1. Hiya Tony and thanks bunches for joining me for my guest blog. Let’s start by introducing your debut book.
Thank you so much, Honey, for talking to me. My debut book is called With A Dying Breath.
2. What is your book about?
This book is about endangered animals, why they are endangered, and what we can do to help them. It is intended to make people realize the hazards, the majority of them caused by humans, that these animals face in their fight to survive. There are some in the book that are starting to rebound with help, but there are also some in the book that have virtually no hope short of a miracle. Overall, many of the animals talked about in the book are ones that we are in a great position to help… if we have the will.
3. How long did it take you to research for this?
This started as a school project – I was homeschooled. As I worked on it, added more animals and more geographic regions, it grew. In all, it took me almost four years to research it then get it all put together.
4. Not everyone knows that you are diagnosed with Autism. Did this hinder your passion to write With A Dying Breath?
Because of my autism, there are some things I can do very well, but there are other things that are very difficult for me. One of the things that is extremely difficult for me to do is to write. I can read, but I struggle when I have to think of a letter then send that message to my hand so that it can write. That was one of the reasons we started this project – to help build that skill in me. In order to do the book, I made my notes for each animal then used those notes to make sure I had all the information right before I told it to my mom for her to type it up. She cleaned up my grammar mistakes as we went along.
5. Also not well known is the fact that you have chosen to donate all of your royalties from your sales to IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Why?
The IUCN is the organization that monitors animal and plant populations around the world. They work with local governments and conservation groups, maintaining the Red List that rates animal species as vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild and extinct. They help identify the problems that each species faces, then tries to find the best way to help those populations, including by making the public aware. Their work is critical to the survival of thousands of animals. By donating to them, we can help monitor these populations, identify other species that are in trouble before it’s too late, identify new species, and get groups working locally to educate people about conservation. We never really understand, until it’s too late, what the loss of one species can mean to all of us, even when that species is something we have never seen in our lives. They, and we, are all connected in a web of life, so when one is weakened or removed, others weaken as well… it might take a while and be several species removed from us, but eventually it will impact us.
6. You received an awesome review from one of the best known Wildlife Advocates, Mr. Jack Hanna. How did that feel?
Amazing! He was very gracious to me and very complimentary about my work and the research that went into it. I have also heard from David Suzuki, and just this week, I received a letter from Phillipe Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau’s grandson) thanking me and complimenting my work. To receive any acknowledgement from these people who have dedicated their lives to helping wildlife and conservation is amazing.
7. You are a very dedicated young man! Do you see any other books in your future?
Yes. I am thinking about a few more right now. One of the problems we had with my current book, With a Dying Breath, was locating pictures of each species. We managed to find, with the help of pictures and artwork donated from over 70 different people around the world, to get pictures of all but three species, but it’s something I bear in mind when thinking of the next book – the availability of the pictures. However, I would like to do a book about introduced and invasive species – ones that are brought to a new area, often for recreational purposes, which then go wild and take over, leaving native species to perish. They aren’t always bad, but they still impact local populations and need to be thoroughly controlled. I would also like to do a book about recently extinct animals – in the last five thousand years, so not as far back as dinosaurs but far enough back to include species such as the atlas bear. Of course, I would love to do another book about endangered animals again. The list is always changing. Even while working on the book, some animals were removed from the endangered list (they were then designated as vulnerable) while one, the Baiji (a river dolphin in India) was declared extinct.
8. Knowing your passion for wildlife, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
That’s a hard call. It wouldn’t be Europe because there are not a lot of wildlife species there. Africa and Australia would be top on the list, but the Amazon would also be amazing. There are some islands in the Indonesian archipelago that would be wonderful to see with their many unique animals, as well as India. There is also the Galapagos, Madagascar… I really can’t pick one place. They would all be amazing. If I am travelling in North America, any place with a well accredited zoo would be wonderful. Yes, I go to zoos. I think they do some amazing work in educating people about animals. They also are a critical component to the survival of many species. Without our zoos, we would be missing many animal species by now. Their breeding programs are very important. Their contribution to rescued animals also has to be considered, so yes, I believe zoos can do good.
9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy watching television, especially shows about nature, and I like to look at books, also about nature. We live on acreage so I have plenty to keep my busy there. I also like computer games and shooting pool.
10. Here’s where I get to be silly! If you could spend time with any author, who would it be and why? (it’s me right?? – jk – just forget I said that! LOL—please go on Tony!)
That’s easy. My mom. I even get to help with some of her writing, especially her series that goes around the world. I’m helping her with plans for her Cabochon book in the Urals and the one in Madagascar. I helped out with the ones in Ecuador and Tasmania, and we are working on the one in the arctic. I hope she also does at least one in Africa – South Africa would work, or in Tanzania or Kenya.
I can’t tell you what a pleasure this has been! A young man with this much dedication and passion is truly someone for us all to admire. Remember to check out Tony’s book on WAMM’s website. http://www.writersamuseme.com/tonywalkden.htm
Thank you all for joining Tony and me today. Hopefully, I was able to provide you with a little insight into Tony’s world. What an amazing young man and an awesome future ahead! Tony, thanks bunches again! We all hope to see where you will go from here! Please keep us posted on your future works.
Join me at a later date, to be announced, for more guest blogs!
See ya soon