Sophie Neville

After gaining a degree in Anthropology, Sophie went into television production, directing her first documentary for Channel 4 when driving from London to Johannesburg. Having produced an Inset series for BBC Education, she set up a Blue Peter exploration of South Africa and worked freelance for the BBC Natural History Unit in Botswana and Namibia. She was researching a wildlife film in Kenya for Alastair Fothergill when her Uncle Tony first introduced her to Sam. They met up again in 1987. Sam had a panic attack when a group of Japanese tourists walked behind his chair and explained himself by telling Sophie about his miraculous extraction from a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Her aunt was concerned that his extraordinary story would be lost forever and urged her to write it up, filling her in on the details. Sam is long-dead, but his son Abu was keen for his story to be told and provided a few notes. Not enough documentation exists to write a biography, but Hans' family agreed it would be good to see a novel based on this untold tale from WWII. Sophie's family moved from the Malay States to Tanganyika in 1919, with a resolve to grow pyrethrum and 'save the world from malaria'. She emigrated to southern Africa where she spent twelve years working as a safari guide and wildlife artist between film contracts, travelling though twenty-one African countries. After founding an HIV/AIDs project, she became a trustee of The Waterberg Trust and is currently raising money to provide African schoolgirls with eco-sanitary pads. She married an Englishman and now lives on the south coast of the UK.