This is Part 2 of a 3-part series I’m calling The Next Gen Authors, about three Authors I know and have promoted, and their daughters who have also all become published authors – in their own right! Or maybe that should be, “in their own write” in this case … (Part 1, Part 3)
Ken McGoogan and Keriann McGoogan
Ken McGoogan was editor of the Books Section at The Calgary Herald when I first met him. He was also beginning to publish books of his own at that time. Who knew then that he would eventually father another author? You may read more about Ken and his books here in his Authors-Readers International promotion. (When I initially asked Ken about participating in this series, he immediately sent me the following …)
A FATHER’S TAKE
by Ken McGoogan
(Most recent books: Flight of the Highlanders and Dead Reckoning)
Often after a movie night, if her husband Travis was out of town, our super-fit, thirty-something daughter would insist that she didn’t need Sheena and me to walk her home from our house. We would do it anyway, travel half a dozen Toronto city blocks. But on this occasion, I forget why, we ended up just the two of us, father and daughter, striding into the October night.
“Oh, I meant to tell you,” Keriann said. “I’m writing a book.”
Over the years, I had badgered her sporadically to do precisely that. Still, I was surprised. “You’re writing a book? What kind of book?”
“A memoir,” she said. “My adventure in Madagascar.”
“But of course! That’s fantastic!”
My next question, one that as a writer I am hard-wired to ask, just popped out: “How many words have you got in the can?” I figured she would say 5,000, maybe 10,000. And when I heard her say, “Just over 7,000,” I cried, “Whoa! Over 7,000? That’s a solid beginning.”
“No, Dad,” she said. “Not seven. Seven-ty. Just over 70,000.”
“70,000? 70,000 words?” I clasped my head and, hollering, reeled around in the middle of the street. “70,000 words! That’s a book! You must be nearly finished.”
“First draft, yes. Maybe 10,000 words to go.”
So that’s how I found out what Keriann had been up to lately. Eighteen or so months ago, while striding into the night. Next thing I knew, she had signed with an agent (Beverley Slopen) and landed a book deal with Prometheus Books of New York. She started revising and fixed on a title: Chasing Lemurs: My Journey into the Heart of Madagascar.
The book tells the story of how, starting when she was twenty-five, Keriann lived and worked in the wilds of Madagascar for 19 months. You can read her more detailed description below. Keriann glosses over what, as a father, gave me the heebie-jeebies when I read the book. Never mind the encounter, in an isolated, riverside location, with a roving band of thieves.
She ended up being “the lone woman amid a small band of local male assistants, diligently conducting research on the lemur population around the camp.” Then her right-hand man — the only Malagasy who spoke English or French — contracted a life-threatening strain of malaria and became delirious. This is in the Madagascar bush. Are you kidding me?
Since publishing the book, Keriann hasn’t looked back. A trailer, a virtual book launch, an article in the Toronto Star, blog posts pouring forth. What’s a father to add? Only that I am gob-smacked . . . and thrilled.
Keriann McGoogan has a doctorate in biological anthropology and a master’s in primatology. For nineteen months, she lived and worked in Madagascar, spending twelve-hour days following groups of lemurs through the northwestern dry forests. Today, while holding down a day job, McGoogan volunteers as a board member for Planet Madagascar, a nonprofit that aims to conserve Madagascar’s unique biodiversity while also helping the local Malagasy people.
Chasing Lemurs: My Journey into the Heart of Madagascar (Prometheus Books)
At age twenty-five, graduate student Keriann McGoogan traveled into the wilds of Madagascar to study lemurs in their natural habitat. McGoogan was going to do research that could contribute to the conservation of lemurs and to set up a permanent field site in the remote northwest—a site to which she could later return to do research for her PhD in biological anthropology. Despite careful planning, the trip spiraled out of control. Food poisoning, harrowing backcountry roads, grueling hikes, challenging local politics, malaria, and an emergency evacuation would turn a simple reconnaissance into an epic adventure. McGoogan describes that journey in her memoir
At first accompanied by her thesis advisor, McGoogan is soon left alone when her mentor must return home. She carries on as the lone woman amid a small band of local male assistants, diligently conducting research on the lemur population around the camp. But when her right-hand man becomes delirious with malaria, she is forced to lead her team on a desperate three-day trek to safety. McGoogan vividly describes the challenges navigating an isolated forest region while also bringing to life the wonders of Madagascar’s incredible biodiversity, especially its many varieties of lemurs. This fascinating memoir is equal parts a journey of self-discovery, an adventure story, and a heartfelt appreciation of a wonderful island country teeming with unique species and peopled by the warm and welcoming Malagasies with their intriguing indigenous culture.
Promotion Plans: Facebook Live book launch is here.
UCalgary News, June 1, 2020: Chasing Lemurs – a passport to another place by Deb Cummings
The Toronto Star, April 20, 2020: What the lemurs taught me about enduring a pandemic by Keriann McGoogan
Other media can be found here on her website.
What Keriann is working on now:
Keriann has another Madagascar-themed adventure book in the works–this time geared toward a young adult audience.