Welcome to Daniel Pembrey, author of the Harbor Master series and his latest a Kindle Single titled The Lion Hunter.
1. What is the title and genre of your latest book?
The Lion Hunter in a short adventure story, inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion, a recent trip I made to Tanzania and my re-reading of Hemingway’s African short stories. It’s about a newly married British couple who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge. The lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband expects. It really is short at approximately 40 pages. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around.
I’m always wary of trying to convey a message; it so often gets in the way of the story. The story unfolds in the remote borderland between Tanzania and Kenya, which has become a very dangerous part of the world owing to the incursions of Islamic fundamentalism, not to mention warlords in neighbouring Uganda … It is a complicated, deadly world.
Outside of the story, I’m a big supporter of animal conservation initiatives. I just met a remarkable man named John Rendall, who became famous for his relationship with a lion called Christian (you can see the You Tube footage here); it’s a very moving tale of separation and reunion. John read and liked The Lion Hunter, kindly giving a quote. He also told me that lion numbers in Africa have fallen from 400,000 when that film of him was shot 40 years ago to just 15,000 now. Species are vanishing from in front of our eyes, and people like John are doing incredible work to prevent their extinction.
3. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Probably the manager of the game lodge – ‘a supple-limbed Tanzanian, always immaculately dressed …’ with a habit of over-using the phrase “You are welcome!” – in a charming and hospitable way. He was inspired by the manager of a hotel that I’d stayed at in Karatu, northern Tanzania.
4. What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator.
That’s a good question! The husband, Andrew, is something of an anti-hero figure, beset with doubts and uncertainties that he has to overcome … so he’s a little preoccupied in this tale! I’ve always enjoyed reading that type of story – ordinary protagonist placed in extraordinary circumstances – especially when told by a master such as Eric Ambler.
5. What books have most influenced your life, your writing? If you had to choose, which author would you consider a mentor?
I’d have to pick DH Lawrence. He is the writer who has spoken to me most over the years. Like Lawrence, I hail from Nottinghamshire. I attended the same school to which he won a scholarship, and I even discovered that a great grandfather of mine had been a coalminer in Nottinghamshire, like Lawrence’s dad.
No book has affected me more than his semi-autobiographical Sons and Lovers. There is a forensic quality to the social insight – similar to that found in the best crime fiction. Re-reading that book persuaded me to take a writing sabbatical from my last job; I won a residency at an artists’ foundation in northern New Mexico, close to where Lawrence and his wife Frieda lived during the 1920s. There, I read pretty much everything Lawrence had ever written (which is a lot!).
6. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m not sure how unique they are, but I love what I’d describe as ‘active balance’ sports, such as surfing, horseback riding and also yoga. Preferably done in warm climates! Here is me on horseback at the DH Lawrence ranch in northern New Mexico:
There is nothing more helpful to authors than readers leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or telling their friends about the book – assuming they’ve enjoyed it! Of course, if they want to mention it to the author, that is very nice too!
8. Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Persistence, in a word. Successful authors tend to be those who have stuck at it (often because they can’t imagine doing anything else!).
9. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just to thank them, as always. They keep this whole show on the road.
10. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
I am active on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DPemb, and also present on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DPembrey. You can also sign up to receive my quarterly email newsletter (with offers of free exclusive content) on my website, www.danielprembrey.com
And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
Thank you for having me, Shannon!
Here is how The Lion Hunter starts:
He did have the look of a killer, now he’d alluded to it.
Jim Paterson was a tall man with close-cropped hair. His physique was lean and wiry as opposed to muscular. He still wore his green hunting vest; round the waist were little loops for cartridges. He’d said he was from Houston, but there was no drawl, no Texas swagger. A neurologist, he’d mentioned.
Clearly he had money.
‘You’re here to hunt a lion,’ Andrew Riley confirmed.
Paterson smiled. ‘Was,’ he corrected Andrew. The fine wrinkles round his eyes remained immobile. ‘I leave tomorrow.’ His voice was deep, soft and laconic.
Andrew’s wife patted him wearily on the shoulder. ‘Darling, we leave tomorrow, too,’ Lavinia said. ‘I’m off to bed.’
‘Wise words,’ Paterson remarked, his gaze lifting to her face. His eyes warmed, or maybe it was the reflected amber of his whisky catching the flecks in his irises. The safari lodge was candlelit.
Andrew turned to smile at Lavinia but she’d already left, her shapely rear retreating.
‘Fine creature,’ Paterson said as his mouth disappeared into his cut-glass tumbler.
Andrew bristled at his word choice. ‘We’re on our honeymoon,’ he said.
‘Yeah, you mentioned.’
He pretended to ignore Paterson.
It was their last night at the world-renowned Three Trees Lodge. He was savouring the experience, just as he savoured the aftertaste of the whisky. It was a good, distinctive single malt. A Lagavulin, if he wasn’t mistaken.
The stars above were brilliant. Before them, trees massed darkly. Three Trees Lodge was famous for the tree-climbing leopards that inhabited this end of the park.
‘All legal, of course.’
For a moment, Andrew wondered what Paterson was talking about. His wife was a lawyer. It’s funny, he was still getting used to calling her that. Wife. The word felt odd, blunt. But Paterson wasn’t talking about Lavinia.
‘All the permits and paperwork are in order, in case you’re curious,’ Paterson was saying.
Andrew recalled that he’d told the Texan he wrote for The Times.
‘You know that lion stocks have fallen eighty per cent across Africa in the last couple of decades?’ Andrew said.
‘Well . . .’ Paterson was swirling his whisky, dissolving the remaining ice, which tinkled. ‘Tens of thousands remain, so I doubt you can attribute much of the decline to lil’ old me.’ He made as though to leave, and smiled again. His eyes almost did, too.
‘Did you . . . find one?’ Andrew asked.
Paterson was halfway out of his chair.
‘Yes,’ he said, sighing contentedly. ‘She really was magnificent.’
He stood and gathered up his sunglasses and the book that he was reading: a collection of Hemingway’s short stories, of course. No doubt a valuable edition.
‘Goodnight,’ he said. ‘All the best for your onward journey.’
Andrew sat for a few more moments, taking in the cool night air. There was a hum of insects, and the sound of swishing in the undergrowth. Strange woofing noises as well.
He could have sworn there was another man present, but he couldn’t see anybody. Perhaps it was one of the guides, standing guard in case one of those leopards became adventurous or just plain hungry.
Andrew drained his whisky and returned to his room and his wife.
To read the rest of the story visit:
Amazon US product page: www.amazon.com/dp/B0186DYH2Y/
Amazon UK product page: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0186DYH2Y/
Thank you Daniel, for spending time with us. It has been a pleasure learning more about the lions and a peek inside your daily life. We look forward to hearing about your two new upcoming books. Until then…