Queenstown adventurer Mary Jane Walker has become a published author and plans to produce seven travel books in just over a year.
Her stories cover a life time of travelling, intensively since 2013, in almost every country in the world.
She considers her books as alternative travel books.
“I got sick and tired of listening to mainstream media. I did not think it was reliable enough in terms of reporting cultures and people,” she said.
Her first book is entitled The Maverick Traveller and she also considers herself a maverick writer.
“I don’t want to be told how to do my books. There’s nothing in these books that is defamatory but I do want to do the books as I want to do them
“I don’t think anybody should write a book and expect to make a lot of money.
“[I do it for the] satisfaction of redefining what I want to do and to write and inform and go to other countries and do more than just stay in a hotel and go to a fancy place to eat and go to all the tourist places.”
Four books have already been self-published: A Maverick Traveller, A Maverick Cuban Way, A Maverick Pilgrim Way and A Maverick New Zealand Way.
Within the next few months editions focused on the USA, Himalayas and Vikings and Inuits will follow.
Her many adventures include eating seal meat in Greenland and a visit to Standing Rock, the focal point of protests against a United States pipeline crossing a Native American reservation.
She was also interested in the Trump victory and spent a lot of time speaking to people in the United States about it.
“It’s a question of finding out why. I find it really interesting…the reasons why people would vote for Trump and I can see now why they would be disappointed.”
As an intrepid traveller she prefers staying in hostels and meeting “ordinary people “, which has led to some extraordinary adventures such as meeting the drummer from Pussy Riot in Russia
One experience that defined her travel was in Kashmir where she visited a Sufi Islamic Mosque and was impressed by the dancing. She was invited inside and before spotting a deceased body had taken photos with the body in them.
“I was mortified.”
She approached a nearby young woman to apologise and it transpired she was the daughter of the dead woman.
Walker was surprised to learn that the daughter was not offended by her taking photos as the dead woman was in heaven.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the world – people are virtually the same. I didn’t think women could go in mosques but they can in many countries and secondly, that I was forgiven for taking a photo of a dead body.”
That was the kind of detail you would not normally read about, she said.
She had had some struggles with publication including being let down by two New Zealand printing companies with formatting issues and scripts riddled with errors, and is taking one to court to reclaim costs.
A local worker has instead been able to format the manuscripts correctly for print publishing and sale as e-books.
At this stage she is not planning to sell printed copies via book stores but market herself on Amazon and social media first. She is also intending to attend the world famous Frankfurt Book Fair in October
Despite her extensive travels she still had some places she had not visited that are on her bucket list including some in Africa as well as Alaska and Antarctica.