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An interview with Coral Sinclair, heroine of Burning Embers

An interview with Coral Sinclair, heroine of Burning Embers

An interview with Coral Sinclair, heroine of Burning Embers

BURNING EMBERS COVERFor those of you who have read Burning Embers, today I thought I would explore the heroine, Coral, in a little more depth. For fun, I’ve interviewed her soon after she moves to Kenya and first meets Rafe. I hope you enjoy learning more about this character – and keep an eye out for Rafe’s interview coming soon.

Good afternoon, Coral. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m 25 and I’m a freelance photographer. I was born in Kenya, but when my parents split up I moved to England, where I have been living since. I was engaged, to an American tycoon, but that didn’t work out. Now I am back living in the home in which I grew up: Mpingo, a plantation near Mombasa.

What drew you to photography for your career?

I’ve wanted to be a photographer for as long as I can remember. I studied at a photography school in London. It’s my dream career, and though it is still a male-dominated field, the transformation in women’s careers brought by the 1960s has meant more opportunities. For me, photographing is a means of capturing beauty in all its forms. I can hold and freeze the beauty of one moment for ever. And I believe that when people see the photo, it can make a difference – make them think.

You freelance, rather than working as an employee – why did you make that choice?

I like the freedom and independence it affords. It means I can have integrity in picking and choosing my projects, and can pursue those that most interest me creatively. At the moment, I am working on a commission that will allow me to immerse myself in the native environment in Kenya and take photographs of the peoples and cultures and creatures.

Where do you stand with regard to the women’s liberation movement of your era? Do you insist on equality with a man?

I see no reason for men and women to not have equal opportunities. It is important for freedom of choice to exist. Personally, I could not tolerate a man who thought he was superior to me.

In the native cultures in Kenya, though, life is very different. Women do not have the same role as men. But the difference here, I think, is that there is respect for the woman that is sometimes lacking in Western civilisation. As long as a woman is respected in her role, and is able to choose that role, harmony reigns.

Your engagement to American tycoon Dale Halloway sadly ended. Have you remained on good terms?

Goodness, what a question! I suppose it is a little difficult to be on good terms with a man whom you discovered in a passionate clinch with his secretary when he was engaged to you… But I am not someone to hold grudges – the relationship ended, and I wish him well.

Why did you decide to move to Kenya?

Sadly, my father died recently, leaving Mpingo to me. So I came back to Kenya to take over the plantation. In truth, I was glad for the opportunity to get away from London after my break-up with Dale, and I was eager to see once more the land I’ve long remembered since childhood. I haven’t decided yet for how long I will stay, but it’s certainly lovely to see my old yaha, Aluna, again. I feel like I have come home.

Do you worry about the political upheavals in the country since its independence in 1963?

I feel secure enough, but I keep an eye on politics and the news. There is so much I feel I don’t understand about the country and its people since I left here so long ago, so now I am eager to immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I can.

What are your fondest memories from your childhood at your family plantation, Mpingo?

Simple pleasures. Standing on my balcony drinking in the sweet, fresh air. Eating a mouthwateringly ripe mango. Going to the local market with my mother and father and marvelling at all the sights and sounds. Lying in bed and drifting off to the soothing tones of Aluna telling me a folk tale.

Discovering you have a stepmother must have been a shock. Do you think you’ll be firm friends?

That’s hard to say. It’s a little awkward, to be honest, that she is here – she is not much older than me, and I knew nothing of her until I arrived here. There is something about her that makes me struggle to trust her. I’m looking forward to her moving out, in truth. Without my father here, we have little in common.

How does your philosophy fit with that of the native Kenyans, such as your yaha, Aluna? Do you believe in the wisdom of the witch doctors?

No, not at all! Twaddle is what I say when Aluna is delivering her mumbo-jumbo superstitious warnings to me. I see the importance of this element for the local people, but personally I pay it no mind.

Aluna is determined to warn you off developing a friendship with your neighbour, the dashing Rafe de Monfort. What do you think of the man?

I find myself drawn to him, though I try to resist. He is so attractive, you see, and has been so kind to me – comforting me as I cried on the ship, carrying me home when I hurt my foot on the beach. But Aluna alludes to his having a dark past. I confess, I am rather intrigued.

Finally, a question of the heart: when it comes to a love match, what are you looking for in a partner?

Passion. Fire. Commitment. Loyalty. Honesty. Strength. Courage. Resilience. A man of principles and honour. A man with experience of the world, and quiet dignity. A man with a large, open, giving heart.

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