Sunday, August 06, 2006

Rootin', tootin' review

The first review (that I can find) for African Sky is in, and it's a good one (phew).

It's by Frank Walker, of the Sydney Sun-Herald. Frank did a profile on me last year and was one of a number of journos who visited Afghanistan while I was there with the Army.

The review ran on August 6, on Page 62. Here's an excerpt (I'll leave out the bit where he gives the plot away, but trust me, it's all good. I haven't censored anything about how lame my writing is).

"Park is an Aussie who loves Africa and spends half his year there among wild animals writing thrillers. This is his third. Set during World War II on an Allied pilot training base in Rhodesia it's as much a whodunnit as Boy's Own adventure yarn with a hint of kinky sex thrown in... (and here he gives a run down of the plot)... it all culminates in a dogfight with dastardly Nazis. Rootin' tootin' reading, ideal for long flights."

Got to be happy with that. Fighter planes and kinky sex. What else could you ask for in a book?

Biggles fantasies

One of the good things about writing books is that it gives you an excuse to do lots of fun things that you might otherwise have no reasonable excuse to do.

As part of my research for the new book, African Sky I was able to track down the owners of two vintage WWII Harvard training aircraft - a type used to train pilots for the allied air forces in Australia, Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and Canada.

Jeff Mueller showed me around his Harvard at Bankstown Airport and answered a whole host of research questions, including how to go about sabotaging an aeroplane such as his. I think Jeff enjoyed that bit, in a strange sort of way. He was also able to tell me how to crash land a Harvard - something he's had to do himself (not by choice).

Afterwards, Jeff took Mrs Blog up for a joyflight, during which he did some rolls (upside down stuff) and pretended to straff some enemy bunkers around Blacktown and shoot down a Japanese Zero over Prospect Reservoir (Mrs Blog enjoyed that bit, immensely). All this was for a good cause, as Pip Lovejoy, plucky, sexy heroin of African Sky gets involved in a dog fight in a Harvard during her first every flight in an aeroplane, so Mrs Blog relayed her breathless feelings about the flight and I got to take notes.

When the book came out, I thought it would be good to get some PR pictures taken with a Harvard. Jeff had sold his by then (he's upgrading to an ex Russian air force jet and practising his emergcency landing drills!) but he put me on to Norm Longfield, who owns a Harvard at Hoxton Park Airport in Western Sydney.

So it was, that I got to do some more serious plane spotting and have my picture taken with Norm's magnificent, shiny specimen of a Harvard (above). I can't fly, but I like to hang out with guys who can, and live out my Biggles fantasies.