We talk to Lauren St John, author of the inspirational African adventure stories, including The White Giraffe.
How do you think you are different having been brought up in Africa? I grew up in an African paradise in the middle of a war where I knew that I or the people I loved could die at any time. Despite that, my parents gave me an immense amount of freedom and I spent hundreds of hours riding through the bush or drawing pictures or reading alone in our game reserve. That freedom to dream, coupled with the heightened appreciation of life that comes from knowing it could be snatched from you at any moment. is ultimately what helped me become a writer.
Do you have a special affinity towards animals? I hope so. I love them so much. All my life I've felt an incredibly strong connection to them and it is beyond comprehension to me how anyone could harm an animal.
What is the special bond between some children and some animals? One of the reasons I wrote The White Giraffe is that I felt that adults often underestimate the power of that bond. Many children, even those in loving homes, feel insecure, lonely, friendless or misunderstood, and what animals offer is an unconditional love which is not based on how you look or your social skills or material things. It's the purest love there is.
What have animals taught you? Animals have an almost limitless capacity to forgive and that is something every human on earth could benefit from studying.
What do you miss about living in Africa? The sound of birdsong, the smell of the earth before and after a thunderstorm, the sunrises and sunsets. the wildlife and the people.
City or country? The best bits of both.
What are the best bits about living in the UK? The coffee, the culture, democracy, the police, hospitals and freedom of speech.
Favourite London landmark? St Paul's.
Who and what has been the greatest influence on your life? My family, animals and Virginia McKenna.
What is your next goal? To finish my current book, The Glory.
What was your favourite book and author when you were a child? For Love of a Horse by Patricia Leitch.
What has been your proudest moment? Helping the Born Free Foundation rescue three leopards from a zoo in Cyprus.
Favourite piece of music? Currently -A Thousand Years by Celia Pavey.
Best survival tool? Manuka honey.
Favourite artist? Caravaggio.
What flavour of ice cream best describes you? Honeycomb.
Champagne or elderflower? Elderflower.
Meringue or salami? Meringue.
Favourite place to go to with a child? The sea.
Spiritual home? Africa.
What is your lucky charm? My faith in God.
What does love mean? Love is an action. It's not enough to say you love someone, you should show it in a thousand ways.
Favourite city? Cape Town.
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