The creation of Beloved Childe, the hero* of The Gathering, came about almost accidentally. She appeared for the first time as an important but minor character in The Top Prisoner of C-Max, a Yudel Gordon story. In that story she is visiting from the United States to find and punish the man who murdered her father when she was three years old. Yudel thinks she is placing herself into a dangerous situation without the skills needed to handle it.
The parole of the ailing Enslin Kruger, the top man in C-Max prison , is thwarted every year by Yudel. Kruger wants revenge and he thinks he knows how to get it. He arranges a competition between two inmates to kill Beloved, whom he sees as Yudel’s woman. The top men in the prison are those who have committed the most violent and well known crimes.
The two former inmates, Oliver Hall, her father’s killer, and Elia Dlomo, an equally dangerous criminal, are racing each other across the country to Cape Town where Beloved is waiting, both with the intention to kill her. One of them, Oliver Hall, is a parolee, Dlomo has escaped. They each have the same motivation, to become the top prisoner when they are caught and returned to prison. But Beloved is well able to look after herself. They are walking into a trap set by Beloved herself for Hall.
As a character in my books, Yudel Gordon was in existence long before Beloved put in an appearance. He is small, untidy, South African, Jewish, not especially good looking and happily in a monogamous marriage. He does not possess a fire arm and his only drug is coffee.
When Beloved came to me, I felt she was everything Yudel was not. It was clear to me that she was taller than Yudel, very good-looking, a careful dresser, an American, and an excellent shot. Her drugs are whiskey and sex, the one is used in moderation and the other less so.
At the time I had not intended to ever use her in another book. Sam Marais of eTV loved the character and suggested I write a series of books with her as the central character. The idea was appealing. There were things she could do and stories accessible to her that went beyond Yudel’s reach. Sam was hooked, but so was I.
*As a matter of fact I have heard of the word, heroine, but the heroine in a story seems to me the pretty innocent that the hero rescues. So, I think of Beloved as the hero of her stories. It fits her personality better.