Sunday, April 26, 2009

Of pirates and crabs

Ahoy, Legion of Fans (LOF), my fellow blogger, brilliant writer and online buddy the Crabmommy kindly invited me to do a guest spot on her blog and canvas the issue of what it is that society finds so endearing about people in puffy shirts who rob, kill, pillage, maim and have parrot pooh on their shoulders. I speak, of course, about pirates.

One of the crabster's commentators raised this subject, about kids loving pirates, so Crabmommy and I naturally saw this as perfect opportunity for me to shamelessly promote my upcoming tale of buccaneers, IVORY.

Crabmommy's blog is very funny and is read by squillions of people around the world, including Gwyneth Paltrow. Feel free to go have your two pieces-of-eight's worth on my post, here, but make sure you also browse through the Crabmommy's musings if you haven't already.

Elsewhere, my other very good internet and real-life friend Muriel calls me a slut in one of her recent blog posts, here. And I thank her for it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sneak preview...

Shush.... don't tell anyone, but here's a bit about my sixth book, IVORY which will be released in Australia on August 1, and South Africa in September (I think).

All you literary agents and publishing houses elsewhere around the world hoping to cash in on the current wave of publicity abut modern day piracy off the coast of Africa, pay attention:


IVORY

Alex Tremain is a pirate in trouble.

The two women in his life – his financial adviser and his mechanic – have left him. He’s facing a mounting tide of debts and his crew of modern-day buccaneers is getting restless. What Alex really wants is to re-open his parents’ five-star hotel on the Island of Dreams, off the coast of Mozambique.

But a chance raid on a ship sets the Chinese triads after him and, to add to his woes, corporate lawyer Jane Humphries lands, literally, in his lap. Another woman is the last thing Captain Tremain needs right now – especially one whose lover is a ruthless shipping magnate.

Before he knows it, Alex is embroiled in two separate and equally risky pursuits – one takes him to South Africa’s Kruger National Park and will pay enough for him to re-open his hotel, and the other involves the love of a lifetime. Can Alex pull off this one last heist and walk away with both prizes?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tangambalanga

You know... Tangambalanga. It's at the foothills of Mount Murramurrangbong, south of Woomargama, north of Mullindoolingong, west of Tallangatta and east of Yackandandah.

"Aaaaah," I hear you say, "That Tangambalanga." Yep, that's the one - the one that means "place of the white clawed lobster" in the local aboriginal dialogue (Like, duh, I hear you add).

The fact is, Legion of Fans, is that I had absolutely no idea where Tangambalanga was until last week, when I was taken on a tour of that very fetching town and many others I'd never heard of, courtesy of the Upper Murray Regional Library.

True to my Sydney city-slicker, New-South-Wales-centric ways I even had to ask (and I was not joking or being a smart a**) what state I was in, while downing a beer at the Laurel Hotel in downtown Mitta Mitta. Fortunately only the publican, Kim, was there and she was gracious enough to answer me (it turned out I was in Victoria) rather than smacking me one in the mouth.

The other fact, and point of this post, is that I take my own country, Australia, very much for granted.

Mostly, the only travel I've done around Australia has been courtesy of the Australian Army, during my time in uniform. I've been to many places with the Army that might elicit an "ooh", or an "ahh" from an unknowing foreigner, but what I learned very early on as a young soldier was that the Army has a way of conducting its activities in the sh*ttiest parts of this great country of ours.

So, when I say I've been to South Australia with the Army, what I really mean to say is that I've been to the Woomera training and rocket-testing range (a little piece of Afghanistan, right in our backyard - dust, heat, flies and, until recently, Afghans). When civilian folk go to tropical Far North Queensland they go to Cairns or Port Douglas - I went to the bits with the Taipan snakes and leeches.

Ditto the Gold Coast (where I will soon be talking, on May 29 and 3o at the Literati writer's festival). There, holidaymakers enjoy the beautiful beach at Surfer's Paradise, while just a few kilometres inland at the Canungra jungle warfare centre infantrymen, such as myself 26 years ago, were treated to an experiential holiday in a lovingly recreated pocket of the South Vietnamese jungle, complete with booby traps and live-firing machine guns.

But I digress. There is little excuse for my lack of civilian travel around our wide brown land other than the fact that I've been too busy travelling around Africa for the past 14 years.

I can wax lyrical about Nelspruit, Hotazel, Pontdrift and Kariba, yet I'd be hard pressed finding Yackandandah or Dartmouth on a map.

The mobile library is a fantastic service and yet another reminder of how lucky we Australians are to live in a country where there is enough money to fill an RV full of books and send it out into the bush so that elderly and infirm people, and stay-at-home mums with little kids can find something to read. Sure, our health system is a bit creaky and we have far too many politicians (there is a direct co-relation there, I am sure), but it's great that in the age of blogs there are still people who read books and still people who are dedicated to providing access to them to all Australians.

I met lots of lovely people on the tour and some were even lovlier than others (these, of course, were the ones who had read all my books, or bought one or more on the spot). Also, a nice young part-aboriginal fella called Janda, who was about or 11 0r 12, I guess, asked me for my autograph (a first for me) after collecting a stack of books and fishing magazines to read. On so many levels, how good was that (and I don't just mean for my ego)?

Mobile librarian Margaret, who claimed to be a grandmother but was far too young for that to be true, piloted the reading rig with the skill of a long-distance truckie (though without the need for drugs or porn on board) through spectacular horse and cattle country and down winding valleys that charted the course of various unpronounceable rivers. Somewhere nearby were the Snowy Mountains (I think).

It's huntin', fishin' and campin' country and, in those respects, not unlike Africa. I saw plenty of four wheel drives loaded with gear, towing camping trailers and sporting roof-top tents.

Bizarrely, it all made me homesick for my nomadic life in Africa.

The grass is, of course, always greener on the other side of the fence, but if you can't, for whatever reason, get over the barbed wire then take a look around your own backyard. I'm typing this from a room with no windows, in the middle of Australia's largest city. I should be editing my seventh book, but instead I wanted to summon up some memories of Mitta Mitta and tale of Tangambalanga, as much for my sake as yours.

If I can't be in South Africa or Zimbabwe, then I think, right now, I'd much rather be at the foothills of Mount Murramurrangbong, or south of Woomargama...

What about you? Got a favourite hidden corner in your backyard where you'd rather be right now?

Monday, April 20, 2009

If you've joined us from the newsletter...

...welcome.

I've had a great response from my first newsletter "African Lines" (get it?) which went out last Friday. Mercifully, few people have chosen to "unsubscribe", which is good for my ego, and good for all you readers, as those who stay on the list are eligible to go into the draw for five free books.

As a result of the newsletter there has been quite a bit of interest in the SILENT PREDATOR SAFARI, the tour I'm escorting to South Africa in September.

I won't say something cheezy like "hurry, places are limited" but, suffice it to say, the Africa Safari Co had quite a quite a few calls and I've fielded several emails about the tour.

If you have just joined us, please take a while to look through the backlist of posts here on the blog. There's something for everyone, including blood (any young-adult vampire book readers will be interested in how I stabbed myself recently while on safari); sweat (in the form of mechanics sweating over my land rover); and tears (those I shed recently over the death Monsieur Ted Lapis, designer of the modern day Safari Suit).

(If you didn't get a copy of the newsletter, then email me at tonyparknews (at) gmail.com and I'll put you on the list.)

Regular readers did you like my newsletter? If not, you can blame Alex the Pirate Wench, my young assistant who did the layout. Alex is now posting on my other blog, Ivory Pirate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On the road again...

...just can't wait to get on the road again...

So that's where I'm a-headed, courtesy of the Upper Murray Regional Library, on board its mobile library to:

15th of April -
Tangambalanga 10.30am-12pm,
Eskdale 1.15pm-3.30pm, Dartmouth 4.30pm-5.30pm
Speaking at the Mitta Hotel from 7.30pm onwards

16th of April -
Mitta 9am-12pm
Yackandandah 2pm-3.30pm

If you've never heard of these places and don't know where they are, don't worry - I don't either. However, I am looking forward to seeing all of these towns and meeting all of the mobile library users.

I am something of a guinea pig - apparently the first writer to go on the road with the library bus. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Musical interlude

Very, very busy, Legion of Fans (LOF) editing Book 7 right now, so no time for a long post.

Instead, I'll cheat and direct you to the most excellent crimebeat website, which is all about South African crime writers. A while ago they invited me to talk about music in my books (and, to my embarrassment, I realised I don't put a lot of music in my books). Still, I managed to cobble something together as I was extremely grateful for the invitation.

You can read my musical musings here.

Et tu, LOF? Do you like a bit of music in your fiction? What should my characters have been listening to, do you think? Perhaps "Bang Bang", by Cher for Fletcher Reynolds in SAFARI?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

And the winner is... Timepilot! (not me)

Well, Legion of Fans (LOF), the results of the South African Blog Awards are in and, once more, I am the groomsman rather than the groom.

I was named a runner up in the Best Travel Blog award category at the star-studded SA Blog Awards prize night in Cape Town on Friday.

Thank you to all of you who voted for me (and for my friends at Salma-gundi and the Crabmommy). We all know who really should have won in our respective categories, but I am sure I speak for my lady blogging friends when I say well done to the winners.

On a more positive note, however, we have our very own winner here on the blog. Timepilot has been randomly selected from the ranks of voters and his bribe... errrrr... I mean prize is the Tony Park book of his/her choice.

(Timepilot if you drop me an email to... mail (at) tonypark.net and let me know which book you want, your prize will soon be in the mail).

Well done, Timepilot and don't worry the rest of you... 2009 will be the year of bribery and giveaways.

I'm busy busy at the moment doing my edits on the first draft of the manuscript of my seventh book, which is titled "BOOK SEVEN". Book six, "IVORY" is just about ready for the presses and is on track for release in late July.

I've just checked my site meter and March recorded the highest ever number of visits to the blog since it began. Thank you all for your support - even those of you searching for sexy ladies in gorilla masks in google.

I promise there will be more posts, more pictures and more books to come.

What about you, LOF? Ever won anything big?