I love conversation. There is a real pleasure in chatting to someone and seeing a spark of interest in their eyes when a topic of mutual interest materialises. For example, one of my friends has one line of a poem scrawled in chalk across her kitchen wall: ‘The words we speak become the house we live in!’ It is part of a poem by Hafez, from Persia. My landlord is from Persia so when he came to fix a leak today I mentioned it. He was so surprised; he said that Hafez was a very famous poet along with another, Saadi, also from Persia, whom I had not heard of. He told me many stories, which were of great interest to me, and the leak is now fixed.

Fiona Mordaunt

Fiona Mordaunt

Music is another great love for me and the best place to listen is in the car. It’s pretty much the only time I get alone and the car has a great stereo. Love funky big beats; listening to P-Funk right now. There was usually a soundtrack playing in my mind when I wrote The Frog Theory – when two of the characters run from the police it was Chemical Brothers ‘Hey boy Hey girl’. Paradoxically, I play classical music on the violin. I rediscovered that pleasure when my friend Tom invited me to play duets – a huge compliment because he is so much better than me. Sometimes he would say ‘No, no, NO NO!’, put his violin in its case, slam the lid shut and say, ‘You got it wrong again, we’re going to the pub!’ Really made me laugh.

When we got to Botswana I remembered I had always wanted to learn the piano; now was my chance. And there was a piano teacher just around the corner, Lynn. She’s excellent – concert pianist standard – older, wiser, serious. Her phone rang during one of my lessons: ‘Baaaad to the bone! Na-nah-na-n-nah!’ With a ringtone like that there had to be an undiscovered dimension to this woman. Four years later we are great friends and play in a little string group – she plays violin too. We are okay but, after a couple of glasses of wine, we are GREAT!

I have a fascination with technology. Take this computer; it is still such a marvel to me that it connects to the whole world the way it does when I struggle to work out the remote controls for the TV effectively. I bought Word on the American Microsoft site and it would not work, so I went onto their chat forum to ask for help. Minutes later a man from Serbia was calling me, in Botswana, to solve the problem. I always ask where people are! I said, ‘Isn’t this magic?’ He said, ‘No, it is the telephone.’ I guess one person’s ordinary is another person’s magic.

I am blown away by an origami robot I recently read about, too. It is small enough to sit on the end of a finger, and can be fitted into an ingestible capsule. Once in the gut it can unfold itself and perform small operations before being passed out and dissolving back to nothing. That is a miracle to me, and I looked up the woman who presented it on YouTube. Her name is Daniela Rus and she is a Romanian computer scientist – what an incredible person. Soon, the robot will be able to perform more complicated operations, negating the need for surgery in many cases, and will be particularly useful for children who have swallowed small batteries or the like.

I love to feel optimistic. ‘Pessimism is what preserves the status quo and optimism is what brings us forward.’ So says Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur who has worked out a way to clean plastic waste from the oceans. I happen to agree with him. I think it is much more effective to introduce light to a situation than to rally against dark – anyone who has ever attempted to black out a sunny room will probably attest to that! I think we hear so many negative things that many of us feel guilty and shut off completely with a sense of not being able to help at all. I spent many years replaying family arguments and worrying that I was not doing enough to play my part in the world. Then I had a lightbulb moment when I realised it takes energy to think like that – energy that could be used more constructively.

Learning new things is the greatest pleasure. I have long hated being ignorant about geography and one day, having told everyone that we were moving close to the Ottalengi Delta, rather than the Okka Vango Delta, (vegetarian food writer versus large swampy inlet full of wild animals), I wondered whether there was a learning app. I downloaded where is that? and it not only taught me a lot of geography but was a brilliant queue buster. I was quite addicted, then amazed everyone – but most of all myself – when I was the only one with the answer to a geography question in a local quiz – COSTA RICA! You would have thought I’d won an Oscar. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were out to dinner and someone shouted and waved over the restaurant with a massive smile: ‘COSTA RICA!’

I love Africa. I will never stop feeling lucky that we got to come and live here. I grew up in London and I also love it there, but I have never experienced wild animals and birds like this; it is life-changing. I have joined WWF (Word Wildlife Fund, not Wild Wife’s Fund) and have become a David Attenborough fan. I also have a wildlife blog.

I love playing pool and used to be quite good at it, happy to have a game any time.

I can do a proper full-on whistle! I was not allowed to get a dog until I learnt. The dog never came back, ever – not for the whistle, anyway, but it has been an endlessly useful skill over the years when needing to get someone’s attention, say, or at a rock concert.

Last of all, I value time with family and friends, old and new, above all else. Long may it last!

About the author: After attending school for model-making, Mordaunt started Image Casting in 1998, specialising in customised body castings. Over the course of 13 years, she worked on such films as Atonement and Wildest Dreams, as well as for personal clients like Lionel Richie. In 2012, she relocated to Botswana with her husband and two daughters where she currently resides. The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt (published Clink Street Publishing 14th February 2017 RRP £6.99 on paperback and £1.99 for the ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.