Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Blood Trail. I’m sharing a Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Tony Park for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
Absolutely, for as long as I can remember! My mother started me reading at a very early age and ever since I was a young child the only thing I wanted to do was write a novel. In some ways my life ‘began’ at 40, in 2004, when my first novel, Far Horizon, was published.
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
I dropped out of university to work as a journalist on a small newspaper in Sydney. Working as a journalist confirmed to me that I wanted to make a living out of writing, but I had to ‘un-learn’ a lot of how I learned to write as a news reporter when it came to writing a novel. I also served 34 years in the Australian Army Reserve, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2002 – my military experience filters through in books such as Blood Trail, which focuses on the war against rhino poaching in Africa.
What was your inspiration for Blood Trail?
A few years ago I had coffee with an academic in South Africa who was working for the national parks board. She had been studying the traditional beliefs of rhino poachers, who believed they could by medicine from a traditional healer that would make them invisible or bulletproof. What if a rhino poacher could actually make himself disappear, I wondered? Bang – I had the premise for Blood Trail. It took until lockdown, in 2020, though, for me to get around to writing it.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
My characters certainly share the experiences of real life people I have met – rangers, soldiers, police officers – even poachers – but their personalities and appearances are not based on real people.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser, for fiction, for sure. I once tried writing to a plot (my first attempt at writing a novel) and not only did I fail, I found the process boring and difficult. When I started just making up a story I found that I really enjoyed it – and I got published.
How did you research Blood Trai? Did you enjoy it?
With my previous 18 novels I did my research simply be travelling around Africa and observing. Stuck in my other home, in Australia, in 2020 in lockdown I did my research by talking to people, via Messenger and email, in South Africa. While Blood Trail has plenty of African scenery and wildlife it is also fundamentally about people and their deeply held personal beliefs. To do that I had to have some pretty deep conversations, which I enjoyed.
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
I love Ken Follet for his strong female characters; Nelson Demille for his witty dialogue; South African Deon Meyer because he is the best crime writer in the world, and the late John Gordon-Davis, who properly introduced me to Africa. I wouldn’t say they influence me, but they inspire me to try harder.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
John Gordon Davis, to share some African stories; Nelson Mandela, to thank him for being the only politician in history to truly reconcile people and also quit while he was ahead; and Charlize Theron to convince her play my leading lady, South African police detective Captain Sannie van Rensburg.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
My bank manager. I’ve recently invested in a beautiful safari camp in Zimbabwe, Nantwich Lodge (www.nantwichlodge.com). Please come and visit when you can – my bank manager will be grateful.
Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Blood Trail?
Charlize Theron as Sannie van Resnburg, and Noomi Rapace as Mia.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Write (I have no spare time), and view African animals, while writing. As I write this, I am sitting at Nantwich Lodge in Zimbabwe, watching a herd of zebra at the waterhole.
What is next for you?
I am doing a final edit on my 20th novel, due for release in 2021, and working on a new non fiction book (I’ve already written seven biographies, with an 8th and 9th due for release soon).
Book? Hold my Hand I’m Dying, by John Gordon Davis
Film? G.I. Blues, starring Elvis Presley
Band/Singer? Elvis Presley
TV show? Time Team
Place? Anywhere in Africa
Biscuit? Gingernut, of course.
Blood Trail is available from Amazon.
You ccan follow the rest of the blog tour here: