I was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Mozambique and lived in South Africa, where I worked as a journalist on daily, Sunday and regional newspapers.
At the time South Africa was engaged in a low-level civil war and I and my colleagues reported on a society seething with fear and resentment. It was, however, an intensely interesting and often surreal time to be a reporter.
However, I had always aspired to be a fulltime author and couldn’t believe my luck when my brother-in-law, conservationist Lawrence Anthony invited me to come out to Iraq after the 2003 war and co-author a book with him on his amazing exploits in saving what was once the Middle East’s showpiece zoo.
In those days Lawrence was a struggling, unknown conservationist, battling to make ends meet on his game reserve Thula Thula in Zululand, South Africa, and had little love for zoos. His soul thrived in the wilds, but all he saw were caged animals suffering beyond belief.
That book took us five years to get published and received international acclaim, leading to two others, The Elephant Whisperer and The Last Rhinos.
Most importantly, it gave Lawrence a global platform for his conservation beliefs.
Lawrence died in March, 2012. He was 61 – way too young. But I have always said, men like Lawrence are not destined to grow old. For them, there would never be slippers and pipe by the fireside, increasingly feeble with age. The flame just burnt too bright.
But his legacy, through his books and the continuation of his work in conservation lives on.
I, too, continue to write. My latest novel, The Apocalypse Chase, is about something Lawrence would empathise with, looking to live life on your own terms. It combines my love of fly-fishing and wild spaces – not only in the wilderness, but in the anarchy of the mind.
I have also written a political-thriller novel on what I believe to be the defining theme of our times, the fight against fundamentalist terror. It’s called Keepers of the Flame and inspired by today’s headlines.