Tsawwassen author Melissa Haynes shares her experiences of volunteering at a Big Five game preserve in South Africa in her new book.
"They say that when we step outside of our comfort zones the magic happens.
Going to Africa solo was so far out of my comfort zone," says Haynes.
Her book, Learning to Play with a Lion's Testicles, was released last week.
Haynes went to South Africa after working as an Olympic project manager for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
"I had a really good career opportunity ahead of me but one of the things on my bucket list was to volunteer in Africa," she says.
Haynes found herself alone in a tent camp after arriving as the only volunteer at the conservation project.
The only thing separating her from the local wildlife, including lions, elephants and rhinos, was an electric fence, which the animals could cross if they really wanted to, she learned her first night from one of the rangers.
"It was quite different than my office over at Vanoc headquarters, to say the least."
Haynes, a first-time author, also writes about her experience of coming to terms with her mother's passing.
Haynes went to Los Angeles to find a literary agent for representation for the book. The agent found a publisher who liked the story but said Haynes needed to rewrite it, she says.
Haynes says she kept a small card on her desk that said, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
"Every time I had doubts about writing or doubts about myself I would just refer back to that and say, 'I'm not going to fail. Failure's not an option. This is going to happen.'"
Haynes, who says anything is possible if you're willing to just take a chance, is currently working on her second book.
Learning to Play With a Lion's Testicles is available from online retailers, including Amazon. It will be arriving in Canadian bookstores this winter.