John Vaillant has long had a taste for adventure. Born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he hitchhiked to Alaska after finishing college and spent several years working on the salmon boats. In 1998, he realized that, apart from being adventurous, he had a passion for writing about the “collision between human beings and the environment” — and he has been writing ever since. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, The Walrus and Outside Magazine. The Vancouver-based author’s first book, The Golden Spruce (2005), won both the Governor General’s Award and the Writer’s Trust Award for non-fiction.
His 2010 work, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival is about a man-eating tiger incident that happened in the 1990s in Russia’s Far Eastern Primorsky Krai, where most of the world’s Amur tigers live. It is a mixture of investigative journalism, social history, geography and natural writing. It won a number of awards and was selected for the 2012 edition of CBC Radio‘s Canada Reads, defended by lawyer and television personality Anne-France Goldwater.
His next book was The Jaguar’s Children (2015), a novel about an illegal Mexican immigrant trapped inside the empty tank of a water truck that has been abandoned in the desert by human smugglers. The novel was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.