michael Sears

Michael Sears

I was born in Johannesburg, and grew up in Cape Town and Nairobi, Kenya. In the worst of the apartheid era, my family emigrated to Australia, where I completed a doctorate in dynamical systems. But Africa drew me back in 1972, and I accepted a position at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where I specialized in applications of mathematics in a variety of areas including image analysis and ecological modeling. One of my more adventurous projects involved radio-tracking hunting lions through the Botswana night. Another was a system model for the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park.

I have traveled widely in Southern and Central Africa. Botswana has always been a special favorite with its magnificent conservation areas, dramatic scenery, and varied peoples. A long-held ambition was to capture the flavor of the country as the canvass of a novel.

During a term as Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, I focused on working with black students and encouraging them into science careers. This culminated in the College of Science program, which accepted students with inadequate backgrounds due to the apartheid school system, and fast tracked them into mainstream science. A few now hold doctorates and are academics in their own right.This period also enabled me to make contacts with the historically black Southern African universities.

In 1997 I accepted a position managing remote sensing at Anglo American, a major international mining house. Its associate – the diamond giant De Beers – has extensive interests in Botswana through the Debswana joint venture with the government. The mining and exploration threads in the book draw on experiences in this context. I took mandatory retirement from Anglo American at the end of 2007.


Although I still live in Johannesburg, my mind is often in the African bush, and the rest of me follows as often as possible. Stan and I share a bungalow in a private game reserve close enough for a long weekend. The family includes two Corgis who, although intelligent, are not avid readers of crime fiction.