Mongabay Features

An interview with author Bryan Christy

Since his breakthrough book, The Lizard King, and his National Geographic feature on “The Kingpin”, Bryan Christy has established himself as one of the best-known wildlife crime writers. In 2012, Christy’s explosive National Geographic cover story traced elephant ivory as it was trafficked from war zones and conflict areas in Africa to markets in China and beyond.

Christy’s newest project builds on his wildlife crime expertise, but takes it in a more dramatic direction: He’s written a novel. In the Company of Killers tells the story of Tom Klay, an investigative reporter leading a double life as a CIA spy, who travels to the same places where Christy did his investigative work.

Bryan Christy. Photo credit: Brent Stirton.
Bryan Christy. Photo credit: Brent Stirton.

Taking a fictional approach gave Christy more latitude to tell a story about wildlife trafficking that reaches people in a different way than his previous approaches.

“After years investigating wildlife crimes around the world, I realized environmental crimes were only part of criminal ecosystems too large to fit into any magazine article or documentary,” Christy told Mongabay. “When power and corruption feel too big to do anything about, it’s the job of storytellers to reframe things in a way that makes sense.”

“It was time to turn from non-fiction to fiction and continue to tell the world’s stories.”

Christy spoke with Mongabay in April 2021.


By Rhett Ayers Butler

Rhett Ayers Butler is the Founder and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. He started Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife.