Then 'Wilbur's Luck' returned in full force.
Something happened to fill the emptiness and bring me back to life again. In a bookstore in London I met a beautiful Tadjik girl. Her name is Mokhiniso Rakhimova and Tajikistan, her homeland, is in Asia and borders on Afghanistan. She received her law degree from Moscow University. To me she is all good things: beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, loving and loyal. She is younger than me by many decades. I married her in May 2000. She brought me back to life. She taught me to love life again.
With Niso beside me, I began again to look forward eagerly to each new day. Since meeting her I have written sixteen novels as together we started a new chapter in our lives.
Martin Pick, Charles’s son, introduced us to Kevin Conroy Scott, co-founder of Tibor Jones, and with him we looked excitedly into the future. First, there would be a new publishing house for my work – HarperCollins. Next, there would be a new way of working – a creative partnership with other authors. And, finally, there would be the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation – an organisation dedicated to the upliftment of aspiring adventure writers.
Suddenly, I was busier than ever – writing outlines for new books, working closely with my new editors and co-authors, discussing the foundation’s work with Niso and, of course, writing my own novels. And then there were other calls on my time – I became a patron of the charities Panthera and Back to Africa, two wonderful organisations dedicated to the preservation and rehabilitation of rare and endangered wildlife.
Returning to Africa with Niso allowed me to see the continent through new eyes. Growing up in Northern Rhodesia it had always seemed to me that the African bush was something endless, something that defined our human way of life, but I have seen everything change in my lifetime. The bush is now defined by man, by man’s relationship to it, and part of my time is now spent trying to preserve what is left of the paradise I took for granted as a child.
Seeing the world afresh through Niso’s eyes also made me realise that there was no real support system for budding adventure writers. This genre that I have loved my entire life, that has given me so much pleasure as both a reader and an author, is neglected in so many ways. Together, we decided to start an organisation that would award an annual prize for adventure writing – the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize – and support the adventure writers of tomorrow.
And then there is Niso’s connection with my fans – something extraordinary that led us to the next leg of the journey. For it was through the fans, and Niso’s interaction with them, through their questions about what happened to my characters between books, or to their children and grandchildren, that the idea of working with other authors was born.
“Golden Lion”, my thirty-sixth novel, hit the number one spot in the UK in September, 2015. This was the first of the co-authored projects that Kevin Conroy Scott, Niso and I had started discussing and working on. I could not have been prouder.
This biography, with a bibliography, is available for download as a PDFTweet