I grew up in Southern Central Africa - in Northern Rhodesia, which became Zambia; and went to school in Southern Rhodesia - which became Zimbabwe. Black, white or indifferent, where you grow up is home and though I haven't lived there for many years, somehow, Africa is still home. 'Fishing For Crocodiles' is my coming of age, partly fiction and partly real. 'Smoke and Dust' is an historical novel. The historical material is extremely accurate, researched by my late father. These two books will be followed by Tug Argan, a kind of reverse Zulu which saw black soldiers fighting for the Allies route the white soliders of the Axis powers. Fish Eagle and The Fourth Chimurenga will follow Tug Argan. You may or may not be relieved to know that these are more conventional than the novels I write with Chris, although they have a very similar sensibility.
Fishing For Crocodiles is the story of two young Africans who yearn for their own rock 'n roll freedom while their country, Northern Rhodesia, soon to become Zambia, fights for Independence. Landilane is black. Rex is white. These in-separable friends run away from home to make an impossible pilgrimage, crossing the continent to meet their idol, Sam Cook, at Lorenzo Marques Radio, Southern Africa's only real rock station, which they mistakenly believe he's going to visit. Cook will be shot to death in Los Angeles while they're on an extraordinary adventure which sees them captured and fighting side by side with the legendary guerrilla fighter, Alice N'karta. They're accompanied by a giant Great Dane, also - and confusingly - called Rex. This wonderful dog is the tragic hero of the piece.
"A truly original coming of age story. The characters are finely drawn and you feel you are right there with the boys as they make their way through Africa and these challenging moments in their lives. Partly true and partly fictional, this is a powerful story. Passages in it moved me to tears."
Smoke And Dust is a powerful historical novel of Southern Central Africa - the dramatic and evocative account of a Ben Jonson, whose passion for his half-sister causes him to be banished from the rural familiarity of the South of England to the brutalities of early colonial Africa. Initially a feckless farm boy, Ben comes to fight in the Matabele Wars, farms in what is now Zimbabwe, becomes an ivory hunter in what is now Zambia and trades up and down the beautiful and dangerous Zambezi River. The English boy becomes an African man.
"What Larry McMurtry has done for the American West, or Thomas Kenneally for the American Civil War and the Holocaust, Peter Lawrence's Smoke And Dust does for Southern Central Africa."
Africa, the cradle of mankind, is today's forgotten continent; yet its people and resources are essential to the evolution of our 21st century world. We continue to ignore or misunderstand this huge and diverse continent at our peril.