George Mercer ended his 35-year career with Parks Canada on the west coast but he’s starting his new book series on the east coast.
Mercer lives these days in North Saanich, after spending the final decade of his career with the Gulf Islands National Park. His career as a Parks warden spans the country, starting in the Cape Breton Highlands. He would work later in Wood Buffalo National Park and in Jasper National Park. It’s from these experiences that he would draw inspiration for his Dyed in the Green series.
“It started as a story I wrote 15 hears ago while I was in Jasper,” Mercer said in an interview. “It was based in Cape Breton. “I actually pumped it out in a three-month period but I shelved it. We had a young family at the time and I just couldn’t get to it.”
But Mercer said he kept the pages and when he retired, he took fiction-writing courses to renew his feeling that he just had to get this story out.
Dyed in the Green is the title of his first book but he said it will become the name of a series of six books. They are fictional accounts of park wardens who face all sorts of poachers, wildlife and other challenges while on the job throughout the national parks system in Canada.
“Every story is about somewhere,” he explained. “This first one is set on Cape Breton Island, but it’s a pan-Canadian, a global story.”
Mercer said his story addressed the challenges faced by wardens, who at one time went unarmed in the wilderness, carrying only a flashlight, notepad and handcuffs.
“It’s about poaching, yes,” he continued, “but it also addresses high-level corruption, development in our parks and the illegal trade in animal parts.”
Mercer said it puts all of these issues into a fictional context and delivers them as a mystery or suspense story.
Dyed in the Green itself, he said, is an expression used to describe the passion of people who work in Parks Canada.
“These are the people who work to protect Canada’s special places and parks.”
His work is self-published, but he’s working hard to get it into book stores across the country. Already, many have sold on the east coast and in Whitehorse.
Mercer said he’s writing about what he knows and the characters are composites of people he has met over the years — even the poachers.
“Our parks get 26 million visitors each year,” he said. “So, anyone interested in mystery or suspense and the outdoors would like these stories.”
Dyed in the Green, available at Tanner’s Books in Sidney, officially launches this Thurs., Nov. 27 at Serious Coffee on Beacon Avenue, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Mercer will be there, reading from his book and talking about his experiences in Canada’s national parks.
Learn more about the book and George Mercer at www.georgemercer.com.