Quick questions with Tony Park

06 September 2020 - 00:00 By jennifer platt

Published in the Sunday Times (06/09/2020)

Jennifer Platt chats to Park about his latest novel, Last Survivor.

How much research did you have to do? Was it tricky?

As with all my novels I don't do much research up front. I write my story and then go back and fill in the gaps in my knowledge by talking to experts. I was helped by experts on the trade in cycads from the South African National Biodiversity Institute and two other experts. A couple of them, including botanist Michele Hofmeyr, read the manuscript and corrected my errors.

You haven't been able to travel since the pandemic struck. How has this affected you and your writing?

I've been travelling all my adult life and since my first novel was released in 2004, my wife, Nicola, and I have lived half of every year in Africa and the rest in Australia. I've never felt homesick for either of my homes, until 2020. I now know what it's truly like to miss a place. On the plus side, being stuck in Australia is not too bad and it has really made me appreciate, rather than take for granted, how lucky I am. I've had to keep on writing - it's what keeps me sane.

What do you miss most about SA?

Our South African home is in the bush, so we've been missing contact with the natural world. We're also missing our friends - and the best fillet steak in the world.

Are you working on another novel?

I'm writing a novel for 2021 set in the Kruger Park and the adjoining Sabi Sand Game Reserve. It's about conservation and nature, as well as traditional medicine and beliefs.

How has the pandemic changed your way of thinking, writing and reading?

Like many people, I have been reading more than ever. Sales of Last Survivor in Australia are already up more than 60% on my last novel - that says less about the book and more about the fact that people are reading more. There's at least one silver lining. @Jenniferdplatt