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Author interviews

Tony Park: writing tips

October 26, 2012

Author Tony Park has kindly written this lovely piece for us on his writing process:

I write all of my novels on location, in the African bush. My wife, Nicola, and I spend six months of each year travelling in Africa and spend most of that time camping in the continent’s magnificent national parks.

I draw my inspiration from the amazing scenery I see, the incredible wildlife, and the larger than life characters I meet on safari.

I’m an Australian writing about a continent to which I have no family ties – I first visited as a tourist in 1995 and have been back every year since, continually feeding an addiction that hooked me within days of landing in South Africa.

I find the only way I can write accurately about the places I visit and the people I meet is do it here, in Africa, while the experiences are fresh in my mind.

When it comes to the mechanics of writing I found out early on that I couldn’t follow the rules laid down in the few ‘how-to-write’ books I’ve read. Writers are supposed to have a plot first – the framework of a story and profiles of the characters who will populate their tale.

When I first started writing I couldn’t think of a story to save my life. Instead, I found that what worked for me was to start with a basic premise and make the story up as I go along.

I start each day in the African bush with an early morning drive, at dawn, looking for and photographing animals. This quiet time of day gives me a chance to daydream a little, about what might happen to my characters when I return to camp and start writing about them.

I try not to think too far ahead in the story, as it’s usually a waste of
time. It’s better to let the characters find their own way.

I write primarily to entertain myself and I figure that if I don’t know what will happen next then, hopefully, neither will my readers.

Tony Park fell in love with South Africa on a short trip in 1995 and he and his wife now divide their time between their home in Sydney and a tent in the Kruger Park. He is a qualified military parachutist and a major in the Australian Army Reserve.

He has worked in journalism and PR, including 6 months in Afghanistan in 2002 as PR officer for the Australian ground forces there. His most recent book African Dawn is out now.

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