Inspired by Africa

2011-04-13 00:00

AUSTRALIAN author Tony Park recently promoted his latest book, The Delta, on South African soil.

The Delta is about an assassin, Sonja Kurtz, who, after a failed attempt on the life of the Zimbabwean president, flees to the Okavango Delta in Botswana where she meets her long lost love, Sterling Smith.

She wants to escape her military ways, raise her daughter and live a normal life, but is lured by her persuasive and cunning mercenary commander, Martin Steele, to bomb the Okavango River dam which has caused a brutal death to the Okavango Delta. She struggles to make peace with her past and finds herself stuck between Steele, Sterling and the American wildlife documentary presenter, Sam ‘Coyote’ Chapman.

The Delta is Park’s seventh book, and was inspired by the unsuccessful proposal which the Namibian and Angolan governments raised years ago to dam the Okavango River to supply hydroelectric power to nearby communities.

Vivid descriptions of African scenery and discussions of issues can also be seen in his previous books, Ivory, Silent Predator, Safari, African Sky, Zambezi and Far Horizon.

During a recent visit to Durban, Park said: “The easiest and most effective way of being a writer and being vivid in your descriptions is by writing on location. As a writer it is important to travel and be in tune with the ambience that a particular country offers. I am observant and I always look for issues where there is conflict.”

Park first came to South Africa in 1995 for a holiday and fell in love with the continent. These days he comes back to African shores almost every year.

“There is something that always brings me back to Africa. It has been a great inspiration for my work and I have made a lot of friends as well. Whenever I am in Africa, I always feel at home,” he said.

Through bidding for main character names for his books at fundraising auctions, Park has helped a lot of charities, including Painted Dog Conservation Incorporated, which carries out research and conservation of the endangered African Painted Dog; the Save Foundation, which caters for the conservation of rhino; and Grey Man, an organisation that rescues child prostitutes in Asia.

“People have paid a significant amount of money to have their names mentioned in the books as main characters. At times, it can be hard to match people’s names with the characters I have in mind, but it’s all a fun exercise.”

Park has finished his next book, African Dawn, which is set to be released this year and is focused on Zimbabwean farm invasions and the political structure. The ninth book, he said, will look at Rwanda’s history of genocide and the illegal trade in wildlife.

“I do not wait for inspiration to come, I just get down to work and see my way though. Writing is a creative endeavour that one must enjoy,” said Park.

When asked what Freedom Day (coming up on April 27) means to him as someone who loves this country, Park said: “South Africa has the freedom to continue being the best country in this continent. A successful country needs strong media and an open and accountable government. Countries should not compare their problems but should rather focus on their goodwill.”

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