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  • Writer's pictureAllyson Koekhoven

Building a book

Together with developing a rock-solid plot and creating relatable characters, building an environment for the story to take place, is an important element in any book. Under Construction takes place – surprise, surprise – in the world of construction and building.

Why construction? Because it’s an environment that I was firmly entrenched in for nine years. I cut my teeth on content creation, magazine layout and photography at a company that grew to be one of the top three civil engineering, construction and building conglomerates in South Africa back in the 1980s and 1990s.

I was extremely fortunate to travel to local and cross-border construction sites where I got my safety boots muddy; chipped my fingernails while climbing up, down and over obstacles; and flattened my hair with the ever-unglamorous hard hat. I loved every moment of the site visits, meeting some wonderful people, and then returning to the office to compile brochures, magazines and advertisements from scratch.

Even after leaving the company, my interest and involvement in the construction industry did not end. I worked as an editor for an earthmoving equipment magazine for ten years and launched a magazine for the working at height industry.

When I worked in the construction sector, female engineers were few and far between, but that has changed in the past couple of decades. Adine du Toit – the main character in Under Construction – is one of these trendsetters, unshackled by the preconceptions of females that often persist today.

Coming next....Part 5: Location, location, location

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Shirley Corder
Shirley Corder

I enjoyed this, Allyson. I had wondered why you chose that environment and obviously had inside knowledge! I've done the same thing with my debut novel - set in a ministry family - as it's the life I know. But I'm going to have to convince my readers it is NO reflection of our own family!

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