John Yunker on IRDA Winner “The Tourist Trail”

1. What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The Tourist Trail was published in 2010.

 

2. What’s the book’s first line?

In darkness, Angela ascended the winding gravel road.

 

3. What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

The Tourist Trail is an eco-thriller about endangered species and the people who risk their lives to protect them. It’s also a love story about a penguin researcher and the man who washes up on her shore one day.

 

4. What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I visited Patagonia in 2008 as a volunteer to assist with a penguin census of Magellanic penguins. The penguin colony, located at Punta Tombo, Argentina, is the largest Magellanic colony on the planet, and it has been steadily decreasing in size due to overfishing, pollution, and warming waters. At the same time I had been following the efforts of The Sea Shepherd Society as they battled Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. These two passions collided, in a fashion, to inspire the novel.

 

5. What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

The character of Aeneas was loosely inspired by Paul Watson, the founder of The Sea Shepherd Society (featured in the TV series Whale Wars). To devote your life to protecting animals in a region of the world that few people will ever visit requires a character who is heroic (or crazy, depending on whom you ask). I believe that the people who devote their lives to protecting animals are heroes, and this novel is my effort to portray them as such.

 

6. What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

This book appeals to readers who’d like to learn about life at the outermost regions of the planet (from Patagonia to Antarctica to the upper reaches of the Arctic), who are interested in endangered species (from penguins to whales), and who’d like to learn more about the worlds of researchers and activists and the amazing work that they do.

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