Interview: Barry Finlay, Author of Kilimanjaro and Beyond
Where were you born?
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Other than author, what jobs have you had?
Director, Revenue Accounting, Reporting and Analysis, Canadian Federal Government Management consultant
About Barry’s writing
How did you come to write Kilimanjaro and Beyond?
After climbing Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, at age 60 with my son Chris and meeting some very needy children in Africa who we had done some fundraising for, I realized that there were three messages I wanted to share:
1. Every mountain top, whether physical or emotional, is within reach if you just keep climbing.
2. It is never too late to pursue a goal.
3. One or two people really can make a difference.
The book describes my journey with input from Chris in a very human way as we discover there is nothing more satisfying than reaching a goal and helping others to achieve theirs.
What’s the opening paragraph?
“It is January 16, 2009 at around noon local time, and my son Chris and I are sitting quietly propped up against a large rock. We are trying not to move too much as we enjoy a well-deserved sandwich, because every movement we make requires us to dig deep to draw a breath. The wind is howling and to our left, the sun is glistening off a glacier. We have climbed for seven days through a number of ecological zones, including steaming vibrant rainforests, moorland bursting with extraterrestrial-like trees, alpine desert where only the strongest, most determined of vegetation survives, and finally, to our current location where nothing grows. Perhaps the word “climbed” doesn’t sufficiently describe it, as we have also scrambled, struggled, clung, slipped and slid. We’ve experienced extreme exhaustion and in the last few hours, the feeling of suffocation, as if someone was clamping a towel firmly over our noses and mouths.”
Barry said he would rather:
Win a Nobel Prize for Literature but only sell 20,000 copies than sell a million copies of this book but never win an award
Now for a bit of fun…
What’s the most exciting book you read last year?
The Devil’s Punchbowl by Greg Iles
Describe your perfect weekend…
My perfect weekend would be spent in Hawaii with my wife watching the incredible sunrises and sunsets and feeling and smelling the ocean breeze. It would inlcude meals on the patio under a cloudless sky and listening to the sound of ukelele music at dusk and hearing the stories that go with each song. It would be hiking on the volcanic rock and falling sleeping at night with the windows open and listening to the sound of the waves.
Describe a more realistic weekend…
A more realistic weekend would involve grocery shopping, mowing the grass (or shovelling snow in winter) and watching a movie on tv at night. During the summer it would be sitting on the patio, listening to the sound of the traffic going by and swatting the occasional mosquito. I have nothing against my realistic weekends.
You’re having a dinner party and you can invite one writer, one musician, one monarch, one villain and one president. Who do you invite and why?
Writer – James Patterson because I would like to write a non fiction book and I would be interested in where his ideas originate.
Musician – Mick Jagger – I have always been a big fan of the Rolling Stones and would be interested in hearing their story firsthand.
Monarch – Queen Elizabeth to hear her views on the monarchy and where she sees it going in twenty, fifty or a hundred years.
Villain – Any mass murderer to try to understand their motivation.
President – Bill Clinton to talk about his work internationally and to hear his views on the future fate of third world countries.
I think they all might have an interest in what the others have to say, but it might be a long dinner party.
You get to spend the afternoon with my six cats – heaven or hell? Explain!
That would depend on how the cats treat their “staff” – in this case, me. Since I would be there at the convenience of the cats and for their bidding, I would wait for them to dictate whether or not it would be heaven or hell. It could easily swing either way.
Fill in the blanks – how did Barry finish these openers?
He took her trembling body in his manly arms…
…and as he pulled her close his senses heightened with the anticipation of what was to come.
He tipped his hat and turned away. After a few steps he stopped,…
…realizing that his simple gesture had been much more than that to the rumpled figure sitting on the sidewalk and peering out from under his worn knit cap.
In the darkness, I heard the sound of…
….of the wind but I had the distinct sensation it was camouflaging something more, something sinister, something haunting, something horrifying!
Word association – how did Barry respond to these word prompts?
Now you get to ask me a question…
Have you always had a fascination with cats and if so, why?
I wouldn’t say a fascination but I’ve almost always lived with cats and I’ve often felt that a house just doesn’t feel like a home without a feline friend to greet you. When we rescued Razz and Kain in 2009 I realised how rewarding it was to provide a home to a cat in need and that’s when our feline family began to develop.
Thank you so much to Barry for joining me today!
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