My haven: The best-selling author, Wilbur Smith, 79, relaxes in the living room of his home in Cape Town, South Africa
22:19 GMT, 18 May 2012
Author Wilbur Smith surrounded by some of his favourite things including his elephant tusks from Zimbabwe and a 19th-century gun that his grandfather used to carry on his travels
1 MY HEART LIES HERE
These tusks, which were mounted many years ago in Zimbabwe, take pride of place in my home. The elephant is rightly regarded as one of Africa's most iconic animals and every time I look at them they're a reminder of this great continent – still a land of adventure. Despite the fact that I spend a lot of time in London, Switzerland and New York, Africa is the place I know and love best, and my heart will always lie here.
2 LUCKY CHARM
The pangolin is a scaly anteater that rolls itself into a ball to defend itself. It's a very innocuous little creature, and the Africans look upon it as a symbol of luck. You'll often see little statues of them in people's homes, but being nocturnal you don't see much of them in real life. I'm very fond of my bronze of this strange little animal. I regard him as a lucky charm too, and I like having him in the house.
3 MIND THE GAP
I met Miso, my beautiful [fourth] wife, who's from Tajikistan, in London in 1999. It was love at first sight – at least for me. I spotted her in the West End, followed her into a book shop and asked her if I could help. Then I played my trump card, and asked her out for a fancy caviar lunch. We married in 2000. Skiing is a passion of ours and this picture was taken in Switzerland. When people ask about the age gap, I reply, 'What's 39 years!'
4 IT'S A FIRST!
This first print run of the first edition of my first novel, When The Lion Feeds back in 1964, is so rare it can fetch several thousand pounds at auction. I always wanted to be an author, and I decided to write about what I knew. My publishers tell me I've sold 120 million books – and someone once worked out they'd fill Wembley Stadium twice over. It's probably true that everyone has a book in them, although it may not be a very good one.
5 MY HERO DAD
Herbert, my father, was born in Britain but went out to Africa in his teens to join his father and built up an 18,000-acre ranch in what was then Northern Rhodesia, providing work for the locals. He was my hero when I was a boy. I think all boys start out worshipping their father, then get to their teens and think he doesn't understand them. Then when you reach 50 you realise you were right all along and he was a hero.
6 DANGEROUS WORK
This gun is the 19th-century muzzle-loader that my grandfather used to carry on his travels as a transport rider when he came to Africa in the 19th century. He had to bring goods inland from the coast on ox wagons – which was dangerous work back then. It's purely for decoration these days – if you tried to use it, you'd probably blow your head off. I've never fired it and I never want to, but it's nice to have around
Wilbur Smith’s latest novel, Those In Peril, is published in paperback by Pan and priced 7.99.