Enhanced Travel Books

When I journeyed across Africa in the tracks of the elusive storm leopard, I thought it would be useful to bring along a camcorder. I chose a Sony miniDV (DCR-TRV20E) which at the time offered the best combination of compact size, lens quality and secure digital storage. It proved a fantastic friend which never let me down. I used it to film action, landscape and wildlife, to capture dialogue, to record my thoughts, to copy information from posters and signboards, and even as my travelling therapist. In the end I took about 24 hours of video on the journey.

The recent combination of snow and short days here in Scotland prompted me to think about a new use for all this footage – a video diary to enhance the text of The Storm Leopard. I’ve started with a short film about the capture of a lioness in Etosha as part of a conservation research programme. It can be accessed from my website Wild Nature With Martyn.

I am quite conservative about books as I believe in the fundamental power of the written word – how it can inform and kindle our imaginations. Books also have a physical presence which reflects the care that has been invested by author and publisher. I guess we all have our favourite books which may depend on their content, layout, illustrations and cover, and perhaps also on who owned them previously or who gave them to us. Yet there is a new niche opening beyond the conventional book: one that combines powerful writing with potent imagery and sound. A good example can be found in the multimedia publications by Enhanced Editions. Travel writing lends itself naturally to this evolved form of novel.

About Martyn Murray

I fell in love with nature when I turned twenty-one camping under Acacias in East Africa, surrounded by giraffe and zebra with my nape hair raised by the distant roaring of lions. I went on to work for fifty years in Africa, Europe and Asia as an ecologist and conservation consultant. A few years ago I moved to the Isle of Lismore to pursue my passion for reconnecting people with the natural world. My first book, The Storm Leopard, is a journey across Africa and into the heart of the environmental crisis. My second, Origin of Species: Bite-Sized, contains the essence of Charles Darwin's greatest work – his theory of evolution by natural selection – in a text that is 15% the length of the original. The third, Beyond the Hebrides, is the story of a sea voyage in an old leaking boat and on how to keep personal freedom alive. I am currently working on a fourth which is about the global collapse of the natural world. Its working title is, In This Together. It challenges us all over our current connections with nature. More details are on my website, www.martynmurray.com.
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