It’s a first for Canada — a fiction book series set in the Canadian national parks. With every book set in a different park, the two main characters deal with real issues in Canadian parks. Author George Mercer uses his own experiences working as a park warden to bring the stories alive.
“Each story is set in a different national park so it follows my characters across the country from the East Coast to the West, including the north and the Rockies,” Mercer told The Echo. “It’s a pair of park wardens by the name Ben Matthews and his partner Kate Jones. The intent is that the series more or less follows them, but there probably will be some changes in each book with characters coming and going.”
To date, Mercer has two published books in the series. The first, titled Dyed in the Green (which is also the name of the series), is set in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. The second book, Woof Buffalo, is set in Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories. With a third book developing for a 2017 release, Mercer plans for the series to continue to five or six books.
“My plan is one a year. The next one is called Jasper Wild and it’s set in Jasper National Park. The first book deals with park wardens dealing with poaching in and around Cape Breton Island… poaching is an issue in parks and protected areas. My characters move to Wood Buffalo and they deal with an issue based on a proposal to slaughter all the bison in Wood Buffalo National Park. It was actually something that actually was proposed back in the 1980s, but this is a fictionalized account of that,”said Mercer.
Each book in the series deals with issues that Mercer has seen during the 35 years he worked as a park warden. Starting his career off in 1979 at Newfoundland’s Terra Nova, he encountered poaching in the park, which was the inspiration for his first book Dyed in the Green. Mercer ended his career with Parks Canada as the monitoring ecologist in the Gulf Islands in 2012. After retiring, Mercer began the creative process of becoming a published author, writing non-fiction for the South African company Earth Touched News Network. After taking some fiction writing courses at a college, he began to pursue fiction writing more seriously.
“My main interest, I guess, is trying to use a different approach like telling fictional stories about our national parks to try and get people jazzed about stories about parks and protected areas in Canada and around the world,” said Mercer.
Writing the first novel in the series began 15 years ago. Mercer now seriously focuses on his writing to get each book in the series out within a year of the last. Along with writing the series, Mercer is self-publishing and self-distributing all his novels himself.
The series falls in the mystery and suspense genre while maintaining the connection to parks around Canada. The books are available at independent bookstores and outlets such as the Storm Mountain Lodge on the way to Banff or at his website www.georgemercer.com.