Maretha is the author of five children’s books, whose roots go back to her days living in South Africa where she was inspired by the people and animals that crossed her path.
Maretha is a South African Italian. She was born in a small town called Montague, and grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town she says is reminiscent of living in Switzerland among the snow-capped mountains, in winter.
Worcester had a small library and young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.”
“Nothing much has changed because I am still a confirmed bookworm and constantly strive to raise more bookworms who will enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up.”
Before immigrating to the UK to settle in Lancashire, Maretha worked as an assistant librarian in a private school in Botswana, where one of her tasks was to encourage children to enjoy reading. That was a labour of love for our bookworm and one that was to give her some valuable help in carving her own career as an author because it brought her face to face with the literary industry’s toughest critics – children and preteens.
“I saw what they really wanted to read and it was not only the mainstream ghosts, werewolves and shape shifters who interested them. When they were re-introduced to bird-and-animal stories, their care, habitats and general well-being; read with a few catchy rhymes here and there, the reading sessions were truly alive and well, and readers began pre-booking their favourites of the week.”
In 2012 changes meant she no longer had a job. She was downhearted, but as is often the way of things, one disappointment led to a new chapter in her life. She tried to motivate herself by writing down everything she could remember about her pets – dogs, cats and birds that graced her home through the years.
Where Maretha Finds Inspiration
The character of the working-dog hero in Fauna Park Tales is based on the different traits of every single dog her family ever owned. She then moved on to researching habits, territories and interesting titbits about endangered birds-of-prey – martial eagles and eagle owls, as well as many smaller birds such as crimson-breasted shrikes and hoopoes. She painted many of them such as the illustration below which appears in Book 5 in the sub-section called, “The Bird Mission.”
“Many smaller birds came drinking water from our dogs’ bowls and the more I watched them, the villagers, their goats and herds of cattle, including a cattle herdsman with dreadlocks and many dogs, the more fascinated I became.”
“My daughter and our grandchildren shared our house situated on the outskirts of a game reserve, so one thing led to another, and more tales were told as I contemplated the next little story, creating new characters such as His Handsomeness King Rat and the tame ex-laboratory rat called RatX. (My daughters really rescued a rat from the school laboratory). Their story is told in “An African Adventure: Flame and Hope”.
“This painting gave me much inspiration; the thing which brought together all the stories in my head. Our house became the red-roofed farmhouse; Kgale Hill and the Mmokolodi Game Reserve surrounded by hills far in the distance – the ‘Molodi Valley’ and the ‘Llokodi Hills’.”
The Road to Publication
Although Maretha had all the pieces to write her series of children’s novels, it was a bit of a daunting task.
“Writing and illustrating Fauna Park Tales became a much bigger project than I originally envisioned. Without encouragement from my family, especially my grandchildren, I wonder if I would have completed the stories.
“I was fortunate to meet Karen Perkins – owner/author of LionheArt Publishing House. Without her expert advice, editing and formatting, I doubt whether I would have been able to publish any of the books on Amazon.”
Maretha has written a series of five children’s books, FAUNA PARK TALES, An African Adventure with illustrations for readers aged 6-12. The series was originally called, ‘African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends’ and gained Gold Medal status in September 2013 on Authonomy, a HarperCollins author website. The first book in the series is now called, ‘An African Adventure 1: Flame and Hope’.
Life takes strange turns for Flame, a puppy born in the African desert. Adopted by a free-range cattle farmer, the pup faces the challenge of proving himself to more than one of his new family. As Flame grows into a strong and brave dog, he finds friendship with many loyal furry and feathered friends who teach him to keep The Promise – protecting the helpless ones in Fauna Park, a secret sanctuary within the boundaries of the farm. One of his feathered friends is Hope, an elusive bird with strange pink eyelids who tells stories about a tall leader and his gang of villainous poachers, ups and downs of life in the bush and Flame's ingenious plans to banish foes to the Llokodi Hills.
Maretha has three titles on Amazon
“An African Adventure 1: Flame and Hope” is an ebook (with colour illustrations), and a black and white paperback:
“An African Adventure 2: Friends” is available in ebook format with colour illustrations:
and gold-banded 210 page volume “Tales From Fauna Park” combines stories from both books at: