The Undercover Soundtrack | Roz Morris – Consuelo Roland’s LADY LIMBO

‘Skinny-dipping in greenish-hued waters’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is award-nominated novelist, poet and essayist Consuelo Roland @ConsueloRoland

Soundtrack by R.E.M., The Beatles, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Youssou N’Dour, Bob Marley


Lady Limbo began with a cancelled flight and a personal tale of sexual liberation imparted to my mother at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

The details of a mysterious organization reside in a little black book belonging to a helpful ground hostess whose name is forever lost in the torrential downpour of a stormy Paris night. It was fun to turn things around and evoke a world where men are paid ridiculous stud fees to be at the beck and call of willful women who can afford to be extravagant. Occasionally a perfectly ordinary, independently minded woman – such as a sexy ground hostess – will use their services.

From a little black book to a husband that vanishes into thin air is not such a literary leap of the imagination. The only tangible clues to the ‘disappeared properly’ man’s identity are the vinyl long playing records (LPs) carted into his current incarnation: Daniel de Luc, husband.

A man who favours alternative rock, old circus music (think extravagant carnivalesque LP cover art),and African jazz, is perhaps not going to be your average conventional spouse.

A voice for intensity

When Daniel de Luc barges into my novel with all his unpredictable here-now-gone-tomorrow energy he arrives together with cult band R.E.M. Their music is constantly playing in my car. The wickedly intelligent lyrics have the enigmatic aura of a Poe story.

– Consuelo Roland



LADY LIMBO is the Next Big Thing…

Writer of literary mystery novel Lady Limbo, Consuelo Roland plays a little blog tag. She was tagged by the wonderful short story writer Liesl Jobson, and here she shares a quick Q&A about her new novel Lady Limbo. 


What is your working title of your book?

From early on I had two working titles, partly because I knew it was volume I of the Limbo Trilogy;  the one title was With My Last Breath and the other was Lady Limbo. When my agent wanted my manuscript to submit it to Jacana Media for their consideration, I hesitated over which title to use. Eventually I went with Lady Limbo, and then once we had a signed contract I mentioned the alternative title as a possibility. But Jacana Media were adamant that it should remain Lady Limbo. I think they were right in retrospect because the cover design perfectly complements the title, and as my niece pointed out “Alliteration is always good in a title!”

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A ground hostess told my mother a very sexy naughty story one long night at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Her name is forever lost in the torrential downpour of that stormy night. Lady Limbo is the story of a globe-trotting career woman whose life unravels when her husband disappears. Paola Dante’s search leads her to a mysterious international organisation that hires genetically superior men out for the purposes of face-to-face procreation.

Real Man International (aka RMI), the name of the secret organisation she visits, is an invented name, but the organization exists; it’s details reside in a ground hostess’s little black book as per her own words. It was fun to turn things around and evoke a world where men are  paid ridiculous stud fees to be at the beck and call of willful high-flying women who can afford to be extravagant. If one believes the ground hostess’s story then it’s clear that occasionally a perfectly ordinary independently-minded woman – such as  a ground hostess – might use RMI’s services, and get herself into a spot of trouble.


What genre does your book fall under?

Lady Limbo is perhaps best described as a literary mystery novel with some big dollops of mind-twisting suspense. There’s plenty of character development as well as sex, fear and violence. The mystery genre aims to keep the reader perched on the edge of his or her seat, without being as restrictive as a whodunit. It allows for the whydunit perspective which is far more interesting. In Lady Limbo the emotional stakes are high and the internal conflict is mirrored by villainous external forces.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are the obvious choices for the lead roles of career woman and missing husband in the movie version of Lady Limbo. The girl at the bus-stop would be somebody newly discovered who has that ‘it’ factor which combines the innocence of freckles with wide open knowing eyes and a blonde ponytail… the daughter of somebody I know is perfect. The male half of the French villain couple should be slim, suave and able to wear a dinner jacket – maybe Ben Kingsley – and the female half should be Naomi Rapace of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movie fame.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Forced to hunt down Lady Limbo, the elusive internet ghost of a youthful love affair that ended in betrayal, Paola Dante risks everything and learns to trust no one in a race to find her missing husband.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Lady Limbo, my new novel,  is represented by an independent agency and is published by Jacana Media. It’s a more layered mystery thriller with an international setting, and the first of the Limbo Trilogy. It seemed to make sense to publish traditionally.

However, I self-published my debut novel The Good Cemetery Guide as an e-book after getting my world rights back in 2012. It provided an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of what it means to self-publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took 18 months to do the first draft for Lady Limbo, but I did two other complete rewrites before settling on the current version. In total Lady Limbo took me about four (4) years to write. I’m hoping that volumes II and III of the Limbo Trilogy go much faster because the foundation has been laid and I know the ending for each of them.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Although the plot of Lady Limbo is vastly different and more akin to a thriller in many respects, The Blind Assassin, Atwood’s mystery story of extra-marital betrayal and sexual allure with its triangular love plot and multi-layered structure had long fascinated me, and it seemed always to be in the background.

But the major influence on Lady Limbo was Stieg Larsson’s sensational Millenium Trilogy which changed the face of the crime novel in the 21st Century. I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on holiday in Europe with snow falling outside my window in-between tapping away at Lady Limbo on my laptop, and addicted to Larsson’s formula, polished off The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest in quick succession.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A good thriller chills our blood, readying us for a mesmerizing journey through the glowing portals of hell. I’d tackled death in The Good Cemetery Guide so it seemed like the next obvious topic was sex. But I did not want it to be soft porn; rather I had to find a way of writing a story around the issues faced by modern professional women who have a plethora of relationship and sexual choices available to them, and how girl children are affected by our sexually charged online-media society.

Lady Limbo transports us into a parallel reality where humanity’s worst instincts are at play. The “dark web” (an invisible black hole of untraceable activity) is estimated to be an incredible 15 times larger than the web we know, with more than 900 billion pages. It is a world where the illegal is openly available, providing a hidden shop window for criminal gangs and sexual predators. On the dark web innocence is traded like any other commodity


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The perfect life… Or a beautiful lie? The seductive Lady Limbo leads Paola Dante into dark territory she never knew existed, where she must question all she knows. How far would you go for love? All the way?

Lady Limbo is a thoroughly twenty-first century story with an international setting and full of enigmatic twists and turns. Just when you think the story is going one way then it suddenly gets even more interesting and ups the ante. The shocks and surprises keep on coming at the character like she’s in a shooting arcade, dodging a hidden shooter in a world of seduction and darkness. Paola has to think on her feet all the time, or the truth will find her before she finds the truth.

As this is a blog roll, I’m handing over to Ronald IrwinKerry Hammerton and   Jacqui L’Ange who’ll be posting their blogs next week.

Tagging other bloggers who have already done the Next Best Thing: Liesl Jobson, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Susan Rich, Susan Elbe and Cynthia Reeser


Connect with Consuelo: Website / Twitter / Lady Limbo Facebook / The Good Cemetery Guide Facebook

The Undercover Soundtrack | Roz Morris – Consuelo Roland’s THE GOOD CEMETERY GUIDE

Roz undercover soundtrack for-logo‘Music to wake the living’ Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative process – perhaps to open a secret channel to understand a character, populate a mysterio…

More here…

___________________              The Good Cemetery Guide began one fog-laden winter’s night in a dimly-lit music locale in Kalk Bay, South Africa. Three acoustic guitarists, jamming loud enough to wake the dead, shifted my world a step to the left.                                                   – Consuelo Roland 


More here: The Undercover Soundtrack – Consuelo Roland: The Good Cemetery Guide

Short Story Day Africa 2013

The Interview

We’ve compiled twenty-one questions our followers want to know about writers in Africa. Please post your answers on your blog before 21 June 2013, in celebration of Short Story Day Africa.’ – SSDA email

Note: I assisted with the assessment of manuscripts in the first round of SSDA in 2013.

  1. Do you actually enjoy writing, or do you write because you like the finished product?I consider writing a novel as similar to penning an excrutiatingly long poem; it’s a highly detailed labour-intensive activity that you’d have to be crazy to attempt. But somehow I find the whole process, from the first word to the splurb for the back cover of the published novel, immensely satisfying. There’s a curious feeling of dissociation from the finished product once it’s beyond my control.
  2. What are you reading right now? And are you enjoying it? (No cheating and saying something that makes you sound like the intelligensia).I’m reading The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee as course material for my university studies (doing an Honours course in English Literature at UCT). It has a simple biblical feel to it as if it’s getting back to the distilled essence of story. It’s very accessible and quick to read on the surface but will take me months of mulling over and revisiting to get to any kind of grip with the high idealism of its themes.
  3. Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?Yes and No. I can’t say too much because it would be a spoiler for those readers who haven’t yet read Lady Limbo, my second novel. It nearly broke my heart to kill off a certain character who was intensely alive and fascinating, but it was a necessary tactical decision. I regretted the demise of my lovable character on an emotional level, but in logical story terms I had no choice.
  4. If you could have any of your characters over for dinner, which would it be and why?It would have to be Daniel de Luc, the missing husband in Lady Limbo. He always insisted that I tell the story from his wife Paola’s point of view, wanting to accept responsibility for his role in the unraveling of her neatly ordered existence. I tried telling it in his voice (he has a delicious French accent), but he refused to co-operate until I gave in and told it in her voice.
  5. Which one of your characters would you never invite into your home and why?I wouldn’t invite the child abductor Albert Sarrazin or his wife Nada in Lady Limbo to my dinner table. On the other hand I wouldn’t mind meeting up with them at a dark bar somewhere far away from normal life and finding out more about their childhood, and how they became who they are. The nature of villainry is endlessly interesting.
  6. Ernest Hemingway said: write drunk, edit sober. For or against?I’d say the reverse is true for me. I have to have a completely clear head to be able to listen to the multiple voices clamouring for attention, and then in the editing process I have to trust that the editor knows better. Sometimes that feels like throwing the baby out with the bathtub so I need to cultivate an air of heedlessness to read those evening emails – cut, cut, cut! Unfortunately alcohol gives me a bad headache, so its all imaginary.
  7. If against, are you for any other mind altering drug?I’m susceptible to any chemicals or drugs so it doesn’t work for me. But hey, it worked for Hemingway and the world would have been poorer without his literary genius.
  8. Our adult competition theme if Feast, Famine and Potluck. Have you ever put food in your fiction? If so, what part did it play in the story?My first novel The Good Cemetery Guide has plenty of food scenes related to the state of mind of Anthony Loxton (a guitar strumming funeral undertaker); my personal favourite being a rollicking Kalk Bay snoek feast on the rocks in the final scene. In fact my alternative title (a new e-book edition with a different cover and title is on its way) is A Meal for the Broken Hearted.
  9. What’s the most annoying question anyone’s ever asked you in an interview?I was asked in a live radio interview by a very superior book critic if I didn’t consider my novel The Good Cemetery Guide to be a bit flaky? This was a long time ago when the word ‘flaky’ was quite new so I was totally stumped, on-air in a national broadcast, for an intelligent response. I’m not sure she knew what it meant either but it certainly put me off live interviews.
  10. If you could be any author other than yourself, who would you be?
    John Irving. I adore his emancipated fearless imagination. His stories are as ridiculously outrageous (he’d say ‘true’) as real life.
  11. If you could go back in time and erase one thing you had written from your writing history, what would it be and why?
    I would change the title of The Good Cemetery Guide. An elderly businessman cum writer I encountered told me my publishers were crazy to let the book go out with that title and he was totally right.
  12. What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?
    When I started out I would tell myself that I wrote for my own pleasure and it didn’t matter if nobody bought the books. It’s not true; stories only live if they are enjoyed by others.
  13. If someone reviews you badly, do you write them into your next book/story and kill them?
    I haven’t yet, but it will probably happen someday.
  14. What’s your favourite bad reviewer revenge fantasy?Bad reviewer decides she can write better novels than the people she’s interviewing. In a live radio interview the radio reviewer asks her if she doesn’t think the novel she’s slaved over for x years (which she considers to have deep and lofty themes) is ‘flaky’? Ex bad-reviewer now novelist stammers and stutters and they hastily cut over to the next book.
  15. What’s the most frustrating thing about being a writer in Africa?There is a feeling of being irrevocably corralled by our colonialist apartheid past. The requirement for ‘relevance’ promoted in academia and the media makes it difficult to cultivate an African audience if those are not the themes that inspire one. And yet one needs to sell well in Africa before international publishers will consider one’s work.
  16. Have you ever written naked?No, it is not an inclination from which I suffer. However, Anthony Loxton’s lover Akuaba in The Good Cemetery Guide is a photographer, and she is prone to working at her art in a state of total undress.
  17. Does writing sex scenes make you blush?Yes, always. And most especially on re-reading how awful and trite my best efforts are at describing what is essentially an indescribable experience.
  18. Who would play you in the film of your life?Ana, a Brazilian girl I met on a film script course.
  19. If you won the Caine Prize for African Fiction, what would you do with the money?
    I would hire a great editor I’ve worked with before (through a publisher) to get Volume II of the Lady Limbo trilogy ready for publication.
  20. What do you consider your best piece of work to date?
    Lady Limbo.
  21. What are you doing on 21 June 2013, to celebrate Short Story Day Africa?I’ll be reading Jeri Walker-Bickett’s short story collection Such Is Life on my Kindle.