Trip to Africa inspires debut novel

Nora Anne Brown
Nora Anne Brown
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A woman from north east Fife has turned her passion for Africa and writing into a career after having her debut novel published.

Nora Anne Brown’s novel ‘The Flower Plantation’ hit shelves at the end of August, and so far, the reviews have all been pretty positive.

“Thankfully, all of the reviews since the book came out have been incredibly favourable, which is great,” said Nora.

Nora, 35, who lives in St Monans with husband Peter and their eight-month-old son first started writing the book after a trip to Rwanda in 2010.

“I travelled there with a friend and instantly fell in love. When I came back I read everything I could find, I was a bit obsessed really!”

She wrote the first chapter which earned her the Lightship First Chapter Prize, which enabled her to complete the book with help from a publisher and editor.

But, not one to do things by halves, Nora juggled writing with completing her masters in Creative Writing, and edited the book just after having her son.

“It took me about two years to finish the book since my first trip to Rwanda.

“I’d actually written a book previous to that, but in terms of the challenge of writing, it was quite a different process. I’d started writing it as kind of a memoir, quite episodic, instead of a full plot, so I did things a bit back to front.”

Since coming up with the first chapter, Nora has been back to Africa twice, visiting Uganda for two months and then an actual flower plantation in Rwanda which she heard about on her first visit.

“I do get itchy feet and would like to go to Central Africa. When you travel, it gives you perspective, because it’s easy to become a bit wrapped up in your own bubble.”

The book, which is set between 1985 and 1994, leading up to the Rwandan Genocide, follows the life of Arthur, a mute who lives on a flower plantation with his parents.

“It’s about his life and friendships, but it’s also the political undercurrent in Rwanda at that time.”

Although writing wasn’t her first career path - Nora studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and even trained as a doctor - she believes it was meant to be.

“I really feel everything was leading to the writing - it just feels the most true. I always wanted to dip into lots of things, and as a writer you can choose as many topics as you like.”

Now that the book is out, and she’s had time off with her husband and son, Nora is thinking of her next venture.

“I have two books in mind, but I’m leaning towards one set in 1970s Congo, but I might do that alongside my PHD as well, we’ll see!”

‘The Flower Plantation’, published by Alma Books, is available now priced at £12.99.