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Chameleon Mountain – Foreword to the book

My fifth book has gone through 40 000 words and bar an unforeseen hiccup should be completed by the middle of this year. This gives me the confidence to share with you some preliminary information.

Here is the foreword to the book and a dummy cover that I developed with the help of my son Andrew;

You come down the dirt road from Kruidfontein, heading south through the Great Karoo, flat desert country, monotonous and achingly beautiful. Eventually a line of mountains appears on the horizon, right across from east to west, no apparent breaks, blocking your way to the sea.

The mountain range grows, becomes huge. Black mountains, Swartberg, and that is what they are named. When you get closer you see the white buildings of a hamlet, Prince Albert, nestled against the foothills.

Behind the town is a low ridge and then the true foothills, themselves imposing structures. Look west and two strange humpback mountains appear. They seem like two dolphins breasting the sea, line astern, and the rock formation that tops one of them looks strangely familiar; a head, a spine and tail, legs.

In a restaurant we ask the owner what that strange mountain is called.

Chameleon Mountain. What an evocative name, the animate with the inanimate.

It is two years since my wife and I went to Prince Albert to research the ending to my novel The Khami River Legacy. In the first draft of the book Adam Geard comes to this place and searches for a home. He walks the district and eventually tops a rise and looks down at the jumble of broken country leading to Gamkapoort and there he sees what he wants, in the valley below the Chameleon Mountain.

Forty pages wasted, some of them written in the sitting room of the suite we hired; written in the early hours of the morning as these words are being written.

I left Adam in Namibia, in the Kaokoveld which he loved so much. It was a more fitting ending.

Perhaps the words were not wasted because I have come back, drawn by the beauty of the place and the evocative name. I want to write a story centred in this place and I want to name the story Chameleon Mountain.

August 25, 2011

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