Here’s a secret. When I wrote the first draft of Rotten Gods, my arse-kicking, beer-drinking female protagonist was called Raelene. My agent read that draft and groaned: “You can’t call her that. Think of something more cosmopolitan.”
So I went back to the drawing board. The first name, Marika, came from a long ago co-worker’s wife. Hartmann appeared from somewhere – maybe an author on my book shelf, maybe it was famous German fighter ace Erich Hartmann, I just can’t remember. I knew Marika Hartmann was an unusual name, but it suited my creation perfectly.
Fast forward a couple of years. HarperCollins have given me a three book deal, Rotten Gods is on the shelves and I’m on Twitter, attempting to promote my books, (along with 500 million other authors). A tweet came up in my timeline, retweeted by a friend. The author of that tweet was – MARIKA HARTMANN.
I froze. Surely this wasn’t possible. I looked at her profile, then I jumped straight in. I messaged her. Introduced myself. Offered to send her a copy of the book.
The real Marika was immediately interested. I sent her a book. Last year I had lunch with Marika and her husband in Perth. She is now one of my biggest supporters, and I thank my lucky stars we got to meet. When she comments and likes things on Facebook I’m sure some of my readers think she’s a fake account.
So what’s the real Marika like?
She’s attractive, vivacious and must be Australia’s number one Formula One racing fan. She regularly travels overseas to watch races and is very involved with the online F1 community. She’s the mother of two great kids, and is a perfect example of how writing has brought new and wonderful people into my life.
Marika Hartmann features in Greg’s novels Rotten Gods, Savage Tide and the short story Voodoo Dawn. Lethal Sky, the new book, is out this week and in bookstores across Australia and New Zealand as well as online.