Blog Archives

An Interview with Author Angus Robb

Author Angus Robb is a retired mining engineer who was born and raised in sub-Saharan Africa. He used his love of that land, its people, and its elephants to create African Indaba: A Story of Adventure and Conflict, “a rich, compelling debut novel about friendship, loyalty and justice.” You’ll find Angus on Look for African Indaba on Amazon.

What was the inspiration for African Indaba?
I considered it a necessity rather than an inspiration. About 10 years ago (at age 75), I decided to start composing an African story while I still had the time, memories, and most of my faculties. “Indaba” has different meanings in Africa, but this “indaba” means “trouble.” And that was the theme I ran on. Trouble in its worst forms. Although still employed back then, I had to find time to squeeze in my composition efforts, so it turned out to be very much a stop-go situation, with few opportunities for agility. Luckily my profession allowed me to travel the world, and those experiences, many bizarre, seemed easier to write about back then and I felt they deserved the re-telling now.

What is the most difficult aspect of writing historical fiction? What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
The most difficult aspect turned out to be ensuring my narrative “fixed” readers into the story’s many timelines and locations. The unique challenge? Making those events as accurate as possible while not detracting from the plot.

Who are your main characters and why will your readers connect to them? Do you share traits with your main protagonist or antagonist?
Callum MacKenzie. Impoverished Scots boy stowed away on a steamer to Africa in search of a better life and adventure. Readers will connect with how he fought for success in the new, strange, violent world.

Rory MacKenzie. Son of Callum and Afrikaner mother Maria De Villiers. He is the story’s protagonist, but no shrinking violet. Readers will sympathize with his main characteristics – hate, violence and vengeance and how he tried to supersede those demons in the pursuit of affection. Another positive trait found him impossibly attractive and irresistible to the opposite sex despite his diffident nature.

Inkosana Chitimukulu. Otherwise called James. Native prince who befriended Callum and promoted kindly African ways until colonial racism closed in on him. Readers will relate to how he fights back against those prejudices.

Chola. A bull elephant and main antagonist although he doesn’t deserve to be. Having experienced extreme violence from ivory hunters, he attempts to retaliate, but can’t overcome superior odds.

I share traits (mostly in my dreams) with both Rory and Chola, particularly regarding taking personal vengeance against bullies, murderers, and traitors. All three of us believe really evil people should be repaid with interest for their wrongs.

What decisions did you make about including historical figures or events?
Early on, I hit on subjects, mainly by mistake, that later turned out to be topical in today’s world such as “Save the elephants” and “Ban corporal punishment and bullying.” Call it opportunistic. Or just luck. I placed figures such as Nelson Mandela into historical perspective to give readers the feeling of “being there” with him.

Tell us about putting the book together.
It took about 10 years from first thoughts to publication with many breaks along the way when technical work became competitive with composing pleasure. Writing was the easiest part. Editing was repetitive and time consuming although I had imaginative editors, and cover design turned out to best-illustrate the “feelings behind the face of that elephant.” I was lucky to have Don Morgan as editor, Rose Kern as Publisher, and Pat Harrison as cover designer, all experts at what they do.

Was there anything surprising you discovered while doing research for this book?
Part of the book involved Callum’s military service during WWII in North Africa and Burma. I discovered he played a leading role in preparing African troops right out of their native elements into playing an important role in final victory.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing African Indaba?
I’ve been getting good reviews from around the world without much formal marketing. This interview is the closest I’ve come to performing any publicizing of the book.

If you’re a plotter/planner, how do you know when it’s time to stop planning and start writing?
I’m not a plotter/planner, and it’s my first novel so I just picked up a pen and started writing…and rewriting…and rewriting. Probably wasted a lot of time in the process. I’ll know better next time round.

Who are your favorite authors, and what do you admire most about their writing?
Wilbur Smith, Paul Theroux, and George Orwell. A bit of a mix but all three had the storytelling gifts of clarity, brevity, and surprise.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I have had no formal training in prose writing. Most of my knowledge on the subject (apart from English classes at a Scottish boarding school) came from the Wordwrights class held by Don Morgan and Dennis Kastendiek at North Domingo Baca Senior Center (in Albuquerque, New Mexico). I learned about POV, active and passive voice, progression, short sentences, and more. This face-to-face experience (no zoom yet!) proved both educational and exhilarating. A pity it was dropped.

Su Lierz writes dark fiction, short story fiction, and personal essays. Her short story “Twelve Days in April,” written under the pen name Laney Payne, appeared in the 2018 SouthWest Writers Sage Anthology. Su was a finalist in the 2017 and 2018 Albuquerque Museum Authors Festival Writing Contest. She lives in Corrales, New Mexico, with her husband Dennis.

2022 New Releases for SWW Authors #2

Sue Houser, Evelyn Neil, Pamela Nowak, Angus Robb, and Edith Tarbescu represent the diverse membership of SouthWest Writers (SWW) with books published in a variety of genres in 2022. Their new releases couldn’t fit in this year’s interview schedule, but look for 2023 interviews or updates for many of these authors.

A list of interviewed SWW authors with 2022 releases is included at the end of this post.

Amelia and the Magic Ponies (Irie Books, August 2022) by Sue Houser. Los Caballitos has come to town! Amelia gets in line to ride the carousel, but when a thunderstorm blows in, the wooden ponies are hurriedly stashed in an old barn—and forgotten. The following year, Amelia goes in search of the enchanting little merry-go-round. Can she convince her grandfather to restore the damaged horses? This book, written for 4-8 years old, parallels the story of Tio Vivo, an antique carousel found abandoned in Peñasco, New Mexico and restored by the Lions Club of Taos. This charming carousel continues to take children on magical rides during Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana in Taos, New Mexico.

Visit Sue on her website at and go to her Amazon author page for all of her books.

Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow (March 2022) by Evelyn Neil. Married following a three-month courtship, soul-mates Don and Evelyn dance off to begin a fifty-eight-year adventure of traveling both the high road and the low road. Constant companions, they build a successful business while imparting strong ethical values to their two sons and each of their four grandchildren. This tale of devotion and hard work follows the couple on their heart-wrenching journey through uncharted territory while coping with Don’s unwelcome health diagnosis and slow physical decline.  When they reach the end of their rainbow, Evelyn is left to grapple with the day-to-day challenges of widowhood and to wonder who she is without Don. With resilience and determination, she strives to accept what has happened and to reinvent her life.

Dancing to the End of Our Rainbow is available on Amazon.

Necessary Deceptions: The Women of Wyatt Earp (Five Star Publishing, February 2022) by Pamela Nowak. Deception defined Wyatt Earp and the two women who were married to him longest. Their stories remained elusive, buried by the legend that emerged around Wyatt. Mattie Blaylock lived with him during the years when prostitution and corruption ran their lives, clinging to the lies she told herself and fighting to remain her own woman. Josephine Marcus deceived others her entire life, hiding her less-than-desirable past and opening doors to the role she craved. When Josie met Wyatt, it was easy enough to reinvent him as well. The myth that emerged from her fabrications created a history that destroyed Mattie and left Josie struggling to keep her stories straight.

You’ll find Pam on her website at Look for Necessary Deceptions at Barnes & Noble and her Amazon author page.

African Indaba (August 2022) by Angus Robb. Rory Mackenzie, son of a Scots refugee and a Boer mother, achieves manhood during political and cultural upheaval on the Dark Continent, all the while under the threat of Chola, a deadly bull elephant. As a child, he watches the beast slay his grandfather, and as a youth sees his father meet the same fate, but both times Chola mysteriously spares Rory’s life. Perhaps the natives are right: The monster has mtagate, magical powers enabling him to tell the difference between friend and foe. Spanning decades before, during, and after World War II, the tale unfolds during the dying years of colonial domination in Africa. At its core this is the story of a boy and a rogue beast, each fighting for his place in a vicious world, but neither craving to kill the other for it.

Visit Angus at You’ll find African Indaba on Amazon.

Beyond Brooklyn: A memoir (August 2022) by Edith Tarbescu. “In Beyond Brooklyn Edith Tarbescu tells her own story, but many readers will also recognize themselves in her compelling life-scenes and mini-play scripts. The daughter of immigrant Jews, transplanted with her New York roots largely intact first to Connecticut and then to New Mexico, Tarbescu keeps sane by making witty habitats out of words. Every visitor to her constructs is in for a treat.” — Ann Z. Leventhal, author of Life-Lines, Among the Survivors and The Makings of a Nobody.

Visit Edith at and go to Amazon for Beyond Brooklyn.

SWW Author Interviews: 2022 Releases

E. Joe Brown
A Cowboy’s Destiny (Artemesia Publishing, August 2022)

Chuck Greaves
The Chimera Club (Tallow Lane Books, May 2022)

Melody Groves
Trail to Tin Town (Five Star Publishing, June 2022)
Before Billy the Kid: The Boy Behind the Legendary Outlaw (Two Dot Publishing, August 2022)

Joyce Hertzoff
Winds of Change (August 2022)

Ed Lehner
Grandpa’s Horse and Other Tales (AIA Publishing, March 2022)

Cassie Sanchez
Embracing the Darkness (October 2022)

Avraham “Avi” Shama
Cyberwars — David Knight Goes To Moscow (3rd Coast Books, May 2022)

KLWagoner150_2KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat posts to a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at

Sign Up for Elerts  Stay Connected

SWW YouTube Videos

Search Posts


More information about SWW Programs can be found on WhoFish.