Biography

My single-minded pursuit of travel literature has taken me to some of the world’s most unforgiving places, including Mongolia, Tibet, Chad, and North Korea, by Russian jeep, motorcycle, dugout canoe, horse and camel.

When asked, I say that I’m drawn to such settings because I have a keen interest in marginal regions, in nomadic peoples, and in places where cultures meet and sometimes clash. In truth, I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to go there. It starts as a tightening deep in my stomach, and the urgency builds until I find myself boarding a plane. As the trip gets closer I never want to go, because I know the journey will be a difficult one and that I’ll come back changed.

No trip changed me more than the first time I set out alone on the road. I wrote about it in my first book, Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America.

 

“…a powerful new voice in creative nonfiction.” – Publisher’s Weekly

 

I chose travel literature as a medium because it can be so many things: autobiography, history, anthropology, adventure, memoir, narrative, and even a catharsis… The best travel writing is all of these at once.

My  “lyrical, poetic prose” has been described as “creative non-fiction at its best…” This embarrasses me because I’m uncomfortable with compliments. I work hard to ensure that my travel writing draws larger connections to our lives as a whole, and I hope each piece leaves you with meaningful insights which continue to resonate long after you’ve turned the last page. Travel writing without meaning bores me.

 

“…an engaging tough-guy lyricist […] he has full command of the telling sensuous detail […] The people he meets along the way are captured on the page with a novelist’s eye.”  – Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern and Songs of Blue and Gold

 

As Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost Magazine, I travel regularly on assignment to write major features for the magazine. I’m also the author of Adrift on the Continent, a column about Europe. And I write the bimonthly Expat Life column for Outpost online, where we talk about how to create a new life abroad.

My work has been showcased extensively in print and visual media, including Toronto’s Eye Weekly, CBC Radio and on the primetime CTV television show ETalk, Canada’s top-rated entertainment program. My Outpost feature “Taklamakan: The Worst Desert in the World” was nominated for a National Magazine Award, and my book Vagabond Dreams received a coveted red star review in Publisher’s Weekly. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

You’d think all this work would keep me out of trouble, but somehow it doesn’t. From run-ins with communist militaries, to physical altercations with the secret police of a certain Asian country, to survival situations on the Mongolian steppe with two Swedish girls and a very small tent, mischief continues to stalk me despite publishing deadlines and a rather dull day-to-day life. I’m thankful for that, because if it wasn’t for writing I’d be unemployable.

 

 

 

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