SPLASH! Interview with Marion Ueckermann, author of Orphaned Hearts

Orphaned Hearts

Book Description:

When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time—or desire—to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.

Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport… until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.

Now only fears born of his loss—and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind—can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.

Me enjoying a Zambezi River sunset cruise
Me enjoying a Zambezi River sunset cruise

Narelle: Welcome, Marion. Can you please tell us more about the setting for Orphaned Hearts.

Marion: Orphaned Hearts is set in a place close to my heart—Zambia—land of my birth. When asked to write a story set in Africa with a water theme for this boxed set, I knew there was no other place for this story than the Victoria Falls and the mighty Zambezi River. Of course, having been there and seen it all helped cement my choice of African location.

Although the Vic Falls is mentioned in the story, focus is on this great river itself.

Narelle: I love your exotic African setting. How does your novella fit with the SPLASH! water theme?

Marion: South African Simon Hartley has lived close to this incredible river for over a decade where he’s doing his part for conservation with his elephant orphanage.

Having ridden on and fed one of these magnificent creatures, plus seen an eleven-week old ellie up close when we visited Zambia many years ago, I had to bring elephants into this story. What do they have to do with water, you ask? Elephants love and need mud, and so there’s a fun scene with the pachyderms and orphans down at the mudhole (that’s water, too…sort of).

This little baby below has such an amazing story about its conception, but I’d have to share that in a separate blog.

This baby loves mud
This baby loves mud
Feeding Danny, the elephant I rode on
Feeding Danny, the elephant I rode on

When his wife dies in childbirth, Simon buries her on his property beneath a giant sycamore tree on the banks of the Zambezi.

Over five years pass. Raising his daughter and orphan elephants consumes Simon’s life. When he offers help to a stranded Abigail Chadwick, fresh off the plane from England and in Africa for a year to teach the orphans of the Good Shepherd Orphanage, he finds himself reluctantly drawn to her. Their feelings for each other grow with a romantic sunset dinner cruise down the Zambezi on Valentine’s Day.

Narelle: The elephants are adorable and I love how they feature in your story. Is your novella connected to a series?

Marion: Initially it wasn’t. I was writing a story set in Africa for this boxed set, that’s all. Valerie Comer, who has championed Splash!, said I should consider turning this into a series. Series? Even though my first two published books, Helsinki Sunrise and Oslo Overtures (coming August 2015) are part of Pelican Book Group’s Passport to Romance series, and my Helsinki Sunrise hero and heroine make a brief appearance in Oslo Overtures, I’d never considered writing books connected to each other in some way, whether by character, location or theme. It didn’t take long to convince myself this was a great idea, and so my Heart of Africa series was born.

I plan to write and Indie publish two Heart of Africa stories a year. Book 2 will continue where Book 1 finished, but the hero will be one of the minor characters in Orphaned Hearts, and the heroine, someone who earned a one-liner in the same story. There’ll definitely be scenes at Mosi-oa-Tunya—the Smoke that Thunders, better known as the Victoria Falls. Maybe I’ll throw in a lunar rainbow or two for good measure.

I’m really excited about setting stories on my continent—who doesn’t love the idea of an African safari. But because Africa has so much more to offer than just its unique wildlife, there’ll also be, amongst other things, exciting desert experiences or time spent relaxing in the beauty of the Cape winelands. I hope readers will be excited to come along with me to the heart of Africa and fall in love.

Narelle: Marion, I can’t wait read more stories in you Heart of Africa series. Thanks for visiting today and sharing more about Orphaned Hearts with our blog readers.

Marion Ueckermann1 - SMALLER

MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novella, Oslo Overtures, releases 2015. Marion lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

You can find her at www.marionueckermann.com or her Amazon author page.

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  1. I love this story. The baby elephant pictures are adorable, too. I look forward to more stories in this series, Marion.

  2. I loved Orphaned Hearts when I beta-read this! I’ve also had the opportunity to read her other Passport to Romance books through ACFW’s Scribes. Valerie Comer is one of my heroes too. Can’t wait to read the SPLASH books and the next Heart of Africa book.

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