Real life adventure writer takes on fiction

Paul Hersey belays (secures) another climber on a glacier between Mt Walter and Mt Green in...
Paul Hersey belays (secures) another climber on a glacier between Mt Walter and Mt Green in Westland National Park. PHOTO: KESTER BROWN
Paul Hersey is scaling new heights with the recent release of his latest book.

Over the years, the high-profile Dunedin mountaineer, surfer and author has written seven non-fiction books about adventure-based incidents and accidents, the culture within mountaineering and surfing, and life on some of New Zealand’s high country stations.

But this month, the 52-year-old took a route less travelled by him, and launched his first fiction book, titled Protection.

The book is about a family that moves to the South Island’s West Coast.

It follows two brothers who are growing up in a new environment, and are coming to terms with that.

"There’s also a girl. The easy way to describe it is, there’s a three-way love triangle between the brothers and the girl they meet.

"This is a story of love, loss and redemption, the bonds between family and the outdoors, and those rarest of opportunities to right past wrongs."

The story draws heavily on his experiences in the outdoors, particularly mountaineering.

He has had many successful mountaineering expeditions to Nepal, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

He said his first attempt at fiction had not been as easy as his previous books.

"It’s harder to write fiction — probably because I haven’t done as much of it. I’ve done short-form fiction before, but not full-length fiction.

"I’m comfier with the processes around non-fiction."

Non-fiction was more about telling other people’s stories, he said.

"But with fiction, you’re creating something.

"There’s much more manipulation in the narrative thread — the way you choose to frame things, the characters you use.

"Regardless of what the story is, it still has to have a strong semblance of believability and accessibility to it."

Now that he has his first published fiction under his belt, he said he was keen to write more.

"I really enjoyed it. Writing is a strong passion for me.

"There’s not a whole lot of money in it, but I do it to improve the craft — my ability to write — that’s what drives me."

"Each book is a milestone but they are also part of a journey to get better as a writer."

He has already started on his next book, which is a piece of historical fiction about outlaws.

He declined to elaborate on the storyline, and simply advised potential readers to "watch this space."

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