“In many ways, I feel that trees are the very embodiment of nature. Providing us with a living connection to our planet, somehow bridging the gap between our own fleeting existence and the world in which we live. I feel I’m being offered a glimpse of a half-remembered ancestral world when I climb into them, and for some reason this makes me feel good. Helps me remember my place in the scheme of things.”
I didn't think I'd ever be lucky enough to write a book - let alone one describing what I do for a living. It hadn't occurred to me that anyone else might wish to read about the kind of things I got up to in the trees. But sometimes good things happen when you least expect it.
Jamie Joseph - Senior Commissioning Editor at Penguin Random House in London - happened to hear one of my radio programmes on BBC Radio 4 one day, and contacted me to explore the idea of putting pen to paper. I sent him a couple of sample chapters and was thrilled to be given a contract, but then realised I had to earn it and deliver an entire book within six months. Which is fine if you are an experienced author, but I'm not. Thankfully however, where there's a will there's a way, and six months (and several gallons of tea) later Jamie and I were in possession of a complete manuscript. What's more - I have to say I enjoyed every minute of writing it. It was fantastic to be given a legitimate excuse to get out my old travel journals and drift off into the jungle for a few hours each night after the kids went to bed. The whole process gave me the luxury of re-visiting important personal experiences that I hadn't really had time to digest properly since they'd happened. As a creative experience, it was one of the most satisfying things I've ever been lucky enough to do.
The main focus of the book is the individual trees visited, climbed and filmed in various parts of the world over the past couple of decades. My aim was to raise awareness of just how special even the most average-looking tree truly is.
“Each tree has a unique character and it is the privileged feeling of being temporarily connected to them that draws me back time and time again. As an expression of nature - as living ambassadors from the past - I believe they deserve our deep, abiding respect and I’m willing to bet that most of us have experienced an emotional connection to them at some point in our lives.”
The bottom line is I am very proud of how it all turned out, but the book would not exist at all without the creative visions and hard work of both Jamie at PRH and Sarah Blunt, who produced the BBC radio programme that Jamie happened to hear that day.
The fantastic team at Penguin have put together a great page all about the book on their website. It includes a sample chapter and plenty of photos. Click on the monochromatic flightless bird for more info...
These two clips should give you an idea of the kind of thing to expect from the book...hope you enjoy them!