring quality of land.
7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?
I have had such a terrific response to Blood Lily. So many people have contacted me because they have been so emotionally involved with the story. Zimbabweans/Rhodesians, particularly, from all over the world – both English and African – have responded to this narrative in a way I had not anticipated. It has evoked nostalgia, questions, rage, disbelief and sorrow so, my hope is that the book continues to challenge the reader in this way - not just answering questions, but asking them too.
8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.
Lots of new writers have been in contact with me since the publication of Blood Lily and I don’t like to tell them that after the years of work they may have put in to writing their novel, this is where the hard work begins. The road to publication is a challenging one, but well worth the effort.
9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?
If you are really serious, then keep writing. It may take years to find the right idea, but you will never know if you give up too soon.
First, I would like to thank Helen McCusker, UK publicist for Smith
Publicity, for setting up the interview with Mason. Second, I would like to thank Mason for taking the time to answer my questions. I truly appreciate getting into the mind of a fellow author.