27 July 2021

Giveaway and Interview with Tony Park, author of Blood Trail

Tony Park, author (Credit - Annelien Oberholzer)


Intro

Australian author Tony Park is an Army veteran who has also worked as a reporter, PR consultant and press secretary. Tony has written 6 non fiction books and 18 novels set in Africa and his latest book Blood Trail is being published on 1 August 2021. Passionate about wildlife conservation, Tony's latest book is set in a South African game reserve, and you can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win 1 of 2 signed copies of Blood Trail thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia. Tony joins me today to answer a few questions.

Interview

Thanks for joining me Tony. If you had 25 words to entice a reader to read Blood Trail, what would they be?
Escape the COVID blues with a virtual trip to Africa to explore wildlife, witchcraft, action, adventure and men and women behaving badly.

In Blood Trail, poachers in a South African game reserve use witchcraft in the belief it'll protect them and make them bulletproof. This blows my mind. Can you tell us more about the witchcraft practices in that area?
Traditional beliefs are widely held in every strata of African society, even among people who identify with ‘mainstream’ religions. Belief systems – some people would call them superstitions are also very important in any society where people are involved in high-risk, high-reward pursuits. The easiest of these to understand is – people become more religious, more superstitious and cling to rituals when the stakes are, literally, life and death. I’m working on a non fiction book at the moment about a RAAF air gunner in WWII who suffered 50 per cent deafness all his life because he flew in a bomber when he had a very bad head cold. There was no way he was going to sit the mission out as his crew all firmly believe, as he did, that crews that flew with a replacement member were always shot down. The war on poaching in Africa is high-risk, high-stakes and the people involved will use any talisman, potion or charm they can to improve their chances.

I read that Blood Trail was written while you were in lockdown. Was the writing process vastly different to your previous 18 novels set in Africa?
Absolutely. Normally I live half the year in Africa, in the bush, and I can immerse myself in the places I write about. The writing comes easy and the research is mostly by osmosis. I wrote Blood Trail in the spare bedroom of a two bedroom flat in Sydney! It forced me to take a different approach – as the book is largely about personal belief systems I talked to people – academics, park rangers, police, safari guides and an African friend abut the situation on the ground in the war against rhino poaching and their personal beliefs. We chatted via Zoom and messenger. It was actually quite rewarding, and fascinating.

Given you and your wife usually live in Africa for 6 months of the year, is this way of life for you now threatened? Are you optimistic about being able to return to Africa in the near future?
As we have residency and property in Africa – we are also part owners of Nantwich Lodge, a safari lodge in Hwange National Park Zimbabwe, we’re hopeful we can get permission to leave Australia early to get back to Africa. Whether or not that comes through, I’ll be on the next possible plane to Africa. We were first in line for our vaccinations.
Blood Trail by Tony Park book cover

Where do you like to do most of your writing? Do you have any writing rituals?

Normally I’m in an upstairs loft in our house in a game reserve in Africa. Even here in Australia, in my flat, I follow the same ritual as in Africa. I try to get an early start and clear my head – with a drive in the bush in Africa looking at wild animals, or an early run in Sydney! I then get stuck in. I have a daily quota of four pages about 1600 words, which I must complete five days a week – no more, no less. Even if I’m on a roll I like to stop and keep something in the tank for the next day. I never finish my quota at the end of a chapter – I sneak on to the next page. There is nothing more confronting at the start of the day than a blank page.

How do you feel about being compared to Wilbur Smith?
I like Wilbur’s earlier books, when he was writing about contemporary southern Africa. If there are any similarities between us, I’d say they relate more to those books from the 1960s and 70s. I’m flattered to be compared to someone who has provided so much entertainment to so many. I hope I’m still writing when I’m in my 90s!

Is there a book by an African writer you believe deserves more attention?
My favourite author of books set in Africa was the late John Gordon-Davis. His book Hold My Hand I’m Dying, set in the bush in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) is still the best novel ever set in Africa.

Having served 34 years in the Australian Army Reserve, do you find many veterans forming part of your readership base? (I'm a veteran too, and I'm imagining your books being shared in messes all over the world).
Increasingly so, yes. Social media has been a great tool for veterans to support each other and it's really encouraging seeing that manifest itself in sites such as Brothers 'N' Books, which promotes reading. I’ve also taken on a voluntary position as the inaugural Veteran Writer in Residence at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, in Sydney, to help veterans interested in writing. There’s a growing groundswell of veterans who want to tell their stories.

What are you reading at the moment?
An old novel from the 1970s, KG 200, by J.D. Gilman and John Clive. It’s about a German squadron that flew captured allied aircraft on secret missions in WWII. It was a favourite of mine as a teenager and I found it in a street library – I want to see if I still like it. I’m also reading Duty Nobly Done, a non-fiction book by Adam Holloway about his family’s several generations of service. I’m looking forward to Peter Watt’s The Colonial’s Son, set in Afghanistan in the 19th century.

Has the pandemic changed your reading habits in any way?
Book sales have boomed during the pandemic and like other people I’ve found that staying home and not going out in the evenings has given me more time to read. I’ve also been trying out some new authors, which has been rewarding.

What are you working on now?
I’m nearly finished the first draft of a 20th novel. It will see a return of one of my more popular characters, retired mercenary Sonja Kurtz. This time she’s fighting abalone poaching in Africa – this is a little known but highly lucrative area of organised crime. I also have a couple of co-written non fiction books in the pipeline.

They sound great, anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much for your support for Australian authors, and thank you for your service!

Thanks so much Tony! You can find out more about Tony Park at www.tonypark.net 

Blurb

Evil is at play in a South African game reserve.

A poacher vanishes into thin air, defying logic, and baffling ace tracker Mia Greenaway.

Meanwhile Captain Sannie van Rensburg, still reeling from a personal tragedy, is investigating the disappearance of two young girls who locals fear have been abducted for use in sinister traditional medicine practices.

But poachers are also employing witchcraft, paying healers for potions they believe will make them invisible and bulletproof.

When a tourist goes missing, Mia and Sannie must work together to confront their own demons - which challenges everything they believe in - while following a bloody trail that seems to vanish at every turn.

Giveaway

This giveaway has now closed and the winner will be announced soon.




Would you like to comment?

  1. This does sound good, I've listened to a few of his books and really enjoyed them and have a couple more on my shelf. I was supposed to be in East Africa August last year, I certainly hope I get there in the next couple of years, but unlike Tony I'm not convinced it'll be a safe place to travel to for a while. I hope he manages to get back to his second home sooner rather than later.

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    1. Thanks Claire, and great to hear you've enjoyed some of Tony's books in the past. I've only been to Africa once, but I hope you can rebook your trip to East Africa in the future when it's safe. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of Tony's books on your shelves :-)

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Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!

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