Tony Park's life in books

International bestselling author, Tony Park chats to us about the books that made him, hosting a literary dinner and his recommended reads.

6 minutes to read

Tony Park is the author of 18 novels set in Africa and six non-fiction biographies. Tony has worked as a reporter, a press secretary, a PR consultant and a freelance writer. He also served 34 years in the Australian Army Reserve including six month in Afghanistan in 2002. Tony and his wife divide their time between Sydney and southern Africa where they own a home on the border of the Kruger National Park. His new novel, Last Survivor, is out now in stores.

Selected by Tony, here are five quotes from Last Survivor that capture the story and show why you need to read the book..

  • "But he was now beyond rare; he was critically endangered, extinct in the wild."
  • "Thandi looked around the room at her friends, because despite their occasional differences and outbursts, and instances of latent racism, they were her friends."
  • "Rod drained the last of his coffee. When Jake had left he switched channels to watch the story on Joanne Flack all over again. Just so he could look at her."
  • "‘My name is Sonja Kurtz. Don’t let the accent fool you – I’m CIA. I’m here to rescue you and kill as many of these (expletive deleted) as I can.’"
  • "According to the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, sixty-three per cent of all the world’s cycads are threatened with extinction. To put it all in perspective, cycads are the most endangered organism on the planet."

If you had to curate a playlist for Last Survivor, which five songs would you include?

  • I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor.  Many of my characters were active during the disco era, and the book is about survival and strong heroines.
  • I Never Promised you a Rose Garden, Lynn Anderson.  There are some troubled relationships between the main characters in Last Survivor.
  • Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Mudaur. In honour of the handsome, enigmatic Middle Eastern minor-royal in Last Survivor.
  • Highway to the Danger Zone, by Kenny Loggins. Just as in Top Gun, there’s some jet aircraft combat in Last Survivor, though like some of the characters, the aircraft’s past its prime.
  • You Don’t Have to Say  you Love Me by Dusty Springfield. Another golden oldie for my golden oldie characters. My leading lady, ex-mercenary Sonja Kurtz, has some issues with the ‘L’ word.

A book you read when writing Last Survivor, that people can read after they finish Last Survivor.
Changing a Leopard’s Spots by Alex Van Den Heever and Renia Mhlongo. These two friends talk about their exploits as master trackers in Africa as a means of bridging cultural divides. My characters in Last Survivor come from different backgrounds, but by and large their passions for nature unites them.

The book you give as a gift?
The pop-up Kama Sutra. When I was 25 I found bought about 20 of these cheap books  from a discount book store and gave them to all my friends as they progressively became engaged or married.

Books that made you...
My mother started me in reading by giving the Biggles series of books by Captain W.E. Johns about a flying detective. Later she introduced me to James A. Michener and John Gordon Davis, my all time favourite author.

Your earliest reading memory
Miffy in the Snow by Dick Bruna.  Just beautiful – still.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
Hold My Hand I’m Dying by John Gordon-Davis. This is the best novel set in Africa of all time.

Five books you would recommend to a stranger?
Anything by Deon Meyer (I love his work); Hold My Hand I’m Dying by John Gordon Davis; Pillars of the Earth By Ken Follet (Brilliant historical fiction); Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson (like Biggles, but for grown ups); Last Survivor by Tony Park (he needs the money).

Which book do you find yourself returning to and why?
On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I am not a fan of the genres he writes - horror fiction or paranormal, but ‘On Writing’ is without doubt the best book ever written about how to write. I re-read it every year before starting another novel.

The book almost everyone you know has read but, you haven’t?
The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel.  Tiger? Boat? Sorry, I just don’t get it.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited (dead or alive)? And where would you host the dinner - location/country/venue?
Deon Meyer (who I actually know and is a great guy); the late John Gordon Davis (who I wish I had met), and US writer and Vietnam veteran Nelson Demille (whose use of humour in thrillers is masterful, so I think he’d be a great dinner party guest). I’d host it at Nantwich Lodge in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, because I know one of the owners – me.

If you missed the virtual book launch of Last Survivor, watch Tony in discussion with James Hendry, wildlife presenter and bestselling author: