My Proudest Accomplishment as an Author…

I am so very excited to announce that the I Heart Africa Project book was released on March 10, 2022. The responses I am getting from those who have read it already are amazing. The book is taking readers on multiple journeys throughout Africa that have truly opened their eyes, inspired them, and shed a light on Africa that many people would not have seen outside of the negative press Africa gets in the Western world. I am so proud of bringing this book to life, and it was all made possible by the incredible individuals that I interviewed, and that shared their stories.

The book is available on Amazon (all territories) in Kindle, Paperback & Hardback editions.

Meet Africa, a vast and beautiful continent. Africa is the heart of the world, the cradle of life, a continent teeming with breath-taking landscapes, cultures, histories, wildlife, adversities, and people. Where tradition and culture converge and are deeply threaded throughout modern-day Africa.

In the pages of I Heart Africa Project meet the incredible individuals whose souls have been touched by Africa: from residents, wildlife heroes, conservationists, documentary hosts, photographers, rangers, veterinarians, wildlife ecologists, guides, tourists, and many more, who all share their experiences, journeys, and love of the Dark Continent.

Filled with authentic stories and stunning photographs, I Heart Africa Project offers advice from those who have journeyed across these ancient lands, enlightens you as to the efforts and struggles of conservation, and sheds light on the warmth, beauty, and incredible experiences one can possibly have in Africa.

Book Review: National Geographic Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places

National Geographic Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places, published in 2014, is one of twenty non-fiction books written by Sarah Bartlett. Based in London, Bartlett is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2, has a Diploma in Psychological Astrology, and spent three years studying a range of fields including astrology and mythology.

In the book, Bartlett goes beyond identifying infamous haunted hotspots and tales of supernatural beings. It is clear she has done in-depth research in order to present all the facts to the reader – history of each; cross-references to various sources; and other literature that has been written due to each. Along with illustrations and photographs, this creates a convincing believability to each haunted location and the story behind the story.

At the beginning of the book, Bartlett gives a thorough introduction to the history of supernatural sightings. Her research has gone back thousands of years, from ancient times to modern-day, she provides continuing evidence of civilisations believing in the supernatural. This is critical to the book, as many of the ancient monuments mentioned in the book, their original purpose has been lost. Categorised by type of supernatural occurrence, the book then breaks each into geographic locations for easy reference.

One thing that struck me was her use of dramatic language to convey the grim and mystery when reading it – some of the stories gave me goosebumps. Every word leaves me on tenterhooks, terrified but wanting to finish reading, for example, ‘a bloodsucking woman will sniff you out and disembowel you’. Even with the use of dramatic language, the writing is tight and is direct. This makes it faster, and easier to read.

Reading this book gave me the notion that there must be a reason for a supernatural being to exist – there is always a back story. The why and how of how a person became supernatural or came to be. It brought a clearer perspective of the how and why of Gabriel and Jamie, who are two different supernatural beings – gargoyle and werewolf. For Gabriel, his back story needed to be focused and clear. He has been alive for millennia, but age is not an indicator as to the why he acts the way he does. Spending time working on his story, I was able to find the reason why he acts the way he does and gave him a ‘how he came to be’ story.

The back story is important for depth to a character but just as important as how it is told. In this book, Bartlett keeps it short and sharp; just enough detail to inform the reader not bore them. I went back to my own writing and rewrote the entire back story scenes, for instance, the book was going to start with Gran’s back story, her sighting, but from reading this book, it is now in chapter six, with snippets placed throughout interactions between Danielle and Gran.

Bartlett, S. (2014). National Geographic guide to the world’s supernatural places. Washington DC, USA: National Geographic Partners, LLC.

Africa Changed Me

Published July 2019 in UK Based ‘Travel Africa‘ Magazine.

Africa Changed Me

By Nikki Lockwood

The open-air safari vehicle rattled along the golden dirt S-28 road, in Kruger National Park. As the wind whistled through the golden grass, I reached out my arm, letting the grass brush against my palm as I passed it by. Even though I was shaded by the canvas roof from the bright African sun, small beads of sweat balled up, resting on my upper lip. The heat was suffocating for the other tourists in the vehicle, fanning themselves with leaflets from the information centre, but I thrived in the heat, it was bliss.

As I wiped my upper lip, the truck came to a rolling stop. I looked to the driver, he was staring to the right of the vehicle and, there they were, hyenas.

I marvelled at these seemingly ugly creatures. For as long as I could remember they had been deemed as nasty evil characters. What I saw before me, was not so evil, but a curious creature. Their appearance wasn’t so frightening. Beneath the long fur dark spots covered their flesh. My eyes watched their every movement. These were not evil creatures, merely one of Africa’s most common predators. A face only a mother could love, but I found myself caught up in their unusual beauty. The dark lines around their mouths almost gave them a permanent smile.

They came closer to the truck. I stared down at them as they stared up at me inquisitively. As their big deep brown eyes stared directly into my soul, I felt shame for stereotyping them all my life, because for here was a creature to be marvelled, with profound unseen beauty, if you chose to see. A curious and strong creature who in that moment spoke to my soul and it felt like it was asking me to see the beauty. I let out a deep breath and knew with every fibre of my being that this, right now, was the best place on earth.