So Daphne please tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in the Eastern Cape, in foothills of the Amatolas where my latest novel, The Kennaway Woman, is set. From an early age I read everything I could lay hands on—biography, fantasy, historical fiction, thriller, mythology, science fiction or the classics. I’ve always enjoyed writing and knew that one day I would write a novel, but nursing, marriage, raising a family and farming got in the way, and it was many years before I had time enough to achieve my dream. Today, I live in Howick, a small KZN town, with my husband and our two dogs.
Could you describe your novel in one short paragraph?
As famine sweeps across Ireland, Nora O’Neal clings to hope that her lover in America will send for her. Devastated by news that he has married someone else, she turns to the Kennaway Scheme as her only hope of survival. The plan to send a shipload of destitute women to South Africa on board the Kennaway appears a godsend, but Nora soon discovers a drawback. On arrival, the women are destined to marry German Legionnaires, men settled on land granted to them in the Eastern Cape after the Crimean war.
What can readers expect from your novel?
The Kennaway Woman is historical fiction based on well-researched facts. Readers will experience the fears, heartbreak, sorrows and joys of the heroine, Nora O’Neal, as she embarks on a journey to a foreign land where, soon after arrival, she must marry a man she barely knows. Her experiences on board a convict transport ship, landing in East London, her arrival in King Williams Town and the way she met the man destined to be her husband, are all vividly portrayed. As Nora and her husband set off on the lonely road to her new home, the reader will see the countryside through her eyes and share the hardships and dangers these pioneers endured.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and have written in several different genres. My first novel, The Peacock Throne, is a YA thriller set on the Wild Coast. I have also published a romance, a thriller and several Science fiction short stories. The story of the Kennaway Girls has always fascinated me, Many of my childhood friends were descendents of the Irish/ German pioneers who settled in the Eastern Cape. A visit to the museum in East London, which displays a collection of historic memorabilia, inspired me to write a novel based on the life of one of these brave women. The Kennaway Woman is the result.
Writing a historical novel entails a lot of research. I tried to imagine what it was like living in that era and wanted to make sure the background to the novel was accurate, so spent a lot of time digging up facts. The more I discovered, the more fascinating the project became and the more my characters came to life.
— Thanks for stopping by Daphne. The novel definitely sounds intriguing!
The Kennaway Woman by Daphne Olivier
“As famine devastates Ireland, Nora O’Neal must choose between starvation and the Kennaway Scheme. The plan to send a shipload of women to South Africa appears a godsend, but Nora is horrified to learn that on arrival, they must marry one of the many settlers seeking a wife.” – Goodreads