Welcome to Awesome Aussie Authors and this week I’m thrilled to be speaking with the extremely talented and all round wonderful bloke, Tony Park. The alluring untamed magic of Africa features strongly in Tony’s books and he captures the very essence with vigour, gripping you to the pages of his bestselling novels until the very last page. Tony spends most of his time in Africa with his wife, his office consisting of a camp chair parked up in the shade whilst the views encompass the local wildlife-elephants, cheetahs and rhinos. I must admit I’m more than a little jealous, considering my office is squished into the corner of my bedroom.
Welcome, Tony, it’s wonderful to have you here today.
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
I was born in New Zealand to an Aussie mum and Welsh dad, but only lived there until I was three. We moved to Australia and that’s where I grew up, in the western suburbs of Sydney. I went to St Gregs College.
I once carved my initial in the wooden arm of the lounge suite. I carved an ‘A’ for Anthony instead of ‘T’ for Tony so my parents wouldn’t know who did it. Smart, eh?
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
My first book, Far Horizon, was published by the first publisher I sent it to, Pan Macmillan. I beat the odds and was published first time, without an agent, because Macmillan just happened to be looking for a mass market novel set in Africa.
I was actually in Afghanistan, serving with the army, in 2002 (I am an army reservist) when I received the email confirming I was to be published. I was over the moon, but couldn’t have a drink to celebrate as we were alcohol free over there!
My wife, Nicola, and I spend six months of every year in Africa and this is where I write my African-based novels. We camp most of the time, in national parks. We get up around dawn and go for a drive looking at animals and then I write when we get home, around 10am.
I sit under and awning or in the second room of my tent, and gaze out at the bush as I write. Often I see game, such as elephants or buffalo walking past. One time, in Zimbabwe, I looked up from computer to see a pride of seven lions killing a buffalo. I wrote that experience straight into the manuscript I was working on.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
My latest book, African Dawn, a family saga set in Zimbabwe from 1959 to the present, has just been released. My next book is set in South Africa and Rwanda and will be out in time for Christmas, 2012.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
From all sorts of sources: conversations I’ve had with interesting people I’ve met in Africa, and also from unusual stories I’ve seen reported in the African media.
What is your favourite meal?
Beer can chicken – a South African specialty. You pop an open can of beer up the chook’s rear end and stand him on the barbie under a cover for an hour. Also I’ve just been in Mozambique where they have fantastic lobsters and prawns – I love seafood.
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
No worries. It sums up my life.
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
Where I am right now – southern Africa.
Thank you, Tony. It’s been wonderful hearing about your amazing life. It sounds to me as if you're living your dreams and that is very inspirational in itself.
I love the sound of the Beer can chicken too! I will have to share this one with my hubby so he can try it out on our barbeque next time we have friends around for dinner. It would be a great talking point! :)
You can find out more about Tony at his website
Thought for this week
“Don’t be afraid to give power to your intuition”
Next week our Awesome Aussie Author is one of my closest author friends, Fiona Palmer. Fiona is a wonderful lady and has been there endlessly to guide me through my journey into the publishing world. She is an absolute star! Besides her being a beautiful lady she is also highly gifted in the art of storytelling, her first two novels quickly becoming bestsellers. Pop on by next week to hear all about her life as an author. I love her and I’m sure you will too!
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling