It's hard to believe that I found a way to write a sex scene in the middle of what was probably the worst horror story of the mid-1990's, the genocidal war that wracked Rwanda. I've even read two terrifying accounts, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, and the oddly more depressing Shake Hands with the Devil, in which the UN general on the ground in Rwanda accounts just how poorly equipped he was to save all those people. It seems even more sad that in order to make the story work, I had to throw a trio of white kids into the middle of the conflict. (Well, okay, one's not "white"; he's not even human. He is very visibly not African, however.)
And yet, one of the things I've learned about writing is that to make a story work for the reader, it requires verisimilitude in the very small. I don't have to get the big details correct (and to be honest I didn't: Highway KKM14 wasn't finished at the time of the genocide, but I needed a road there), but I did need something the reader could grab onto. Jake's real commitment to his cause, and reality suddenly catching up to Maryse's liberal whimsy, were things I could understand and wrap my head around. So that's where the story went.
I don't want to make it sound like spinach reading-- you do it because it's good for you. I think it's a pretty damn good story all on its own. Without further ado, here's Bujumbura.**